Koh Tao, which literally translates to Turtle Island, is a place of pristine beauty, tucked away in the Gulf of Thailand. Home to a dwindling yet sizable population of sea turtles, this island paradise looks stunning when viewed from both above or below the water.
The lush hilly landscape, great beaches and hidden bays act like a magnet to tourists who flock to Koh Tao in large numbers, especially from Bangkok.
Going from Bangkok to Koh Tao is not difficult but you need to keep all options and tips handy to zero in on the best option.
Table of Content
- 1 What to do on Koh Tao Island
- 2 How to Go from Bangkok to Koh Tao
- 3 Golden tips for your ‘Bangkok Koh Tao Bangkok‘ Commute
What to do on Koh Tao Island
Koh tao has a lot to offer. As one of the best diving spots in the world, Koh Tao surely takes a spotlight in that arena. However, there are many other cool things to do on Koh Tao island which not many tourists focus on like bouldering, hiking, beach hopping, laid back cafes and more.
How to Go from Bangkok to Koh Tao
The only way to access Koh Tao is by boat. There are no bus, air or train services at the island itself. Visitors can catch a boat from the various boarding points on the mainland namely, Chumphon, or Surat Thani, or from the islands of Koh Samui or Koh Phangan.
Basically there are three different ways to get to Koh Tao from Bangkok –
# 1 Take a flight to Koh Samui or the mainland
This is the fastest way to reach Koh Tao from Bangkok, though not necessarily the cheapest. Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways are the two service operators flying to Koh Samui, which offer convenient onward connections with the boats. Flights cost usually around 100$ but if you are lucky you can get one for as low as even 30$.
The total travel time till the pier is about one hour and thirty five minutes, which include the 35 minutes ride from airport to the boarding point.
The two low cost service carriers Nok Air and Air Asia fly to the mainland with direct connection with the Lamprayah Catamaran and Seafran Discovery respectively. Flights depart every 30 minutes from Bangkok from 0600 to 2200 hours daily.
# 2 Bangkok to Koh Tao by Ferry & Bus Option
This is probably the most popular as well as the cheapest way to get to Koh Tao. There is no direct bus from Bangkok to Koh Tao as it is an island and hence accessible by boat.
It is best to catch an AC bus from Khaosan Road in Bangkok which will take you directly to the boarding point at the jetty. The journey can take anything between 12 to 14 hours and costs around 25 to 30$.
The buses connect with both the Lomprayah Express or Songserm Express at Chumphon. Depending on the boat type, the trip to Koh Tao can take two to three hours. The ferry seats itself are comfy and there is a small cafe which serves coffee and chips (For a fee).
# 3 Reaching Koh Tao via Sleeper train and Boat
This is a much more comfortable way to get to Koh Tao as one has the luxury to sleep in an air conditioned Sleeper train from Bangkok. Depending on the dates and class booked, the ticket cost varies from 35$ to 55$ and the overnight trip is completed to Chumphon Railway Station in about 14 hours. The boat companies, then provide complimentry transfers from the station to the piers.
Golden tips for your ‘Bangkok Koh Tao Bangkok‘ Commute
1. Avoid Busy Periods
The most busy season in Koh Tao extends from July to September, Christmas, and the months of January and February when everything is very expensive, mostly the ferries, trains , bus and flights to Koh Tao.
2. Full Moons and Local Festivals
Other avoidable dates are important local festivals and full moon days when there can be a significant price surge. This is due to the world renowned full moon party in Koh Phangan which is just next door. There are surge dates every month so check the “Full moon and festival fare” sheet by Lomprayah before planning your travels.
3. Keep an Eye out for Storms
Check weather forecast and keen a close eye on storms. We got stuck in a mega thunderstorm and everyone on the ferry was sick or crying. It was quite scary and I would not recommend hopping on a catamaran on choppy seas – A big no no!
4. Don’t book your ferry or bus close to your international flights
As a general rule, keep 2-3 days gap before you fly into Bangkok from Koh Tao, incase you have an international flight booked ex Bangkok. Reason being, sometimes the best options (like ferry + mini van) have limited seats and they sell out fast. Hence, you need to book your return ticket to mainland as soon as you arrive on the island to avoid disappoint or missing a flight. Else just keep few days on hand so there is no rush and you don’t end up having to travel during a thunderstorm, like we did.
5. Baggage Allowance on Lomprayah Ferry
Do note that only upto 20 kgs is allowed on the ferry though in all honestly I never saw anyone check or weigh bags at the ports. However, it is mentioned on your ticket that a surcharge of 20 Baht is applicable per kilo over the limit. So be sure to travel light and keep you big bags in Bangkok.
6. Long wait time between bus and ferry
The wait time can be 5-7 hours between your bus and ferry. Ensure you grab a seat in one of the coffee shops to enjoy free WiFi and a comfy chair to take a power nap.
That’s it! Keep these things in mind and your trip from Bangkok to Koh Tao and back can be smooth sailing through and through.