Bangkok to Koh Tao: What you Need to Know

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Thailand is one of my favorite countries in the world. From the cuisine and the temples, to the turquoise waters and hills of Chiang Mai, there is something for everyone. Once you’ve had your fill of adventuring in Bangkok, you’ll want to head down to the islands for relaxation. This guide will cover what you need to know about getting from Bangkok to Koh Tao, as Koh Tao is a must-visit on your Thailand itinerary.

Getting from Bangkok to Koh Tao

There are a number of different ways to get from Bangkok to the Koh Tao, that depend on your time, budget, and personal travel preferences. However, one thing that they all have in common is that you will need to take a boat (unless you want to swim). This is because there is no airport on the island of Koh Tao. Here are the two main options for travel from Bangkok to Koh Tao.

  1. Overnight Bus + Ferry Combo ticket – This is a great option if you are on a budget! I personally love overnight buses and trains because they not only help me to save money on accommodation, but I don’t waste any sacred days traveling. You can find tickets from around $35-40 USD that leave Bangkok in the late evening and arrive on the island before 9AM. 
  2. Fly to Koh Samui – tickets to Koh Samui tend to start around $150 USD round trip. However, once you factor in time and money getting to the airport, it can get a bit pricey. Once you arrive in Koh Samui, it is about 1.5 to 2 hours by ferry to Koh Tao. 

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Getting to Koh Tao via Chumphon

As I mentioned above getting to Koh Tao through a bus and ferry combination from Lompraya is a great option for travelers on a budget. It’s not the quickest trip, but it tends to be a pretty seamless journey. I recommend taking an overnight bus with a connecting ferry in Chumphon in the early morning. If you book your full ticket on 12Go, your connection between the two is guaranteed. The company offers two daily journeys, the first leaving at 6:00am and arriving at 2:45pm on Koh Tao and second leaving at 9:00 pm arriving at 08:45am the next day.

Many of the buses conveniently leave from the Khao San Rd area, rather than the Hua Lamphong station. Alternatively, you could head to the train station for a train to Chumphon, or take a flight. These are both comfortable options, but you’ll need to get a taxi to the pier to catch your ferry.

You can fly from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport (DMK) in approximately one hour. Airlines that service this route include Nok Air, Thai AirAsia, and Bangkok Airways. I recommend booking flights in advance for the best rates.

Koh Tao island in Thailand
Getting from Bangkok to Koh Tao

Getting to Koh Tao via Koh Samui

You can easily from from Bangkok to Koh Samui. There are a number of low cost carriers that operate this route, usually from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport (DMK).

From the Koh Samui airport you will need to transfer to a ferry to take you from Koh Samui to Koh Tao. This journey will add an additional 1.5 to 2 hours to reach your destination.

Getting to Koh Tao via Surat Thani

Another option is to travel via Surat Thani by plane. From here it is a 30 minute taxi ride to the pier, and then a 4 hour ferry ride to Koh Tao, that will stop in Koh Phangan on the way.

Koh Tao: What to Know

There are so many different islands to visit in Thailand, but Koh Tao is one of my favorites. Koh Tao is a mid-range island. There are a number of high end properties but you can also find cheaper dining options and more adventurous activities.

There is only one pier on Koh Tao for arriving ferries, located in Mae Haad. From here you’ll need to take a taxi or tuk tuk to your accommodation.

Where to Stay on Koh Tao

The Place

With rates starting under $200 USD, this place is a steal for what it has to offer. And by that I mean a luxury private village with a private balcony and a private plunge pool overlooking ocean. This is perfect for a romantic getaway

Cape Shark Villa T

hese villas are located on a gorgeous property with a private beach (and some have a private pool in villa). It is quite removed from the rest of the island, but that might be what you’re looking for if you want a bit of privacy! This is a bit more affordable than The Place, with rates starting around $170 USD.

What to do on Koh Tao

Snorkeling ​there are snorkeling and boat tour options on every corner in Koh Tao! Prices are going to vary greatly depending on time of day, number of people, activities, etc so don’t be afraid to shop around.

Diving ​Koh Tao is known for its diving courses. However, it is also possible to sign up for a fun dive if you are interested.

Beaches K​oh Tao has some incredible beaches! ​Saree beach​ is one of the busier, more famous beaches. However, I recommend going further to one of my favorite spots,​ Freedom Beach​!

Ladyboy Show​ – A ladyboy cabaret is a unique, fun experience to have in Thailand. The main one on Koh Tao is free as long as you purchase a drink.

Sunset Views ​High Bar has some of the best views of the island, especially at sunset. Come by for a drink and a chill.

Koh Tao Safety

Please exercise caution on any of the islands. Don’t walk alone on the beach late at night, be cognizant of cheap local liquors, etc. I personally have always felt incredibly safe in Thailand, and have visited 5 times (3 of those times I was traveling solo). But it is still important to be aware of your surroundings.

What to Pack for Koh Tao

  • Sarong – I literally never travel anywhere without a sarong. It seriously has so many uses – a skirt, shawl, scarf, blanket, beach towel.. you name it! You can easily purchase a sarong in Thailand for a buck or two when you arrive if you don’t already own one.
  • Dry Bag – a dry bag is super important when visiting the Thai islands. Dry bags are a great way to keep your valuables dry, especially if you’re traveling with a camera.
  • Outfits that cover your shoulders and knees – for ladies I recommend packing a couple of maxi skirts or dresses. This is a great way to look cute, keep cool, and remain respectful when visiting the temples or touring more conservative areas. Sarongs also work well as a makeshift skirt.
  • Multiple Credit/Debit Cards – When I’m traveling I always make sure to carry multiple cards. Ideally I like to have at least 1 credit card and 2 debit cards to withdraw cash.
  • Universal Travel Adapter – there are so many different outlet types in Thailand, and throughout Southeast Asia. I recommend always traveling with a universal travel adapter so you’re set.
  • Packing CubesI actually only started using packing cubes this past year and they are seriously a game changer.
  • ElectrolytesI always travel with electrolyte packets, just in case. Between the hot weather, long travel days, and possible stomach issues.. you just never know! I personally love the brand DripDrop, but there are a bunch of great options. These are perfect after a long day on the beach, or a long travel day.
  • Quick Dry Towel – a compact, quick drying travel towel is a must when visiting warm weather destinations.
  • Camera – Thailand is beautiful, all of it! Make sure to bring along a camera to capture all of that beauty. I currently shoot with the Sony a7ii but the Sony a6000 is a great budget option as well.
  • Pixie Cup – this one is for the ladies! While traveling with tampons, or buying tampons in Thailand, is possible, traveling with a Pixie Cup menstrual cup is so much easier. It is also cheaper and more sustainable.

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