Ins and outs
Take a ferry from one of Surat Thani’s piers, which takes about two hours. The slow overnight boat to Samui leaves from Surat Thani (Don Sak) at 2300, arriving in Nathon at around 0500, ideal for those who arrive late in town and don’t want to stay in Surat Thani. Expect to pay around ฿฿250. Or catch a boat from Chumphon to Koh Tao and from there to Koh Samui via Koh Phangan. But this is a much longer sea journey and only really makes sense if intending to stop off on Koh Tao. The State Railway runs a rail/bus/ferry service from Bangkok to Koh Samui (18 hours), this needs to be booked two-three days in advance. It is not necessary to buy a ‘combination’ ticket (available from any travel agent in Bangkok); buses from all the ferry companies meet the trains at Phun Phin to transfer passengers to the ferry terminals.
Bangkok Airways is a private airline, which accounts for the inflated airport international departure tax (฿700 from Koh Samui, ฿฿300 for domestic departure tax, although this should now be included in the ticket price). There are multiple daily connections with Bangkok and regular flights to Phuket, U-Tapao (Pattaya), Krabi, Chiang Mai, Hong Kong and Singapore. Berjaya Air, T077-414302, flies twice a week to Kuala Lumpur; Thai Airways fly to Bangkok.
Bangkok Airways, at southern end of Chaweng, T077-422513.
There are numerous daily boat options. Schedules, journey times and prices change according to the season. Tickets from travel agents will cost more but include scheduling advice and transfers. See also Bophut and Big Buddha, below, for services from the north coast to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
Songserm Travel, seafront road, Nathon, T077-420157, office hours 0800-1800, runs express passenger boats daily. These boats leave from the southern pier in Nathon. To Surat Thani, 1330, 2½ hrs, ฿฿180; to Koh Phangan and on to Koh Tao, 1100, 40 mins and 2½ hrs, ฿฿200 and 350 respectively.
Seatran, office on pier, daily 0500-1700, T077-4260012, operates boats to Surat Thani from the main northerly pier in Nathon hourly from 0500-1800 with the bus arriving in Surat Thani 2½ hrs later, ฿฿180, including bus. Also has 2 daily departures, 0800 and 1330 to Koh Phangan (฿฿250), Koh Tao (฿฿550), Chumphon (฿฿900), Hua Hin (฿฿900) and Bangkok (฿฿1000). Price includes transfer from hotel to Bang Ruk pier.
Boats leave Nathon at 2100, arriving in Don Sak at around 0300/0400, ฿฿250.
The Raja ferry leaves from the Tong Yang pier, south of Nathon, to Don Sak. To get to Tong Yang, take a songthaew from Nathon or the beaches.
Cattcorp, from Coral Grand Pier to Koh Phangan, 0750, 30 mins, ฿฿250; to Koh Tao, 0750, 1½ hrs, ฿฿550.
Haad Rin Queen, T077-375113, from Big Buddha Pier to Hat Rin on Koh Phangan, 1030, 1300, 1600, 1830, 50 mins, ฿฿150.
Speed Boat Line from Bophut to Thong Sala on Koh Phangan, 0430, 0900, 1200, 1430, 20 mins, ฿฿400.
There are several buses that leave Surat Thani for the overnight trip to Bangkok. Ask the tour operators or an agency on the island.
Car and motorbike hire
This is cheaper from the town of Nathon than on the beaches. Motorbikes cost ฿150-200 per day, and around ฿฿250 for an automatic, not including insurance although the price is negotiable if you rent for several days. Helmets must be provided. The fine for not wearing one is ฿฿200-500.
Jeep/car hire is ฿800-1000 per day, including insurance or ฿฿1000-1800 if you hire from an international company such as Budget .
Available all over the island. They wait in clusters wearing coloured cloth jackets. Nathon–Chaweng, ฿฿150-180. Bophut– Chaweng, ฿฿100. Nathon–Maenam, ฿฿100.
Expensive yellow meter taxis cruise the island all day. They are scarce after 0100 but any bar or hotel owner will know one. The taxis do not use their meters and even if requested they may be fixed. The minimum fare is ฿฿50. Fares do vary according to the time of day. On average a fare from Nathon–Chaweng and from Bophut–Chaweng is ฿฿500. The majority of taxis are to be found in Chaweng. A taxi can be chartered for ฿฿400 per hr.
Travel agencies in town can provide details and tickets that combine the boat from Samui, bus from Don Sak to the railway station and then the train ticket, or some of these combinations.