Getting to Koh Tao is easy and fast nowadays whether you are coming from Bangkok, Surat Thani or the neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. There are two companies – Lomprayah Catamaran and Seatran ferry – which both have two boats a day from Koh Samui via Koh Phangan to Koh Tao. Those arriving to Chumphon can choose between a 08:00 and 13:00 fast ferry to Koh Tao.
Getting around Koh Tao is also simple with a single main road hugging the west coast from north beyond Haad Sairee past Mae Haad Pier where the ferries dock all the way south to Chalok Baan Kao. There are other tracks which branch off this central spine to the major tourist beaches, and shared taxi pick-up trucks (songthaews) ply these routes. Fares start at 30 baht/person for the shortest journeys.
More on Koh Tao Transportation Options
The journey to Koh Tao takes around 90 minutes from Koh Samui and one hour from Koh Phangan. The boats bring you into the main port town of Mae Haad in the centre of the island’s west coast.
Lomprayah also offers a service from Koh Tao to Bangkok via Chumphon where you jump on the bus for the rest of the way direct to Khao San Road. Ko Jaroenn car ferry and Songserm run night ferries between Chumphon and Koh Tao. If you are coming from Surat Thani the best way to get to Koh Tao is to take the ferry to Koh Samui and then jump on either the Lompayah Catamaran or Seatran ferry.
Joint tickets, including bus or train with boat tickets, can be bought at travel agents in Bangkok or on Koh Tao depending on which direction you are heading. It is always better to choose scheduled government-vetted services which use the main bus terminals than the cheaper tourist services which are cheaper as thieves lurk in the baggage compartment to rifle through valuables.
Getting the train from Bangkok to Chumphon is also an easy way of getting to Koh Samui, with 11 departures from the Thai capital every day. The night train is the preferred option with Express (Train no. 85) departing Bangkok at 19:30 and Special Express (Train no. 39) departing Bangkok at 22:50, arriving in Chumphon at 05:49 – with plenty of time to catch the 07:00 ferry as long as they are not late!