Getting to Samui By Air
There are 4 different ways of getting to Samui. Passengers arriving on Koh Samui by air have no doubt that they have landed in a tropical paradise. The airport is in the most part open plan, and with huge ceiling fans, bamboo and wood finishes, and a comfortable departure lounge, it resembles a resort more than an airport. Getting to Samui by air is the quickest but most expensive form of transportation.
Opened in 1989, Koh Samui Airport is owned and operated by Bangkok Air, with most flights to and from the island therefore being with this airline. A one-way ticket to Bangkok from Samui costs on average 4500 Baht for a 50 minute flight. However, over the last few years the airport has opened up flights to other airlines. Bangkok Air offers daily flights to Samui from major Thailand destinations such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Pattaya, Phuket, and Trat. The first flights depart and arrive at 6:00am, and the last at 10:00pm. Thai Air flies daily from Bangkok, Silk Air from Singapore, and Firefly from Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
Arriving at Koh Samui airport, brightly painted open-air buses take passengers to the arrivals terminal. Those that come in directly from international flights, pass through a somewhat laid back immigration and customs. If you are being collected, follow the signs and make your way to the demarcated meeting by exiting the building and following the path to the thatch roof area outside. If you don’t have anyone picking you up, your cheapest option is the airport’s minibus service. They go to all areas on the island at reasonable rates as follows:
|Airport – Big Buddha||70 Baht|
|Airport – Chaweng (North)||100 Baht|
|Airport – Chaweng (South)||120 Baht|
|Airport – Lamai (North-Centre)||150 Baht|
|Airport – Lamai (South)||200 Baht|
|Airport – Taling Ngam||600 Baht|
|Airport – Bophut||120 Baht|
|Airport – Mae Nam||150-200 Baht|
|Airport – Bang Por-Nathon||200 Baht|
Should you wish to hire a private taxi, you will have to take a short walk to outside the airport entrance, where you will see a row of yellow and red taxis parked.
Samui’s airport is located in Bang Rak, in the north east of the island. Leaving the 4169 ring-road at the Bophut traffic lights, join up with the 4170, passing Fisherman’s Village, and head towards Bang Rak and Big Buddha. Just after the Big Buddha fresh food market, go over a bridge and turn immediately left inland and follow the airport signs. It is important to look closely at the image of the airplane on the sign: A plane taking off is for departures, and one landing is for arrivals. The two terminals are not joined.
Budget airlines, Nok Air and Air Asia offer flights from Bangkok to the mainland city of Surat Thani, with a bus and ferry trip included in the package to Samui, at considerably less than the price of direct flights with Bangkok Air.
Getting to Samui By Ferry
There are two operators that transport cars, trucks and busses to the island. The Seatran leaves from a pier at the island’s capital of Nathon, and the Raja Ferry departs from its own port in Lipa Noi, just south of Nathon on the west coast. Both ferries travel to Donsak on the mainland, with their ports being only a few kilometers from each other.
It is not possible to take a car ferry the short distance from Samui to Koh Pha-Ngan, so this involves two trips – one from Samui to Donsak on the mainland, and a second then on to Koh Pha-Ngan.
Both car ferries are equal in quality, service and price. The price to take a car on board is 450 Baht, and 175 Baht per person, the driver of the car is free. The journey from the mainland is 1.5 hours, with comfortable seating, and a small shop on board. Ferries run on the hour, from 5:00am until 7:00pm. A connection is available to Surat Thani’s airport or railway station, offering a cheaper alternative to flying to and from Samui.
The Seatran Discovery Link has a second route arriving and departing from the Bang Rak pier, 300m before the entrance to Big Buddha, and the end of Bang Rak. This ferry leaves Samui, and travels to Koh Pha-Ngan, and onwards to Koh Tao. It departs daily at 8:00am and 1:30pm and take 30 minutes to Koh Pha-Ngan and 90 minutes to Koh Tao.
Seatran Discovery www.seatrandiscovery.com
The Lomprayah high speed catamaran ferry leaves from its own pier in Mae Nam, and travels the same route as the Seatran discovery above, but goes onward to Bangkok. From Koh Tao, it arrives at the mainland town of Chumpon, where passengers board a bus to Hua Hin and finally to Bangkok. This is a reasonably priced alternative to flying between Bangkok and Samui, with the trip lasting approximately 12 hours, ferry and bus included, and costing around 1300 Baht one way. It leaves twice daily, at 8:00am and 12:30pm. The shorter trip to Koh Pha-Ngan costs 300 Baht, lasting only 20 minutes, and to Koh Tao, 600 Baht, lasting 1hour 45 minutes. The Lomprayah also offers routes inclusive of bus, leaving from Nathon Pier, and going to the Andaman coast. See the website for details.
The Thong Nai Pan Express is a small ferry that departs from Koh Pha-Ngan’s Thong Nai Pan Noi and visits Thong Nai Pan Yai, Haad Thien, Than Sadet and Haad Rin before traveling to Mae Nam on Koh Samui’s north shore. The journey from Thong Nai Pan to Koh Samui costs 300 Baht, but is long, noisy, smells of diesel. It is the only scheduled boat service to Thong Nai Pan; but passengers often have to wade into the sea up to their waists to get on and off the boat. It doesn’t run during the monsoon of mid October to mid December. There’s no website or phone number you can use to contact the Thong Nai Pan Express so don’t rely on it if you have an important travel connection to make.
The Haad Rin Queen is the only ferry from Samui to Koh Pha-Ngan that docks at Haad Rin, the other all disembark at Thongsala. The journey lasts 50 minutes, and costs 200 Baht. The Haad Rin Queen leaves from the Big Buddha pier, in the centre of Bang Rak beach, a rather rickety wooden pier, just next to the new Petcharat Pier.
Haad Rin Queen +66 (0) 7748 4668
Getting to Samui By Bus
Packages are available combining bus and ferry to Samui with vehicles ranging from VIP air-conditioned options to budget carriers used by locals. The 12-hour trip from Bangkok to Surat Thani costs between 600 – 900 Baht, depending on the class booked. Buses also run on the southern grid route to and from Phuket and Krabi, as well as to Malaysia, with Surat Thani and Hat Yai being main terminals.
The Transport Co. Ltd www.transport.co.th
Sombat Tour www.sombattour.com
Getting to Samui By Train
A comfortable yet cost effective alternative on how to get to Samui from Bangkok, is by overnight train ride in a sleeper cabin. The train station is at the mainland city of Surat Thani, so the trip can be combined with a ferry and bus ride, and booked as one trip via any travel agent. The 12-hour journey costs about 1150 Baht per person for a first class cabin, or 600 Baht for the second class cabin. An inexpensive way of getting to Samui.
State Railway of Thailand www.railway.co.th