When travelling between Koh Samui and Ao Nang, a combination of a bus and a ferry are needed to get you over the waters. This service offers a bus and ferry which are both air conditioned. There's only a bathroom on board the ferry. Keep in mind that hotel pick up only occurs in Koh Samui.
Tackling the journey to Ao Nang from Koh Samui means you can experience two very different types of shoreside indulgence in Thailand.
The journey measures in at 252km (156 miles), and takes you from the idyllic island of Koh Samui to the relatively more built-up seaside resort town of Ao Nang, which is a hive of diving, excellent resorts and packs of beach-hungry tourists.
Both Koh Samui and Ao Nang are two of the most popular shoreside hangouts in the south of Thailand, and you should visit them both.
Koh Samui is the archetypal Thai island, with spas, endless beaches, shoreline partying and lots of opportunities for lying around.
But if you’re a little tired of island life and you want to move from Thailand’s eastern shores to some western mainland action, Ao Nang is an excellent choice - and it offers a very different experience to life on the island shores of Koh Samui.
With its backdrop of limestone karsts and verdant cliffs, Ao Nang is like a mini Halong Bay, and it’s just as appealing. It offers incredible diving and snorkeling, and all the perks of mainland life. It’s also very close to Krabi town, with its bustling backpacker scene and incredibly homely vibe.
There are three ways to tackle the trip:
If you’re looking to dive or snorkel, Ao Nang is one of the best destinations in Thailand, and it’s the epicenter of all of Krabi’s diving action. Aside from underwater experiences, Ao Nang also offers great food, a varied crowd and some fantastically indulgent resorts.
What you’ll see when traveling depends upon how you decide to tackle the trip.
If you fly, you’ll of course only see the views offered from your airplane window (assuming you’re sitting at one).
But if you decide to take the journey over a combination of road and sea, it’s a journey packed with great views and various experiences.
For the first section of your journey, you’ll travel from Koh Samui to Surat Thani, the closest mainland point to the island. On the deck of a surprisingly luxurious boat, you’ll travel between two small ports as you start your journey west.
For many travelers, this ferry stretch is the best part of the journey, as you motor over the shimmering Gulf of Thailand and pass distant islands and other lonely boats. This section of the journey typically lasts between 45 minutes and 1 hour.
After your ferry reaches Surat Thani, you’ll hop on a bus and begin the longest stretch of your trip, which takes you to the western coast in pursuit of Ao Nang.
You’ll spend the vast majority of your bus journey cruising along well-maintained highways, passing jungles, palm trees and faraway mountains.
Upon reaching Krabi, you may transfer to a small minibus which will complete the rest of your journey - or your bus might ride all the way from Surat Thani to Ao Nang.
Taking a combined bus and ferry
This is without doubt the most popular way to get to Ao Nang from Koh Samui, with the vast majority of travelers choosing this option.
It’s affordable, it’s comfortable, and you don’t have to worry about booking separate tickets for the separate legs of the journey. Instead, you just buy one ticket and get on your way - easy!
All buses in Thailand are welcomingly luxurious, with AC and very comfortable seats. Thailand’s ferries are also very comfortable, and they offer excellent views of all the surrounding seas.
Catching a flight
If you’re short on time, this can be a good option.
That said, it’s expensive, and your flight won’t take you the entire way. Instead, you need to fly from Koh Samui to Krabi, then arrange your own transport from Krabi to Ao Nang.
Unless you’re very short on time, flying from Koh Samui to Ao Nang isn’t usually a very good choice. And by the time you check in, it’s not too much quicker than your other options anyway!
Renting a car
If you’re keen to explore Thailand on the back of a scooter, you might want to drive from Koh Samui to Ao Nang.
If that’s your plan, you’ll need to catch a ferry from Koh Samui to Surat Thani before then hiring a scooter in Surat Thani to ride to Ao Nang.
Though it’s possible, not many tourists choose to tackle the trip by scooter - this approach is complicated and lengthy, and it can be dangerous (especially if you’re not an experienced scooter driver!).
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