Traveling from Koh Samui to Khao Lak | Thailand

Thailand, as a treasure of Southeast Asia remains as fascinating and as popular as it has ever been. The kingdom has always been attractive to those wishing to experience the mysteries of the East and to live a little in a tropical paradise, and the Land of Smiles has always given the traveler sand, sunshine and much, much more.

For years, the holiday was a very traditional beast. Book a couple of weeks in your chosen location, at your chosen hotel, and off you go. The hotel became the ‘Home Base’ for the visitor. Lounging by the pool, fun on the beach, cocktail evenings in the bar, were punctuated by day trips out to see a little more of what the local had to offer.

But times have changed. Holiday makers have become traveling explorers, and as such, look for flexibility and the freedom to make spontaneous travel decisions during their holiday. They want to see more, experience more and get to feel the heartbeat of the nation. The modern visitor to Thailand arrives with a flexible itinerary and looks for ways to make it all happen.

Of the many popular destinations across the country, Kho Samui and Khao Lak now rate high in the league of desirable hot spots. Kho Samui is a gem in the warm, blue waters of The Gulf of Thailand, and Khao Lak is an area of Phang Nga Province along Thailand’s Western seaboard lapped by the Andaman Sea.

Visitors come to Kho Samui for the diversity of life on one of Thailand’s larger islands. Samui is an island where tradition, culture and nature meld with modern fun and convenience. Khao Lak is certainly juxtaposed to the heady experience of Samui. It’s traditional, enchanting, stimulating and inspirational, and, oh so wonderfully Thai. Every year thousands of travelers’ cross water and land for these two diverse experiences.

Getting from Kho Samui to Khao Lak

Kho Samui does have its own airport but there are no flights linking it with Surat Thani airport, local to Khao Lak. Probably the most convenient way to travel from Kho Samui to Khao Lak is to book a single ticket combining the sea and land crossing, which can be booked with a hotel pick-up. Air conditioned min vans ferry you to board the main bus from the Nathon bus terminal. Hotel pick-ups are generally 1 hour prior to the bus departure from Nathon.

The busses operating the route are modern, comfortable and passenger safety is of primary concern throughout the journey. The first leg of the journey is just a short hop to the ferry terminal. Disembarking the bus, the traveler embarks on the ferry as a foot passenger giving them the freedom to roam and enjoy the vista, prior to its departure to Donsak.

These vehicle ferries are of the most modern design with highly trained crew. The vessels are regularly inspected and tested for their reliability and safety by the Royal Thai Navy, so the traveler can have the upmost confidence in the service. 

On board the ferry there is plenty of seating in the air conditioned cabin as well as a comfortable sun deck, excellent, clean toilet facilities and a snack shop. The sea crossing, usually very calm and relaxing, takes 90 minutes. On arrival at Donsak you will disembark and be directed to the end of the pier where you will re-board your bus. 

This leg of the journey is to Surat Thani city bus station with a journey time of around 80 minutes. It is here that you make your connection for the final part of the journey to Khao Lak. Between arrival in Surat Thani and departure, there is plenty of time to stretch the legs, maybe load up with snacks or take some cooling refreshment.

Relax, doze or take in the beautiful scenery along the route during the journey from Surat Thani to Khao Lak, which will take around 3.5 hours. The drive is broken by a stop at a service area where you can, once again, stretch your legs and take in some refreshment. The bus will then complete its journey to the center of Khao Lak.

The bus and ferry is the most popular method of travel from Kho Samui to Khao Lak. The morning pick-up is at around 08:00 and arrival in central Khao Lak is at 20:30 and can be booked for under 880 Baht. For anyone wanting to shorten the travel time, and increase the ticket price there is the option of booking a crossing by catamaran. The catamaran departure is at 08:00 to the mainland with a van pick-up and arrival in Khao Lak at 17:30.

Although the ferry services to Khao Lak are efficient, safe and affordable, some travelers still prefer to undertake the journey arranging each leg separately themselves. There are many boat operators that will ferry you from the island to the mainland. You will need to haggle to agree the price, and there are no safety guarantees with unlicensed operators. Then there is the need to secure a van or taxi service across the Southwestern isthmus to Khao Lak.

Securing travel this way cannot be recommended, not only from the personal safety point of view, but it is very unlikely that any monetary savings will be had. Use an authorized, licensed operator, enjoy the journey and experience all the opposites of Thai life and culture.