Airports & Airlines
Ko Samui’s airport is in the northeast of the island near Big Buddha Beach.
Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com) operates flights roughly every 30 minutes between Samui and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport (65 minutes). Bangkok Airways also flies direct from Samui to Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and other cities in Southeast Asia. Bangkok Airways also flies to Chéngdū and Guǎngzhōu in China. There is a Bangkok Airways Office in Hat Chaweng and another at the airport. The first (at 6am) and last (10pm) flights of the day are always the cheapest.
During the high season, make your flight reservations far in advance as seats often sell out. If the Samui flights are full, try flying into Surat Thani from Bangkok and taking the short ferry ride to Samui instead. Flights to Surat Thani are generally cheaper than a direct flight to the island, although they involve much more hassle.
The international departure tax of 700B is included in your ticket. A departure tax of 100B is levied for domestic flights, also included in the ticket.
It is not possible to travel here by land.
To reach Samui, the main piers on the mainland are Ao Ban Don, Tha Thong, Don Sak and Chumphon – Tha Thong (in central Surat) and Don Sak being the most common. On Samui, the three most used ports are Na Thon, Mae Nam and Big Buddha Beach. Expect complimentary taxi transfers with high-speed ferry services.
To the Mainland
There are regular boat departures between Samui and Don Sak on the mainland.
High-speed Lomprayah departs from Na Thon (400B; 8am, 9.45am, 12.45pm & 3.30pm) and takes just 45 minutes; some departures can connect with the train station in Phun Phin (600B) for Surat Thani.
There's also the slower but regular Raja car ferry (130B; 90 minutes) to Don Sak, which departs from Thong Yang. The slow night boat to Samui (300B) leaves from central Surat Thani each night at 11pm, reaching Na Thon around 5am. It returns from Na Thon at 9pm, arriving at around 3am. Watch your bags on this boat.
Lomprayah ferries also depart from Pralarn Pier in Mae Nam for Chumphon (1100B; 8am and 12.30pm; 3¾ hours).
To Ko Pha-Ngan & Ko Tao
There are almost a dozen daily departures between Ko Samui and Thong Sala on the west coast of Ko Pha-Ngan, and many of these continue on to Ko Tao. These leave from Na Thon, Pralarn Pier in Mae Nam or Big Buddha Beach pier, take from 20 minutes to one hour and cost 200B to 300B to Ko Pha-Ngan, depending on the boat.
To go directly to Hat Rin, the Haad Rin Queen goes back and forth between Hat Rin and Big Buddha Beach four times a day (the first boat leaves Hat Rin at 9.30am and departs Big Buddha Beach at 10.30am), with double the number of sailings the day after the Full Moon Party and an extra trip laid on at 7.30am the same day. The voyage takes 50 minutes, costs 200B and the last boat leaves Big Buddha Beach at 6.30pm.
Also for Hat Rin and the more remote east coast beaches of Ko Pha-Ngan, the small and rickety Thong Nai Pan Express runs once a day at noon from Mae Hat on Ko Samui to Hat Rin and then up the east coast, stopping at all the beaches as far as Thong Nai Pan Noi. Prices range from 200B to 400B, depending on the destination. The boat won't run in bad weather.
Bus or Train & Ferry Combos
A bus-ferry combo is more convenient than a train-ferry package for getting to Ko Samui because you don’t have to switch transportation in Phun Phin. However, the trains are much more comfortable and spacious – especially at night. If you prefer the train, you can get off at Chumphon and catch the Lomprayah catamaran service the rest of the way.
Several services offer these bus-boat combo tickets, the fastest and most comfortable being the Lomprayah, which has two daily departures from Bangkok, at 6am and 9pm, and two from Samui to Bangkok, at 8am and 12.30pm. The total voyage takes between 11 and 14 hours and costs between 1400B and 1450B.