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How to Get in and around Koh Samui

How to Get in and around Koh Samui

By Chris QuanUpdated Jun. 6, 2022

Koh Samui is Thailand's second-largest island and as so, there are lots to see and explore.  The island is famous for its tropical palm tree-fringed beaches, and dense, mountainous jungle terrain as well as it's upmarket resorts and spas.

Koh Samui is located in the Gulf of Thailand, some 760 km from the capital of Bangkok, on the southeast coast.

koh samui koh samui

In this article, we have detailed Samui's transportation information, so that you can decide which is your best route to the island.

Getting to Koh Samui by Air

Koh Samui International Airport (KBV) is located around 2 km north of Chaweng, which is the main and largest resort area on the island.

The airport is owned by Bangkok Airways and they are currently the only airline that flies directly in and out of the airport.

The vast majority of flights arrive from Bangkok.  If you are flying from cities in America, Canada, Australia or the UK, you will have a short stopover at Suvarnabhumi airport. From Bangkok, it's a quick and easy 1-hour flight to Koh Samui. >>How to Travel from Phuket to Koh Samui?

koh samui's airport koh samui's airport

Bangkok Airways also codeshare with various airlines making direct flights possible from other Thai cities such as Chiang Mai, Pattaya (U-Tapao), Phuket and Krabi.

You can also connect directly from several cities in the Asia region such as Chongqing, Hong Kong and Singapore, which are all major transport hubs in their own right.

There is the the option to fly to Koh Samui's mainland provincial city of Surat Thani with one of Thailand's low-cost carriers. This involves a long taxi or bus ride to the ferry pier and a 1.5-hour boat ride.

This option is not recommended unless it's a last resort. The flight, bus and ferry combination is very time-consuming. It can end up costing as much as a direct flight when you factor in all of the costs involved.

Samui Airport to Chewang, Lamai and Bophut.

The trip from Koh Samui Airport to the main town of Chewang or the more laid back Bophut will take you around 10-15 minutes.

If your hotel is in the popular area of Lamai, it's a 35-minute drive. If you are staying further afield, in a private villa or one of the more secluded beaches on the island, travel times can vary.

Still, all beaches on the island can be reached within an hours drive from the airport.

Airport Transportation

1. Private Transfer (recommended)

Our private transfer service will provide you with an English-speaking guide and driver. Our guide will meet you at the arrival gate at Samui airport with your name on a sign.

They will be on hand to help from the airport to your hotel, making your arrival as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

2. Taxis (less recommended)

Taxis are the next best option. They are easy to find at Samui Airport and are a reliable option for getting to your hotel.

Unlike in other parts of Thailand, there are no metered taxis at Samui Airport.

Be prepared to pay a fixed price and always make sure you get a definite cost from the driver before you set off.

Taxi prices in Samui are a lot higher than in Bangkok. Expect to pay 500 THB to Chaweng, 450 THB to Bophut and around 700 THB to Ao Nang Lamai.

If you are staying inland or at one of the further away beaches, expect to pay 1000 THB plus.

3. Mini Bus (not recommended)

Although a lot cheaper than the other transportation options, the minivan is far less comfortable and time-consuming, as they often make a lot of stops.

The cost is between 100 THB and 200 THB per person depending on which part of the island you are travelling to and often if you have a lot of luggage, you will be asked to pay for an extra seat.

The minivan is only worth considering if you are travelling alone and are on a strict budget.

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Getting to Koh Samui by Boat

If you are travelling overland to Samui, either from Phuket, Krabi or Surat Thani Airport, you will have to make your way to Donsak Pier.  

Donsak is on the border of Surat Thani and neighbouring Nakhon Si Thammarat.

The Donsak Koh Samui ferry route connects Koh Samui with the mainland and operated by two ferry companies: Songserm and Lomprayah.

Ferries run from the pier up to 14 times per week making it one of the busiest ferry terminals in Thailand.

The journey takes 1.5 hours on the Songserm Ferry, while the Lomprayah High-Speed Ferry,  which runs three times per day, takes around 45 minutes to reach the island. >>>Koh Samui Maps

Getting to Koh Samui By Bus

Buses to Koh Samui via Surat Thani depart from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal at Sai Tai Mai.

The travel time, including the ferry crossing, is 12.5 hours at a minimum.

It can be a rather gruelling journey, and we only recommend this for solo travellers on a strict budget.

If you are staying in Krabi, Phuket or Phi Phi, the journey is more manageable and can be doable in a day.

There's a lot of waiting time involved so we would suggest a taxi or private Transfer.

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How to Get to Koh Samui from Main Cities in Thailand

Bangkok to Samui

Flying is the best way from Bangkok to Koh Samui. Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport has daily flights to Koh Samui. The journey takes about 1 hour.

See the detailed information about 4 Ways to Get from Bangkok to Koh Samui

krabi krabi

Krabi to Samui

Krabi is located on the west coast of Thailand, while Koh Samui is in the Gulf of Thailand, on the east coast.  

A combined trip is required, and there are a couple of options for you to choose from.

Flying is the quickest and most comfortable. Bangkok Airways run daily flights between Krabi and Samui which take just under an hour.

If you prefer not to fly, you can take a minivan or private transfer and boat combination to get to the island in around 6 hours. >>How to Get in and around Krabi.

phuket phuket

Phuket to Koh Koh Samui

Flying directly from Phuket Airport to Koh Samui takes 55 minutes and flying from west to east, seeing the terrain change beneath you is an excellent experience in itself. You can also travel between Phuket and Koh Samui with a combination of minivan or car and the ferry.

If you aren't in a rush, this is a great way to see a little more of the country along the way. >>How to Get to Koh Samui from Phuket?

Chiang Mai to Koh Samui

Flying is highly recommended for travel between these two cities as the bus takes too long to be a serious option. A flight from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui takes 1 hour and 45 minutes with Bangkok Airways.

Pattaya to Koh Samui

Although Pattaya is closer to Samui than Bangkok, it's only an hour and a half closer, so the bus and ferry combination is not recommended.

Flights from the newly built U-Tapao Airport, located around 40 km from Pattaya, run daily flights to Samui taking 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Phi Phi to Samui

Phi Phi to Koh Samui

Two boats, one from Phi Phi to the mainland and one from Donsak to Samui are required for travel between the two islands, and that is without factoring in the overland travel from pier to pier.

We recommend going from Phi Phi to either Phuket or Krabi and flying to Samui from there. >>How to Get in and around Phi Phi.

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How to Travel Around Koh Samui

Songthaew

There is no bus service on Samui: the only real public transport is the humble songthaew.

The name songthaew translates to 'two benches', and they are exactly that: A pickup truck with a roof on the back with two long benches running along either side for passengers to sit on.

They are not the most comfortable mode of transport, but they are very inexpensive. They can be a fun way of travelling short over distances.

Walking or Bicycle

Koh Samui is a vast island, so walking and cycling isn't really an option for long distances.

Still, if you are staying in one area, both can be a great way to see the local attractions. You can rent bikes from hotels and guesthouses on the island for around 150 thb a day.

Rental Car or Motorbike

Many travellers rent scooters on Koh Samui, but if you are thinking of renting one yourself, it's essential to wear a helmet, and protective clothing as well.

Koh Samui is a bustling island with busy roads so we wouldn't recommend this option unless you are an experienced rider.

Renting a car is a much safer alternative to renting a motorbike. You will still have the freedom to go where you want and see some different, quieter parts of the island.

We would suggest renting a car from one of the reputable companies at the airport. That way, you also save on the taxi fare from the airport to your hotel!

Taxi

There is only one company operating taxis on Samui, so there isn't much competition for business. This, unfortunately, makes taxi rides one of the more expensive methods of travelling around the island.

As with the airport taxis, there are no meters used on the island. You will have to negotiate a fare with your driver, which is usually quite high in relation to the distance travelled.

Private Car or Van

The best way to see the whole of Koh Samui in our opinion is to rent a van or car with a private guide.

That way, you don't have the hassle of driving yourself but still have the freedom to explore where you want.

A bonus of having a local as your driver is that they know the local customs, language and all the best spots on the island. You won't be wasting any time searching for your perfect beach destination.

Also read: How to Get from Koh Samui to Koh Tao 2022 (& Vice Versa)

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