How to Get to Koh Phangan
Posted on Oct 5, 2014
Thailand has some of the best transport links in the whole of Southeast Asia, so getting to the Koh Phangan is very straightforward. The island is easily accessible via the airport on the neighboring island of Koh Samui, or from the regional transport hub of Surat Thani on the mainland. Whilst a plane journey is the quickest way down to Koh Phangan, the bus or sleeper train will provide an experience to remember.
Flying down from Bangkok to Koh Samui airport is the quickest way to the island. The airport is conveniently close to Big Buddha pier, where travellers can catch a boat directly to Koh Phangan. It’s a short crossing from here, 30 – 45 minutes with the last boat leaving at 6:30pm.
Bangkok Air is popular, flying into Koh Samui Airport over 40 times a day from various locations in Southeast Asia. The flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui takes approximately one hour but at around 3,800+ Baht per flight it is the most expensive option.
An alternative is to land in Surat Thani’s International Airport. A number of budget airlines now fly to and from this airport, including Nok Air and Air Asia, who provide competitive air travel tickets ranging between 800 – 2000 Baht. From the airport, it takes approximately five hours to get to Koh Phangan, including a bus transfer and ferry ticket, costing around 500 Baht.
The State Railway of Thailand provides a comfortable and exceptional journey on their sleeper train service from Bangkok down to Surat Thani railway station. The train ticket also includes a bus transfer to the pier, about an hour away, where travellers can then catch a ferry to Koh Phangan.
The train consists of either first or second class carriages, all complete with fresh cotton sheets, pillows with cases and a sealed fresh blanket – perfect for a long journey. First class sleepers consist of full-size bunk beds, sink and air conditioning. Second class sleepers come with either a fan or air conditioning and are made up of facing seats with table which fold up to make two fairly spacious beds. The train also has a ‘ladies carriage service’ for just female passengers. This is a popular mode of transport amongst locals as well as tourists so ensure to book well in advance, especially during peak times.
Catching a bus is the most economic way to get to the island. For around 650 Baht, passengers can catch the bus in Bangkok at 7pm and arrive in Surat Thani in the early morning hours to catch the first ferry to Koh Phangan. On these buses, passengers have their own seat which reclines, a fresh, sealed blanket and their luggage is stored underneath in the cargo department. The buses are air conditioned and provide a comfortable, cheap service down to the island, with a couple of stops at service stations along the way.
For slightly more – around 1000 Baht – travelers can catch the government bus. This takes them directly from Bangkok, straight onto the Raja ferry which arrives at Thong Sala pier. This saves time and is much more convenient as passengers will not have to go through the discomfort of changing modes of transport – ideal for a long journey.
With the bus, train and plane terminating on the mainland or nearby island of Koh Samui, the last leg of the journey has to be completed by boat. With a number of boats crossing regularly to Koh Phangan, travellers will never be waiting too long.
From Surat Thani
From Surat Thani jetty, travelers can catch the Songserm to Koh Phangan. It takes approximately 3.5 hours and runs twice a day – at 09:30 and 15:30. Alternatively, a 50 minute bus ride will take passengers to Donsak where they can take the Raja ferry, which operates five times a day and takes around 3 hours. For a quicker crossing, the Lomprayah Catamaran leaves at 09:00, 11:10 and 14:30 and takes only 1.5 hours to the island.
Departing from here provides the quickest journey to Koh Phangan. From Nathon pier, the Lomprayah operates at 11:15, 13:30 and 17:00 to arrive at Thong Sala pier 30 minutes later for a cost of only 300 Baht. The Seatran Discovery also takes around 30 minutes and departs at 08:00, 12:30 and 15:30 from Koh Samui’s Bangrak pier. A slightly longer journey of 45 minutes, the Songserm Express takes passengers from Nathon to Thong Sala.
The Haad Rin Queen is the most frequent service to Koh Phangan and is the only vessel terminating at Haad Rin. It takes 50 minutes from Big Buddha Pier at departs at 10:30,13:00, 16:00 and 18:30.
Alternatively, if you are in a hurry or arrive too late to catch the boat, a speedboat is a good – though pricey – option from Koh Samui. It takes 15 minutes and can take you to most parts of the island.
Whichever mode of transport you choose to get to Koh Phangan, there are many travel and tour agents that will provide useful information and tickets. Although some of the transport methods can be time consuming, they are also fun, exciting and offer a great opportunity to meet fellow travellers. Once on the island of Koh Phangan, you will realise that the travel has been worth it and won’t want to leave!