Koh Samui located approximately 50kms from the town of Surat Thani on the east coast of Thailand, which is roughly 700kms from Bangkok. Travelling to and from the island couldn’t be simpler as there are a range of transportation options available to visitors of one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations.
Probably one of the most popular ways to travel to the island is by air and with the flight time from Bangkok taking a little over 1 hour, there are numerous flights to and from the capital that arrive and depart from Koh Samui daily. You can also fly to the island from some of Thailand’s other domestic airports, including Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Phuket.
The islands award winning airport is also serviced internationally from destinations such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The airport also acts as a gateway, not only to Koh Samui, but also to the neighbouring islands of Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan.
As well as flying to Koh Samui you can also travel to the island from Bangkok by train or by bus to Surat Thani and then catch a passenger boat or ferry to the Samui from the mainland.
Flying to Koh Samui
The easiest and most practical way of travelling to Koh Samui is by air, as this is considerably quicker and more comfortable than travelling somewhere in the region of 12 hours by a combination of bus or train and boat from Bangkok. Flights to Samui on a one way ticket will normally be in the region of 2000 to 4000 baht, depending on the time of year and flight operator. As when looking for any flights around Thailand and even the rest of South East Asia it is always worthwhile looking online at some of the regions low cost airlines for any special offers or budget flights.
Koh Samui airport was once solely owned by Bangkok Airways and consequently it was only their planes that could fly to the island. However, in recent years the airport has been redeveloped and other carriers such as Berjaya Air, Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways and all fly to Koh Samui.
Koh Samui Airport
Since Koh Samui Airport opened in 1989, it has developed a reputation of being one of the most picturesque airports in the world and although the airport has recently undergone considerable redevelopment due to expansion it still very much fits in with the natural surroundings of the island.
The aforementioned airport expansion has resulted in Samui airport being able to offer much more to its visitors now than it did do previously. For example, the airport is now complete with a main shopping arcade and other purpose built facilities, which you would typically find at other airports throughout the world. There have also been great improvements airport security and the standard of all round customer service that the airport provides to its customers.
The airport itself is very small when compared to the airports at other destinations in Thailand. However, it is very pleasant and pretty much unique in terms of the aesthetics that greet visitors to the island. Upon arrival at the airport, visitors can sometimes be greeted by someone giving you a traditional Thai necklace made from orchid flowers, so there is no mistaking that you have arrived in a tropical and exotic wonderland. You will also see a selection of exotic palm trees, which Koh Samui is famous for, as well as an array of green, lush vegetation and tropical gardens; all of which makes for an unusual yet picturesque environment that you would struggle to find at any other airport in the world.
Before leaving Koh Samui it can be a good idea to take some time out to have a wonder around the airports new shopping facility, which is known as Park Avenue. Here you will find a great selection of shops that are perfect for buying those last minute gifts before you board your flight home. Some of the shops that are located on Park Avenue include Swatch Shop, a Jim Thompson gift shop, a camera shop, as well as a couple of outlets specialising in authentic souvenirs from Koh Samui.
Park Avenue also provides a number of dining and snacking options that include everything from gourmet food selling international cuisine to The Taste Internet Cafe which serves great coffee and snacks to Whittards Coffee Shop that provides a great meeting place for people arriving or departing the island. There is also a Sports Bar that offers some pretty impressive views of the airport and its lush surrounds.
The two main entrances to the airport for departures and arrivals are only about five minutes apart. The departures entrance is located on the side of the airport nearest to the town of Chaweng, whereas the arrivals lounge is located nearest to the Big Buddha beach.
Koh Samui airport is owned by Bangkok Airways and up until relatively recently they were the only airline that serviced the island. This monopoly of the islands airport sometimes resulted in flights being overpriced and expensive when compared to other destinations in Thailand. Today they are still the largest carrier on the island and provide flights to Koh Samui from Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai; not to mention Bangkok where there are approximately around a dozen flights everyday from Suvarnabhumi airport. Bangkok Airways also fly to Singapore and Hong Kong from Koh Samui.
Recent years have seen other airlines also fly to Samui, including some low cost and international operators too. Thai Airways provide 2 flights per day to and from Bangkok. Both Firefly Airline and Berjaya Air fly to the island from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and as of September 2011, Silk Air will also be flying to Koh Samui from destinations including Chiang Mai and Singapore.
However, despite the introduction of other airlines to Koh Samui airport, the island is still widely regarded as being one of the most expensive places to fly to in all of Thailand.
Once you arrive at Koh Samui there are a number of options when it comes to airport transfers or further transportation around the island. Some of the hotels and resorts on the island might be able to pick you up from the airport and take you to your destination. However, it is always worth making sure if an airport transfer is included as part of your accommodation booking.
Don’t worry if you have to make your own way to your hotel or resort from the airport, as it is easy enough to get to any destination on the island. Upon exiting the arrivals the arrivals hall you will see a number of the islands taxi’s that will offer to take you to your hotel. Unfortunately, the local mafia has somewhat of a stronghold on the islands taxis and because of this they can sometimes charge very expensive rates. (Visit our Getting Around Koh Samui page for more info on this)
Probably the best option when travelling from the airport is to take a minivan that will charge you a price depending on how many people are sharing the minivan with you. This can work out to be quite reasonable.
This list gives you an idea of the cost of a minivan fare from the airport:
Route Price (Baht, Per Person)
Airport to Big Buddha – 70
Airport to North Chaweng – 100
Airport to South Chaweng – 120
Airport to Bo Phut – 120
Airport to Mae Nam – Baantai – 150-200
Airport to Lamai Central – 150
Airport to Lamai North – 150
Airport to Lamai South – 200
Airport to Spa Village – 200
Airport to Bangpo – Nathon – 200
Airport to Centara Village – 300
Airport to Taling Ngam – 600
Car rental is also available at the airport from a number of international hire companies including Hertz, Sixt and Avis.
Koh Samui Flight Schedule – Domestic
The following tables are a guide to Koh Samui domestic flight times. For the most up to date information always contact your flight provider.
Note – PG = Bangkok Airways, TG = Thai Airways
Bangkok to Koh Samui
|PG135||12:00||13:05||Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat|
Koh Samui to Bangkok
|PG168||17:15||18:20||Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat|
|PG168||17:30||19:00||Mon, Thu, Sun|
Koh Samui to Phuket
Phuket to Koh Samui
Koh Samui to Krabi
Krabi to Koh Samui
Koh Samui to Chiang Mai (via Bangkok)
Chiang Mai to Koh Samui
Koh Samui to U-Tapao (Pattaya)
U-Tapao (Pattaya) to Koh Samui
Koh Samui Flight Schedule – International
The following tables are a guide to Koh Samui international flight times. For the most up to date information always contact your flight provider.
Note – PG = Bangkok Airways, FY = Firefly Airlines, J8 = Berjaya Air, MH = Malaysia Airways
Koh Samui to Subang (SZB – Kuala Lumpur)
Subang (SZB – Kuala Lumpur) to Koh Samui
Koh Samui to Hong Kong
Hong Kong to Koh Samui
Koh Samui to Singapore
Singapore to Koh Samui
Bus To Koh Samui
Travelling to Samui by bus is by far the most the most economical form of transportation to the island. However, it is also the most uncomfortable and has the longest journey time of all other methods of transport.
You can take a bus to the island from either the Sai Tai Bus Terminal or Mo Chit Bus Terminal in Bangkok, where approximately 12 hours later you will arrive on Koh Samui. The bus journey from Bangkok is broken up into two stages. The first being the bus travel from Bangkok to Donsak in Surat Thani. It is from here when the second part of the journey begins where you board the ferry that will take you over to Koh Samui. When purchasing your ticket for the bus it is highly recommended that you purchase a combination ticket that includes both sections of the journey (bus travel & ferry).
A VIP bus ticket from Bangkok works out at about 800 Baht and it is well worth purchasing the best ticket you possibly can in order to make the long bus journey as comfortable as possible.
Tickets can be purchased from most travel agents that are based in and around Koh San Road and Sukhumvit. Alternatively, you can always purchase a ticket from the bus station itself.
Generally speaking, the facilities on board the VIP buses are relatively good. Many have large reclining seats and air conditioning. Some (but not all) have toilets, so please bear this in mind, although the bus will stop approximately four or five times for a toilet break. Some of the newer VIP buses even have massage chairs and individual TV screens, similar to those on airplanes.
As well as commuting to Koh Samui from Bangkok there is also a twice daily service to Koh Samui from some of the islands on the Andaman coast such as Phuket and Phi Phi and also from Krabi on the mainland.
The well used bus route between Koh Samui and destinations on the Andaman coast was setup specifically for travellers and backpackers in mind, who wanted to visit both of these popular tourist destinations. The journey itself is quite straightforward and takes around 6 hours. As with travelling from Bangkok, the journey from any of the destinations on the Andaman coast involves travelling to Koh Samui by both bus and ferry, with staff on hand at transfers points to make sure that you get on the correct buses and ferries.
When travelling to Koh Samui from Phuket you normally have a choice of either a morning or afternoon bus service. There are also services from Phi Phi and Phuket that travel both Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan.
Tickets for any buses and ferries to Samui from Phi Phi or Phuket can be purchased from local travel agents in those areas or from hotels or guesthouses. When purchasing from hotels and guesthouses they will normally include a transfer service from you hotel to bus station or ferry terminal. Tickets usually cost between 500 and 800 Baht.
Boat To Koh Samui
Travelling to Samui by boat is still the most popular way to travel to the island and if you intend to visit Samui’s neighbouring islands of Koh Pha Ngan or Koh Tao then travelling by ferry is your only option.
Ferry services from Surat Thani on the mainland run almost hourly. If you travel to Samui from Bangkok or another destination in Thailand then your bus or train will usually terminate in Surat Thani where you will then join the ferry for the final leg of the journey over to Koh Samui.
Once you arrive in Surat Thani there are 3 piers from where you can catch the ferry over to the island. The busiest of these 3 piers is at Don Sak, this is also the closet mainland pier to Koh Samui. Althernatively, you can also catch the ferry from Ao Ban Don or Tha Thong.
When you purchase your travel ticket for Koh Samui, if you visit a travel agent in Bangkok, Phuket or Krabi then it is likely that they will give you a combination ticket for travel by bus, train and ferry. (If they do not make sure you ask for one!) This ticket will also include transfers and will entitle you to help from the meet and greet staff at the ferry terminals and bus stations. Although a combination ticket itself provides convenience, the reality is that the journey itself is likely to lots of waiting around for boarding buses or ferries.
The standard ferry ride from Surat Thani to Samui takes around two and a half hours before it arrives at the pier on Nathon on Koh Samui. After arriving at Nathon it then continues onto Koh Pha Ngan. There are also hourly ferries between Koh Samui and Koh Phan Ngan, which connect the Big Biddha Beach and Haad Rin, respectively.
Another option for travelling to Samui Island by boat is to take the night ferry. The journey lasts approximately 5 hours and there are a number of small bunk beds inside the ferry, which are perfect if you want to get you head down. However, make sure you board the ferry within plenty of time, otherwise the bunk beds will all be taken and you might be forced to sleep up on the deck! The night ferry can be a good option for people who arrive in Surat Thani late in the evening but do not want wait until the following morning in order to travel over to Koh Samui.
It is worth noting that as with any form of transport in Thailand (excluding air travel) that departure and arrival times are never absolute and you should always bear this in mind when you are planning your journey. A standard journey to somewhere like Koh Samui will usually involve you setting off in the morning and waiting around for a little bit, before then arriving at your destination sometime in the afternoon or evening. Unfortunately if you need to be more specific or efficient with you schedule than this then you might have a problem. That’s not to say that the transportation in Thailand is poor, far from it, it’s just there is often less consideration given to any form of timetable for buses and ferries as you would normally expect back home.
It should also be noted that each year there are a number of accidents on board the ferries that operate to and from Koh Samui. Many of which are the result of overcrowding and poor safety standards from the ferry operators. Therefore, being patient and careful when getting on and off the ferry is very important.
For the latest information on ferry timetables to Koh Samui then it is advisable to ask the travel agents or ferry operators once you arrive in Surat Thani. Apart from doing that it is just a matter of going with the flow, following the crowds and listening to where the meet and greet staff and ferry personal advise you to go.
Here is a guide to ferry times to Koh Samui from Surat Thani. For the very latest information you are advices to contact the ferry operators directly.
Surat Thani (Donsak Seatran Pier) to Koh Samui (Nathon Pier)
Daily, every hour from 06:00 to 19:00.
Tel: 077 275061/2 (Surat Thani office)
Surat Thani (Donsak Raja Pier) to Koh Samui (Lipa Noi Pier)
Daily, every hour from 06:00 to 19:00.
Tel: 077 471 151/3 (Donsak office) or Tel: 077 423 026 (Samui office)
Surat Thani (Song Serm Pier) to Koh Samui (Nathon) Express Boat
Daily; bus leaves from Surat Thani Town at 08:00 and 14:00
Journey time is around 1 hour and tickets cost 380 Baht. Tel:077 289894
Surat Thani and Koh Samui Night Ferry
All night ferries from Surat Thani stop at Koh Samui first before heading onto Koh Tao or Koh Phan Ngan.
|From||To||Departure||Arrival||Ticket Price (Baht)|
|Surat Thani||Koh Tao||23:00||08:00||500|
|Koh Tao||Surat Thani||20:00||05:30||500|
|Surat Thani||Koh Samui||23:30||05:30||100|
|Koh Samui||Surat Thani||21:00||04:30||100|
|Surat Thani||Koh Phan Ngan||23:00||05:00||100|
|Koh Phan Ngan||Surat Thani||22:00||04:00||100|
If you plan to visit nearby Koh Tao then you can take a high speed catamaran from Chumpon, which is approximately half way along the coast from Bangkok and travels over to Koh Tao twice a day. This is the quickest and easiest way to visit Koh Tao from Bangkok.
Train To Koh Samui
Travelling by train to Koh Samui from Bangkok is a popular option for travellers who are looking for a hassle free journey. The journey itself from Hua Lampong Train Station in Bangkok to Surat Thani takes about 10 hours.
It is highly recommended to take the overnight train and travel in either first or second class where the carriages are air conditioned and the sleepers are clean and generally comfortable. The main difference between travelling first and second class is that in first class you get you own private cubicle.
Train travel in Thailand is generally quite good and can be a useful alternative to people who are operating on a budget or that do not like to travel long distances by bus.
As with travelling by bus to Koh Samui, you can also by a combination ticket for the train that includes travel by both the train and ferry.
You should also note that when travelling to Koh Samui by train your ticket will probably say ‘Bangkok to Surat Thani’. However, you should note that the train stop is actually located in Phun Phin, which is approximately 10kms to the west of Surat Thani. Upon arrival at Phun Phin there is always a host of taxis waiting to take you one of the piers in Surat Thani in order for you to board the ferry to Samui Island.
Here is a guide for train times from Bangkok to Surat Thani
Here is a guide for train times from Surat Thani to Bangkok