Koh Pha Ngan can be a little tricky to get to, and those coming here directly from abroad will have to complete the journey in a number of stages. The cheapest but longest version is to take a train or bus from Bangkok to Surat Thani, and then catch a ferry to the island.
A quicker version is to fly to nearby Koh Samui and then hop over on the 45-minute ferry from here. Koh Samui receives regular daily fights from Bangkok, Singapore, Chiang Mai and Kuala Lumpur, among other international destinations.
Koh Pha Ngan flights and airports
Koh Pha Ngan does not have an airport so international visitors need to fly into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport and then transfer internal flight to nearby Koh Samui.
Flights are available to Samui every hour, with the first departing at 06:00 and the last at 21:00, but there are few budget options since Bangkok Airways owns Samui Airport and therefore monopolises the route.
The award-winning island airport is uniquely tropical, with a thatched open sala as a terminal. The ferry pier for services to Koh Pha Ngan is a five-minute ride away at Big Buddha Beach, but this doesn’t stop the taxi mafia from charging you at least 200 baht.
More on Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
Ferries to Koh Pha Ngan
Visitors coming from Bangkok need to take the bus to Surat Thani province, from where a ferry service can be picked up for the connection to Koh Pha Ngan. Ferries take two to three hours depending on the vessel, and tickets can be bought at the pier itself or from travel agents on Khao San Road or at the airport.
A ferry service is also available from Samui and is considerably faster, taking just 45 minutes to complete the journey. It’s worth planning which ferry you end up on since there are three piers on the mainland, and two disembarkation points on Koh Pha Ngan, the main one being at Tong Sala and a smaller one at Had Rin for Samui ferries. More on Koh Phangan ferries.
Ferries from Surat Thani to Koh Pha Ngan
If you’ve been sold an all-inclusive ticket in Bangkok, you’ll be shepherded onto a transfer minibus in Surat Thani and needn’t worry about a thing (with the exception of patience for the perpetual waiting around). Invariably the journey takes several hours longer than it should, but that’s travel in Thailand for you.
Even if you enquire independently in Surat Thani, the agents won’t be very helpful in sending you on the next departing ferry, and the transfer to the piers can sometimes take more than 30 minutes. You should be sure you’re catching a direct ferry, as some stop off at Samui first. The overnight ferry is a bad choice, being uncomfortable and taking forever
Ferries from Samui to Koh Pha Ngan
From Samui, the easiest option is to depart from the ferry pier at Big Buddha Beach, with ferries leaving every other hour throughout the day. Ferries can also be caught from Nathon Town on Samui to Tong Sala on Koh Pha Ngan, taking up to two hours.
Chumphon and Koh Tao
Some of the ferries that arrive at Koh Pha Ngan from the mainland (sometimes via Samui) go on as far as Koh Tao, taking up to three hours. This is one of only two ways to reach Koh Tao. There is also a high-speed catamaran operated by Lom Prayah Ferries which runs from Samui, via Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao, to Chumphon, which is on the mainland halfway to Bangkok on the isthmus of Kra. From here you can catch a bus directly to Bangkok making the whole journey much quicker. It takes three hours 30 minutes and services operate twice a day.
Public transportation on Koh Pha Ngan
Songthaew (covered pick ups) are the only form of public transportation available on Koh Pha Ngan. They operate across the island with an average journey costing around 100 baht, while difficult-to-reach destinations cost up to 250 baht. On the night of the Full Moon Party, you are advised to set out early to get to Had Rin as a traffic jam grows on the hilly narrow road to the cape. More on Koh Phangan taxis.
Bike and car hire on Koh Pha Ngan
Motorbikes are a good and economical way of getting around although they can be dangerous, especially to those who aren’t used to riding them and others who insist on doing so under the influence of alcohol. Learning to ride on some of the quieter roads, wearing a helmet and avoiding excessive speed and shows of bravado can go a long way to keeping you safe. More on Koh Phangan transportation.
Motorbikes can be hired for as little as 150 baht per day, while larger-capacity machines may cost double that and up. Look out for the modified Honda Dream bikes with raised suspension and sturdy tyres if you are intending to explore the back roads in the hills. Car rental is also available at upwards of 800 baht per day, depending on the vehicle model, the cheapest generally being the Suzuki jeeps. In both cases, visitors are normally asked to leave their passport with the rental company for legal reasons. We recommend that you book car hire online in advance.