Thailand

From Surat Thani to Koh Tao – complete travel guide

Home » Blog » Asia » Thailand » From Surat Thani to Koh Tao – complete travel guide

Koh Tao is a small island in the Gulf of Thailand. It’s known as a diving paradise thanks to incredible underwater life and cheap PADI courses. Most people who visit Koh Tao come here for snorkeling or diving. We’ve never seen such a beautiful snorkeling spot before!

Whether you’re coming here to learn diving, enjoy snorkeling, discover beaches, relax in a jungle, or party till the morning, you will fall in love with Koh Tao.

In this travel guide, we would like to show you all the different ways how to travel from Surat Thani to Koh Tao Island.

Where is Koh Tao

Koh Tao Island belongs to the Chumphon Archipelago. Its neighbors are Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, famous for its Full Moon Parties. From the main coastline, it’s 70 kilometers. The main town on the island is Mae Haad, where you can also find a Koh Tao pier.

If you’re wondering how to get to Koh Tao from different parts of Thailand in 2024, you should also read our complete travel guide.

Save the location of Koh Tao Island to your Google Maps app.

Getting from Surat Thani to Koh Tao pinterest

No time to read now?

Save this post for later!

Save on Pinterest

Where to stay on Koh Tao

The most popular area to stay is around Sairee Beach. You’ll find most restaurants around. However, this area is also a bit too loud, both during the day and night. If you’re coming to Koh Tao to relax, stay near one of many beaches.

We wrote a complete guide describing where to stay on Koh Tao, including the best areas as well as hotels and hostels for every budget.

Best hotels on Koh Tao

pepa guesthouse

Pepa guesthouse

Low Budget

ananda villa

Ananda Villa

Mid Budget

Cape Shark Villa - best hotels Koh Tao Sai Daeng Beach mid range

Cape Shark villas

Luxury Stay

Check availability

Surat Thani to Koh Tao overview

Koh Samui is the only island in the Chumphon Archipelago with an airport. Both Koh Tao and Koh Phangan can only be reached by ferry.

However, for the trip to Koh Tao, it’s inconvenient to fly from Surat Thani to Koh Samui and continue by ferry. Also, there are no direct flights between Surat Thani and Koh Samui. But you can fly to Koh Samui directly from other cities in Thailand, such as Bangkok, and get from Koh Samui to Koh Tao by ferry.

If you’re looking for other options to travel from Bangkok to Koh Tao, read our complete guide packed with all the necessary information.

Optionally, you can make a stop on Koh Phangan for a few days and catch a direct ferry from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao.

So, your only option is to use a ferry. Luckily, there are multiple connections each day. In addition, you can also travel by a night ferry. Let’s look into this in more detail.

Freedom Beach, best things to do on Koh Tao, BEst places Koh Tao, attractions, snorkeling Koh Tao, Koh Tao Best Beaches, Koh Tao Itinerary

Surat Thani to Koh Tao by ferry

Traveling from Surat Thani to Koh Tao is easy thanks to perfectly organized connections.

You can book combined tickets which include different modes of transport, such as bus, van, and ferry. Because of this, you can buy a ticket to Koh Tao directly from Surat Thani Airport or a train station. A van or a bus will transfer you directly to the pier, where you will board a ferry.

However, you can also buy a ferry-only ticket.

exclamation icon

When traveling during monsoon season, the sea conditions might be rough. Consider this fact before planning a trip to Koh Tao if you get seasick easily. The waves might be bigger than usual so the ride won’t be so calm. But this depends on the weather.

Powered by 12Go system

Surat Thani ferry ports

When traveling from Surat Thani, there are 3 ferry ports available. During the day, ferries depart either from Tapee Pier or Donsak Pier. For the night ferries, there’s the Night Ferry Port.

Tapee Pier is directly in Surat Thani town. You can buy food in nearby markets and food stalls. You’ll also find ticket counters here where you can book ferry tickets to different islands.

Don Sak Pier is the main port used for ferry travel to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao. It’s a relatively big port which offers few food stalls and AC wait rooms. Don Sak Pier serves both speedboats and car ferries.

During the main season, it might be chaotic. In case you arrive without a ticket, you might end up waiting for hours. Make sure to arrive on time and leave some extra time in case things get complicated.

exclamation icon

Keep in mind that Don Sak Pier is 65 km far from Sura Thani town and it takes more than 1 hour to get here.

Night Ferry Port is conveniently located directly in the city center. As the name suggests, it’s only used for night ferries. You’ll also be able to get some food and drinks around the pier. In case you don’t have a ticket, you can purchase it directly at the port.

ligh bulb icon

No matter which ticket you buy, you always have to check-in at the office first. You should arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled ferry departure. When buying combined tickets, you don’t need to worry about this.

Surat Thani to Koh Tao night ferry
Night Boat Pier

Surat Thani to Koh Tao ferry companies

When traveling from Surat Thani to Koh Tao, there are only two ferry companies available.

All the day ferries are operated by Lomprayah. It offers multiple daily connections departing at different times from Surat Thani airport, train station, or town. You can choose between a catamaran and a speedboat.

When traveling by night ferry, it’s operated by Phantip.

Koh Tao to Koh Samui Lompraya ferry
Lomprayah Catamaran, source: lomprayah.com

Surat Thani airport to Koh Tao

  • Travel time: 4 – 5 h
  • Price: 1762 THB – 1922 THB
  • Transport type: Bus + ferry
  • Company: Lomprayah

When traveling from Surat Thani Airport, you will first need to take a bus to the pier. You can buy a combined bus + ferry ticket. At the airport, go to arrival exit #2, where you will meet the Lomprayah personnel. Your ticket also includes 20kg of baggage. Both bus and catamarans have AC.

In case your flight is delayed, you must inform the company in advance. Otherwise, you will need to buy new tickets. Keep in mind that the actual travel time might change depending on the weather and sea conditions.

You will first travel to Koh Phangan, where you need to change the boat to Koh Tao.

ligh bulb icon

If you want to get to Koh Tao on the same day, the last bus departs at 14:00. If you arrive later, you will have to take the night ferry.

DepartureArrivalTravel TimeBoat typePrice
09:3014:154:45 hCatamaran1762 THB
11:0016:005 hSpeedboat1922 THB
12:3017:004:30 hCatamaran1762 THB
12:3017:455:15 hCatamaran1762 THB
14:0018:004 hSpeedboat1922 THB

Surat Thani train station to Koh Tao

  • Travel time: 4:45 – 5 h
  • Price: 1602 THB – 1762 THB
  • Transport type: Van + ferry
  • Company: Lomprayah

The travel time from Surat Thani train station is around 5 hours. You will be transferred to the pier by van, where you board a boat to Koh Tao. There are only two options as in the chart below.

The baggage allowance is also 20kg, then you have to pay extra.

You will first travel to Koh Phangan, where you need to change the boat to Koh Tao.

DepartureArrivalTravel TimeBoat typePrice
09:3014:154:45 hCatamaran1602 THB
11:0016:005 hSpeedboat1762 THB

Don Sak Pier to Koh Tao

  • Travel time: 2:45 – 3:15 h
  • Price: 1201 THB
  • Transport type: Ferry
  • Company: Lomprayah

When traveling to Koh Tao from Don Sak Pier, there are two daily departures at 11:00 and 15:00. With both connections you will first be transported to Koh Phangan, where you need to change the ferry. Don’t forget that it takes at least 1 hour to arrive at the pier from Surat Thani.

DepartureArrivalTravel TimeBoat typePrice
11:0014:153:15 hCatamaran1201 THB
15:0017:452:45 hCatamaran1201 THB

Tapee Pier to Koh Tao

  • Travel time: 2:30 – 4:45 h
  • Price: 1441 THB – 1602 THB
  • Transport type: Ferry, Bus + Ferry
  • Company: Lomprayah

If you decide to travel from Tapee Pier (close to Surat Thani center) with a catamaran, you will first be transported to Don Sak Pier by bus and board the catamaran there. You might also need to change the ferry on Koh Phangan.

Another option is to travel by speedboat directly from Tapee Pier. Lomprayah claims the boat departing at 15:30 is direct. With that being said, I guess it means you also change the boats on Koh Phangan when departing at 12:00.

DepartureArrivalTravel TimeBoat typePrice
10:0014:154:15 hBus + Catamaran1441 THB
12:0016:004 hSpeedboat1602 THB
13:0017:454:45 hBus + Catamaran1441 THB
15:3018:002:30 hSpeedboat1602 THB

Night ferry from Surat Thani to Koh Tao

  • Travel time: 8 h
  • Price: 1441 THB
  • Transport type: Night Ferry
  • Company: Phantip

The night ferries depart from the Night Ferry Port in Surat Thani at 22:00 each day. They’re operated by Phantip company. Different boats are used depending on the availability. While some have wider beds, others consist of narrow matrasses packed next to each other.

The night ferry pier in Surat Thani is next to the market, where you can have dinner or buy some snacks for the trip.

You also don’t know if your room will have a fan or AC, all depends on the availability. When buying the tickets you can’t choose your bed, you are randomly assigned a place on the boat. Maybe if you come earlier, you can ask to be in the AC room. Yes, it’s an adventure!

Night ferry Surat Thani to Koh Tao beds

While it might not sound the best, our ride with the night ferry was actually quite comfortable. The sea was calm so we could sleep well. It’s a perfect option if you’re traveling on a budget since you save on a night’s accommodation. It also saves you some time if your schedule is tight.

Phatip has buses connecting the airport with the night ferry port. The cost is around 100 THB. You can book a combined bus + ferry ticket via 12go.asia.

DepartureArrivalTravel TimeBoat typePrice
22:0006:008 hNight Ferry1441 THB

Where to book tickets

If you arrive in Surat Thani in advance, you can book your ferry tickets in booking offices around town. Apart from the official offices of Lomprayah and Phantip, you will find multiple local companies providing transport between many cities and islands in Thailand.

Another option would be to buy tickets directly at the port. However, I don’t recommend doing this. Yes, you will be able to save a few bucks. But there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get a ticket for the same day. Especially during the high season, people end up waiting at the port for hours to get on a boat.

Because of this, I recommend using 12go.asia. It’s a reputable website with great customer service. If you get into any trouble, you can count on them for help. They also offer free cancelation if your travel plans change.

Powered by 12Go system

Koh Tao arrival port

Koh Tao only has one port – Koh Tao Pier in Mae Haad town. All the day and night ferries arrive here. It’s a port for both speedboats and catamarans.

How to get from Koh Tao Pier to Sairee Beach

As in every tourist destination, as soon as you get off the ferry you will be welcomed by different taxi drivers and tour companies. No matter where on Koh Tao you’re staying, you will be able to find transport easily.

Depending on people’s destination, locals will sort people in groups and organize a taxi for you. The taxis are trucks, where you sit in the back sideways with all your luggage.

For transport from the pier to Sairee Beach, you can expect to pay around 100 THB per person. The taxis drop you off right in front of your hotel.

Optionally, you will find many scooter rentals around the pier. If you plan to rent a bike during your Koh Tao stay, you can do that right after your arrival. It’s the most convenient option, since you can travel to your hotel, explore the island, and return the scooter just before boarding the next ferry from the island.

You’ll avoid having to use the shared taxis, which are always more expensive. The scooter rental starts at around 200 THB per day. If you rent a stronger bike, you’ll have to pay more. The rentals will want to keep your national ID as a deposit.

Rent Motorcycle Chiang Mai
exclamation icon

Never leave your passport as a deposit when renting a scooter! It makes it very easy for the owners to accuse you of causing some damage you haven’t done and ask you to pay for it. Remember, you can’t travel without a passport. Use cash or national ID instead.

Best time to visit Koh Tao

sunny weather icon

Dry season: December – April

monsoon icon

Rainy season: October – December

Koh Tao has its dry season between December and April, together with the rest of Thailand. The weather is mostly sunny with almost no rain. However, since December is on the border between monsoon and dry season, you might still experience rainy evenings.

The period between February and May is known as a hot and dry season. April is usually the hottest month. Koh Tao is a relatively humid island, with around 80% humidity. Keep this in mind and stay hydrated throughout the day. The water visibility is the best in this season.

Best time to visit Thailand

While the west coast of Thailand is hit by southwest monsoon between May and October, Koh Tao is not very affected by this. The weather is mostly dry and windy. Therefore, the sea is not as calm anymore. But you can already expect some rainfall, mostly during late afternoons and nights.

The rainy season in Koh Tao usually starts late in October and lasts until December. November is experiencing the heaviest rains. If the monsoons arrive later, the rainy season may last longer.

Best guided tours on Koh Tao

  • Snorkel tour by Oxygen – Visit Nangyuan Island, Japanese Gardens, Mango Bay, Ao Leuk, and Hin Wong Bay. You can enjoy snorkeling at every stop. The underwater life is just incredible and this tour will be one of the highlights of your whole Thailand trip!
  • Scuba diving experience – Ever tried scuba diving? How about taking your first lesson in one of the best places to get PADI in the whole world? Koh Tao is known for its lively underwater life and the best way to explore it is scuba diving!
  • Daytrip by speedboat – This tour has the same itinerary as the first one by Oxygen. The only difference is, that here you can also go kayaking.

Snorkel tour

Klook.com

Scuba diving

Klook.com

Daytrip by speedboat

Klook.com

Ferry from Surat Thani to Koh Tao – conclusion

To sum it up, it might be slightly confusing when it comes to organizing the trip from Surat Thani to Koh Tao. You have many different options to choose from. However, once you book your tickets, the company will help you with all the transfers.

Despite how confusing it seems, everything is usually well organized and you don’t need to worry about this trip too much. We had a good experience with all the ferries we used between different islands in the Gulf of Thailand and Surat Thani.

We hope this guide will help you understand how different ferries work and you will be able to travel between Surat Thani and Koh Tao without any issues!