How to Get From Bangkok to the Thai Islands

With most international flights to Thailand arriving in Bangkok, you might find that you need to sort yourself out with some additional transport to get you from the buzz of the city, to the bliss of the islands. Well, you’re in luck as there are plenty of options available to suit most needs so buckle up and listen in.

The train

Option number one is the train, this can take between 8-14 hours. I know what you’re thinking… how can a train be 8 hours one day and 14 the next? Well you’re in Thailand now and if you thought the British trains were inconsistent then you are in for a treat my friend.

There are two types of train ticket available, a day time ticket which gets you your seat and your complimentary numb bum. The other is a sleeper ticket. These leave around about 7:30pm from the main train station in Bangkok and travel overnight down to the Surat Thani. With this ticket you’ll get a cosy bed on the train.

So here’s the catch, Thai trains are known for being up to 3 hours late at points and do not have designated times in which they stop at the stations along the way, could be a ten-minute stop, could be an hour, it all depends on the number of people on the train and who is getting off where. It costs between 600-1000 baht depending on time of travel (£11-£18).

Having said that, the trains are suggested to have the most incredible views along the way and are said to be a fun experience.

Both types of ticket will only take you the edge of the mainland and you’ll need to get yourself on a ferry to the islands.

Bus / coach

As I write this, I’m sitting on a coach doing this very trip so I can attempt to speak from experience on this one. A couple of ways to do this – on a regular coach or a VIP bus (their words). There’s not a massive price difference between the two but if you can stretch to the VIP then I’d recommend it. Within the price you get a minibus ride from the main areas such as Khao San Road to the bus station, from there you’ll have a few hours wait until your bus leaves.

The bus I’m on at the moment has fully reclinable seats with leg rests and blankets, so I don’t doubt I’ll be able to get some kip while we travel overnight to Koh Phan Ngan. We paid 1500 baht each (£27) and that includes our ferry ticket over to the island, an in-coach meal (Thai crisps, juice and a bun, yep a bun, no filling, just a bun) and the minibus transfer from Khao San Road. Not bad value I say! The journey takes from 8pm-11am (including ferry time) and as most of it is overnight you could pretty much sleep through the whole journey if you wanted to.


By far the quickest and most timesaving as you can fly from Bangkok (either airport) to Surat Thani or Phuket in just over an hour. It is the most pricey though, and if you leave it too late you’ll pay through to teeth for this one. I’ve seen flights available for as little as £25 at the right times, but book last minute, on a weekend or around an event like the full moon party and it’ll be quite a bit more.

Plenty of options to think about and choose from!

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