This post is applicable for trips from Bangkok to all three of the East Coast islands; Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. In the case of the buses that leave from the capital daily, there are three stops at each ferry port. Once leaving the mainland, travel between the three islands is easy enough with several boats going between daily.
Coach + Ferry
Last summer when I visited Thailand for the second time, this is the option I chose to travel from the mainland to the islands for the Full Moon Party. From Bangkok to Koh Phangan I paid 800 baht (roughly £20) for an overnight sleeper bus and the ferry. I bought my ticket from a travel shop between Khao San Road and Ram Butri, and I’m sure if you shopped around further away from Khao San Road you would manage to find a ticket even cheaper. Compared with some of the other sleeper buses I’ve taken, it was really spacious and well air conditioned. The bus down took around six hours with a few food stops on the way and the drop for Koh Tao taking place around 3 hours before our drop. The ferry from Surat Thani took around two and a half hours over to Thong Sala pier on Koh Phangan. For first time travellers to the area, you will be stopped in a cafe between the bus and ferry and offered a transfer on the other side which will be highly inflated. Just politely decline the offer and you will be greeted on the other side of your ferry ride by a plethora of taxi drivers. On Koh Phangan you will pay a flat fare of 100 baht from any point A to B on the island.
Train + Ferry
If you’re not keen on taking a bus, you can also take a sleeper train down to Surat Thani from Bangkok. There are ten trains per day between the two stations, and prices for this route go from as little as 500 to 1800 baht, depending on the class of cabin you opt for and whether it’s air-conditioned or has a fan. You can read more about train times, how to book and where to collect tickets by clicking here. Separate ferry tickets cost from 330 baht, and a transfer between the station and port will cost, too. If you’re keen to book everything as a package and save some, ask around at the travel stores in Central Bangkok for the cheapest deal, but the train is definitely a little pricier than the bus.
Private Car + Ferry
For those travelling in groups of around 4-8 people, the option of taking a private minivan to Surat Thani and then on the ferry over to any of the islands might be best. Although the taxi/ minivan itself will cost around £240, when dividing this by up to eight people could cost as little as £30 per head and give you the convenience of being able to stop wherever and whenever you want, being altogether and having complete control of the air conditioning.
You can fly to Surat Thani from Bangkok from £30 or from Bangkok to Koh Samui for roughly £100 each way. By absolutely no means is this the most economical option, but the one hour flight for each route definitely makes this the fastest option. Read my full guide on how to use Skyscanner to find out how to book fights in advance and save a little by clicking here.
For my ideal 3 Week Itinerary in Thailand and how much that will cost you, click here.
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