How to Get to Koh Tao: Ferry From Koh Phangan, Samui & More!

Koh Tao Ferry

Are you planning out your Thailand trip and wondering how to get to Koh Tao? This tropical island may feel like it’s out of the way, but it’s actually not difficult to travel to at all. As long as you’re okay jumping on a quick ferry or two to get to Koh Tao, paradise awaits! Here’s all our tips for traveling to Koh Tao from popular destinations like Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, and even Bangkok.

Where Is Koh Tao Located?

Koh Tao is on the eastern side of the country in the Gulf of Thailand. It’s just north of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan which are the two closest islands to get here from. 

Due to it’s small size, there is no airport on Koh Tao. The only way to get here is by jumping on a Koh Tao ferry!

→ 12 Koh Tao Thailand Tips For the Most EPIC Visit

Where is Koh Tao Thailand

What Makes Koh Tao So Popular?

Koh Tao is actually known as one of the best diving spots in the world. It’s extremely popular with first timers looking to get try out the sport and get their diving certifications (check out this fun 3.5 day beginner course). Koh Tao also draws in more experienced divers who make the trip for the beautiful clear water and abundance of marine life.

Not interested in diving? Don’t worry! There are several amazing day trips to take. It’s easy enough to grab a snorkeling mask from the dive shops and jump in right from the beach as well. The best areas on the island to snorkel from shore are Freedom Beach and Shark Bay. 

Besides snorkeling and scuba diving, Koh Tao has so much more to offer. We absolutely loved Koh Tao island and its stunning beaches, lush jungle, and fun party vibes. 

When the sun goes down, know that the party starts up! Many of the beach bars play live music and it’s a great place to let loose after a day on the water.

Koh Tao is small enough that you can easily rent a motorbike to explore in a couple days, or spend a week or two really relaxing and enjoying the island life. 

Koh Tao Ferry Thailand

Best Koh Tao Ferry Options

One important thing to understand about the transport options in Thailand is that there is a huge difference between a ferry and a speedboat. It doesn’t matter if you book your Koh Tao ferry tickets online, through your accommodation, or with a travel agent.

When traveling in between the different islands we always recommend taking the faster option. This way you can spend less time with transfers and more time in each destination.

On the other hand, slow ferries are massive boats which carry more than just foot passengers. These bigger ships also transport cars, trucks, and supplies to the islands. 

Really, what it comes down to is a difference in price. If you’re looking for the cheapest way for how to get to Koh Tao then you’ll be hopping on a slow ferry. The speedboats will be slightly more expensive, but obviously much quicker than the regular ferry. 

We always use Lomprayah catamaran and speedboats if they are running our route. This company has numerous speedboats and is certainly the best option to get around the islands. 

Powered by 12Go system 

Koh Tao Ferry Lomprayah

How to Get to Koh Tao Tips 

1. Arrive to the Ports Early: While island time is definitely a thing, you’ll want to get to the ferry piers early. Sometimes it can be a little crazy with a mix of people getting on and off different boats. Give yourself more than enough time so you don’t miss the Koh Tao ferry!

2. Always Check-in: Over the last few years, many of the ferry services have started to offer digital tickets with companies like 12Go (which is what we use). It’s normally the same price, but you don’t have to go to the ferry port to make a reservation. Also, some travel agents only work with certain boats. So while they promise you a fast Koh Tao ferry they actually may end up sticking you on a slow boat! (this happened to our friends!) Even if you have a digital ferry ticket or paper ticket, always check in at the counter when you get there.

3, Watch What You Eat: This is an important general tip for island hopping in Thailand. Thai food is one of our favorite cuisines and there are so many delicious dishes to try! However, the boats can be very rocky and the bathrooms are often… Not very nice. If you’re prone to sea sickness just be careful not to eat anything that will upset your stomach before taking off.

4. Separate Valuables: On many of the boats your large luggage will be stored in one place while you sit in another. You want to separate your valuables for a couple of reasons. To keep them on you so they don’t get stolen, but also so they don’t get damaged while being stacked together. It’s not a bad idea to buy an inexpensive lock before traveling in Southeast Asia. 

5. Arrange a Pickup: On the small beautiful island of Koh Tao it is common for hotels to offer a free transfer and drop off from the Koh Tao ferry port. Try and contact your accommodation in advance and let them know your arrival time. Some of our favorite places to stay are Blue Tao Beach Hotel, Jamahkiri Resort, Budchui Village 2, and the Dearly Koh Tao Hostel.

Koh Tao Thailand Ferry

Koh Samui to Koh Tao Ferry

Koh Samui to Koh Tao is a very popular route for travelers island hopping in Thailand. As we mentioned, when making our own trip here we used Lomprayah ferry company. In the below graphic you can see the current options for getting from Koh Samui to Koh Tao. Note that the “high speed ferry” is 4 hours while the fastest catamaran is only 1.5.

One essential thing to know is that all ferries stop on the island of Koh Phangan to pick up and drop off passengers. Depending on the boat you’re on (or whether you book a speedboat) you may need to quickly transfer to the catamaran to continue on. 

Check the latest Koh Samui to Koh Tao ferry prices and times

Koh Samui to Koh Tao Thailand Ferry

Koh Samui to Koh Tao Day Trip

We wouldn’t recommend going from Koh Samui to Koh Tao for just one day. This is because we really liked Koh Tao and preferred it over Koh Samui!

Instead of taking the normal ferry, consider booking a boat trip so you have other activities included. This day trip by InSea is one of the most booked tours. Read about it and all the reviews here. 

These tours will take you to some great snorkeling spots and several beautiful beaches. This way you won’t risk missing the last ferry back to Koh Samui either.

Is Koh Samui Thailand Worth Visiting? Pros, Cons & Things to Do

Koh Samui to Koh Tao Ferry

Koh Phangan to Koh Tao Ferry

Another regular route is to take the ferry from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao. This is the way went on our recent visit to Southern Thailand.

We booked our Koh Tao ferry in advance online and picked the first morning ferry. This was the quickest way to go and got us to the island in time for lunch. 

After spending a few incredible days on Koh Phangan we arrived at the port early. Here we noticed there were both the slow boat and fast speedboats. Needless to say, it the Koh Phangan ferry terminal was a little bit crazy and confusing!

Our boat was large but super crowded. So much so, and some people actually sat on the floor. When you get in make sure to get a seat quickly. The ferry between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao is the shortest ferry and easiest way to get to Koh Tao. 

Current Koh Phangan to Koh Tao Ferry tickets and times

Koh Phangan to Koh Tao Ferry

Surat Thani (Mainland) to Koh Tao Ferry

Making the trip from the mainland to these nearby islands? Then know that you’ll have two options. Surat Thani is the closest coastal city to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.  

While Koh Samui might be the closest airport to fly into (and has direct flights form Bangkok), we recommend checking if there are flights into Surat Thani for your dates.

The cost of your flight and ferry might actually be much cheaper than flying into Koh Samui Airport as ticket prices can jump up in the busy summer months. 

Day Koh Tao Ferry: There is a daytime ferry that will take you from Surat Thani to Koh Samui. This includes a quick transfer to the main pier where the boats take off from. 

Night Boats: Another option for how to get to Koh Tao is to take a night ferry. This one is most popular with locals and budget travelers who don’t mind the sleeping overnight en route. While the travel time is longer, this can be an inexpensive option during high season.

Search here for the different day & night ferry options!

How to Get to Koh Tao Ferry

Koh Tao Ferry Guide

Bangkok to Koh Tao

Are you starting from the capital city of Bangkok? Then the best way to get to Koh Tao would be to hop on one of the daily flights to Koh Samui International Airport. From there, you can catch the Koh Samui to Koh Tao ferry directly to the island.

You can also fly into Surat Thani Airport which we went over in the section above. It’s often less expensive to fly into than Koh Samui, but know that you will have a longer ferry time. There are many airlines that fly this route such as Air Asia, Bangkok Airways, and Nok Air.

You should also be aware that some companies offer bus and boat combination tickets. This is definitely worth looking into for those traveling on a budget.

When you add the additional baggage fees that airlines have, the tickets sometimes aren’t always that cheap. We’ve done our share of long overnight buses in Thailand and prefer to pick the easiest travel option. 

If you do opt for the Bangkok to Koh Tao bus & boat combo make sure to check the reviews. There are usually luxury buses available which typically cost just a few more dollars.

We wouldn’t recommend booking train tickets to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao. Even if it’s a sleeper train with an overnight route will be a very long trip. 

Bangkok to Koh Tao

Our Visit to Koh Tao Thailand

We absolutely loved Koh Tao and it ended up being one of our favorite islands in Thailand. It felt very laid back and more relaxing than other islands like Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. 

Our trip actually started in Phuket where we traveled to Koh Phi Phi and spent a few nights. From there we took a transfer from Krabi all the way to Koh Phangan. After all that, we jumped on the Lomprayah ferry from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao! 

This was such an adventure and great mix of the different Thai islands. One of the best parts about Thailand is how unique the islands are from each other. There’s truly something for every type of traveler in this one of a kind country.

If you’re making the trip just know that you are going to have to take a Koh Tao ferry. During the off-season months the water can be a little rough as well.

Due to this, you should plan to visit Koh Tao when the weather conditions are nicer. Be sure to stay away from stormy monsoon season to have the best experience.

→ When’s the Best Time to Visit Thailand For Perfect Weather?

Koh Tao Thailand Travel

Have any questions about this article or want to share more tips for how to get to Koh Tao Thailand? Leave us a comment below.

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

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Koh Tao

Thailand Travel Planning

 Transportation: While traveling through Thailand 12Go is where we find all our ferries, trains, buses, and transfers! You can find everything from island hopping speed boats to the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over Phuket! You can find everything from a James Bond island luxury sunset cruise, to Phuket Old Town 15-taster food adventure, and 5-hour island tour

 Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we found flights from Bangkok to Phuket for $12 USD, and Thailand to Vietnam for less than $50! 

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

Thailand Travel Guide
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