In the last couple years I have visited Koh Tao many times and even lived there for a while and it is great you guys are all asking me for Koh Tao tips. More than happy to help you enjoying this island as much as I did. Regarding transportation I will explain you how to get to Koh Tao in the most convenient way. There is no airport on the tiny hilly island so it's actually it is pretty straightforward since there is only one way: taking a boat to Koh Tao. But of course there are many routes to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao. When traveling to Thailand make sure you include this little paradise to your island hopping itinerary.
Shark Bay: one of my favorite bays in Koh Tao!
From Bangkok to Koh Tao
To be honest getting to Koh Tao is a tiring trip if you ask me. Or may be I am spoiled and I just wish it was closer to Bangkok. LOL! Let me answer a commonly asked question: is there a boat from Bangkok to Koh Tao? No! There is no Bangkok Koh Tao direct ferry, all boats arriving to the island are either coming from Chumpon (mainland), Koh Phangan or Koh Samui. There is no direct boat from Surat Thani either. If you take a boat from Surat Thani to Koh Tao it will stop at Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. May be good to know if you are planning your Thailand itinerary.
How long does it take to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao?
A flight from Surat Thani from Bangkok only takes you 2 hours. A flight to Chumphon is just over an hour but the connections with the ferries to Koh Tao are mostly bad. By bus from Bangkok to Chumphon takes around 8 hours on paper but in reality it takes only 6 hours. The ferry from Chumphon to Koh Tao takes less than 2 hours. The ferry from Surat Thani to Koh Tao can take 3-4 hours.
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Best way to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao
There are many ways to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao but for me the most convenient connection is the bus/boat combination from Lompraya. For 1,100 THB ($33) you leave at 21.00 from Khao San Road and you arrive at 8.30 in the morning on the island. The bus trip is pretty convenient and mostly I have two seats, as they don’t fill up completely. Be aware that the temperature level in these busses is around freezing level, so bring a jumper! The bus makes an annoying stop around 2.00 at night somewhere in the middle of nowhere at a restaurant/shop for people to pee, but more to try selling overpriced stuff to tourists. As everyone in Thailand drives way faster than they are allowed to the bus always arrives around 5.00-5.30 in Chumpon already, at the privat Lompraya Jetty. Exactly there where the boat to Koh Tao leaves at 7.00.
There are a couple more companies that offer the route Bangkok Koh Tao, but Lompraya is my favorite. Check the search engine below for all the available routes, time tables and prices. The best thing is that within a couple clicks you can book your seat straight away! No hassle printing your ticket and haggle with street vendors. Buy your ticket online! Fast, reliable and convenient!
The best thing about the Lompraya route is that the bus drops you right at the jetty. Mostly the busses are early and you will have to wait 1 or 2 hours, but hey the sunrise will be right in front of you, see the picture below. There are also options to travel by train down to Chumporn or a flight to Chumporn Airport. Then from either the train station or the airport you have to make your way to the jetty yourself. That means fighting with another taxi driver who is trying to rip you off. Timetables for flights and boats are mostly not a good fit either. The ferry and the bus companies work together so you will never miss your bus or boat depending which way your are traveling.
This is the Lompraya pier in Chumphon at sunrise.
The trip Bangkok Koh Tao
The reason I always choose to travel from Bangkok to Koh Tao with Lompraya is that I board in Bangkok and I disembark in Koh Tao without any other transfers. Apart from taking my bag from the bus onto the boat, which is a 1-minute walk. This way Bangkok Koh Tao is a hassle free trip. Going the other way there is the exact same ticket available for the exact same price. They even have free WiFi on busses nowadays, but let me tell you that this is not the most stable connection. I definitely recommend you to get a prepaid data sim card in Thailand. For a couple bucks you get fast 4G internet, check out what is the best SIM card for tourists in Thailand in the link and never get bored during long bus rides anymore. Even out on the ocean there is a stable internet connection! I love Thailand for the internet!
Don't forget to check the deals on Agoda if you are looking for Koh Tao hotels. I always book my ho(s)tels there as they compare prices of several hotel websites like Booking, etc.
Lompraya from Koh Tao to Bangkok
This company offers the trip from Bangkok to Koh Tao twice a day. One at 6:00 in the morning arriving at 14:45 on the island and one at 21:00 arriving at 08:45 the next day. From Koh Tao to Bangkok they offer the trip also twice a day leaving the island at 10:15 arriving in Bangkok at 20:30 and leaving at 14:45 and arriving in the capital around 00:30.
The sea around Koh Tao is mostly calm, but can also be rough at times. Prepare for the worst then everything will be fine! LOL ;) Im joking of course. Don't worry! Lompraya is a very well reputed company that won't sail out if the weather is too rough. I have never had rough crossings.
Bangkok is a bustling city and if you only stay a couple days you don’t want to miss the highlights. If you are not sure What To Do In Bangkok then let me help you not to miss all the cool action. What about getting lost on the canals with a bike? Sounds weird right? but with a Bangkok Bike Tour it is possible.
How to get to Koh Tao by plane
There are a couple other ways on how to get to Koh Tao. As I said you can either take a train down to Chumpon or catch a flight. Then from there you will have to find a taxi that drops you at one of the available jetties. Be aware that every boat company has its own jetty and they are not next to each other, but kilometers apart! Arranging a taxi in Thailand can be a pain in the ass and pricey if you are not good in haggling the price down. A third option is to fly to Surat Thani on a cheap flight with Air Asia for example and then catch a boat to Koh Tao, but keep in mind that the trip from the Surat Thani airport will take about 30 minutes in a taxi and the boat trip another 4 hours. The quickest way and the most expensive way to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao is by flying into Koh Samui and catch a boat to Koh Tao, but this can costs as much as 5 times the price of the bus/boat joint ticket with Lompraya I explained about earlier.
Even if you are looking for domestic flights you can check out the search engine of 12Go Asia. They also give you the best flight deals in Thailand. If you are planning your trip to Thailand and want to get from Chiang Mai to Koh Tao, the below search engine will give you the best way to travel in Thailand.
Getting to Koh Tao
There is only one jetty where your Koh Tao ferry will arrive and that is the one in the main village Mae Haad. This is the biggest town on the island and is where all the ferry companies have their offices. Upon arrival you will stumble upon hundreds of people either arriving or departing by boat. Yes, this is just another chaotic jetty on a Thai island. Loads of people will ask you for either to stay at their place, dive with them or just for a taxi, but coming from Bangkok to Koh Tao on a 12-hour journey those touts are the last ones you want to talk to!
So please let me advice you by showing you the best area to stay in Koh Tao! In this link I will explain you were on the island to book your Koh Tao hotel. Party area, hidden gems, secret bays. Find them all here in this blog post.
Search below for all the Koh Tao Bangkok routes available. The search engine give you all options available, flights, boats, trains and busses. Want to make sure the bus boat combination tickets are not sold out then reserver your ticket here. Book them online and save all the hassle!
What to do on Koh Tao
Looking for some adventure on the island? Read my blog about things to do in Koh Tao when it rains or get more specific and hike up to the best viewpoints in Koh Tao. I can also give you some advice on where to rent a motorbike in Koh Tao and of course you want to know if Koh Tao is safe. The Koh Tao Murders are facts we cant run away from. It happened on my birthday and I was on the island. But how safe is Koh Tao really?
Also interested in other islands in Thailand then then let me give you some serious Thailand island hopping advice, or if you are looking for a specific thing to do like party, scuba diving, adventure or the best beaches then let me tell you which is the best island in Thailand for you. If you only have limited time then let me help you with an itinerary for 2 weeks in Thailand.