This is a detailed guide including lots of photos describing how we personally got to Koh Samui after arriving at Surat Thani train station.
Surat Thani. The train station is situated fifteen kilometers from Surat Thani town so, in reality, the train station is in the middle of nowhere. This can makes things a little confusing for anyone wondering how to get to Koh Samui from Surat Thani. Although it involves a bit of jumping from trains, to buses, to ferries, getting from Surat Thani train station to Koh Samui isn't all that difficult.
We arrived at the train station at 9:30pm. We quickly decided that trying to find transport at that time would not be practical. Plus the Surat Thani to Koh Samui ferry would not be running at that time anyway. That pretty much meant we had no choice but to spend the night either near the train station or in town. We stayed at the Queen Hotel a few hundred meters from the train station. It is very basic and very cheap at 350b. That is really all there is to say about it. It was a place to sleep.
Leg 1 - Local Bus from Surat Thani train station to Seatran Ferry Bus Terminal
At 5:30am, we got up and walked back to the train station as there are local buses that go into Surat Thani town. After some initial confusion about which bus to take and where we wanted to go we eventually found our way onto what we were fairly sure was the correct bus. The bus trip took a little over 30 minutes and took us into Surat Thani town at a cost of 20 Baht each. We had asked the bus driver to drop us off at a ferry company and he helpfully dropped us right at the door off at the Seatran Ferry Bus Terminal.
Note that if you are going from Surat Thani airport to Koh Samui rather than from the train station there are apparently buses into Surat Thani for around 100 Baht. We haven't actually been to Surat Thani airport so double check this if its important for you. No doubt there are also taxis and tuk tuks available that can take you either into Surat Thani or directly to the Koh Samui ferry.
I would also like to point out that there are a few different companies that offer a ferry service from Surat Thani to Koh Samui. Most "tour companies" from Surat Thani (or vice versa) will try to sell you a package deal to get from Surat Thani to Koh Samui. They may seem good value but the smaller ferries they send you on are often hideously over crowded with people and their baggage! Boats jammed with huge numbers of smiling, scantily clad tourists look fun but they're often uncomfortable due to overcrowding and the safety of these boats is questionable.
Once we got to the Seatran Ferry Bus Terminal in Surat Thani we could see why the local bus driver dropped us off here. This is the ferry he would have chosen to go to Koh Samui. Thank you Mr Bus Driver!
Leg 2 - Seatran Bus from their terminal in Surat Thani to Donsak Pier
The Seatran Ferry company were very professional when dealing with us and other people buying joint bus / ferry tickets to Koh Samui. A lot of local Thai people were buying tickets from here which always helps reassure you that you've made the right decision.
We were to be on the next bus from their terminal to their pier at Donsak. 7:30am. This cost us 230 Baht each including the ferry ticket to Koh Samui. It would take 90 minutes from the bus station to the pier. The ride was very pleasant with a lot of countryside to look at outside the window. Very relaxing at this time of the morning.
Leg 3 - Seatran ferry from Donsak Pier, Surat Thani to Nathon Pier, Koh Samui
Ahhh the Seatran Ferry, how I loved seeing you for the first time! The Seatran ferry from Surat Thani to Koh Samui was wonderfully large and sturdy looking and carried both passengers and vehicles safely across the ocean. Seriously, if you are heading to Koh Samui from Surat Thani, take this ferry!
The ferry was pristine inside, had large reclining seats to lay back in, televisions with Thai love comedy shows playing, very very clean toilets, a cafeteria selling everything you could ever want at Thai prices and you could even get a foot massage while you relax!
Yes, I really loved catching the Seatran Ferry. The ferry was so big that it didn't feel like we were on the ocean. So clean, so nice, so gooood! From Donsak Pier to Nathon Pier took about 90 minutes in total.
Leg 4 - Songteaw from Nathon Pier, Koh Samui to Pantai Chaweng, Koh Samui
We were relieved to finally reach Koh Samui. Catching a songteaw from the pier was our tenth leg of transport from Langkawi in Malaysia all the way up to Koh Samui in Thailand. When you arrive at the pier on Samui walk all the way out the front to the main road. Then go up to a songteaw (ute/pickup truck with benches for seating in the back) driver and say that you are going to Chaweng (or wherever you are going). They will demand a ridiculous price. You counter offer 60 Baht. They tell you to go away and point you towards the local bus which is another Songteaw that waits until its mostly full then heads off to do a lap of the island picking up and dropping off people as it goes. If you really want dropped off right at your hotel then feel free to negotiate with the first Songteaw driver. The local bus songteaw will tell you when you reach Chaweng as this is where most tourists get off.
Update: I have further information on how to travel from Surat Thani to Koh Samui...
From the Surat Thani train station you can also take a taxi to either Surat Thani town or to Donsak Pier. The taxi stand to the left of the train station has a sign with locations and prices marked on it. At the time of writing these were...
Surat Thani Train Station to Surat Thani town = 230 Baht one way
Surat Thani Train Station to Donsak Pier = 1200 Baht one way
Hope this helps!
Looking For a Surat Thani Hotel?
We stayed at the Queen Hotel. It is near the train station so you can stagger in there late at night without too much trouble. It is extremely basic, really just a place to sleep until the following morning. Click here to read more about the Queen Hotel
What About Koh Samui Hotels?
We have stayed in two places on Samui. Both have been pretty damn good.
Tango Beach Resort is moderately fancy. It is literally right on the beach, the buffet breakfast is lovely and the room was great. We stayed there over Christmas and new years eve so we were happy to splash out a little so we could swim in the ocean before breakfast on Christmas morning.
Click here to read our full review
Click here to read what others are saying about Tango Beach Resort
We found Meewaya Chaweng House while staying at Tango Beach Resort simply by walking around going into places. The rooms are essentially small apartments and given how nice they are the prices are extremely reasonable. The only downside is that Meewaya Chaweng seems to have a negligible online presence so you may have to physically go in there, which is what we did. Read our full review of Meewaya Chaweng House
Click here for the best family hotel, a cheap hostel or something in between
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