Thailand’s Gulf Islands | How to get to Koh Tao, Koh Phangan & Koh Samui

Thailand's Gulf Islands

Thailand | How to get to Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui

The exotic and tropical islands and beaches in the southern part of Thailand are a major draw to many foreigners. Main reason is the vast amount of islands scattered both on the east and west coasts of Thailand. The most popular islands on the east coast are Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.

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Koh Tao

Out of the three islands, Koh Tao is the smallest and the first if heading down from Bangkok. Koh Tao is known for its thriving under water life, amazing viewpoints, great nightlife and laid back lifestyle. As the island is so small it is very easily explored. And for those looking to get scuba diving certification, dozens of cheap dive schools are found all over the island.

Koh Phangan

Second is Koh Phangan, infamous for the Full Moon Party held every 4 weeks. Landscape and beaches around Koh Phangan are similar to Koh Tao but on a larger scale. Around party dates the island gets a little busy but nothing to worry about. Overall Ko Phangan is quiet and a perfect exotic island destination. 

Koh Samui

Koh Samui is the largest and most developed. The island is also accessible by air allowing easier access therefore making it the busiest island especially around peak season. Chaweng is the heart of Koh Samui and will cater to all of your needs. Clubs, bars, high end restaurants, 5 star hotels and large shopping malls are found all along the streets in Chaweng. Ko Samui’s turqoise waters with white sandy beach lined with coconut palms are what make this one of Thailand’s top choices for a tropical island holiday. 

How to get to Koh Tao, Koh Phangan & Koh Samui

Getting to the islands has 3 options, either by land + ferry, or by air + ferry or directly by air (but this only applies for Koh Samui). The ferry piers to the islands are in Chumpon and Surat Thani.

Flight to Koh Samui from Bangkok

Koh Samui is the only island with an airport. Downside is flight prices are on the high side considering the short distance travelling. Check airlines operating from this airport and destinations here.

Flight to Chumphon or Surat Thani and ferry to the islands

Another option is a flight either to Chumphon airport (which serves only flights from Bangkok) or Surat Thani airport (check airlines operating from this airport and destinations here), depending on which island you are headed to. Chumphon is closest to Koh Tao, while Surat Thani is closest to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

Both airports in these two cities are far out from the piers which link to the island though there are desks at the airports selling joint bus and ferry tickets.  

For Songserm (ferry company), Matapon pier in Chumphon is 50 km from the airport and Surat Thani Airport is about 90 km from Donsak Pier.

Buses from Bangkok and ferry to the islands

Buses leave daily from Bangkok southern bus terminal (Sai Tai Mai) to the south of Thailand. Further information on the southern bus terminal can be found in this blog post.

Other options such as joint tickets (bus+ferry) can be easily bought online from the ferry companies’ website.

Trains heading south of Thailand and ferry to the islands

Trains from Hua Lamphong, Bangkok’s main train station operate on a daily basis to the south of Thailand. Tickets can also be pre booked on the web. This is the official website for booking train tickets.

Ferries to Koh Tao, Koh Phangan & Koh Samui

The main ferry companies operating between the islands and mainland are Lomprayah and Songserm. They both offer joint tickets (land + ferry) from Bangkok to the islands. The journey is long with the fastest trip taking around 9 hours to get to Koh Tao. Prices start from 900 Baht. 

We always made use of Songserm as we found the service good for a cheaper price. Do be cautious with Songserm joint tickets as there has been complaints of valuables being stolen out of luggage while stowed away in the luggage compartment. Personally we never had a problem but were cautious and kept all valuables with us at all times. 

Join us on our trip to South East Asia and we will provide you with useful travel tips as we visit different countries. We will also send you articles providing comprehensive guides to travelling to places in SE Asia.

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