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Koh Phangan : Travel Information : General Information

 
General Information
Koh Phangan is most easily accessd via Koh Samui Airport though it is slightly cheaper to fly to the regional transport hub of Suratthani. From Koh Samui a fast boat takes only 25 minutes whereas the journey from the mainland takes around eight times longer. If you come overland, the overnight train is the best option with a frist class sleeper carriage ideal for families. Buses are the most economic choice with a trip from Bangkok costing only about 650 Baht, all the way to Koh Phangan. Ferry services are more or less hourly throughout the day from Koh Samui and every couple of hours from the mainland; several boats also go regularly from Koh Tao.
Bus
Most travel agencies will be able to sell an all-in-one ticket from Bangkok to Koh Phangan which includes the bus and ferry ticket for about 650 Baht per person. The price is low because the journey takes all night and is the least comfortable way to travel. Buses depart from Bangkok at around 7pm, arriving early morning in Suratthani in time for the frist ferry to the islands. Coming back, there are numerous ferries, but for the bus you will need to depart no later then 1pm. Usually a shuttle bus will drop passengers off in Suratthani to wait until about 7pm at which time the bus will depart to Bangkok.

As a more convenient option consider buying a ticket on the well- organised Government Bus which actually goes on the Raja Ferry and saves times and discomfort changing modes of transport - although it is more expensive and will set you back up to 1000 Baht.

There are also several other bus routes (mostly via mini-bus) linking Suratthani with other major destinations.

Train
Second Class (Air Con or Fan) Sleeper trains are the best as you get a table and sofa that turns into fairly spacious beds; the lower bunk is bigger so best. The best of course is Frist Class with a sink and double bunks in each room, good if you are travelling with a lot of stuff. It is worth booking ahead with a travel agent as the train is a popular choice of transport and fills up quickly during peak periods.

All trains for Phangan stop at Suratthani railway station which is a few miles out of town, so if you have to stay in Suratthani, it is cheapest to lodge near the station otherwise you must rent a Songthaew taxi. Most trains arrive in the morning and guides take you to buses which transport to the ferry port, approximately a 1 hour drive away.

If you arrive at the train station without an onward ferry ticket there are plenty of travel offices opposite the railway station, any of which can arrange the transfer to the pier.

All tickets can be conveniently booked in advance online at www.thairailticket.com
Air
Koh Samui Airport is the most convenient airport, with Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com) flying in over 40 times in a day from Bangkok, Krabi, Phuket, Pattaya, Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur or Hong Kong. The last boat leaves for Koh Phangan from Big Buddha Pier at 6.30pm, so for flights arriving later than 5pm you may have to hire a private speedboat or stay in Koh Samui; during FMP there are boats all night from Samui 300 Baht per person.
 
It is cheaper to fly from Bangkok to the government airport at Suratthani and Nakhon Si Thammarat where a couple of budget airlines are now operating from, especially as Air Asia (www.airasia.com) and Nok Air (www.nokair.com) often run special promotions making flights available at much cheaper rates, though taxi fares and journey time tend to negate savings. It takes a minimum of 5 hours to get to Koh Phangan from Suratthani Airport at a cost of around 500 Baht which includes bus transfer and boat ticket, while the journey is just a minimum of 1 hour from Koh Samui Airport, where you can also buy a convenient minibus and boat joint ticket from around 300 Baht up. In order to make the slower route more competitive, Nok Air have teamed up with the faster Lomprayah Catamaran (www.lomprayah.com) to offer an all-in-one ticket between Koh Phangan and Bangkok completing the enitre journey in just over 5 hours. You can book online through www. nokair.com.
 
Ferry and Speed Boat
If you are coming to Koh Phangan from the mainland, buses, trains and planes all stop around Suratthani where you will be transferred to either a Suratthani jetty for the Songserm Ferry Service (3½ hours to Koh Phangan) or to Donsak which is a 50 minute bus ride away. If you stay overnight in Suratthani, the hotel can book you a ferry, or alternatively head for Phangan Tour as they are the main agent for bus transfers to Koh Phangan. From Donsak, Raja (3 hours) car ferry has five services a day or hop on the Lomprayah Catamaran (1½ hours) to arrive in half the time.
From Koh Samui the shortest crossing point is from the Bophut and Mae Nam area where several services run to Koh Tao via the main Thongsala pier on Koh Phangan:
 
Lomprayah Catamaran (30 mins)
Website: www.lomprayah.com
 
Seatran Discovery (30 mins)
Website: www.seatrandiscovery.com Email: info@seatrandiscovery.com
 
Raja Ferry
Koh Phangan Ferry Departs from Thongsala. Air-Con Bus Available To/From Bangkok.
The only service direct to Haad Rin is :
Haad Rin Queen
(50 mins) which also runs the most frequent service and also has a last boat at 6:30pm if you fly in late.

 
Songserm Express (45 mins) also runs to/ from the main port of Nathon on Koh Samui.
Website: www.songserm-expressboat.com
 
If you are in a hurry or arriving too late for any of the regular ferry services then a speedboat may be a good option from Koh Samui, arriving in only 15 minutes (weather permitting) it is the fastest way to travel between the two islands. While coming from Suratthani the Night Boat departs at 10.00pm which may be able to help out if you don’t want to spend the night in a hotel there.
Departing Phangan at 10.00pm, the Night Boat arrives at 04.00am and is a popular choice for quick VISA trips to Ranong (Burma) as you can return the same day. On arrival at Suratthani you’ll find travel agents offering the return minibus service at a cost of around 1,500 Baht per person which will include boat transfer to and from the border. This service should have you back at the pier by around 4pm at the latest.
 
FREE POCKET GUIDE
Issue 37
June - August 2014
   
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