I have had so many people ask me how to get to Samui since I arrived here so I’ve decided to put all the information here and just point people to it when they ask. I hope you find it helpful.
Koh Samui is an island off the east coast of Thailand in the Gulf of Thailand. If you look at a map, it is about 3/4 of way down on the right hand side. There are many ways to get here including flights, buses, trains and ferries – swimming is not an option. You just have to see which option works best for you. For example, if you have money but no time, flying will be better. If you have no money but lots of time, then buses and trains will work for you. If you have no time and no money, well then perhaps a holiday to Koh Samui isn’t for you 😉
You have two choices: 1) fly directly to Koh Samui or 2) fly to somewhere on the mainland and work your way to Koh Samui by other means, i.e. bus, ferry, train.
Choice 1 – Fly Direct
From within Thailand, only Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways (twice a day only) fly to Koh Samui. You can also fly directly to Koh Samui from Hong Kong (Thai Airways and Silk Air), Singapore (Silk Air), Penang and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia (Firefly).
Once you arrive at Koh Samui airport, use your hotel airport collection service to get you to your hotel. This is the quickest but also the most expensive option.
Bear in mind, there are TWO airports in Bangkok – Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok which is central and Don Mueang International Airport Bangkok, which is outside the city. Don Mueang is the main hub for Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Lion Air and Orient Thai Airlines. Flights to and from Samui are from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) so if you’re landing in Don Mueang from your international flight, you’ll have to factor in the additional cost of getting from there to Suvarnabhumi.
* Remember to collect your luggage at Bangkok as it won’t be automatically routed through to Samui unless you specifically organise it to do so.
Choice 2 – Fly to a point on the mainland and use a bus/train/ferry
There are a few points on the mainland that you can fly to: Bangkok (two airports, see above), Hat Yai, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
If you’re flying to Phuket, bear in mind that SOME airlines go via Bangkok, adding an extra stop (and cost) to your journey.
When you’re checking flights, use the following airport codes:
BKK for Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok
DMK for Don Mueang International Airport Bangkok
HDT for Hat Yai
HKT for Phuket
CNX for Chiang Mai
CEI for Chiang Rai
You can choose to fly to Bangkok and then to Surat Thai and from there catch the ferry. If you choose this option, use airport code URT for Surat Thani.
* Don’t catch an evening flight to Surat Thani because the last ferry across to Koh Samui is at 7pm so you’ll be stuck for a night in Surat Thani.
This website has details about the airports and airlines flying to Samui and to Surat Thani.
Okay, so you’ve flown to Thailand and are standing somewhere on the mainland. Now what?
You need to make your way to Surat Thai, the closest province on the mainland to Koh Samui. Its main city of Surat Thani is well-equipped to deal with people travelling to Koh Samui.
How to get to Surat Thani
Buses are a great option and when you buy a bus ticket, they sometimes include the ferry price (but double check this!) Check the journey times because buses aren’t known for being the quickest form of transport but they’re much cheaper than flying. Levels of comfort are vastly different but most buses stop for toilet and eating breaks and some buses (the VIP ones) have toilets on board.
You can simply walk into any little travel shop and catch a minivan anywhere in Thailand really. Within a short stretch of road here on Samui, you can find as many as 3 little travel shops. The prices are cheaper but you will be in a 12-seater minivan with a driver who is intent on getting to his destination as quickly as possible. This is also not a good option if you have luggage (because there is no boot/trunk for luggage – only the seats on the minivan)
I’m in Surat Thani – now what?
Make your way to the pier via bus, taxi or motorbike taxi and buy a foot passenger ferry ticket to Koh Samui. There are two large ferries (Seatran and
Raja Ferry – journey approx. 1.5 hours) and one large catamaran company (Lomprayah – journey approx. 45 minutes). Seatran and Lomprayah arrive at Nathon main pier but Raja Ferry uses another pier in Lipa Noi, further south of the main one in Nathon, so bear this in mind if someone is collecting you.
This website has a listing of all boat options and times leaving from various points on the mainland. Remember to check directly with the companies first though, most of them have websites in English.
This website has times and prices for boats going to and from Samui, the mainland AND other neighbouring islands.
This website has some handy information about catching a ferry to Samui.
Last ferry across to Koh Samui is at 7pm so don’t catch a late night flight to Surat Thani or you’ll be stuck there for the night.
Once you arrive at Nathon Pier (the main one), there will be public transport in the form of Song-Taos, motorbike taxis or metered taxis, which will take you to your destination. (Song-Taos only drive around the ring road.) Remember to negotiate your price BEFORE climbing on/in.
So hopefully this has made it easier for you to decide how to get here. If you have any additional tips, please DO leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to add it to the page (with credit to you, of course!)
TravelFish has an excellent write-up about flying to Samui. View the article here.