The best way to experience the islands and beaches of Southern Thailand is to island hop. Hopping from one island to the next allows travelers to see some of the world’s best beaches, and to gain first-hand experience of the welcoming Thai hospitality and culture. Two of the top island destinations in Thailand are Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Koh Samui, the second largest of Thailand’s islands, features wonderful coconut groves, palm-fringed beaches, and luxury resorts and hotels while Koh Phangan is renowned for its nightlife and backpacker beaches but mostly for the world famous Full Moon Party. So, once you’ve seen the high-class hotels and resorts of Koh Samui, head over the Koh Phangan for a change of pace. Here’s how you can travel between these two amazing islands.
What Are Your Options?
Well, being that these are both islands, your only option is to take a speedboat or ferry to get from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan. There are no flights between the two destinations, however, because the islands are situated so close together, even the slowest of ferries will only take an hour. This means you could have a leisurely breakfast in your hotel on Koh Samui and be in Koh Phangan in time for lunch!
Ferries from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan
Ferries dart back and forth between these two islands all day, and with three different ferry companies to choose from there are always plenty of options. There are advantages and disadvantages between these three ferry operators; they are all very cheap, but comfort levels do vary, as does the crossing time, but probably what will influence your choice of ferry the most is where you are starting from and where you want to end up.
Seatran operates a high-speed ferry with good comfort levels including indoor and outdoor decks, air conditioning, toilets, plenty of seats, and a store selling drinks and snacks. Seatran ferries depart from the Big Buddha Pier in Bangrak and arrive at Thong Sala pier on the west coast of Koh Phangan.
A comparable service is operated by Lomprayah. The nice, new catamarans that they use get you from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan even faster, taking just 20 minutes, so in terms of speed Lomprayah is great. When comparing the price of tickets, you’d expect Lomprayah to be more expensive than Seatran but in actual fact they are very comparable, often with Lomprayah coming out even a little cheaper than Seatran. Comfort levels are comparable between the two as well, with Lomprayah also providing air conditioning, toilets and a shop, and the boats are well maintained. Lomprayah catamarans travel from the Paralan Pier at Maenam, west of Bangrak, and they arrive at Thong Sala Pier on Koh Phangan.
The third ferry operator is the one that most backpackers choose when wanting to save money. Unfortunately, the adage ‘you get what you pay for’ does ring true with the Haad Rin Queen Passenger Ferry. Renowned for being over-crowded and with not enough seats, the seating that these ferries do provide is wooden benches and they can be very uncomfortable, especially considering that the ferry crossing takes one hour, so that’s double the crossing time of the other companies. But, thousands of budget travelers a year still choose to travel this way from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan, and as well as being cheap, it is a convenient service for party-goers heading to the Full Moon Party. The Haad Rin Queen departs from Sunset Pier which is just a short distance north from the Big Buddha Pier – this means it’s convenient for anyone coming from the airport. At Koh Phangan, the ferries arrive in a different place to the other companies: the Haad Rin Pier, on the south-east coast of Koh Phangan. The good thing is that Haad Rin is the location of the Full Moon Party, so if this is where you are heading, you won’t have far to go once you get off the ferry!
Speedboats from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan
If you have more money to spend and you don’t like the idea of sharing a ferry with several hundred other people, look at the speedboats from your trip from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan. Yes, they will be considerably more expensive than the budget-friendly ferries, but speedboats provide a private service offering full flexibility. They can take you from all over Koh Samui, to exactly where you want to go on Koh Phangan. Of course, if you’re traveling with friends, splitting the cost of a speedboat between you makes this option more affordable than you might think, so don’t count it out without first checking what a charter speedboat might cost you!
Koh Samui to Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party
If you are traveling to Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party you’re going to need to make your travel plans in advance. Ferries from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan during the Full Moon Parties are always cramped full of passengers so if you want to guarantee a spot on a particular ferry, rather than having to wait around all day hoping you get a space on one, you should book your ticket in advance.
Many of the travel agents offer combined tickets whereby you can get a taxi or minibus transfer from your hotel in Koh Samui, direct to the ferry terminal. This can save time and hassle as you’re getting a door-to-door service.
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