The distance between Bangkok and Koh Samui is approximately 700 kilometres or just over 430 miles.
The 4 main ways to get from Bangkok to Koh Samui
- Flying – Direct from Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui airport (USM)
- Flying – Bangkok to Surat Thani airport, then bus and ferry to Koh Samui
- Train – Bangkok to Surat Thani train station, then bus and ferry to Koh Samui
- Bus – Bangkok to Donsak (in Surat Thani) then ferry to Koh Samui
1: Flying direct
Flying direct from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (say it like ‘suu-wan-a-poohm’ and you won’t be too far off) direct to Koh Samui takes just over 1 hour, and it is by far the quickest option to get to Koh Samui from Bangkok. However, it is also – by far – the most expensive option, with flights costing anywhere between 3,000 and 6,000+ baht… depending on the time of the flight, the season, and any ‘special offers’ that may be available.
Previously the only airline available on this route was Bangkok Air, however there are now other airlines flying the route so it is always worth researching and having a good look around for any discounted flights or special offers.
You will need to go to the ‘Domestic Flights’ part of the airport to book you place on the Samui flight. Give yourself PLENTY of time to get to your gate on time! It is a HUGE airport, and many have been caught out by the distances involved in getting to the correct gate on time.
There is nothing worse than having to run to your gate once you realise the distance involved, only to find that boarding has finished and the gate is closed! AAAAAARGH! So give yourself lots, and lots of time to get to your gate!
Although Koh Samui Airport has been somewhat ‘modernized’ over the last few years, it is still a wonderfully ‘tropical’ experience to fly in over the huge golden Buddha (Big Buddha Temple in BoPhut area) and see this beautiful ‘cute’ airport come into view. Koh Samui Airport is acknowledged by many to be the most beautiful airport in Asia, and one of the prettiest airports in the world.
So… if your budget allows it… and you want to get to the beautiful paradise island that is Koh Samui as quickly as possible, then flying is most definitely the option to go for.
2: Flying from Bangkok to SuratThani Airport
If time is still important to you, but your budget doesn’t stretch to the cost of the direct flight option, then there is also the option of flying from Bangkok to SuratThani Airport on the mainland. There are coach services from SuratThani Airport to Donsak pier, where you can then catch the ferry over to Koh Samui.
The coach journey from the airport to Donsak takes just under 2 hours, and there are 4 runs daily. Your coach ticket usually includes the cost of the ferry too.
The big ferries from Donsak pier to Koh Samui take around 90 minutes… but there is also a faster ferry service with the Lomprayah High Speed Ferry which takes only 45 minutes (but only runs runs 3 trips daily).
When you add together your flight time… time waiting for the coach to take you to the ferry port, and the ferry journey to Koh Samui itself you could be talking about 6ish hours all told… but that is still a LOT quicker than both the train/bus/ferry option and the bus/ferry option from Bangkok to Koh Samui!
If time isn’t a factor for you, and you want a real Thai experience (and are a pretty chilled type of person that doesn’t get stressed-out too easily) then THIS is definitely the option to go for! Personally my favourite option as it reminds me that I am in a different country and culture in every way, and allows lots of time to experience the real Thailand… do lots of ‘people watching’… and learn from everything going on around you. BUT… it is not for the feint of heart! Let me explain…..
First of all you need to get from the airport to to the train station (Hua Lampong).
No problem as there are taxi cabs right outside the airport that will take you there.
I suggest that you ONLY use the official yellow taxicabs and that you tell them to use their meter (they are legally bound to do so, but many will give an excuse, or tell you that it’s cheaper NOT to use the meter etc… DON’T go with them… INSIST on the meter or go to another taxi!).
The metered cabs are crazy cheap considering the distance from the airport to the train station. With the airport taxi fee and paying for the toll roads on the way (the taxi driver will ask you for the toll fee as you get to the toll booth… this is normal) the total cost shouldn’t be more than a couple of hundred baht. It is up to you, but if you have a good journey then why not give a small tip to the driver… 50 baht is my usual tip, and they are always grateful for it (that 50 baht pays for all of their food for their full shift… so it makes a big difference to them).
The train station is an amazing place and is always crammed full of people… if you are a ‘people watcher’ then you will love it! There are a few shops for coffee and food, but the much cheaper ‘Thai-style’ eating places are tucked into the right-hand side of the station… good for Thai food! The toilets are also on that side too.
Look for a ticket booth that sells tickets to SuratThani… if you are not sure then ask someone… there are always a couple of uniformed rail officers around the place, so simply say ‘SuratThani’ nicely to them (and smile!) and they will direct you to the correct window/booth.
Look on the huge digital timetable above the entrance to the platforms to see which platform and time of your train.
There are around 10 direct trains each day from Bangkok to SuratThani… including a night train with sleeper bunks (a great experience that should be tried at least once!).
Trains take between 9 and 12 hours to get to SuratThani from Bangkok – depending on the time, the type of train, and how many stops it makes.
The cost of the train is around 1,000 – 1.200 baht
Once you get to SuratThani train station you will only need to take one step out of the station doors before being approached by the folks selling the coach tickets to Koh Samui (they include the cost of the ferry ticket)… this is normal… there are no ‘touts’ trying to rip you off… simply coach organisers that are trying to fill the coaches as quickly as possible so that they can get going.
If you are NOT approached by someone (things change) then, as you exit the station look across the busy main road to your 11 o’clock and you will see a few Thai restaurants… take a walk over to them and ask for a ticket to Koh Samui… they will get you sorted out… and while you are waiting for the coach grab a meal at the restaurant… you won’t regret it! Cheap and tasty to the max!
You are nearly done!
The coach will take you to Donsak pier, where you will be directed to the Koh Samui pier and given an idea on how long you need to wait for the ferry to Koh Samui.
And from then on it is ‘plain sailing’!!
YOU MADE IT! ... and you will have had a tiring, but interesting experience that has proved beyond doubt that you are most definitely in a foreign, exotic, chaotic, wonderful country 🙂
4: Bus/ferry from Bangkok to Koh Samui
The cost of this option is pretty close to being the same as the train option above… time-wise it might be marginally quicker simply because you don’t have the same waiting times involved in the train option.
From the airport you will need a taxicab to get you to MorChit coach terminal. Similar to the railway station the huge coach terminal always has loads of people bustling to and fro… a hive of activity… especially during the Thai holiday periods!
Similar to the train station getting your ticket is a matter of going to the correct window/booth to buy it. They have the destinations written above each window, but if you aren’t sure, then ask someone to help… just say the magic words ‘Koh Samui’… or ask someone in a bus driver’s uniform 🙂
Once you have your ticket you need to show it to one of the officials and they will direct you to the bay that has your coach parked.
There are coaches that run through the daytime AND night-time, and the fare includes the cost of your ferry ticket, so once you are on the bus you are almost home and dry!
The coaches have a toilet at the back, if you are brave enough to enter and use it! (The back seats are not only ‘bouncy-bouncy’ during the whole trip, but having the toilet nearby can be a bit… ermmm… well… you know! Avoid getting a ticket at the back of the bus if at all possible!).
The cost of your ticket usually includes some basic refreshments on the bus (including a blanket!) and also a meal stop at a sort of petrol station truck-stop kind of place.
Simply play ‘follow the leader’ and do what the other passengers do… but make a solid note of the number of your bus! There will be a few other coaches parked-up with yours, and you don’t want to be getting on the wrong one do you?! 🙂
Once at the ferry terminal you will need to get off the coach and wait for your ferry… or – if the timing is good – walk onto your ferry down the walkway (you will have been given a ferry ticket to show and pass through the entrance styles).
Some coaches will also get onto the ferry (they will be based on Koh Samui) in which case you can leave the heavy luggage on the coach… BUT… some coaches may be based on the mainland and so will need you to grab ALL of your luggage as they will NOT be getting on the ferry. But don’t worry… the coach staff will make it clear what you need to do 🙂
Once docked at the Koh Samui pier you have a choice…. (IF the coach has also come to Samui on the ferry) you can either get all of your luggage as the bus drives off the ferry and parks up… and then get a taxi to where-ever you are staying on Samui… OR… you can go with the bus to the Samui bus station and get a taxi from there (which is actually a lot more difficult).
My suggestion would be to get all of your luggage off the bus at the ferry port and organise your journey to your resort or hotel from there. In fact I think that a lot of the coaches actually tell you to do this these days, but there maybe some that will still allow you to ride on to the bus station if you want to for some reason.
So… YOU MADE IT TO KOH SAMUI!!!
You now deserve a Gin & Tonic/beer/whiskey/tea/coffee whatever, and a nice evening chilling out and recovering from your trip!
WELL DONE! 🙂
Enjoy your time here on our little island paradise 🙂
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