Bangkok to Ko Samui (and a Scam to Avoid.)

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You have plenty of options for getting from Bangkok to Koh Samui in the far southwest of Thailand. Modern Thailand is an incredibly easy country to travel around, thanks to its long-established tourism industry, you’ll certainly be able to find a way of getting to Koh Samui from Bangkok that suits you. Once you reach Koh Samui the neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are just a short ferry ride away. Options for travel from Bangkok to Ko Samui include air travel, sleeper bus or train, road, train, boats and ferries. As Ko Samui is an island, you’ll likely have to take a ferry if you don’t choose to fly to Ko Samui Airport. The easiest way to arrange your transport, air, road, rail or water, is to use this website.

Getting to Ko Samui from Bangkok. Scams
Chaweng Beach Ko Samui. Cocktails at sunset

Bangkok to Koh Samui

This post is currently being updated with information for 2022. We’re sorry these up to date prices are not on our site today. The prices given on this page were correct at the time of writing.

Bangkok to Koh Samui by Plane

You can fly from Bangkok to Koh Samui, there is an airport on Ko Samui. If you were on a two week holiday and weren’t on a budget this would be the quickest way to go. To book your flight to Ko Samui from Bangkok use Skyscanner and follow the booking tips in our Skyscanner post to find the cheapest days or months to fly.

Flights from Bangkok to Ko Samui cost in the region of $80 US (correct for 2022). This is about double the cost of a bus and ferry combo. Flights to Ko Samui depart from Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok.

Bus and Ferry Combined Ticket From Bangkok To Koh Samui

Visit any travel agent or larger guest house on the Kao San Rd and have a look at the bus/ferry combos they have to offer.  On the day we looked, prices were between 800 Baht and 1400 Baht depending on the time of departure and which ferry you choose. Some of the buses drive straight onto the ferry, some don’t. The advantage of bus over train is that you don’t have to get off at Surat Thani and make your way to the ferry port at Donsak, it’s about an hour away. The buses take you straight to the ferry. The journey time is around 12 hours.

There is a fast, modern catamaran ferry and older, slower versions. It is important to check where the ferry lands on Ko Samui. Taxis on the island are expensive and drivers are very difficult to deal with, they really don’t want to use their meters.

Sleeper Train or Day Train to Koh Samui From Bangkok

We chose the sleeper train.  Trains in Thailand are great. We took a taxi from Kao San Rd (55 Baht) mid afternoon to Hua Lamphong station and bought a train ticket on arrival. There were plenty of tickets left although these tickets may be in short supply at peak times.

Buying tickets at Hua Lamphong (Bangkok) train station is incredibly easy, there are people whose job it is to help you find the right ticket desk or platform.

There are a few trains to Surat Thani to choose from, we took the earlier one, the 5.05pm departure. The later train is popular because it arrives at a more civilised hour in the morning, the train takes about 12 hours.

We bought a train/bus/ferry combo ticket (1021 Baht each) at the station. We had no idea we could do this before we got there. This option cost a lot less than it would have from one of the travel offices on Kao San Rd.

We decided to try Ko Samui first before hopping on to Ko Phangan and Ko Tau, but you can get to either of these islands direct, if you want to.

Sleeper trains in Thailand are Great, Usually.

We love Thai sleeper trains, they’re fun, comfortable, service is great, we sleep well. I already wrote about the sleeper train from Bangkok to Laos, the trains are the same, the service was even better on the Surat Thani trip.

That’s unless you get the carriage with the broken suspension. Is that what sleeper train carriages have, suspension? We were rocked from side to side mercilessly all night. It reminded me of how my chef husband shakes sausages in a pan. The kids slept, we didn’t.

This is the first time we’ve had any problems with Thai sleeper trains, bad luck I guess.

We arrived at Surat Thani at 5am.

The Surat Thani to Koh Samui Ferry Ticket Scam.

As you get off the train, bleary-eyed, at Surat Thani, you meet a group of semi-official-looking ladies wanting to see your tickets.

Their role, as far as I could make out, is to usher you to whichever café is paying them so that you spend money on breakfast. We went along with the whole thing, we needed coffee and some food for the kids.

There is a row of cafes right opposite the Surat Thani station, it made little difference to us which one we went to.

In our dazed and confused state we were relieved of our ferry tickets. The café lady, after winning our confidence by fussing over the kids and warning us about thefts on the buses, took our tickets away and replaced them with a single piece of paper.

“Better for you, earlier ferry.”

OK, thanks.

What we didn’t realise was that we would now be on the clanky, smelly, old car ferry, not the catamaran we’d paid for. That was no big deal. The problem was, the car ferry lands on the wrong side of the island, nowhere near Chaweng. Transport on Ko Samui is expensive. We ended up getting a Songtaw for 500 Baht to Chaweng, too much, but less than half the fare the cheapest taxi driver wanted.

Arriving On Koh Samui From Bangkok

Chaweng Beach Ko Samui

Getting to Ko Samui from Bangkok Charweng Beach

It’s a beautiful beach, so pretty. Swimming here is a dream, the water is warm and the sand is white. The children can snorkel out a long way safe in shallow waters.

Chaweng is a big international tourist draw and the beach is lined with wall-to-wall hotels. We’ve never really been anywhere like this before and we’re not sure if we like it. We’ve found a room for 800 Baht, you’ll have to pay a lot more to stay on the beach.

We’ll give it a few days, I’d rather be somewhere less developed and smaller but the children are loving being able to swim for the first time in three months. Watch out for sharp coral fragments, we all have cut feet.

There are plenty of food choices. You can dine on the beach, enjoy happy hour cocktails at 90 Baht and take your pick from the selection of seafood on ice. We can’t afford to do that, we’ve found a highly recommended budget café, The Green Bird, the food is great and starts at 30 Baht. All the usual fast food joints are here.

Maybe tonight we’ll go to the beach at 9pm and check out a fire show, they were brilliant on Koh Samet, we took some great photos. Ko Samui is nothing like Ko Samet.

Use This Website To Book All Transport Within Thailand, and Bangkok to Koh Samui

So we’re settled for a few days, but not for long. We’ll check out some other parts of Ko Samui and move on to the smaller islands before the weather breaks towards the end of October. Getting to Ko Samui from Bangkok wasn’t our easiest travel day, but it wasn’t so bad. This is all new to us, we’ve never been here before and we’ve never been to a big tourist town like this. The jury is out for now. We moved to Ko Phangyang after a few days on Koh Samui and found Ko Phangan to be a nicer island. Read about Ko Phangan, where we stayed for 6 weeks, here.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

22 thoughts on “Bangkok to Ko Samui (and a Scam to Avoid.)”

  1. thank you for sharing
    im trying to book the train/bus/ferry ticket on
    they charge over 1600 and details are unclear
    good to know u can get combo tickets at the train station

  2. Hi, I’m really loving your blog. Your life is exactly one I would love to live with my son but unfortunately I don’t have savings or an opportunity to save for a life without a steady income. (I’d love some idea on how you actually manage this life financially if you wouldn’t mind!) and secondly my husband is conventional and even home schooling at home is way out of the question. Major bummer for me as I was a free spirited travelling lover before I got weighed down! But anyway, my question is about the differences with Samui and Samet, I’ve spent a lot of time in Thailand particularly on Ko Samet. But also Bangkok, Ko Lanta, Phi Phi etc. I was thinking about revisiting the country but trying a new island and I did think of Samui as I’ve never been. What are the major differences between Ko Samet and Ko Samui? Ideally I want us all to have a lovely chilled relaxing beach holiday but with the option of some activities should we want them. Even love it’s one of my true loves, the island of Samet doesn’t offer enough in the way of activities that I think my husband and 2 year old son would want/need.

    • Samui is huge and full of tourists Sara. We only stayed a couple of nights, didn’t like it, but you could no doubt find nicer, quieter parts if you looked more. We prefer Ko Phangan.

  3. Thanks, this a great post. My husband and I did the sleeper train prior to having kids and we want to do it with kids in July, just wondering if anyone knows of you can get alike a cabin on the train? Our kids are 2 & 4 and I wouldn’t be able to sleep with them sleeping where people can walk through…

    • I don’t think so Christy, I’ve never seen one in Thailand. Not anyone can walk through, I think only people from that carriage. At that age I’d have them sharing a bottom bunk with me and my husband.

    • Hi Christy, if you get two bottom berths they are wider and you could sleep with a kid each. We did it with a 2 and 6 year old. The 6 year old had her own top bunk but the 2 year old shared with me.

  4. Thanks for this post! My Husband and I are planning a 10 day trip to Thailand in June 2014. Just wanted to know whether Koh Samui has the nicer, cleaner beaches? I mean I get Chaweng is a party place/beach. And we might even want to stay there. But we’d really like to have some quiet time at the glorious beaches Thailand is famous for!

    It’d also be great if you could suggest us some budget accommodations in Bangkok and Koh Samui (under 700-800 Baht) preferably. We have done a fair bit of research on Agoda etc. but nothing compares to some one who’s actually stayed in one of these hotels.




    • We stayed at Chaweng for only 3 nights Carla, the beach was a bit grotty on closer inspection and we couldn’t find ANY accommodation for under 800. We actually paid 800 for a double room and all shared. To be honest, we hated Ko Samui and left rapidly for Ko Phangan, which was a nicer. You don’t even feel like your in Thailand on Ko Samui, you could be anywhere. But we didn’t explore the rest of the island, it’s big and to us, expensive to get around unless you hire scooters . We headed straight for the ferry terminal.

  5. Head to Koh Tao! Less touristy than all the Koh’s – especially if you stay away from Sairee Beach. We stayed at Ban’s Diving Resort on Sairee beach- but we’ve heard other parts of the island are even less crowded. Koh Tao is Super cheap- even during the high season we stayed in an air-con private room for 650 baht a night. It was a 20 meter walk to the beach.

    We wrote a review on Ban’s on our site.

    What I wouldn’t do to go back there right now!

    And as lame as scams are- especially 500 baht scams!!! What????

    I just try to chalk them up to The SEA experience! Battle stories!

    • Interesting, friends of ours have just done the 3 and told us Ko Tao was a lot more expensive. Is that for a room for 4 or for 2? We’re paying 700 for 4 and staying here for a while, it’s lovely. Chef just got back from a dive to Sail Rock, he said it was the 2nd best for fish density after the Yongala. I’m going soon, fingers crossed for whale sharks!

  6. Oh that train … I feel for you all. And can see how easily how these scammers get away with it when you’re so tired.

    But we all get scammed from time to time – if we’re going to take travelling risks we keep our eyes open, do our best, and then have to shrug off scams. Have you crossed the land border between Thailand and Cambodia?

  7. We just did that trip in the other direction! We went to Koh Phangan before Samui and Samui just couldn’t compete. I recommend Haad Yao on Koh Phangan. Check my blog for more info. Enjoy!

    • Everybody is telling me Ko Phangan is better Madeline. We’ll head over soon, but we really should try to see a bit of Ko Samui. It’s not our style at all, this place. Sorry about pillow! If my son lost his bear I don’t know what we’d do.

  8. I can’t stand when people swarm you and confuse you like that! I was in Koh Samui about 20 years ago, backpacking from Bangkok to Singapore with my mother. Oh what fond memories. I believe we stayed at O.P. or something like that. Not sure if it is even there still or how much the place must have changed. It was just beautiful. We did take a bus from Bangkok and then the big ferry, so it worked well for us. That said it wasn’t a huge tourist spot back then. Glad you are getting settled now and can relax.

  9. What a hideous scam; it’s horrible when you get surrounded after an overnight train or bus journey and aren’t as on guard as you’d normally be. We got the day train from Bangkok to Surat Thani and then a bus to Donsak and boat over to Koh Phangan for 928B per person. The journey was nice, we managed to get some work done on the day train and arrived feeling ok (anytime we get overnight trains or buses we’re usually a wreck the next day as we never sleep properly). We did have to stay the night in Surat Thani though which wasn’t very fun as our hotel (which we booked in advance) turned out to be in the middle of nowhere. It’s interesting to read about Chaweng; Andrew’s parents are staying there in a resort when they visit us in a few weeks’ time – it sounds like we’re going to struggle to find budget accommodation nearby!

    • Amy, I’m not sure what your budget accommodation perspective is (as it differs for everyone) but if you are happy to stay in a hostel, there is the WAVE Hostel (though as its in Lonely Planet it can get busy) or if it’s empty, about 100m down the road there is the Green Hotel and for about £15 a night you get a double AND large single bed as well as a huge bathroom though prices have probably gone up and be sure to ask for the ‘beach side’ otherwise your room will be near to a rock n roll cafe 🙂


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