Going from Ao Nang to Koh Phangan requires a combination of vehicles. Luckily, you can book this combo of bus and ferry in order to avoid any difficulties. The total duration takes about 8.5 hours, the ferry ride takes approximately 2.5 hours.
If you’re looking for an adventure that combines cross-country travel with beach resorts and party islands, there’s no better place to head to than Thailand. So, pack your swimmers, snorkel and glow sticks because here’s where you take the plunge.
Southern Thailand is blessed with not one but two beautiful shorelines. It’s fringed by the Gulf of Thailand in the east and the Andaman Sea in the west. Each coast has its own unique cultural and natural scenery, so it makes sense to check out both if you’re traveling.
The distance from Ao Nang to Koh Phangan is approximately 275 kilometers (170 miles).
There’s no direct flight to take you from the west to the east coast because Koh Phangan doesn’t have an airport. However, there is one under construction. Watch this space for details.
Basically, the only way to travel is over land and then across the Gulf of Thailand. It’s a relatively long trip lasting for a total of eight hours and 30 minutes. You can choose to catch a tourist bus or take a taxi or minivan before catching a ferry from Surat Thani.
However, the best way to travel from Ao Nang to Koh Phangan is by booking a combination bus/ferry ticket. This allows you to take the one-way journey as seamlessly as possible. A private taxi or minivan is far more expensive and really not worth it.
There are four service providers running bus/ferry rides between southwest and southeast Thailand: Songserm, Phantip Travel, Lomprayah and Seatran Discovery. They’ve all been working in Thailand for many years and have good safety and customer satisfaction records.
The cheapest and most popular mode of transport from Ao Nang to Koh Phangan is the high-speed bus and ferry service run by Songserm. It’s an affordable, sociable and efficient way to explore down south.
Buses and boats are air-conditioned, and seats for the whole trip cost as little as US$26. The overland ride takes about six hours.
Seatran Discovery’s high-speed bus and ferry is also a popular way to travel for backpackers. Combination tickets start from US$34 per person, one way. Air-conditioned buses are more like modern minivans and very comfortable.
All ferries have air-conditioned seating areas below deck as well as an open-top upper deck. In addition, they have washrooms and a small kiosk or hatch to buy snacks and drinks. The crossing from Don Sak pier to Thong Sala pier lasts about two and a half hours.
It's a sociable way to travel and a classic backpacker experience. There are around four departures each day, and booking in advance is essential to ensure your seat. Make sure to arrive at least an hour before departure to avoid a mad rush from your hotel.
The bus ride part of the journey will take you northeast via Thailand’s Route 44. In daylight hours, you’ll be able to see how the Andaman coast switches to more rural countryside scenes. If you’re traveling at night, you won’t see much at all.
Route 44 is a busy highway. You can expect to see lots of trucks, cars and coaches traveling alongside your tourist bus. Stops will be made along the way at service stations. Grab a bite to eat, use the facilities or just stretch your legs and chat to fellow passengers.
Once you arrive in Surat Thani province, you’ll head to Don Sak pier. This is where the bus leg of the journey completes, and the ferry section starts. You might be waiting for the ferry for a while, but don’t be tempted to explore too far from the pier, just in case you get lost.
Boarding the ferry allows you to choose a seat on the open-top deck or the air-conditioned lower deck. You’ll see much more on the top deck, obviously, although there are often plenty of friendly faces to chat with if you’re happy to chill out downstairs.
It’s quite a scenic trip and the best way to get from Ao Nang to Koh Phangan to top up your tan. Keep an eye out for the large island of Koh Samui as well as the smaller island of Ang Thong. Just a glimpse of snow-white sand is enough to set pulses racing in readiness for your next port of call.
Taking a bus/ferry from Ao Nang to Koh Phangan
The tried and tested method to complete the Ao Nang to Koh Phangan distance is to buy a combination bus/ferry ticket.
Tickets are very affordable and best purchased in advance, especially if you’re traveling in high-season or around the time of Koh Phangan’s notorious full moon parties.
And that’s how to get from Ao Nang to Koh Phangan. Now, where did I put those glow sticks?