All you need to avoid stress when travelling from Koh Samui to Suratthani is a bus-ferry combo. This is a very flexible option with multiple departure times throughout the day. The buses (sometimes vans) and ferries are both equipped with air conditioning, and since the trip is long enough, there are toilets on board the ferries.
For a very affordable price, you can easily cross waters and get from Koh Samui to Suratthani. The ride is quite short, and yet it provides all the amenities necessary. For instance, the ferries are well air conditioned and have bathrooms on board. Make sure to bring a water bottle with you.
The 80 kilometer (50 mile) ferry ride from Koh Samui to Suratthani on mainland Thailand takes about 90 minutes and usually includes blue skies, calm seas and, on a clear day, the limestone karst islands of Mu Ko Ang Thong National Marine Park. Taking the ferry is a classic traveler option and offers an excellent chance to catch up on some rest, reading or rays after partying the night away.
Smaller high-speed catamaran ferries, for approximately 200 passengers, and larger vehicle ferries leave Koh Samui from four different island piers but all arrive at Suratthani's Donsak Pier. Things can get busy in high season, so booking ferry tickets in advance is advised if you want to avoid a lengthy wait.
The ride itself is comfortable with air conditioned and open air seating areas, usually situated over two decks, and offers a snacks and drinks kiosk, TV room and onboard toilets. There's not a great deal to do in Suratthani and although you will find riverside night markets and overnight accommodation, it's a good idea to book an onward journey by road or by rail so as to make the most of your overland Thai travels.
The ferry ride from Koh Samui to Suratthani takes you on a 80 kilometer (50 mile) southwesterly voyage across the Gulf of Thailand. This stretch of sea is nearly always calm except for during the rainy season between September and November. So, you can expect to experience blue skies and blazing sunshine if you're sitting out on deck. On clear days, the lush green limestone islands of Mu Ko Ang Thong National Marine Park break up the sumptuous blue backdrop and you might even get lucky and spot Irrawaddy dolphins and Bryde's whales, especially if traveling between September and December.
Although this ferry journey is pretty much a perfunctory means of getting back to the Thai mainland, it's also a good opportunity to catch up on some valuable rest time in between traveling. Once you dock at Donsak Pier it will be all systems go as you board a bus or train for your onward journey or look for a bite to eat before planning your next steps. Although Suratthani isn't as geared up for travelers as many other tourist towns and beach resorts it can make for an interesting alternative if you're hoping to experience some authentic Thai culture. There's a scattering of hotels and hostels as well as a couple of night markets and several Buddhist temples mainly located along the Tapi river which flows through the center of the city.
Taking a ferry
The ferry ride from Koh Samui to Suratthani takes just over 90 minutes so just enough time to catch up on some rest and rays. Larger car ferries, such as Seatran and Raja, include indoor and outdoor plastic seating areas as well as bathrooms and small shops selling snacks and drinks.
Some ferries may also include an air conditioned VIP area on the upper deck where you can kick back in leather lounge chairs and watch a movie. There is a small charge for the privilege of going into the VIP area, approximately 30 Baht (less than $1). Although this charge is often waived in high season to accommodate the extra passengers. Smaller ferries, such as Songserm, will also include air conditioned and open seating areas, TVs and a snacks and drinks kiosk. Just remember: smaller ferries can feel every wave in choppy seas. Which is worth bearing in mind if you're nursing a hangover after one too many Sang Thips at last night's Full Moon Party.
No matter where you're seated, ferry rides are an excellent opportunity to gather your thoughts as you stare wistfully out to sea. Alternatively, you can use the time to chat to fellow passengers and maybe practice your Thai or listen to traveler tales. There's a lot to be learned in 90 minutes including that all important information about hidden beaches, dive spots and where to find the best darn Pad Thai on the streets of Bangkok.
Discover the vibrant south of Thailand from Suratthani, the region’s biggest domestic transportation hub. Here are some ideas on where to go from there!
Looking to get from Koh Samui to Suratthani? This journey article will show you what the ferry and bus ride are like and help you plan your trip.
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Bookaway's customers prefer High Speed bus-ferry by Seatran Discovery
Standard bus-ferry by Lomprayahwhich usually takes 2h 30m
102 Km (Air)
Standard bus-ferry by Phantip Travel starting at US$9