Come to Koh Samui the comfy way!
Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ve all heard of Thailand and its fantastic islands and beaches. Today I would like to give you a very affordable, confortable, and hassle free description of how to travel from Bangkok to Koh Samui.
Koh Samui is the main island, out of three islands on the east coast in the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Samui lies 35 km from the Surat Thani province, a province in southern Thailand.
For me Koh Samui is probably one of the most beautiful islands, because it offers something for everyone. If you are looking for resort style vacations, Koh Samui has exclusive hotels, and spas to make your toes curl. If you are a family, Koh Samui is a cheap alternative to Hawaii. If you are backpacking and looking for a cheap getaway, you cant beat paying $5 per night for a wooden bungalow right on the beach of Koh Samui.
So let me illustrate my recommended travel route. Wither you are coming from Koh San Road or some posh Hotel around Road Sukhumvit, you will want to take the train from the Hualampong Station. Take the night train. It is so comfortable, clean, and gives a romantic, and adventurous feel while sleeping in your bunk and letting the train lull you to sleep. And for roughly 500Baht (~$15) it is not a bad way to travel 12 hours. Also be sure to ask for the 2nd class sleeper, if you are traveling alone, get the lower bunk. It has more air flow from the window.
Do NOT buy a combo ticket. They will offer you a combination ticket all the way to Koh Samui including bus to the pier and a ferry to Koh Samui. I’ve done this numerous times and the route never is the same nor the arrival time to the Koh Samui.
The first night train heading to Surat Thani leaves at 6:30 pm. There are I think three more trains leaving per night at various times. Take a Taxi meter to the station, be sure you tell the Taxi driver you want the fare metered, other wise you might arrive with a 200Baht fare. I know from Koh San Road the fare usually is around 60Baht (~$2) and takes approximately 30 min during non-rush hour times. Give your self enough time, rush hour traffic in Bangkok can be relentless.
That is the easy part. Once you’ve hopped on your train, are confortable in your seat and are full of anticipation with your arrival to tropical Koh Samui, you can relax open that beer you bought at Family Mart, or make your way to the food wagon for some excellent but pricey Thai Food and beverages.
Now comes the tricky part. You will arrive in Surat Thani in the morning. You might be groggy or refreshed; depending on how much you drank the night before. As soon as you step out of that train you will get hassled about where you are going, which Island you want to stay at, and how cheap you can buy the tickets from this person only etc. etc. Avoid these people because, even though they will bring you to your destination it can take a very, very long time, and you'll spend more. All you need to say at this point for them to stop bothering you is, you are going to Surat Thani City. The train station is not in Surat Thani, but a 20-minute bus ride away.
Leave the train station through the main entrance, and to your left you will see a local orange bus (#7). Take it, pay 15Baht for your fare and ask the person collecting the fare you want to go to the SeaTran office. He/ She will know what you mean.
SeaTran is the main ferry to Koh Samui. It departs from the Donsak Pier every hour starting at 6am until 7pm.
Once the local bus drops you off at the spot where the SeaTran office is, cross the street and you will see it in front of you; a big square with a small office and some big busses waiting to leave. Go into the office and buy your ticket to Koh Samui (Bus to Donsak Pier 100Baht, with ferry to Koh Samui 130Baht = Total 230Baht). You know you are in the right place because you will probably be the only Tourist there. A few minutes later you should be on the bus heading to the Donsak Pier (the bus ride usually takes an hour) and on the ferry to Koh Samui.
The ferry ride to Koh Samui takes ~1 ½ hours. You’ll arrive at Nathon, where you then can take a SongTao (local island buses), around the island to your beach of choice.
So lets see how long this took. If you took the 6:30pm train from Bangkok, you arrived in Surat Thani around 6:30am. From there you took the local bus, leaving the train station at 7am to the SeatTran office, roughly a 30min ride. You left the SeaTran office before 8am, and arrived at Donsak Pier for the 9am ferry to Koh Samui, arriving on the island at 10:30am.
The cost for all this: 500Baht for the train, 15Baht for the local bus, and 230Baht for the bus and the ferry to Koh Samui = 745Baht ($25).
If you would have taken the offer of the peddlers at the train station, or bought your combo ticket back in Bangkok you might have arrived late afternoon. There are numerous piers, and numerous independent businesses that try to make money of you. If you buy from them, you will have to wait until they have enough passengers to either fill the bus, and/or the boat is full enough to take you across the sea. You’ll be surrounded by only tourists and the experience can be long and draining.
Trust me, I’ve done this trip over the last ten years, and never figured out the best way to get to Koh Samui, until a few weeks ago.
I hope this helps, have fun, and safe travels!