There is an International airport in Koh Samui, it is located between Bophut and Chaweng north. You can arrive directly from abroad, from an airport in Asia, like Hong-Kong or Singapore or via Bangkok from western airports. And it also means that you can make the check-in for you international flight leaving from Bangkok straight from Samui, if you have a domestic flight from Samui to Bangkok to catch your international flight.
Plane + Bus or Train + Boat
If you don’t fly direct, the shortest way to get to Samui is via Suratthani, on the mainland. You can reach Suratthani by plane, train or bus and then take a boat. If you stay in Malaysia or already in Thailand, apart from the plane, many minibus services also run to and from Suratthani from/to many different places.
Plane to Surat Thani
Instead of arriving straight in Samui, you can save money and fly direct to Suratthani, on the mainland.
Thai Smile, Air Asia and Nok Air have daily flights. They also sell tickets combined with buses. To reach Samui, you will then have to take the boat for a 1h00 to 2h00 trip, depending on the company. Check here for timetables for boats to Koh Samui.
Train to Surat Thani
Trains leave Bangkok frequently and you have bus to bring you to the pier to Koh Samui. The best way is to take a sleeper on an overnight train.
The State Railways of Thailand provide three classes of accommodation: 1st, 2nd and 3rd class. The 1st class is expensive, with a private room, the 2nd class is very comfortable, definetly the best deal, and the 3rd class is clean and acceptable but really tiring for the longer journeys.
You can buy joint ticket including train and boat to Koh Samui at most travel agencies in Bangkok and in the train station. And the same tickets are offered here to go back to Bangkok. There are free buses to bring you from/to the pier to/from Suratthani town, airport or train station.
Click here for the Train Time Table to and from Bangkok
If you stay in the South or in Malaysia, you can come straight with the train that links the border to Bangkok, via Hat Yaï and Suratthani.
Bus to Surat Thani
The public buses are slower and much more tiring than the private air-conditioned coaches run by numerous companies, especially for long distance travel. To go to Suratthani from Bangkok it is better to choose between two types of buses: the Luxury buses with toilets and air con and the VIP buses with two floors, a toilet and air con, you’ll get here much more relaxed than with the cheap bus. You can buy joined tickets for the bus and the boat to Koh Samui at most travel agencies.
Alternatively, there are so many other private luxury bus companies, each running a different schedule that you’ll be better off checking with your travel agent for the time tables of the “luxury” buses they work with. Try anyway to take Raja ferry pier to reach Suratthani, as it allows you to leave at 03:00pm at the earliest, compared to 12:30pm for other boat companies…
Bus to Phuket and Krabi
Many companies from Suratthani run minibuses to these destinations twice daily (or more). There are so many companies you better book your ticket from a travel agent in Koh Samui and avoid arriving without ticket in Suratthani.
Bus to Hat Yai, Malaysia and Singapore
You have the choice between the regular minibuses from Suratthani private companies that run the Southern routes. Once at the border, the links are automatically managed to many destinations in Malaysia and even Singapore.
Boats to Koh Samui from the Mainland
It will cost you between 180 and 250 bahts to go from Suratthani town to Koh Samui and same for the return ticket. An extra charge of 100 bahts might be asked to bring you to the train station or to the airport.
The Raja Ferry and the Seatran Ferry (carrying vehicles and passangers) leave from Donsak pier, one hour from Suratthani center (there’s a coach transfer included in the price). Both offer a good service and the journey only takes one hour to one hour and half.
Lomprayah offers high-speed catamaran services starting from Chumphon, allowing visitors to conveniently visit Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, and Koh Samui with final point at Donsak. It provides a variety of combined tickets that include bus and train transportation, starting from Bangkok and Surat Thani.
Boats Linking Koh Samui to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao to Ko Samui
There are many different ways to reach Samui from Koh Phangan. The journey costs between 200 and 250 bahts depending on the company.
Click here for the timetable of all boat companies to and from Koh phangan, in chronological order
There is also a brand new company, Samui-Phangan Express that started a regular speedboat service from Bantai Pier in Phangan to Big Budha in Samui in early 2008, the trip takes 10 to 15mn and costs 450 Bahts. They have departure every hour from 8:00am to 07:00pm, from Samui and Phangan.
All the routes to Koh Tao stops in Koh Phangan before Koh Samui. The ticket costs between 350 and 450 bahts depending on the company.
Click here for the timetable of all boat companies to and from Koh Tao, in chronological order
The Seatran Discovery and the Lomprayah are both utra-speed boat companies that link Koh Samui to Chumphorn on the mainland via Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
How to move around while on Koh Samui
Rent a Vehicle
Rent your own vehicle will allow you to discover the numerous sites of Koh Samui exactly the way you want to do it and at your own rythm. Bike, in spite of its danger, is the cheapest and the most usual mean of transport, here. However, before signing the contract, it’s always a good idea to check the motorbike with the owner so as to avoid getting charged for something you haven’t broken yourself when giving the bike back. The prices vary between 150 and 500 baht/day (and even more for CBR…) depending on the category and the state of the bike.
Although more expensive, renting a car is safer and if there are 3 or more of you, it could turn out to be a better financial option. Many international agencies are at the airport and around Chaweng, there are also few travel agencies and Bungalows renting Suzuki Caribbean or Pick Up trucks.
It’s also recommended that you check the car for any existing scratches on the day you rent it.
Taxis and Songtaews
If you are not too keen on driving a motorcycle, especially if you are not too good a driver, you may prefer to travel by taxi… The case being, you’ll have different choices.
Collective Taxis – Songtaews
There are no official stops, so you just have to waive at the taxi when you see one on the road. It is recommended to check the price before getting in. Alternatively, if you already know the price, simply hand in the exact amount to the driver on arrival at your destination…
Metered taxis are widely available on Koh Samui, you can recognize at their red and yellow cars. But be warned that they never ever use the meter, you will have to bargain the price of the course before leaving.
It is a good option if you are alone and do not have bags, they go faster than car for a cheaper fare. They usually stand by near popular spots in town, and are another cheap way to move around Samui. You will find them around the TESCO-Lotus or the Makro in Chaweng and you can easily recognize them as they wear colourful tops with numbers. Here again, it is recommended to fix the price before.
Most of the Taxi-boats have disappeared of Koh Samui, and the only “taxi boat service” you can find here is from speedboat… Nevertheless, you can still ask around, to locals and fishermen as they can still organize round trip or taxi courses with the old style long tail boats.
If you want to go to visit some of the nearby islands such as Koh Tao, Koh Nang Yuan or the Angthong National Marine Park, you’ll find many speedboat companies. You can contact one of the few tour counters available throughout the island to book yourself a direct trip or a special tour around these islands.