Getting to Koh Tao
Getting to Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand has become much easier in recent years. There’s now a number of high speed boats that travel to and from Koh Tao, at least twice a day, from neighbouring islands and the mainland. Getting to Koh Tao by air is reasonably cheap now as well and the most convenient for many. There is an airport on nearby Koh Samui island, plus in Chumphon and Surat Thani on the mainland. All then involve a short boat journey after the flight in order to reach Koh Tao.
It is very common for visitors to purchase in advance a joint bus and ferry ticket. Getting to Koh Tao this way may take a few extra hours travelling but it’s a great way to meet others visiting the island and an opportunity for you to exchange plans, ideas and advice. It’s possible to buy joint train and ferry tickets too. However you plan on getting to Koh Tao, it’s as much about the journey you make getting here, as it is the experience you have once you arrive on the island. Make it a trip you don’t forget and take in everything along the way on your journey to paradise.
Flights to Koh Tao are not possible as there is no airport on the island. The nearest airports to Koh Tao are located in Chumphon, Surat Thani and Koh Samui. Daily flights are available from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports. For most international flights you will need to fly into Bangkok first, then take a connecting flight to one of the above mentioned airports. However, some international flights are available direct to Koh Samui from South East Asian countries such as Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Book your low cost flights here!
Getting to Koh Tao via train through Thailand is a good way of getting from Bangkok to Chumphon, to then connect you to Koh Tao via ferry. If you are expecting high speed Eurostar trains then you will be disappointed. Despite the lack of speed it is a comfortable and convenient way of getting to Koh Tao. The train to Koh Tao is via Chumphon and taking a day train is a great way to see the Thai countryside. Most people, however opt for the night train and the sleeper carriages that are available. This will allow you to get the early morning boat that leaves from Chumphon to Koh Tao. If you decide to take the night train we suggest opting for First or Second class sleeper seats with air conditioning. It can get quite crowded and hot on the trains in some parts so air conditioning is essential if your budget will allow it. The trains can get very busy with backpackers over high season and Full Moon Party time on Koh Phangan, so book your ticket in advance. It is also possible to get a train from Hat Yai to Surat Thani, where you can then catch a connecting bus and boat to Koh Tao.
Getting to Koh Tao by bus is a low cost option for those on a budget. Travelling long distance by bus is never the most comfortable journey, but in Thailand it certainly is the cheapest form of transport. Getting to Koh Tao from Bangkok by bus is very cheap, however, the journey is long and often uncomfortable, hence the low price – but if you’re on a budget it is a realistic option. Buses run throughout the day and night, which gives you some flexibility when deciding what time you wish to head to Koh Tao.
The bus to Chumphon (the nearest mainland town to Koh Tao) is by far the quickest, cheapest and most convenient route from Bangkok. From here it’s a matter of catching a connecting ferry to Koh Tao. Many bus companies also travel to Surat Thani (the nearest mainland town to Koh Samui and from here you can catch a ferry to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao. The bus journey from Bangkok to Surat Thani is roughly 2 hours longer than that to Chumphon. You will also have to pay a little more if getting to Koh Tao on this route.
Getting to Koh Tao by ferry is the last part of your journey. There are several ferries every day heading to Koh Tao from Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Chumphon and Surat Thani. Being an island with no airport, a ferry journey is inevitable when visiting Koh Tao. There are a choice of ferry companies to use, all offering a comfortable journey either relaxing out on the decks or sitting on comfortable seats inside. The ferries are safe and reliable and all have toilets for your convenience and a small shop offering snacks and beverages.
The main ferry pier on Koh Tao is Mae Haad, this is where all the ferries arrive and depart from the mainland and neighbouring islands. Tickets can be bought in advance, or on the same day as you travel, from the ferry pier or from most travel agents. It’s advisable to book your ferry ticket a day or two in advance if you are planning to travel around Full Moon Party time.
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