The main gems for you in the east of Thailand are to be found mainly offshore, such as the island of Ko Samet, with its fine white beaches and cheap accommodation and Ko Chang, also an island with white sand beaches and a flourishing backpacker scene. Both only a few hours from Bangkok. Ko Chang is Thailand's second largest island and has three smaller siblings just south of it. Ko Mak is a tiny unspoilt island with its coconut palm trees lining white sand beaches and is one of our top Thai islands, if you get the opportunity you should check it out! Ko Wai is an even smaller island with many stunning beaches and a very low-key tourist activity. It's the place to go if you want to completely drop off the grid. Ko Kut is almost as big as Ko Chang but has a largely undeveloped tourist industry with only a fraction of the visitors as its 'big brother' nearby. The fishing port of Si Racha still retains some old world charm, and is the setting off point for the historic island of Ko Si Chang, once home to Thailand's royalty. Trat city is great for fresh food shopping – especially local fruits – and Chanthaburi province, once part of French Indo-China, has a quaint old-town with some attractive waterfalls and a national park nearby. It's also a world centre for gemstone trading, which you can wander through on a weekend. The eastern region has the nearest beaches to Bangkok, so on weekends and holidays, Bangkokians (locals as well as expats), stream out of the Thai capital to enjoy long weekends at Bang Saen and Pattaya, which are just 90 minutes' drive down the coastal motorway. There isn't much in these resorts to attract 'independent' budget travellers - especially if you are looking for a bit of adventure, a bit of atmospheric and tropical solitude, and you want to soak up the lovely Thai scenery and its diverse culture - hence why we haven't covered them.