Sitting pretty in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui is the classic Thai tropical paradise – long palm tree-adorned beaches, clear calm waters, a chilled-out island vibe, and fresh coconuts a plenty. The route to Koh Samui is pretty well travelled, and it also has what many other tropical islands don’t – an airport – making it one of the most accessible beach destinations in the kingdom.
Getting to Samui by plane
The fastest way to get to Koh Samui is by plane. From Bangkok, travellers can get from concrete jungle to coconut palm groves in an hour flat with time to spare. Bangkok Airways, the proprietors of the air hub, also offers direct flights to Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Convenience aside, Samui International Airport is how you’d imagine a tropical airport to be, complete with open-air, thatched-roof pavilions, which makes landing here an experience in itself.
Getting to Samui by plane (via Surat Thani)
A direct flight to Koh Samui might be the easiest option, but you pay a pretty penny for that convenience. Many visitors opt to fly into Surat Thani Airport on the mainland – an airport also served by a number of low-cost airlines – followed by a one-hour car ride to Donsak Pier. From there, it’s about a one-hour ferry ride to the island. Most airlines offer flight-bus-ferry combo tickets for a seamless transfer straight to the island.
Getting to Samui by bus
The most budget-friendly route to get to Koh Samui from Bangkok is by bus, a 10 – 12 hour journey directly to the pier in Surat Thani on the mainland, followed by a ferry crossing. Buses leave regularly from the Southern Bus Terminal on Barommaratchachonnani Road in the capital. They offer varying levels of comfort (with corresponding price tags), but for the most painless way to travel, an overnight VIP bus is the way to go.
Getting to Samui by train
Slightly more expensive than the bus but arguably more pleasant is the train. From Bangkok, travellers can take an overnight train from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station to Surat Thani railway station, then make their way to the pier and onto the ferry. (If you’re planning to stop by Koh Tao first, you can also get off at Chumpon to cross over from the pier there). Seats in the first- and second-class trains fold down flat into pretty comfortable beds (pillows and towel-like blankets are provided). Privacy comes in the form of drawable curtains; first-class seats offer added comfort with a private room shared between two passengers.
Piers on Koh Samui
Koh Samui is home to four main piers – travellers arriving on the island from the neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan and/or Koh Tao usually disembark at Bangrak Pier or Maenam Pier. From there, COSI Samui Chaweng Beach is a short 10- or 20-minute drive respectively. Nathon and Lipa Noi piers on the west coast of the island is a 30- to 40-minute drive respectively.