How To Get To Koh Samui

Learn the best ways how to get to Koh Samui! Compare the different routes and navigate to the tropical paradise in the Gulf of Thailand!

Planning your escape to the Gulf of Thailand? The first step of the journey is figuring out how to get to Koh Samui, the largest and most convenient of the archipelago, so you can hit the beach and start your tropical vacation!

In this guide, we’ll break down the different route options, cost estimates, and considerations, pros, and cons of each, so you can pick the plan that best suits you. Book your tickets directly from here and start your journey to the island paradise of Koh Samui!

Airport sign in Koh Samui at sunrise, one of the ways on how to get to Koh Samui

Table of Contents

Getting to Koh Samui by Plane

For those prioritizing speed and convenience, flying is the most direct route to Koh Samui. Not to mention that the Koh Samui airport is possibly the most beautiful in the world!

Direct flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) in Bangkok to Samui Airport (USM) take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. However, this convenience comes at a cost, with flight prices ranging from 3,000 to 6,000 Thai Baht. 

It’s recommended to book your flight well in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure the best deals! Learn the secrets of booking the cheapest flights!

Pros

  • Speed: The quickest way to reach Koh Samui so you can hit the beach ASAP!
  • Comfort: Direct flights provide convenience and comfort.
  • Airport: Koh Samui Airport is by far the most beautiful airport I’ve ever seen!

Cons

  • Cost: Generally more expensive compared to other options.
  • No Scenery: You will miss the beauty along the way that you get with a bus, train, or ferry.
  • Carbon Intensity: Flying is usually the least sustainable mode of transport. 
View out of a plane with a yellow sky and clouds

Getting to Koh Samui by Ferry

For a more scenic route, ferry travel to Koh Samui offers a more adventurous journey. The main ferry terminal on Koh Samui – Nathon Pier – is centrally located on the west coast. However, there are a few ferry ports so double-check which one you will arrive at to coordinate your arrival!

While most ferries depart the mainland from Donsak Pier, 2 other options exist that may be ideal for your travels. Other ferry options depart from Surat Thani or Chumphon on the mainland, connecting to Nathon Pier in Koh Samui.

From Donsak Pier

Donsak Pier is the most common port to leave the mainland and ferry over to Koh Samui. Located in Surat Thani, 275 km northeast of Phuket, getting there may require a bus or train ride from a main city, so be sure to consider that into your cost!

The ferry ride itself takes anywhere between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours for 450-240 Baht. Typically the ferry runs 2x a day, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, so be sure to plan every leg of the journey with the other.

There are 3 main operators; Lomprayah, Donsak Raja, and Seatran. Not all of them operate year-round, and prices and speeds differ between them so be sure to check them all!

Use 12Go.Asia, or Bookaway to easily compare and find the best travel options for you!

Getting to the Pier

Since getting to the pier may require some extra travel, I will briefly go over some ways to get there! Depending on where you’re coming from, you can choose between bus, train, or flight to Surat Thani By BUS Bus is the most common way to travel on land between cities in Thailand. No reservations are required in many cases, with different options for your ride to suit your preferences (VIP, A/C, standard). The best part, is the buses will take you directly to the Surat Thani ferry terminal, unlike the train and plane options below. 
  • Bus from Bangkok – Surat Thani: 600-900 THB / 9-16 hours
  • Bus from Phuket – Surat Thani: 380 THB / 6 hours
  • Bus from Krabi – Surat Thani: 450 THB / 4 hours
By TRAIN The train is a great way to see the countryside, with affordable options! This is great if you’re coming from Bangkok, and want to lock it in for a long ride down the coast. You can get a sleeper car for extra comfort, but be sure to book your ticket at least 5 days in advance!
  • Train from Bangkok – Surat Thani: 1,000 THB / 9-12 hours
By PLANE
If you don’t want to miss all the action on the ground, you can combine a flight to Surat Thani Airport and a ferry out to Koh Samui! Often, this is cheaper than flying directly to Koh Samui, although it does add some time to your travel. Consider the cost to bus from the airport to the ferry terminal + the ferry cost, to see if it outweighs flying directly to Koh Samui.

Pros

  • Scenery: You get to see Thailand’s beauty along the way!
  • Budget: Ferries are much more affordable than a flight, saving you money.
  • Carbon Intensity: A ferry is a more sustainable option than a flight. 

Cons

  • Duration: Depending on where you’re coming from, this can be a much longer route.
  • Limited Ports: There are only 3 ports that operate between the mainland and Koh Samui, requiring a potential extra leg of travel to get there.

Transportation on Koh Samui

Upon arriving on the island, transportation options are abundant and affordable. Taxis, scooter rentals, and shared trucks, known as Songthaews, are readily available and great for exploring this tropical island.

Taxis are convenient for quick point-to-point travel, with costs ranging from 300 to 500 Thai Baht for short distances. Since flights and ferries arrive on the island at regular intervals, they are often waiting to pick up any travelers who have just arrived. Be sure to have some Thai Baht in cash on you so you’re ready to catch a ride! 

Scooter rentals provide an eco-friendly and flexible means of exploration, most of which will require you to leave your passport with them. Scooter rentals are located all over the island, but you can also ask your host for some recommendations. Cars are also available, but much more expensive and less easy to navigate this mountainous island.

Songthaews offers shared rides with affordable fares. This is basically sitting on a bench in the back of a pick-up truck, but a great local experience to have, and usually very affordable!

Upon arrival on Koh Samui, be sure to ask your accommodation if transport is included for pickup from the airport or ferry terminal. Often, it is included in your stay, relatively affordable, or a great way to find a contact to have someone available to get you when you arrive!

Get an International Driver's Permit before leaving your home country so you're able to rent abroad with no problem, covered by insurance, and won't be extorted for money by local law enforcement!

Girl sitting on a motorbike with 2 backpacks on, an efficient way to travel in Asia

Transportation to Koh Phangan & Koh Tao

Your journey in the Gulf of Thailand doesn’t have to stop at Koh Samui. Continue venturing north to the other 2 islands in this archipelago; Koh Phangan & Koh Tao. Since neither of these islands has an airport, Ferry is your only option to get there!

Koh Phangan is famous for its Full Moon Party, less-touristy atmosphere, and spiritual communities. My favorite destination in all of Thailand!

Koh Tao is an underwater paradise for snorkelers, scuba divers, and free divers. Although a much smaller and further island, don’t discount this little gem’s attraction!

Check out everything you can't miss with this  2 week itinerary in Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao!

Summary - Getting to Koh Samui

Getting to Koh Samui offers a variety of choices catering to different preferences. Whether opting for the swiftness of air travel or taking the scenic journey by ferry, each mode comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Once on the island, the diverse transportation options ensure that exploring Koh Samui is not only convenient but also environmentally conscious. Consideration of the environmental impact, advance ticket booking, and embracing sustainable transportation practices collectively contribute to a well-rounded travel experience on this tropical haven.

 

Now that you know where you're going, make sure you have everything you need with the  Ultimate Thailand Packing List!

Posted by Taylor Mallaber

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