Where to Go
Transport Koh Phangan
Because of its popularity and proximity to Koh Samui, there are multiple options for getting to Koh Phangan. Visitors can fly to Koh Samui or Surat Thani and take a ferry-boat, speedboat, or high-speed catamaran to Koh Phangan. Visitors can also arrive in Surat Thani by bus or train and then arrange boat travel to Koh Phangan. It is also possible to take a boat from Chumphon to Koh Phangan via Koh Tao.
Once on the island, there are many ways to get around Koh Phangan: renting a motorbike or 4x4 vehicle, hiring a boat or car with driver for the day, and taking a share taxi/pickup truck or long-tail taxi boat.
There is train service from both south and north of Surat Thani, which then require a transfer by bus to the pier, from where boats will take passengers to Koh Phangan. Combined train-bus-boat tickets can be purchased at the Advance Booking Counter at Hua Lumphong station in Bangkok, although trains are not guaranteed to arrive before boats depart.
From Bangkok there are government busses that go directly to the Nadan ferry pier in Surat Thani province. There are also busses to Surat Thani town that require transfers to the pier.
Busses and minibuses from Khao San Road are convenient ways to ensure that you don’t get lost finding your way from Bangkok to Koh Phangan but have a notorious reputation for having valuables “get lost” from luggage stowed beneath the bus. While convenient, these busses should be only for those who do not leave valuables in their checked luggage.
While there is no airport on Koh Phangan there are two options for saving a great deal of time by flying to the area. The closest airport to Koh Phangan is Koh Samui (USM), which is serviced by both Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways from Bangkok, Phuket, and various other locations, including Singapore, Chiang Mai, and Kuala Lumpur. From Koh Samui there are many options for getting boat service to Koh Phangan.
Another option is to fly to Surat Thani on the Thai mainland. Thai AirAsia offers low fare service from Bangkok to Surat Thani. From Surat Thani the transfer to the boat pier and then the journey aboard a ferry takes considerably longer than from Koh Samui, though boats are scheduled to coincide with flight arrivals and connections from the airport to the pier are easy to arrange.
By Rental Motorbike:
While the roads are dangerous, rental shops have been known to scam visitors, and motorbike accidents are frequent, motorbikes are still one of the most popular ways to get around Koh Phangan. For around 200 baht/day, 100-125cc motorbikes can be hired, while larger bikes cost upwards of 1000 baht/day. Foreigners are typically required to leave their passports as a deposit and these may be held ransom if any scratches or dents are found that were not noted prior to rental.
As driving on Koh Phangan’s hilly, bumpy, and slippery roads is the cause of numerous injuries and deaths, it is strongly advised that full protective gear, including helmets, long pants, and closed toed shoes are worn at all times.
By Rental Car:
It is possible to rent small Suzuki Samurai jeeps, which are considerably safer to drive than motorbikes, though not without difficulty as some of the roads on the island are still a challenge to navigate. Be aware that only Commercial First Class Insurance provides full coverage on rental cars (as opposed to limited personal or third party only insurance). Most international car rental agencies will offer this insurance (some only for those with a valid international driver’s license) while local companies may or may not. You may wish to request a copy of their insurance policy and ensure that it states "For Commercial Use". Regardless, inspect rental vehicles prior to rental and drive with caution, particularly as traffic in Thailand can be quite confusing, especially the habit of Thai motorcycles drivers to drive on the wrong side of the road.
Songtaews are covered pick-up trucks with benches in the back that serve as taxis around the island for around 100 baht a ride (150 baht for farther flung destinations). Prices are considerably higher if there is no one to share the songtaew with. If you are alone expect to wait for the driver to find other passengers before moving on to the next location, particularly if that destination is far away.
Long-tail boats operate as taxis between beaches, charging passengers more if there are no other passengers headed to where they wish to go. If you don’t want to pay so much, you will need to wait for other passengers. Alternatively, you may privately hire a long-tail boat for a half-day or full day to take you beach hopping around the island.