For most people, Thailand is synonymous with beautiful beaches and rightly so because there are loads of them. Out of the many islands, Koh Tao is a place that I find myself coming back to over and over again. Between its beautiful beaches, great nightlife, and amazing diving, what’s not there to love. If you’re planning on traveling to the Thai Islands, Koh Tao is always a good choice. So how exactly do you get there? Here are a few options to consider when figuring out how to get to Koh Tao.
Editor’s Note: Heading to Koh Tao? Check out our Where to Stay in Koh Tao article for our personal recommendations!
Bangkok- Koh Tao Island
If you are coming from Bangkok, you have three options. You can either fly, take a bus, or take the train. Obviously, if you are short on time, flying is your best option. If booked in advance, you can find flights for as low as $30.
Listed below are the routes and estimated prices. Alternatively, you can also use this widget to check schedules and prices in advance.
Flying to Koh Tao
If you are planning to fly, you can book a flight from Suvarnabhumi Airport which runs 5x a week or you can also book one from Don Mueang International Airport to Chumphon which runs daily. From these airports, you can hop on a taxi to the train station and head towards a boat to the islands. The sooner you book flights, the more affordable they are.
Cost: Flights run from anything to $35-100 during peak season.
Trip Length: From Don Mueang Airport (DMK) you can book a 1 hour and 10-minute flight which will include a 35-minute bus ride to the pier to catch the ferry. The following flight providers run consistent flights to Chumphon on a daily basis. We recommend comparing flights using the Skyscanner App in order to get the best deal.
- Nok Air
- Solar Air
Taking the Bus / Ferry to Koh Tao
For those thinking of taking a bus, make your way to the Southern Bus Terminal where you can purchase a ticket heading towards Chumphon. Often, you have companies that offer bus and boat tickets which are quite convenient. The two most popular options are Lomprayah Catamaran and Songserm Speed Boat. We highly recommend going for the combo tickets as it will save you lots of effort and time compared to trying to organize it yourself.
Cost: Bus tickets run from anything between $24-36 (850-1300 THB)
Trip Length: 12 hours
Riding the Train/Bus/Ferry to Koh Tao
Another option is to go by train. This is actually a route that we’ve done three or four times already and have always had a good experience. We’ve taken the sleeper train heading there which was rather affordable. It also ends up saving you a night of paying for accommodation. Generally speaking, taking the bus is the quickest way to get there, but we just love trains so naturally, this route is our favorite. The night trains heading down to Chumphon leaves from Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok. Even in the train stations, we recommend booking a combo ticket as the boat operator usually provides a free transfer between the train station to the pier.
Insider Tip: If you’re not in a hurry, stay overnight in Chumphon and discover the tastes of local robusta, find out how the birds’ nests are harvested at the farms and prepare yourself to your island stay visiting some of the idyllic beaches in the proximity of the city (e.g. Hat Thung Wua Laen).
Cost: Train tickets around $34-56 (1200-2000 THB depending on class/dates)
Trip Length: 14-15 hours
Suratthani to Koh Tao
Another option to reach Koh Tao is from Suratthani which receives direct flights from other Thai cities and KL. From here, you can purchase a bus and ferry ticket heading towards Don Sak pier. Here, you can board a Catamaran heading straight for Ao Mae Haad Pier in Koh Tao. Other stops on this route are Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. This also means that you can reach Koh Tao easily from the other neighboring islands just by hopping on a ferry.
Cost: around $19-26 (700-950 THB)
Other Islands to Koh Tao
Koh Samui to Koh Tao
From Koh Samui, the two most popular boats, Lomprayah Catamaran and Seatran Discovery take 2 and a half hours to Koh Tao’s Mae Haad. The boats leave from Maenam and Bangrak Seatran Pier on Koh Samui. With Seatran you have to book at least one day in advance while Lomprayah requires two days advanced booking. We recommend booking in advance, especially during peak season.
Cost: around $17-21 (600-700 THB)
Trip Length: 2-3 hours (depending on boat and schedule)
Koh Phangan to Koh Tao
Both companies, Lomprayah and Seatran Discovery leave from Thong Sala Pier on Koh Phangan and take around an hour and a half to arrive at Koh Tao’s Mae Haad. It is recommended to book at least a day in advance to secure your slot. The last boat leaves Koh Phangan at 5:30 in the afternoon.
Cost: around $14-17 (500-600 THB)
Trip Length: 1 and 1/2 hours (depending on boat and schedule)
Which Company to Choose from?
Generally speaking, Lomprayah Catamaran is a lot faster as the boats are smaller. However, if the waves are choppy and you easily get seasick, it might be worth going with Seatran Discovery. Either way, both boats have consistent schedules. Just remember to book in advance as soon as you’ve sorted your plans. We’ve gotten “stuck” in Koh Tao once as all the tickets were sold out. Then again, looking back, I don’t think that was such a bad thing.
Now all that’s left is to get there and enjoy your days basking in the sunshine and discovering the underwater world! Make sure you check out our full Koh Tao Guide to help you discover the best beaches and the best things to see and do. Have fun!
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- Guide to Choosing the Right Thai Islands to Visit