20/04/2018 – 05/05/2018
A few words about Koh Samui island
Situated 35km northeast from Surat Thani city, in the west of the Gulf of Thailand , Koh Samui is part of the archipelago of Chumphon and enjoys the title of second largest island in Thailand (Phuket being the first). The other inhabited islands of the archipelago are located north and bear the names of Koh Pha-ngan, Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan.
There are several areas/towns on the Koh Samui:
- Chaweng Beach
- Lamai Beach
- Bophut Beach
- Maenam Beach
- Lipa Noi Beach
- Taling Ngam
- Choeng Mon Beach
- Hua Thanon and Bang Kao
- Nathon Town
Transport from Bangkok
There are several ways to reach the island:
- By plane, to Koh Samui airport (which is also an international airport)
- By train + ferry. The train will take you to the station of Surat Thani, where you can take a tuk-tuk or taxi to the pier to get on board of the ferry
- By bus + ferry (*). The bus takes you directly to the dock (you will need to change buses, but you ultimately arrive at the dock without having to take a tuk-tuk)
Among all the ways to get to Koh Samui, the cheapest option is definitely by Bus + ferry and the journey is scheduled as follows:
- Appointment at the coffee « Black Canyon » in Hua Lomphong Station Bangkok (look for the bus 40 to take you there. Other possibilities here)
- The bus leaves at 19h
- Waiting in the bus for about an hour …
- Pick up of other passengers at several hotels and guesthouses in Bangkok
- 4 hours drive before stopping at a restaurant along the road (60 THB/dish, 1.5 €)
- 6 hours drive to reach Surat Tani (arrival at 6 am)
- Waiting for the bus to take you to the ferry for two hours …
- Another 30 minutes wait at the Pier restaurant (you have to give them time to pluck you some more THB)
- Ferry trip to Samui (45 minutes)
- Arrival on Koh Samui …
(*) Tip: Book your ticket Bus + Ferry for 750 THB/pp (19€) through 12Go app … We had decided not to book it online because it was more expensive than the price on the spot to go to Kanchanaburi and we regretted we did not this time. At Hua Lomphong Station, most of the travel agencies displayed an exorbitant price of 2400 THB/pp (60€) by train + ferry or 1000 THB/pp (25€) by Bus + ferry. We finally managed to find a guy who was selling tickets for 800 THB / pp (€ 20) in one of the adjacent streets (we added the location on maps.me).
Transports on Koh Samui
Once you get to the pier (before you board the ferry), companies will offer you their services of shared AC minivans for 200 THB/pp (5€) to get you to your beach. You can negotiate the price down to 150 THB/pp (3,75€), which is actually the real price. This is by far the cheapest way to get there, as there are only two other options at the Nathon pier on Koh Samui:
- Songthaews: 200 THB/pp (5€)
- Taxis : 800-1600 THB a ride (20-40€)
In opposition with Phuket island, songthaews are here running on a regular basis and you cannot miss them (they honk at you), making it pretty easy and « cheap » to move around from one beach to another, for 1000 THB/pp (2,50€). As we did not take any of them, we do not know if it is possible to bargain though.
- There are plenty of restaurants along the Chaweng main road, but most of them are expensive (160 to 400 THB/dish (4-10€) and sometimes even 3 sets service for 2000 THB/pp (50€)…) Do not hesitate to get away from the main road and explore the smaller ones to find cheapest restaurants and street food stands!
- Cheap iced coffee and tea (25 THB / 0,6€): « Ter Coffee« , look for the « Two monkeys statues » in a perpendicular road, close to the « Phetch Bancha Samui Boxing Stadium« .
PS: Ter Coffee has a promotion: You get one free drink every ten bought (they give you coupons).
- Cheap restaurants / street foods stands : right besides « Ter Coffee ». 40-100 THB/dish (1-2,5€)
Most cheap hotels and guesthouses have rooms starting at 500 THB/n (12,5€), but with an unbearable musty smell (common in tropical cities).
We stayed the entire time at the Fanta Guesthouse for 350 THB/n (9€) : AC, Big bed but hard mattress, private bathroom and balcony. Real price 500 THB/n (12,5€), but you can bargain if you stay for a long time, like 3-5 days minimum.
Most Hotels and Guesthouses provide laundry services, but it is often expensive to a backpacker budget.
Here are the prices we saw:
- Hotels: Prices are displayed for one piece of clothe, minimum 30 THB (0,75€) for each small piece of clothe (like socks and underwears), 150 THB (4€) for one pair of pants, etc.
- Guesthouses and Hostels: 30-40 THB/kg (1€/kg).
That explains why I always handwash our clothes since India, even though it is tiring and time consuming (a few hours every two days), but trust me, dirty clothes packed in a plastic bag cost a lot in you balance when you have a 20kg big bag!
However, we found washing machines right in front of the cheap restaurants I spoke about earlier. Prices go as follows:
- 20 THB (0,5€) for a 10kg load
- 5-10 THB (0,125-0,25€) if you have to buy washing powder (one dose is enough for 10kg) (The same quantity is sold 25 THB is 7-elevens)
- 30-40 THB (0,75-1€) for a 12 kg load (as odd as it sounds)
As time goes by, I notice I feel stunned at the view of things I once considered simple and commonplace:
- Washing machines
- Balconies to hang clothes
- Hot shower
- Soft mattresses
- Soap, toilet paper and towels in hotels
As in every tourist place in Thailand, it is easy to find someting to do on the island. Many activities are proposed by travel agencies, guesthouses and hotels. Here is a non exhaustive list of everything you can do:
- Jungle Safaris
- Elephant trekking
- Crocodile farm
- Indoor skydiving
- Laser game (lasertag)
- Jet-ski, jetboard and jet-pack
- Angthong Marine Natinal Park (boat ride)
- Thai cuisine course
- Muay thai fights in stadiums
Our next step in Thailand will also be our last, with Krabi town, before we head for Penang city in Malaysia. To get there, we have booked a Minivan+ferry+bus at 550 THB/pp (14€) in one of the many travel agencies.
Most of the prices displayed are generally 550 to 650 THB/pp at the cheapest, in shared minivans. On 12Go Asia app, we found the same trip at 400 THB/pp, exluding the transport to Nathon pier (costing 100 THB/pp at the cheapest).
Three options (pickup at your place included):
- Pick-up at 6AM, the ferry leaves at 8AM and you reach Krabi town at 3:30PM
- Pick-up at 8AM, the ferry leaves at 10AM and you reach Krabi town at 5:30PM
- Pick-up at 12PM, the ferry leaves at 2PM and you reach Krabi town at 9:30PM
Prices remain the same whatever the option you choose, but we think the one in bolt is the best compromise, if you do not want to rush to find a guesthouse at your destination (unless you prefer booking :D)
Share your ideas / experience and feedback / questions with us in comments !