Koh Tao, Thailand is a small island with no airport. But nowadays it is easy to get to Koh Tao, with a range of travel options including flights, buses, trains and ferries. Lets outline the best ways to get to Koh Tao.
Most people travel to Koh Tao from Bangkok. But we’ll also give you advice on getting to Koh Tao from other spots in Thailand.
4 good options:
Fastest most direct route. Most expensive route.
From Bangkok’s main Suvarnabhumi airport Bangkok Airways (Bangkokair.com) operate flight to Koh Samui. Flight time is short, at about 1 hour.
Then from Samui you can use the Lomprayah catamaran to get to Koh Tao. Ferry crossing takes about 2 hours. One thing to beware of; Ferries depart only three times daily at 08:00, 12:30 and 16:45. So it’s best to coordinate your domestic flight to connect with one of those departure times. If you reach Samui after the last ferry departs, you’ll need to spend the night on Koh Samui.
Lower cost flight routes, but longer journey time.
Two low cost airlines operate flights from Bangkok’s northern Don Muang airport.
Nok Air (nokair.com) fly from Bangkok to Chumphon, meanwhile Air Asia (Airasia.com) fly from Bangkok to Suratthani. Then from Suratthani or Chumphon you can use the same Lomprayah catamaran to cross to Koh Tao.
It’s possible to book joint flight + ferry tickets through the airlines websites.
Cost is significantly less than flying to Samui, but journey times are a bit longer. And some things to consider. The shuttle service from airport to pier (provided by ferry company) is quite lengthy, taking over an hour for both Chumphon and Suratthani. Ferry crossing time from Chumphon to Koh Tao is about two hours. But Suratthani is a lot longer at about three and a half hours. When sea conditions are choppy I’d avoid the Suratthani crossing.
Lomprayah, the ferry company discussed above operate a joint bus + ferry service from Bangkok to Koh Tao. An air conditioned bus drives you from Bangkok to Chumphon, then you board a high speed catamaran which brings you direct to Koh Tao. The drive takes about 6 hours and ferry crossing two hours. Lomprayah offer two departures each day. Late evening (which gets you to Koh Tao at 9am the next days) and very early morning (where you get to Koh Tao around 3pm).
Tickets can be booked through Lomprayah’s website.
Alternative economical option. From Bangkok’s main Hualamphong train station you can catch an overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chumphon. You reach Chumphon very early morning, typically around 5am, though trains are often a little delayed. Lomprayah, the ferry company have a booth at the train station and organise a transfer to the pier. You’ll reach Koh Tao around 9am. Whilst a little slower than flight or bus options, you can get a proper horizontal bed on the sleeper train, so have the chance to get some decent sleep en-route. 1st or 2nd class with air conditioning is fine.
From Koh Samui there are two good ferry companies operating. Either Lomprayah catamaran (lomprayah.com) or Seatran Discovery (seatrandiscovery.com). Either is fine and both companies offer three departures daily around 08:00, early afternoon and 16:45ish.
Crossing time about two hours.
Koh Phangan is between Samui and Koh Tao. So those two ferries from Samui actually stop at Koh Phangan whilst enroute to Koh Tao. Crossing time from Phangan to Koh Tao is a little over an hour and again, you can book tickets direct through the ferry companies websites (lomprayah.com or seatrandiscovery.com). One thing to be aware of; Each month Koh Phangan hosts the world famous full moon party, which draws tourists in huge numbers. Around this time the ferries tend to run to capacity and be fully booked. So if you are planning to travel from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao around the time of the Full Moon Party, it’s a good idea to try to book your ferry ticket long in advance.
Phuket is on Thailand’s western Andaman coast on the opposite side of Thailand to Koh Tao. From Phuket there are two decent options.
Bangkok Airways (bangkokair) operate flights from Phuket to Samui. Then from Samui you can use the Lomprayah catamaran to cross to Koh Tao. This flight route can be quite expensive, especially during peak seasons. But its a quick, direct route.
This is a much more economical option but takes significantly longer. Lomprayah, the ferry company operate a joint bus + ferry service. An air conditioned coach drives you from Phuket to Suratthani, then you board a high speed catamaran for the crossing to Koh Tao. This is a long journey. Bus drives takes about six hours, then over three hours for the ferry crossing to Koh Tao. So you’ll definitely want to carry a good book or other entertainment to help pass the time.
If you’ve made a reservation with Simple Life for diving and/or accommodation we offer a free pickup service from the pier. Let us know when you’ll be arriving in Koh Tao and we’ll make sure our staff are there to meet you at the pier.
There are also many taxi drivers congregating at the pier so arranging private transport is easy too. Typically you’re looking at a taxi fare of a few hundred baht, depending which part of the island you are headed to.
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Amazing few days spent at Simple Life Diving school on Ko Tao doing our PADI open water.