How to Travel From Bangkok to Koh Samui

by Guest

Though Bangkok is an amazing and vibrant city, those on vacation most probably don’t want to spend their whole two weeks there. Heading down to one of the islands, particularly Koh Samui is a popular option, but there are many ways to travel from Bangkok to Koh Samui depending on budget, tastes and timing.

Koh Samui is one of the largest of the Thai islands situated in the Gulf of Thailand. Travellers head down to Koh Samui for the beautiful ocean, sandy beaches fringed with palm trees, excellent seafood and wildlife nightlife. There are accommodation options to cater to all tastes and budgets from luxury resorts to beach bungalows and everything in between.

There are several ways to reach Koh Samui from Bangkok (or visa versa) – by flight, ferry, train, the least attractive, by cheapest way, by bus or a combination. How you travel between the two depends a little on how long you have and how far your budget stretches. You can also read our guides about going from Bangkok to Chiang Maito Pattaya and from Phuket to Koh Samui.

Flying from Bangkok to Koh Samui

The quickest way to get between Bangkok and Koh Samui is by place and there are an astonishing number of flights between the capital and island. There over 20 flights departing from the capital every day, starting early in the morning, and going right through to the evening. If you somehow don’t manage to get on one of these, it’s also possible to fly down to the city of Surat Thani and from here take a ferry across to Koh Samui. This is obviously not quite as convenient, but can often be cheaper. When you arrive in Suratthani airport, it’s possible to book your bus and ferry combination ticket. Bangkok Airlines has between 10 and 19 direct flights from Bangkok to Koh Samui every day and Thai Airways have 2 flights a day. The flight time is just over an hour and most leave from the smaller Don Mueang International Airport, though some leave from Suvarnabhumi Airport. The cost starts around US $70 for a return flight, but can be a lot more expensive if you book last minute. Air Asia and Nok Air both have daily services from Bangkok to Surat Thani from which you can take the ferry across to Koh Samui and return flights start from US $50. With flights, it is always best to book your tickets as far in advance as possible and look out for daily deals (though these tickets get booked up really fast). There are, of course, plenty of flight routes from other cities including Singapore, Chiang Mai and Malaysia.

Bangkok Ayutthaya

Bangkok Ayutthaya

Taking the train from Bangkok to Koh Samui

A fun, albeit slower, way to reach Koh Samui from Bangkok is by train. Buying tickets is advance is a necessity because seats get booked up quickly, particularly in high season. The train departs from Hua Lamphong Train Station which is easy to reach on the MRT underground. Trains to Suratthani depart several times a day and the journey takes around 10 hours. Once you reach Suratthani, there are buses waiting to take travelers from the station to the port to board. From here, by a ferry ticket for the one-and-a-half-hour journey over to the island. Deciding between a day train and night train is tricky. Travelling by night offers sleeper class bed options which means saving a night’s accommodation, but travelling by day gives travelers the opportunity to look out over the wonderful Thai scenery. If you travel by day, be sure to check that the train reaches the station in time for you to take the ferry across to Koh Samui or you’ll be stranded in Saratthani for the night. The whole journey from Bangkok to Koh Samui takes the best part of 20 hours, but it’s a pleasant enough way to get between the two. The cost of the train, bus and ferry together is around US $50 return and is probably the next best option for those who don’t like flying.

Taking the bus from Bangkok to Koh Samui

Travelling by bus is perhaps the least attractive option, but it is the cheapest and travelling by bus isn’t all that bad in Thailand. Buses don’t get booked up quite as far in advance as trains, so it’s usually possible to get a ticket last minute. Just turn up at the bus station and enquiry about when the next coach leaves. The route is similar to that of the train. Take the long twelve-hour bus ride from Bangkok to Surathani and then take the 1.5-hour ferry over to Koh Samui. You won’t always arrive exactly on time to take the ferry, so you may have to wait around a couple of hours for it to depart. There are several bus companies that service the route. Head down to the Sai Tai Mai terminal and from here it is possible get air-conditioned (recommended) or non-air-conditioned. There are also luxury buses with toilets. Another option is to book one of the many shuttle buses that depart from the touristy Khao San Road. You can book tickets from any of the travel agencies located on the strip. One advantage of all the buses over the train is that they take you straight to the port where you can board the ferry. A return journey including the ferry is around US $40.

In conclusion, if you have the budget, little time and don’t mind flying, then heading straight to Koh Samui by Thai Airwards or Bangkok Airways is your best bet. For a slightly cheaper, option for those who can’t get on the direct flight, try taking the Nok Air or Air Asia flight down to Surattthani and then travelling with ferry. For those with more time, an enjoyable option is taking the train down to Suratthani and then the ferry although the journey can take up to 20 hours. It’s a great way to meet other travelers. By far the worst option is the bus, a journey which also takes around 20 hours, but is uncomfortable and doesn’t benefit from the Thai scenery along the way.

Here are some other articles you may want to read before heading to Thailand:

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