Q: What’s the best way to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao (fastest & cheapest)?
To keep costs down, best is to travel overland from Bangkok to Chumphon (port, about 550Km south of Bangkok). Then from Chumphon you can catch a ferry direct to Koh Tao. Here are a couple of the best options:
Option 1. Combined Coach & Catamaran Service with Lomprayah
A company called Lomprayah operate a coach from near Bangkok’s famous Khao San Road. This departs twice daily; mid evening and again early morning, driving to Chumphon pier where you board a high speed catamaran which for the crossing from Chumphon to Koh Tao.
The service is air conditioned and has movies to keep you entertained en-route, and the price is very reasonable. Timetable info and online ticket booking is available through the Lomprayah website: http://www.lomprayah.com.
Option 2: Train the Lomprayah Catamaran
If a long coach journey isn’t appealing, you might consider taking a train from Bangkok to Chumphon instead. These have a bit more space, plus you can opt for an overnight sleeper train which have reasonable beds so you can get some rest en-route. And the price is only a little more than the coach & catamaran combo mentioned above.
If you catch the mid evening departure from Bangkok’s main Hualamphong station around 19:30pm, you can make it to Chumphon early enough to take the first catamaran departing for Koh Tao (which leaves the pier @ 07:00am).
Lomprayah – the ferry company have a booth on the platform @ Chumphon train station and organise your transfer to the pier (approximately a 40 minute drive), so it’s all very straightforward. You can see train timetable information on: http://www.railway.co.th/home/Default.asp?lenguage=Eng
If you prefer to avoid train/bus journeys, it is also possible to fly.
Option 1: Don Muang to Chumphon then Catamaran
From Bangkok’s northern Don Muang Airport you can fly to Chumphon, which connects with the Lomprayah catamaran service to Koh Tao. Info is available on http://www.nokair.com/nokconnext/aspx/index.aspx
Option 2: Bangkok Airways to Samui, then catamaran
Or you can fly from Bangkok’s main international airport to Koh Samui with Bangkok Airways: http://www.bangkokair.com.
Then from Samui you can use either the Lomprayah Catamaran (http://www.lomprayah.com) or Seatran Discover Ferry (http://seatrandiscovery.com/) for the ~2 hour ride across to Koh Tao.
However, the Bangkok airways flights do tend to be a bit more expensive than Nok Air to Chumphon.
You can also fly from Bangkok to Suratthani, with Air Asia or Nok Air. From Suratthani it is possible to catch a ferry to Koh Tao.
However, this isn’t a great option. The crossing from Suratthani to Koh Tao is far, usually stopping off at Samui and Phangan en-route. So essentially you spend the best part of a whole day sat on the ferry. (Not fun if the sea is rough). So it’s much better to travel via Chumphon or Koh Samui instead.
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