Thailand. This small slice of paradise is the perfect getaway for some mid-week relaxation, but stay too long and be prepared for a shock, as at weekends the island becomes an adventure playground for the hard-working folk of Bangkok. You’ll also feel the impact on your pocket as the prices often rise from Friday – Monday by anything up to 60%. For the best deals arrive early to midweek when it’s still possible to find a nice bungalow for around 300 – 500 Baht. In 1981 Koh Samet was declared part of the Khao Laem Ya–Ko Samet National Park and, with its beautiful white sands, stunning turquoise waters and lush green forests, it’s clear why. On top of the rocks at Hat Sai Kaeo beach sits the statue of Phra Apaimanee, a fictional character from a story by Thailand’s most famous poet, Sunthorn Phu (1786–1855). In the story, Phra Apaimanee was led safely to Koh Samet by a mermaid after fleeing a hideous monster. You’ll see countless Thai tourists flock to the rocks to have their pictures taken next to the statue.