Palm-fringed beaches, crystal clear waters, and lush mountains. If your idea of paradise involves everything we just listed, then Koh Samui island should be on your list of destinations to visit.
Koh Samui is one of Thailand’s gulf islands, including Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. It is also the second-largest island in the country. This tropical island best represents everything Thailand offers —from a wide range of sandy resorts to sprawling greenery to plenty of outdoor and water activities.
Apart from its sandy shores, Koh Samui is also home to vibrant coral reefs, the stunning Ang Thong National Park, the towering Big Buddha, and some of the best scuba diving locations in Asia.
It can be tricky to reach Koh Samui. Typically, you may need to change transportation several times before you reach gulf island. We will try to ease the process as much as possible with a brief guide on the best way to travel to Koh Samui.
Flying to Koh Samui airport is not only the fastest option, but it’s also the only way to land directly on the gulf islands without shuffling through different transportation options. Until a few years ago, only Bangkok Airways flew to the Samui International Airport. However, a number of airlines, including Thai Air, now offer daily direct flights to Koh Samui.
Direct flights to Koh Samui can be more expensive than flying to other destinations in Thailand. If you’re on a budget, you can fly from Bangkok to Surat Thani. From there, you can hop on a ferry to Koh Samui. Flights to Surat Thani will cost much less than direct flights to Koh Samui.
Once you arrive on the gulf island, you can take a taxi to the town center. You can also take tuk-tuks to go around the island. Make sure you discuss the fare with the tuk-tuks before you get in.
Having said that, taking this route and hopping on a ferry will add two hours to your total travel time.
Tourists typically fly into Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport, Surat Thani Airport, and Samui International Airport during the dry season between December and February. During these times, ticket prices go up and they sell out fast. If you’re planning on visiting Koh Samui around this time, be sure to book early to save money.
If you’re traveling from Bangkok to Koh Samui, you can take the overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani and then a ferry from the Don Sak Ferry Terminal to Koh Samui.
There are two types of trains you can hop on to get to Surat Thani: the daytime train and the overnight train. While you can choose to travel during the day, an air-conditioned sleeper train will offer you a more comfortable travel experience. Plus, you get to save up on accommodations.
There are two types of carriages on trains. A second-class ticket will net you a space in an open carriage where seats can be converted into beds at night. First-class tickets will get you a private two-person cabin with your own washbasin.
Once you get to Surat Thani, you can either grab a shuttle bus or walk to the pier where you will be given two options: a 90-minute ferry ride to Koh Samui where you will be treated to great views and sea breeze, or a high-speed catamaran that can get you to Koh Samui’s piers in no time. There are four piers in Koh Samui: Nathon Pier, Lipa Noi Pier, Maenam Pier, and Bangrak Pier.
To make your trip hassle-free, we suggest booking the entire trip through online portals. This way, you can guarantee that you’ll have a bed space on the train and a spot on the ferry. In total, hopping on a train and a ferry from Bangkok to Samui will take about 17 hours of travel time.
The cheapest way to get to Koh Samui from Bangkok is by hopping on a bus to Surat Thani and then getting on a ferry boat. Having said that, prices can go up depending on the season.
Much like with the trains, there are daytime and overnight bus options available. While nighttime buses are air-conditioned, the travel would not be as comfortable as what you get when you book a sleeper train.
In total, a bus and ferry combination from Bangkok to Koh Samui will take as little as 11 hours.