Bangkok to Koh Phangan is a looong journey. Fortunately, you don’t have to map out your transit path because the vehicle options come in combinations. The ferry portion of the trip is a must, but you can choose whether to take a VIP or standard bus to take you to the ferry.
If you've heard of Thailand's famous full moon parties and just can't wait to hit the beaches down south, you're going to need to know all about the ride from Bangkok to Koh Phangan.
Basically, you've got three options. The most popular is to take a combination bus/ferry to Koh Phangan from Bangkok. It's a very long journey. 14 hours long. But what you'll also get from this experience is a backpack full of stories and maybe a few new friends along the way.
If you are thinking that a bus/ferry from Bangkok to Koh Phangan might be right for you then you'll need to decide whether to save costs on a standard bus or splash out on a VIP bus ticket. Both types of buses are well-equipped and will keep on driving right through the night.
The prices between buses don't vary all that wildly. They start from $33 for a seat on an Express or High Speed bus compared to $45 on a VIP bus. All three bus types are air-conditioned, have reclining seats and onboard washrooms.
Buses will also make regular rest stops on the route. This is a good opportunity for passengers to stretch their legs and chat to fellow travelers about where they've been and where to go next. You'll also have the chance to buy food and drink at one of the regular service station stops.
As the crow flies, the total distance from Bangkok to Koh Phangan is 454 kilometers (282 miles). The overland part of this journey takes you south from Bangkok to Chumphon. From here it's a five hour ferry crossing to Koh Phangan. This is a synchronized service from bus to boat.
Ferries to Koh Phangan leave from Matapon Pier in Chumphon. They will have an air-conditioned seating area down below deck and an open top area for sunbathing. Ferries will also usually have onboard washrooms and maybe a small kiosk to purchase snacks and bottled water.
An alternative to the lengthy bus/ferry option is to fly. It's a more expensive choice but it will get you down south in 90 minutes. This is popular with holidaymakers looking to get to the beach in the quickest time possible. However, try to stay at least a night in Bangkok to get the feel for the place.
Flying from Bangkok to Koh Phangan can be done in one of two ways. You can either fly from Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) to Koh Samui and then take a 30 minute ferry to Koh Phangan; or you can fly to Surat Thani and then take a two hour and 30 minute ferry to the island.
Your third way of getting to Koh Phangan from Bangkok is to take the train to Chumphon. The fastest service takes around seven hours or you can take the night train which is about 10 hours. From here it's a five hour ferry ride to Koh Phangan.
Alternatively, if you'd prefer to spend more time on the train and less time on the ferry. There's a train station in Surat Thani. From here it's just a two and half hour ferry crossing to Koh Phangan.
Keep your eyes firmly glued to your bus window as you leave Bangkok. This might be one of the few times that you get to see the outer reaches of the Thai capital. It's fascinating and quite eye opening to realise just how large this city is.
Most buses will drive through the night so don't expect to see much in terms of scenery. However, the night markets and brightly lit street stalls offer a greater understanding of local living conditions.
The ferry ride to Koh Phangan is much more scenic and allows for your first glimpse of the Gulf of Thailand. Blue skies, blue waves and white fringed islands await. Sit up on the top deck and catch some sun as you sail or keep cool down below as you watch from an air-conditioned window seat.
If you're flying from Bangkok to Koh Phangan (via Koh Samui or the mainland) you'll be up in the air and down on the ground in no time. Take off and landing offer the most scenic times to look out of your window. Although, don't expect to see much other than clouds for the rest of the flight.
Train travel in Thailand is a really great way to get to know a few local people. It's a lengthy ride so make sure you're ready to play with kids, language swap with students and politely accept all manner of food from friendly families.
Alternatively, sit back and watch from your window as you pass paddy fields, bamboo jungles and isolated villages.
Taking a ferry/bus
You can travel by bus and ferry from Bangkok to Koh Phangan. It's an affordable and easy option with lots of pick up points around the city. Bus types include Express, High-speed and VIP. All will be air-conditioned, have reclining seats, and an onboard washroom.
Ferries are synchronized with bus arrivals. They're large and well-equipped with indoor and outdoor seating areas. There's also plenty of room to stretch out and relax or play a few more hands of cards with newfound friends. The whole trip takes about 16 hours in total.
Taking a flight
Flying from Bangkok to Koh Phangan is the quickest and most comfortable option. It's also the most expensive. You'll be in the air for just over an hour before descending to Koh Samui, Chumphon or Surat Thani airports. Wherever you land you'll need to take a ferry for the final leg.
It's 30 minutes from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan by ferry, five hours from Chumphon, and about two hours and 30 minutes from Surat Thani.
Taking a train
Taking the train from Bangkok to Koh Phangan is arguably the most scenic and cultural option; it's also the longest. Train stations in Chumphon and Surat Thani are relatively close to ferry terminals although you will need to organize transfers by taxi to make sure you get there on time.
As train travel is not the natural choice for most tourists, ferry times and train times won't always be in sync. This can mean a lengthy wait with all your luggage. Make sure you keep that pack of cards handy.