Ko Samui is an island in the Chumphon Archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand, about 700 km south of Bangkok and 80 km from the eastern coastline of Southern Thailand.
It is the second most popular place to visit in Thailand and impresses tourists with its amazing natural beauty and diversity. Home to nearly 40,000 full-time residents, 90% of whom are Buddhists.
The area is surrounded by palm trees, on the shoreline and coastal lowlands grow coconuts and fruits, the slopes of the central granite massif are covered with virgin rainforest. The island is 25 km long and 21 km wide.
Samui is big enough for an adventure, despite the fact that you can get around by motorcycle or car in a couple of hours.
A short video about Koh Samui
How to get there
Planning a trip to Koh Samui? Want to know the best way to get to Koh Samui? Then the options below are for you!
Ko Samui Airport (USM) is a private airport originally built by Bangkok Airways. It is the main operator and was for a long time the only airline with services for Ko Samui. This airport has almost hourly departures to and from Bangkok and by Thai standards expensive tickets with advance reservations of 3,000-4,500 baht one way, while without advance reservations they can cost twice as much. There are also daily flights to/from Phuket for 2,000-3,000 baht. There are two daily flights from Chiang Mai, but only one direct flight in the opposite direction.
A special feature of the international gate is a special place where all passengers are offered food and drinks in a cozy lounge and there is a Wi-Fi connection – waiting for boarding becomes much more comfortable.
Besides Bangkok Airlines, Koh Samui is served by two flights a day from Bangkok by Thai Airways, Berjaya Air and Firefly from Subang airport (a small airport 30 minutes from downtown Kuala Lumpur) and Penang International Airport in Malaysia.
Monitor airfare deals and specials on various aggregator sites, or, for example, here.
Visa on arrival and visa-free entry are available at Samui Airpotra for some nationalities.
Transportation from the airport is easy to find. A 20-minute bus ride to Chaweng costs 120 baht per person; a cab will cost more at 400 baht. Make sure you set a fare to your destination before you get into a cab, because many drivers refuse to use the meter.
If you arrive as a couple or family, you will probably be approached by some young women holding signs from some high-class hotels. They will ask you where you are staying and, upon response, offer you free cab fare if you promise to attend a presentation of their hotel during your stay. Avoid such offers.
Other airports that fly to Ko Samui are Surat Thani Airport and Chumphon Airport from the mainland with a good ferry to Ko Samui. They are often much cheaper and serve excellent low-cost carriers Air Asia and Nok Air.
- “Nok Air offers 4 daily flights + ferry from Bangkok to Ko Samui or fly with Nok Air from Bangkok to Surat Thani or Nakhon Si Thammarat and take a ferry to Ko Samui. You can book on their website.
- Flights to Surat Thani are operated by Thai airlines and low-cost Air Asia and Nok Air (departing from Don Muang Airport, then take the road to the coast and the ferry to your destination.
Flights to Nakhonsitthammarat are operated by Air Asia and Nok Air, then by bus and catamaran.
From Chumphon via Ko Tao, Ko Phangan
Lomprayah offers a shared bus/high-speed catamaran service from Bangkong to Ko Samui, which takes 11 hours (5.5 hours by boat) and costs about 1,250 Baht (1,000 Baht round trip). The bus stops in Hua Hin and then on to Chumphon, where passengers transfer to the ship, calling at Ko Nang Yuan, Tao and Phangan on the way to Samui. The trip is scenic (including a trip to 2 islands) and the ferry is convenient to Seatran.
This trip to Samui will take longer, but it is a good way to see the countryside and islands. The option of traveling by bus is a 50-minute flight from Bangkok to Chumphon Airport via Nok Air and transfer to the high-speed ferries stopping in Ko Tao along the way.
The high-speed catamarans Lomprayah are a good and fast way to reach Samui from Ko Tao or Ko Phangan, and a good way to reach these islands from Bangkok. There are also regular fast boats from other operators.
From Surat Thani
Surat Thani Railway Station and Airport (URT) include a mixed bus/ferry service to Samui for 200-300 baht. Some include a 60-minute bus ride to Donsak pier, followed by a 90-minute ferry ride. Others include a 30-minute bus ride, but the ferry takes longer. Tickets are sold by numerous agents who meet at every train and airport. It costs less than 300 baht.
At Donsak Pier you can choose to take one of the listed ferry companies Songserm , Travel and Seatran (departures every 30-60 minutes), which ends at Nathon Pier. If you book your trip through a travel agent, you are traveling on a small ferry with two decks, often crowded, so always arrive early, as all seats on the lower deck may be taken.
The air-conditioned upper deck is more expensive. If you don’t feel like paying extra, you can end up with a bunch of backpacks in the back of the boat. There’s a small overpriced store on the lower deck (instant noodles, which cost 15 baht, are on sale here for 50 baht). It’s better to take snacks with you so you don’t overpay. Passengers on the Songserm ferry are mostly foreigners.
The Seatran ferry is much larger and has several decks (most are free to enter, including air-conditioned areas), is slower to fill because of its size, and has numerous TVs (with Thai channels). There is a large cafeteria (with much friendlier prices, such as 20 baht for the same instant noodles). Passengers are mostly Thais and tourists.
The Raja Ferry Port operates crossings between Dongsak Pier and Lipa Noi Pier on the west side of Samui (a few kilometers south of Nathon). The ferry includes a free air-conditioned deck and comfortable seating. This ferry also transports cars. You can use it if you choose to come with your own vehicle. Transfer Songthaew from Lipa Noi Pier to Samui to Chaweng or Lamai will cost 100 baht per person. A cab will cost more, about 1000 baht.
There are numerous ferry services from Surat Thani, including a fast boat (3 trips daily, duration 3 hours and cost 150 baht) and slow night boats (duration 6-7 hours). Songserm Travel operator’s number is +66 25 29 654 in Bangkok for schedules, which change depending on the season.