There are many forms of transport to and from and around the island of Koh Samui. Most of the modern transport links are highlighted below but there are several local forms such as elephant riding that are really only available for tourist trips.
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Koh Samui Transport Generally
The main modes of transport to and from the island are Air, Train, Bus and Ferry. There is quite a range of transport available to hire on the island itself for getting around.
The easiest and fastest way to reach Koh Samui is by air from Bangkok. Koh Samui's airport is one of the most beautiful in the world. Its 'Fantasy Island' atmosphere immediately gives visitors a special holiday feeling when arriving by air. It is set on a lush plateau overlooking the sea. The airport consists of two beautiful open-air terminals built of wood and thatched roofs. It is located approximately 500 metres from Big Buddha beach, the airport is less than 10 kilometres from any destination on the island. The attractive airport has a restaurant, bar, money exchange and hotel reservation counter. Bangkok Airways has 23 daily flights between Bangkok and Samui. The flight takes about 80 minutes. Other domestic flights run daily to/from Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Hua Hin. Koh Samui International Airport has direct non-stop flights from Singapore and Hong Kong through Bangkok Airways. If you have not arranged transport with your hotel, you can either rent a car at the airport or take a taxi. Touts hang outside the terminal, offering rides in private taxi cars or mini vans for a fixed rate.
Buses run from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal in Thonburi and make the 12 hour journey every day. Some buses drive right onto the ferry, others let passengers off at the pier outside Surat Thani. Buses are about half the price of the train, a bit faster, but less comfortable and not as scenic.
Train-Bus-Ferry combination tickets can be purchased at Bangkok's Hualampong Railway Station. This is probably the second most comfortable way of reaching Samui from Bangkok.
Tickets are quite reasonable and range in class from 1st class private cabin, 2nd class air-conditioned, 2nd class non-air-conditioned, 3rd non-air-conditioned bench seat. Night trains in the 1st and 2nd classes convert into beds.
The trip takes around 13 hours, plus 1-2 hours by ferry.
Koh Samui can be reached by ferry, speedboat and car ferry from one of four piers outside Surat Thani. Schedules and prices are always in flux. Expect more departures during the high season and less in the rainy season. There is the speedy SeaTran, passenger ferry or vehicle ferry, taking around 1-2 hours respectively. Express boats from Surat Thani to Koh Samui also continue to the next island, Koh Phangan, though the late afternoon ferries typically only go to Koh Samui.
Getting around the island
There is a ring road around Koh Samui's coastline that gives ready access to most beaches. The best and safest form of transport is a self-drive air-conditioned vehicle (meter taxi, car or 4 wheel drive jeep); motorbikes can also be hired. You then have the freedom to explore the island and its treasures at your own pace. It takes about an hour to drive around the island if you don't stop along the many beaches or take some of the side tracks (all of the rough trails crossing the mountainous interior are strictly 4WD or dirt bike trails).
A fun way to meet locals and other tourists is to jump on a Songtaew (normally a taxi bus truck). This is the local public transport that circumnavigates the island.
If you're going a short distance, motorbike taxis will take you. The drivers are easy to spot in numbered vests, usually hanging around at road intersections.
There is also another fun form of transport, the Tuk Tuk. Having said this there are only a few on the island. They are more readily seen in Bangkok and on the mainland elsewhere.
Other useful information
Please click on any of the links below for more useful information about Koh Samui and its surroundings.