If you’ve been read my blog for a little while you are probably obsessed with the island of Koh Tao in Thailand now, or you are at least thinking that I’m a weirdo and obsessed with Koh Tao. It really is an awesome little island but getting there is a bit of a trek because there is no direct route. No matter what, you are going to have to take at least two forms of transportation.
If you are pressed for time or have the money to burn I would suggest flying straight to Koh Samui and then taking the two hour ferry to Koh Tao. But for the backpackers, budget travelers, and those of us that don’t mind spending some time traveling to save money there is Lomprayah.
Lomprayah is a ferry company that boasts it’s high speed catamarans are the best way to get around the Gulf of Thailand. I don’t know if it’s the best way, a private yacht seems like the best to me, but those catamarans will work for now until I’m a millionaire. The thing that makes Lomprayah the most convenient is that they also run busses to all the ferry ports from cities like Bangkok and Phuket.
So if you are traveling around Thailand and looking to get down to Koh Tao (because it’s awesome and why wouldn’t you?) going through Bangkok is going to be the easiest starting point for getting around.
How to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao
Depending on how good you are at planning you can go online to book your tickets. The website only allows you to book a couple days out though, so for last minute tickets you’ll have to go to the office to purchase. They have two departures a day one in the morning and one at night. I like to do the overnight schedule, that way I don’t lose a day or have to pay for a night of accommodations somewhere. It’s not going to be a good night of sleep because you’ll be on a bus, but I feel like I’d rather be tired and groggy laying on a beach than missing out on the beach day all together.
You’ll want to get to the bus station about an hour before the bus leaves to check in. The Lomprayah office is located right by Khao San Road so it’s easy to get to, and there are plenty of bars and restaurants around to kill time in. Once you get checked in you’ll get a bunch of stickers, they are all color coded to which island you are going to. Koh Tao is usually pink.
The bus ride is around 7-8 hours and they do stop for a dinner break so you can get out and get some food, stretch you legs, and use the bathroom. The stop also has the best and biggest selection of snacks and candy, it’s awesome! And if you are nervous about 8 hours on a bus with only one bathroom stop, don’t worry, the bus does have a bathroom on it should you have an emergency situation.
The bus will drop you off at a small ferry terminal, where you’ll check in again at the window. Then depending on the schedule either you’ll get on the ferry right away or hang out for an hour-ish. There seems to be about an hour window for all the busses coming from different places to get there for people to all get on the ferry. Luckily Koh Tao is usually the first stop on the route as it is the northernmost island out of the three (the other two being Koh Phangan and Koh Samui). Sometimes the ferry will stop at Koh Nang Yuan, the little island off the coast of Koh Tao, but that seems pretty rare since most people stay on Koh Tao and just do day trips to Nang Yuan. The boat ride is about an hour and half, and while usually the Gulf of Thailand is pretty calm, if it is at all stormy make sure to bring some dramamine.
Going to Other Islands
Checking out any of the other islands is super easy. Just go down to the ticket office at the pier in Mae Haad and tell the person where you want to go, they’ll pretty much take care of it. Going to Koh Phangan and Koh Samui is about 1-2 hours.
Navigating transportation in another country can be confusing and frustrating so this guide will hopefully make that process easier.
Have you used Lomprayah before? What was your experience with them? Or is there another ferry company that is better? Let me know in the comments!