Friday, 13 September 2013

Koh Samui trip

Koh Samui

One of the big challenges of living in Thailand is choosing which island to visit next. With several hundred of them to choose from ranging from well developed destinations back to empty beaches there is something for everyone.  Koh Samui has long been a favourite destination for travellers so I thought it was definitely time to visit there myself.

Setting of from Surat Thani - Samui is just on the horizon

Getting there

There are 3 main ways to travel down to Samui, Road, Train, or Plane. We decided to try both forms out and went down to the island on the Train & Ferry, before returning via Ferry & Plane back to Bangkok.

There's a good summary of the different travel options on this blog here: http://voices.yahoo.com/how-koh-samui-bangkok-thailands-third-4641093.html

  • Bangkok to Surat Thani by train

We travelled down to Surat Thani by train. Surat Thani is the port where all of the ferries set off for Samui. You have 3 options of ticket to get on the train. There's a good summary of the different options on this site: http://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm#Southern Thailand.

Being slightly too old now for wooden bench seats we opted for First Class where you get a private cabin. First class train ticket (private cabin) with bus and ferry transfer to Koh Samui was approximately 1,300 Baht per person. The cabin was cold (super air conditioned with no controls) but very comfortable. The second class cabins looked ok but you're sharing the carriage with about 10 other people, and third class without bunks just wasn't an option for us even though it was much cheaper.

Overall we liked taking the train. The ride was comfortable but just soooo long. We were very glad to only be doing the trip one way.

  • Flights

For those people heading to Samui for 2 or 3 nights a flight really is the best option. Bangkok Airways has a monopoly on flying directly to the island but a number of other operators like Air Asia and Nok Air fly to the port town of Surat Thani where you can get the Koh Samui ferry.

We paid about 1,250 Baht per person with Nok Air when we travelled. It seems crazy that the low cost airlines can fly you there for less than the price of the train.

Many lovely beaches await you on Samui

Getting around

Once you finally get off the ferry or plane on Samui your next challenge is to get around the island. During our time we used 3 forms of transport.

Taxi

Unlike Bangkok Taxis in Koh Samui long ago gave up using their metres, now every trip costs a flat rate of 600 Baht for every journey. Ouch!

Songthaew (2 bench Pickup Truck Taxi)

The bench pickup taxis navigate around the edges and main tourist routes of the island. After a couple of very expensive taxi journeys we kept our eyes peeled for these - prices range from 100 - 150 Baht for a short journey, but that's per person.

Scooter hire

We really wanted to visit a couple of the waterfalls on Koh Samui whilst we were there so asked around for Taxi prices. Hiring a taxi for a day was coming in at 1,500 - 2,000 Baht (not bad value compared to 600 Baht for each journey but still quite pricey. However, Scooter hire on the island was very cheap and ended up being our favourite way of getting around. Just be careful who you rent your bike from, there are some stories of unscrupulous renters claiming imaginary damage when the machine is returned.

Our Highlights

There is lots to see and do on Samui, here are just a few of the things we liked best.
Grandmother and Grandfather rocks provide an unusual photo opportunity
Hin Lat Waterfall

Koh Samui Resources: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ko_Samui
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thailand/ko-samui
http://wikitravel.org/en/Ko_Samui‎