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Asiatique the Riverfront, Chao Phraya River ferry

Pathway to Paradise: How to Get to Koh Tao for Your Diving

Koh Tao or Bust: The Transport Options

Koh Tao is a popular destination, but with no airport or train station it can take a bit of planning to get there. Figuring out how to get to Koh Tao is a matter of personal preference.

One of the best things about Koh Tao is its unspoiled beauty and remote location. It’s a gem of an island set in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand, surrounded by sea and accessible only by boat. The irony, of course, is that it’s these very things that make it so appealing that also make it a bit tricky to get to!

With no airport on the island and no land transport possible, you may need to do a bit of pre-planning to work out the best way to arrive. Let us take you through the options.  

Flying to Koh Tao

As we’ve already mentioned, there’s no airport on Koh Tao so you’ll need to fly to Chumphon on the mainland and grab a boat across to the island. The cheapest flights in Thailand are with carriers like Air Asia and Lion Air, so check for deals and book as early as you can. Check on Skyscanner as well to make sure you’ve seen all the options.

Once you’ve landed at Chumphon airport it’s a 30-minute drive to the boat pier. A bus will only set you back a couple of dollars, or if you’re feeling flush then jump in a taxi.


If you don’t have luggage and you book ahead, you could grab a flight for as little as $25. If you book last-minute with luggage on Thai Airways then you could be looking up to $300.  

How long will it take?

The flight from Bangkok to Chumphon is only 1 hour 10 minutes, and then add on the 30-minute drive to the pier to get the boat.

Our rating?

We give flying 4 stars out of 5. If you book ahead and shop around you can get some great deals and it saves you a whole heap of time.

The Bus to Koh Tao

Buses converge on Chumphon from all over Thailand. Coming from the north, you’ll probably either start in Bangkok or change buses there; if you’re already in the south then you may hop on a service from Surat Thani or Hat Yai. There can be real differences in bus quality so make sure you check out your company before you buy the ticket. It’s no fun spending 12 hours with your knees jammed into the back of the seat in front! Lomprayah and Songserm Express

Bus companies Lomprayah and Songserm Express will sell you a combo ticket which gets you not only to Chumphon boat pier, but also across the water to Koh Tao. This is a great offer as it works out as a most cost-effective option than buying the tickets separately.


A ticket from Bangkok starts at $15 and goes up to $30 for a luxury sleeper. Tickets from local destinations like Surat Thani could be as little as 100 baht.

How long will it take?

The journey time from Bangkok will be around 12 hours, depending on how bad the traffic is when you’re leaving the capital. Bring a book!

Our rating?

We give taking the bus 3 stars out of 5. Yes, it’s cheap and you can buy a combo ticket, but buses are never that much fun!!!

The Train to Koh Tao

If you’re starting in Bangkok then you can have a bit of fun with this one, and take the sleeper train south to Chumphon. It saves paying for a night in a hotel and gives you an authentic Thai experience as you bunk in with local families on the move. The train leaves from Hua Lamphong and stops at major towns en route so you could even extend this into a hop-on-hop-off tour of the South!

As with the air options, once you’re in Chumphon you’ll need to get yourself to the boat pier. Aim for a train that arrives by 06:00am to give yourself a good chance of getting on the morning ferry. Regular public buses run from the train station so we recommend jumping on one of those and saving a few baht.


A sleeper ticket will set you back between $20 to $50, depending on the season, the carriage class and the time of departure.

How long will it take?

The fast trains take 7 hours and the slower ones about 9 hours. It sounds like a slow journey when you consider you have to add on the time taken to get to the boat pier as well, but remember that you’ll have slept through most of it!  

Our rating?

We give taking the train 4.5 stars out of 5. You can get cheap tickets if you pick your departure time carefully, and taking the sleeper train is a unique adventure all by itself.

The Boat to Koh Tao

All of the previous options have combined another type of transport with a boat ride, but you can also get a dedicated ferry from Koh Samui and Koh Phangan direct to the island. This cuts down on transfer times and is a lot easier if you’re carrying luggage. There are three departures a day from Samui and seven from Phangan so there’s plenty to choose from. If you want to take the ferry from the mainland then there’s a fast ferry from Suratthani or a slower boat from the pier near Chumphon.


From Samui the ferry will cost about $20, and from Phangan it’ll be about $17. The fast ferry from Surat Thani is a bit pricier at around $30 but it’s convenient if you’re in the city. The slower boat from Chumphon costs around $15.

How long will it take?

The fast ferry from Surat Thani takes just over 5 hours as it’s a fair ride south to Koh Tao. The Chumphon option takes about 4 hours, from Samui it’s 2 hours and from Phangan it’s about 1.5 hours,

Our rating?

We give taking the boat 5 stars out of 5. You can sit back, relax and enjoy great views of the Gulf of Thailand and the journey times are short.

Koh Tao is 100% Worth the Journey

Do some research on a travel booking website like, choose an option and then sit back and enjoy the ride. Whichever way you choose to travel to Koh Tao you’ll find that the trip was well worth it. Paradise awaits!