Make it to Koh Tao island from the bustling city of Bangkok in peace by booking a travel combo of bus and ferry. The average travel time is about 13.5 hours, but on a high speed catamaran you can arrive much quicker. Make sure to book in advance in order to avoid a fully booked ride.
The 415 kilometer (257 mile) journey from Bangkok to Koh Tao gives you the opportunity to compare Thailand’s vibrant energy of the capital city with a tropical island paradise.
Koh Tao is one of the many islands in the Chumphon Archipelago dotted a few miles off the thin stretch of Thailand in the Gulf of Thailand. The journey from Bangkok to Koh Tao is usually done by bus and ferry to reach the islands as there is no bridge or airport on Koh Tao connecting it to the mainland.
The journey from Bangkok to Koh Tao is simple to book and easy to take. Travel to the islands from Bangkok is a very popular journey, so Thai travel operators offer trips that are as swift and relaxed as possible.
Traveling from Bangkok to Koh Tao consists of a two-step journey. The first part of the journey requires bus travel from Bangkok down to Thung Makham Noi Pier or Chumphon Pier in the southern part of the country.
You then take a high-speed catamaran ferry to Koh Tao. Once you arrive at Mae Haad Pier, you are handily in the main part of the island, which has plenty of restaurants and accommodation options.
On approach to Koh Tao, you may see where it gets its name of ‘turtle island’ as the shape of the island is vaguely that of a turtle. You may even have a good chance of spotting some real turtles in the water surrounding the island if you give one of the very popular snorkeling activities a go.
The journey from Bangkok to Koh Tao follows the coastline south and passes many towns and jungle regions on the way. Depending on which operator you travel with you may be traveling overnight. With not much to see out the window at night, take advantage of the comfortable reclining chairs to get some shut-eye.
Once on the ferry to Koh Tao, look out for the islands and archipelagos that dot the ocean. You may be taking this part of the journey during sunrise which will present you with some fantastic scenery of the dark islands against the rising sun. From Koh Tao, other islands in the Archipelago are a short boat ride away, including Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and the Mu Ko Ang Thong National Marine Park.
Once you arrive at the pier in Koh Tao, you are very close to the popular beach resorts of Sairee Beach and Thipwimarn. There you can sunbathe on the pristine sandy beaches, drink straight from a fresh coconut at the beach bars or enjoy the fresh and delicious cuisine from the beachfront restaurants. If you have not booked accommodation before arriving on the island there is no need to worry. Many guesthouses and hostels will offer you deals as soon as you get off the boat and you are able to negotiate a bit on price.
Taking a bus and ferry
The bus and ferry ride from Bangkok to Koh Tao is a convenient way to travel as it can be booked all as one journey and offers free cancellations.
Most bus and ferry routes include air conditioning, toilet facilities, and reclining seats to make the journey comfortable. The bus is the longest section of the journey, especially as it will stop along the way to pick up more travelers or for rest stops. Once you arrive at the pier where you will board the ferry to Koh Tao, there is a few hours wait time, but there are toilets, food and seating facilities available.
The boat journey to Koh Tao takes approximately 2 to 3 hours. Once on the ferry you can enjoy the view of the ocean from your seat, but make sure to head up to the top deck for the stunning views and a chat with other friendly travelers about island hopping activities and recommendations. The pier in Koh Tao is very close to the main beach on the island. The most popular ways to travel around Koh Tao once you arrive are by the communal taxi service or renting bikes and scooters.
The best time of year to visit Bangkok is between December and February when the temperature is comfortable, the weather is dry, and the skies are clear.
The best time of year to visit Koh Tao is around the same time as Bangkok in December and February. Not only is the weather at its most pleasant, but bars and clubs are also at their busiest.