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how to get to Koh Tao

How to get to Koh Tao

Koh Tao is a small island located in the gulf of Thailand, 70 km East from the main land. In the last decade or so, this tiny jewel has become more and more popular among divers and travelers as well. Koh Tao is now a large Padi diving school, with dozens of dive centers and the biggest number every year of Padi certified divers of the world just second to Cairns in Australia!

Scuba diving in Koh Tao is easy and cheap and is quite good with a very small chance to spot a Whale Shark. For experienced divers, Koh Tao dive sites offers the opportunity for divers to pass a new Padi certification and learn new skills.

However, in the last few years, many non-divers come to Koh Tao to try something different from the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan situated a bit further South in Thailand. Nightlife in Koh Tao is also good but the island is still easy going and a good place to chill out.

With its beautiful beaches, great nightlife, and amazing diving, Koh Tao is full of charm. If you’re planning on traveling to the Thai Islands, Koh Tao is always a good choice. So how exactly do you get there? Here are a few options to consider when figuring out how to get to Koh Tao.

  • 1st – Koh Tao has No airport.
  • 2nd – Surat Thani or Chumphon piers, or Koh Samui Airport is the gateway you will have to travel via in order to Koh Tao. This comes to the conclusion that if you come from Bangkok or any other destination in Thailand mainland or in the Andaman coast, you will need to combine different means of transportation.
  • 3rd – Can you imagine combining transportation like bus + ferry or flight + ferry? Yes, that’s it, the most practical way to travel to Koh Tao. Remember to purchase the combined ticket, also called joint ticket. You will have the benefit of buying only one ticket that covers the whole trip, from destination to destination. Let all the transport arranged by us, all you need to do is only following the instructions and keeping the ticket with you all the time.
  • 4th – Mae Haad Pier in Koh Tao is where all the boats, ferries and speedboats arrive and depart from.
  • 5th – Booking your combined ticket or ferry to Koh Tao in advance is recommended, especially in the high season. You should keep in mind that it’s better to guarantee your seat in advance for limited spaces of buses, vans, and overnight boats.

Your hotel’s reception is another option to arrange transportation. However, both good and bad experiences occurred. The price will be almost the same as booking it online.

Now let’s go straight to the most useful part, how to get to Koh Tao from Bangkok and other popular destinations in Thailand.


Buddha Rock of Koh Tao


How to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao

Bangkok is a must for many traveller to Thailand.  When you finish doing all the amazing things in Bangkok, you can choose Koh Tao and you will have many different ways to go there. The distance between Koh Tao and Bangkok is somehow around 400km, and in order to cover the distance, you will have to make the combination of flight plus bus or van plus ferry or bus plus ferry, or train plus taxi plus ferry.

The fastest way to get to Koh Tao from Bangkok is by flight.

The best choice is to take a flight from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport to Koh Samui Airport and then get a ferry to Koh Tao. Many ferries run the route during the day connecting Koh Samui and Koh Tao (we will discuss the detail later). You will spend approximately 6 hours on the flight + a taxi from the airport to the pier and the boat to Koh Tao. The price may differ a lot, but this is absolutely the fastest way to do the travel from Bangkok to Koh Tao if cost is not taken into account.

The second fastest way is to take a flight from Bangkok Don Muang Airport to one of those airports in South Thailand and from there take a bus, taxi, or van to the pier, and finally a ferry to Koh Tao. It may sound tough, but it’s not that hard in fact. You may spend around 7 to 9 hours on the trip, depending on which airport in the south you choose. Prices can differ a lot as well.

We suggest that you fly with a budget airline that offers a joint ticket, so getting from the airport to the pier will be free from your worry. Air Asia operates the flights from Bangkok to Nakhon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani Airports while NokAir has the flights from Bangkok to Chumphon Airport. The expenses of the ticket will include the flight, the transfer from airport terminal to the pier and the ferry to Koh Tao.

The cheapest way to travel from Bangkok to Koh Tao is by train + ferry.

The cheapest way to travel to Koh Tao from Bangkok is to combine train and ferry. There are ten trains leaving from Bangkok to Chumphon train station everyday, from 8 AM till 10 PM. You will spend from 6 to 9 hours on the trip according to the train you choose, and the cost maybe from 550 baht for 2nd class to 1,700 baht for the sleeper with air conditioning.

As your final destination is Koh Tao, you have to plan your train trip depending on the ferry departures. Three ferries run from Chumphon to Koh Tao every day, and your best choice is choosing one of the overnight trains and purchasing the ferry ticket that covers the pick-up service at the Chumphon train station. The average cost for the ferry is 600 baht. In total, you will spend 9 to 13 hours getting from Bangkok to Koh Tao by combining train and ferry.


Chumphon Railway Station


The most common way to get to Koh Tao from Bangkok is by bus.

The most practical and traditional way to go from Bangkok to Koh Tao is, of course, by bus operated by Lomprayah High-Speed Catamaran company. There are two services each day provided by the company, one at 6 AM and the other at 9 PM, departing from Khao San Road area and arriving in Koh Tao at 2:45 PM and 8:45 AM, accordingly. You will spend 1,100 baht on the bus ticket and the cost includes the bus and ferry as well. This is the backpackers’ favorite choice and attracts travelers who want to escape the trouble of going through airport security, boarding procedures, then running for a bus and ferry.

In addition, the bus departing at 9 PM is a good choice for you to save time and accommodation cost as well. Although the night bus is not really comfortable, it’s still acceptable. It will be a little tight for people with long legs, and quite OK for the others. Chances are that you need to wait at the pier until the ferry arrives, and the waiting may last one to two hours. The good advantage is that you can greet a beautiful sunrise during the waiting.

By the way, your bus journey from Bangkok to Koh Tao can also be carried out by booking a regular bus to Chumphon or Surat Thani stations and from there take a taxi to one of the piers followed by a ferry to the island. However, this is not our recommendation for sure as it is very easy for you to miss the connections. As known to all, the piers are far from the cities and finding a taxi driver speaking good English can not be so easy. What’s more, the price won’t be a big difference, so leave behind the idea.

Note: From Bangkok to Koh Tao, we experienced the bus journey with Lomprayah and flight with Air Asia. Both turned out to be good. Flying made you feel easier as it was during the day and cost less time. However, getting the bus from Khao San Road was unexpectedly interesting. We had chance to meet different people and had time to do more communication before boarding the ferry.


Lomprayah Bus to Koh Tao


How to travel from Koh Samui to Koh Tao

As mentioned, Koh Samui and Koh Tao are neighbors. If you are want to pay a visit to it, please check our guide on how to get to Koh Samui, and then going on the trip to Koh Tao is not difficult. Three companies are offering ferries from Koh Samui to Koh Tao: Lomprayah High-Speed Catamaran, Seatran Discovery, and Songserm.

Lomprayah has two departures every day, respectively at 8 AM and 12:30 PM. You will spend 1 hour and 45 minutes on the trip with ticket around 650 baht. This is the fastest ferry connecting the islands. If you’re liable to seasickness, we suggest you avoid this option and hop on a traditional ferry.

Seatran Discovery provides three ferries daily, accordingly at 10 AM, 1 PM, and 4:30 PM. You will spend 2 hours on the trip with ticket around 650 baht.

Songserm offers another option for with the ferry departing at 11 AM. This is the cheapest one to get from Koh Samui to Koh Tao, costing only 450 baht. But it’s the longest one, and you will spend 2 hours and a half on it.

Note: Take it into account that Koh Samui is not a small island, and each ferry company has its own pier. When making the plan, allocate enough time to leave your hotel for the pier with at least 30 minutes before ferry departure. When booking your ferry, double check if they include pick-up service, otherwise you pay 100 or 200 baht more and make sure everything included in one ticket.


Ferry journey from Koh Samui to Koh Tao


How to travel from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao

Koh Phangan, the beautiful island famous for Full Moon Party and yoga retreats lies between Koh Tao and Koh Samui. So you can easily figure out that traveling from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao is not hard, and the best way to connect the two islands, 46 km wide,is by ferry.

Koh Phangan is the stop point of most ferries connecting Koh Samui and Koh Tao in order to drop and collect more passengers. The timetable for the ferry from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao is as follows:

Lomprayah High-Speed Catamarans offers three departures from Koh Phangan, respectively at 8:30 AM, 1 PM, and 6:15 PM, and the trip takes 1 hour. The former two departures are 500 baht while the ferry at 6:15 PM costs 600 baht.

The Seatran Discovery ticket is 500 baht while there are three departures -8:30 AM, 1:30 PM and 5 PM for you to choose from. Each trip takes 1 hour and a half. 

Songserm provides the cheapest ferry from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao, with the ticket only 350 baht. The ferry departs at 12:30, and you will spend 2 hours on the trip.

Note: the benefit of the ferries from Koh Phangan is that they all depart from the same place, Thong Sala Pier.


Thong Sala Pier of Koh Phangan


How to get from Phuket to Koh Tao

Phuket is a popular destination. Located on the Andaman Sea, Phuket is actually opposite to Koh Tao with a batch of land and sea in between. As for getting to Koh Tao from Phuket, a couple of ways will make it, and you can make your decision among the fastest, the cheaper, or the most common one.

The fastest way to get to Koh Tao from Phuket is by flight.

Five direct flights fly from Phuket to Koh Samui every day, then you can take a ferry from Samui to Koh Tao, just as explained above. You will spend around 1 hour on the flight. Including the ferry, you will spend probably 3 or 4 hours arriving in Koh Tao. This is absolutely the fastest way to get to Koh Tao from Phuket.

The cheapest way to travel from Phuket to Koh Tao is by bus + ferry.

Taking a bus from Phuket to Surat Thani and from there hopping on a ferry to Koh Tao is the cheapest option. (we will cover the detail as how to travel from Surat Thani to Koh Tao later). Three buses run every day connecting Phuket and Surat Thani, taking about 4.5 hours and costing about 200 to 300 baht.

The challenging point is to find the correct pier from Surat Thani bus station as different companies operate ferries to Koh Tao at different times of the day, and at different piers. If you can plan your trip very carefully and nothing unexpected happens, you can make your trip by bus plus ferry in 8 to 12 hours, depending on whether you hop on a ferry or an overnight boat. The rate of the ferry from Surat Thani to Koh Tao differ from 600 to 900 baht.

The best way to get from Phuket to Koh Tao is with Lomprayah bus + ferry service.

A direct service is provided by Lomprayah from Phuket to Koh Tao, including bus and ferry both on one ticket. Besides, the bus runs directly to the company’s pier, so there is nothing for you to worry about. The bus departs from Phuket at 10 AM and arrives on the island at 7:15 PM. You will spend 1,300 baht on the whole journey.

Note: The buses to Koh Tao may depart from Phuket Bus Station or otherwise from the company’s office. When you purchase your ticket, remember to check the details like departure point carefully and make sure to spare at least 30 minutes in advance.


Lomprayah High Speed Ferry


How to travel from Krabi to Koh Tao

Similar to Phuket, Krabi is also a favourite beach destination among travelers situated on the other side of Thailand, which indicates that a long journey awaits. Before starting the topic on how to get to Koh Tao from Krabi province, you should keep in mind that from Krabi there are three different departure points: Krabi Town, AoNang Beach and Railay Beach. Different departure points will result in different traveling time and costs, although the difference may not be so big. 

The fastest way to get to Koh Tao from Krabi is by flight.

Just as usual, it is the most expensive and meantime the fastest way to travel from Krabi to Koh Tao, quite reasonable. However, every day there is only one flight from Krabi Airport to Koh Samui, departing at 1:45 PM and arriving in Koh Samui at 2:40 PM. Then it’s possible for you to take one of the late afternoon ferries to get to Koh Tao. The flight price can differ a lot. So booking in advance to find a good deal is highly recommended.

The cheapest option to travel from Krabi to Koh Tao is by bus + ferry.

A bus or minivan ride can transfer you from Krabi to Surat Thani and from there you hop on a ferry to the island. You will spend 3 to 4 hours on the road ride and costs range from 250 to 350 baht according to the pick-up and drop-off point. From Surat Thani, you may check up the ferry schedule and choose the one that connects best for you. The whole trip may cost about 1,000 baht and take you 7 to 9 hours on the way, if you book all the tickets individually. However, we suggest you reserve everything with the same supplier without later worries.


Surat Thani Pier


The best way to go from Krabi to Koh Tao is by booking a combination ticket.

You have three options to choose from:  Lomprayah, Songserm, and Seatran Discovery as they all providing the service between Krabi and Koh Tao. But they have different departure points, so you can choose the one which best suits you according to where you stay. What’s more, the travel time differs among them, with Lomprayah being the fastest one.

Choosing Lomprayah, you will depart at 6:45 AM and 12:45 PM and arrive at Koh Tao at 2:15 PM or 7:15 PM, accordingly. Keep in mind that Lomprayah leaves from their office in Krabi town or Ao Nam Mao Pier, with tickets rate from 1,100 to 1,300 baht.

Seatran Discovery departs at 11 AM and arrives at Koh Tao at 7 PM. It also leaves from its office in Krabi town, with tickets rate from 1,230 baht.

Last but not least, Songserm provides the cheapest joint ticket from Krabi to Koh Tao, about 900 baht. Remember, the bus departs from Andaman Wave Master Bus Station at 7 AM and gets to Koh Tao by 2 PM, with around 7 hours on the trip.

In a word, from those destinations in south Thailand such as Koh Lipe, Hat Yai, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi, you have to first arrive at Krabi.

Note: You can only estimate the travel time. Remember that in Thailand buses and ferries are always liable to delays due to traffic situation, bad weather, or rough sea. We once encountered a delay in traffic for hours when combining the journey with bus plus ferry.

How to travel from Chiang Mai to Koh Tao

You can travel the best and the fastest way from Chiang Mai to Koh Tao by combining flight plus ferry or flight + bus + ferry through Bangkok.

We will have difficulty in predicting the time and cost of the journey since flight prices can differ a lot, and you have so many choices for consideration. In brief, from Chiang Mai or similar destinations in the North, like Chiang Rai or Pai, you can take a flight to Koh Samui, Surat Thani or Chumphon Airports, and then connect a ferry to Tao. We will present detailed information on how to arrive at Koh Tao from Chumphon and Surat Thani in the following content.

Another choice is to fly to one of Bangkok’s airports and connect the flight there to Koh Samui, or you can choose the combination of bus + ferry that departs from Khao San Road to Koh Tao. In case land way is preferred, you may get a bus or train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, which takes a whole day or an overnight duration. Still you will have to spend another day or night traveling from Bangkok to Koh Tao, absolutely tiring, and it won’t save much money compared with flying.

Note: Two daily flights fly from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui Airport, at 9 AM and 12:50 PM, with arriving time in Koh Samui accordingly at 10:45 AM and 2:35 PM. You will have enough time to hop on one of the afternoon ferries to Tao.

How to travel from Chumphon to Koh Tao

First, share some basic information about Chumphon. It is a Southern Thailand province, situated a few hours from Hua Hin beach town. Well-known for its coast, it is the getaway to Koh Tao. From Northern or Central Thailand, Chumphon is the first coast city that you can take passengers boats to Koh Tao. Besides, there is an airport and a train station, so it is a place you can plan for a connection when you move to the Southern islands.


Chumphon Ferry Pier


The best way to go from Chumphon to Koh Tao:

There are two companies providing ferries from Chumphon to Koh Tao but from different piers. Be careful and not to be confused. The good point is both companies can do pick-up service at train and bus stations, and at Chumphon Airport as well, so we suggest booking a bus plus ferry combination with them. Remember that due to different departure points, the rate differs by 100 to 200 baht and the trip duration differs around one hour.

Lomprayah ferry departs at 7 AM and 1 PM from Thung Makham Noi Pier, with duration 1 hour and 45 minutes and price of 600 baht.

The Songserm ferry departs at 7 AM from Chumphon Matapon Pier with duration 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The cheapest way to travel from Chumphon to Koh Tao:

If you are not in a hurry and tend to save the expense of a night’s accommodation, the idea of overnight ferry from Chumphon to Koh Tao will be suitable for you. The departing time of the night boat is between 10:30 PM to midnight, depending on the tide. You will spend 6 hours on the boat until you arrive at Mae Haad Pier.
The night ferry itself is a life experience. We had the experience ourselves, though in the opposite direction, from Koh Tao to Chumphon, and it was beyond my expectation. The boats carry both goods and passengers, which may not seem very good from the outside, but very clean and cozy inside. After going through the cargo part, you will find a hostel like big room with bunk beds. All you need to do is to find your bed, and get ready for the sleep. Weather condition allowed, you’ll have a good sleep for the whole trip, just as we did.

The night boat from Chumphon to Koh Tao costs 500 baht, and you also have a bed for sleeping. Remember to bring your water and food, since there is no restaurant or bar on the boat.

How to get from Surat Thani to Koh Tao:

Surat Thani is the name that appeared so many times in this guide. And now it’s time to say something detailed about this place, and how to go from there to Koh Tao. The name of Surat Thani may mean "City of the Good People" but Surat Thani is also known as “the province of a thousand islands” -- many of which lay off the coast in the Gulf of Thailand, including the archipelago that contains Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and the Mu Koh Ang Thong Marine national park. Above all, Surat Thani connects islands on the west coast like Krabi, Phi Phi, and Phuket to the islands in the Gulf of Thailand.

Surat Thani city is the capital of the province, with an international airport connecting islands on the west coast and destinations in the Gulf of Thailand.


Surat Thani - A city of hundred islands


The best way to go from Surat Thani to Koh Tao:

You have two choices, either going directly to the pier to hop on the ferry to Koh Tao or departing from Surat Thani Airport to the destination. The price and the duration will differ due to the different starting point while the longer and more expensive choice is from Surat Thani Airport to Koh Tao. And three companies provide the route.

Lomprayah High-Speed Catamaran departs two times every day at 8 AM and 2:30 PM, arriving on Koh Tao at 2:15 PM and 7:15 PM, respectively.

Seatran Discovery departs two times every day from Surat Thani Airport, at 10:45 AM and 11:20 AM respectively, while both of them arrive on the island at 7 PM.

The cheapest way to travel from Surat Thani to Koh Tao:

Besides, you can travel from Surat Thani to Koh Tao on an overnight boat similar to the route via Chumphon. The duration is about 8 hours, the boat leaves sometime between 9 PM to 10:30 PM depending on the tide, and you have arrive 2 hours in advance for checking procedures. The overnight boat to Koh Tao costs 500 baht, including the trip and the bed, and the arriving time at the island is around 6 AM.

Choosing your pick-up point is feasible when booking the night boat to Koh Tao. The company has vans that can pick you up at Surat Thani Airport or at the city center. Be careful to read the details when booking.

In conclusion, you have got all the information to arrive in Koh Tao from almost everywhere in Thailand. Remember to book your ticket in advance to avoid any trouble.