To get to Koh Tao, you’ll need to catch a ferry at some point, but there are several different travel routes and transport types to get you to your departure point on the mainland or Koh Samui. Do bear in mind that schedules are subject to change, so whatever tickets you book, we recommend you reconfirm ahead of time to avoid disruption.
Koh Tao does not have an airport, but the neighboring island of Koh Samui does, and there are also airports on the mainland at Chumphon and Suratthani. Whichever option you choose, be sure to factor in ferry departure times, so you don’t end up with an unnecessary overnight stay between your flight and onward travel to Koh Tao.
This is usually the quickest way to get to Koh Tao. Samui airport is operated by Bangkok Airways, and there are daily direct flights out of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Krabi, and Phuket. You can also book tickets from Chiang Mai, Pattaya, and a selection of other domestic departure points, but these flights require a change of plane in Bangkok. Direct international flights are available from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Hong Kong.
Bangkok Airways tickets include baggage allowance, one cabin bag, an in-flight meal, and all passengers have access to complimentary lounge areas in departures where Wi-Fi, charging sockets, and a range of snacks and refreshments are available free of charge. The ferry transfer from Samui to Koh Tao on arrival is around 2 hours.
Low-cost carriers like Air Asia, Nok Air, and Tiger Airways offer domestic flights from Dong Muong International Airport in Bangkok (1-1.5 hours drive from Suvarnabhumi) to either Chumphon or Suratthani. Fares are available from a selection of other domestic destinations, but most are not direct, so a stop in Bangkok is required. It is possible to purchase a joint ticket on the airline websites, including a transfer to the pier and your ferry to Koh Tao.
Low-cost airline tickets generally don’t include baggage or in-flight meals, so be sure to factor this into your budget.
Traveling down or across the mainland by bus and connecting to a ferry from either Chumphon or Suratthani is the cheapest way to get to Koh Tao. Joint tickets are available online and from travel agents around Thailand, and government busses are also an option – although these can be a hassle to book and coordinate and are often subject to delays. All options are air-conditioned.
From Chumphon, the transfer time to Koh Tao is around 90 minutes, and the ferry is direct. From Suratthani, the journey time is approximately 3 hours, and the ferry stops to drop off/pick up at Koh Samui and Koh Phangan along the way.
Overnight sleeper trains are available from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok. For getting to Koh Tao, Chumphon station is the best final destination point. Joint tickets are usually available to add on pier transfer and boat to Koh Tao.
The night train has several carriage options ranging from first to third class. Second-class air-conditioned births are the most popular with tourists. The train staff attend to making the beds and usually provide a wake-up call at Chumphon station, so there is little chance of missing your stop.
If you are traveling as part of a group or have a lot of luggage with you, hiring a private car or minivan can be a practical option. Private travel offers the advantages of designing your own schedule and making additional stops along the way. Plus, private vehicles provide door-to-door service, so you don’t need to worry about transfers to the pier once you’ve alighted your plane, bus, or train. This is particularly useful for families traveling with young children.