There are a number of different options for travel to Ko Pha Ngan. The best way to get to the island will depend on your preferred method of travel and your budget.
Flights to Ko Pha Ngan
Plans were announced in 2012 to build a small airport on Ko Pha Ngan. Although construction work has begun on Ko Pha Ngan airport, there is still no firm date for when the airport will open. Thai entrepreneur and president of Kan Airlines, Somphong Sooksanguan, had initially planned to finish construction by the end of 2013. Delays meant the scheduled completion date for the work was then put back until 2014 and then 2015. At the time of writing it isn’t clear whether the airport will open in late 2015 or at some stage in 2016.
Kan Air suspended all their services in the first half of 2017.
In the meantime, the nearest airport to Ko Pha Ngan is on the neighbouring island of Ko Samui. Flights to and from Ko Samui airport with either Bangkok Airways or Thai Airways can be expensive. From Samui, travellers then need to take a boat to Ko Pha Ngan (see below).
A cheaper alternative is to fly to either Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat or Surat Thani on the mainland for onward travel to Ko Pha Ngan. Low-cost carriers Air Asia and Nok Air both offer tickets to Ko Pha Ngan from Bangkok Don Muang airport which include a combined flight and ferry service. Thai Smile Air provide a flight and ferry package departing from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport. There are also direct services between Chiang Mai and Surat Thani with Air Asia.
If you opt to buy just a flight ticket rather than a combined flight/ferry ticket, transfers to Ko Pha Ngan are easy to arrange via the official counters located at Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani airports.
Train services to Ko Pha Ngan
Travelling by train from Bangkok, the most convenient station to get off is Surat Thani with the journey taking between 9 to 12 hours. Exact cost will depend on which train you take and how much comfort you want, but a sleeper berth in a second-class air-conditioned carriage on the overnight train is approximately 1,000 Baht. The train station at Surat Thani is located a few kilometres away from the main city, but transport into the city or direct to the ferry port is available on arrival. The ferry port is approximately 1 hour away from Surat Thani train station.
If you want to buy a combination train/boat ticket you can do so at Bangkok Hualamphong train station in the various travel agent offices located on the second floor. Alternatively, you can just buy a train ticket to Surat Thani and buy your boat ticket on arrival from the ferry counters at Surat Thani train station.
The State Railway of Thailand previously had an online ticketing service, but it was suspended in January 2013. There are agencies who can buy tickets in advance for you or you can buy yourself directly by going to Bangkok Hualamphong station a few days in advance of your date of travel.
There is increased demand for travel to Ko Pha Ngan in the lead up to the Full Moon Party, especially during the high season (November-February). If you are travelling to Ko Pha Ngan from Bangkok by bus or train to attend the Full Moon Party it is worth trying to book your travel tickets in advance.
Bus services to Ko Pha Ngan
From most towns and cities in southern Thailand it is possible to buy bus tickets to Surat Thani which is one of the main transportation hubs in the south of the country. On arrival in Surat Thani it is easy enough to arrange onward travel by ferry to Ko Pha Ngan. A number of ferry operators have offices in the more popular tourist resorts such as Hua Hin, Phuket and Krabi where you can buy combination bus/ferry tickets to Ko Pha Ngan.
If you are travelling by bus from Bangkok, you can go to the Southern Bus Terminal and buy a combination bus/ferry ticket for the official government bus service which is approximately 1,000 Baht and travels on the Raja Ferry. This properly regulated service is efficient, safer and more comfortable than the various ‘600 Baht VIP’ services to Ko Pha Ngan you may see advertised on Bangkok’s Khao San Road.
If you are staying in Bangkok close to the popular backpacker areas of Banglamphu or Khao San Road, there is another option worth checking out if you don’t like the idea of travelling out to the Southern Bus terminal. Lomphraya Ferry have a ticket office located close to Khao San Road. The current price for their overnight bus, which departs from outside the Lomphraya office, is 1,350 Baht.
Ferry services to Ko Pha Ngan
A number of different ferry operators cover the route to Ko Pha Ngan. Most boats arrive at Thongsala Pier on Ko Pha Ngan, but each operator has their own timetable and departure point from the mainland. If you buy a combination ticket (e.g flight/ferry, train/ferry, bus/ferry) in advance the price includes a shuttle service by minivan or coach to the most convenient ferry port. Please be aware that boat services are subject to change and cancellation at short notice, especially during low season. For up to date information on times and prices, check the respective ferry operator’s website.
Lomprayah run regular services to Ko Pha Ngan from a number of locations in Thailand including Bangkok, Hua Hin, Ko Samui, Ko Tao, Krabi and Phuket.
Seatran Discovery covers the route from Ko Samui to Ko Pha Ngan to Ko Tao. The larger Seatran Ferry only operates between Donsak and Ko Samui.
Seatran Discovery website
Raja Ferry is the large vehicle ferry that operates from Donsak Pier on the mainland to Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan.
Raja Ferry website
Songserm Ferry operates services to Ko Pha Ngan (and Ko Samui) from two points on the mainland; Chumphon and Surat Thani. They have boat services which connect with buses, trains and planes arriving at either Chumphon or Surat Thani. The Songserm Ferry website isn’t particularly helpful, but their service is reasonable and a number of travel agents in Thailand do use them.
Songserm Ferry website
Buying boat tickets to Ko Pha Ngan
In most cases during the low season you won’t need to buy a boat ticket in advance and can just buy one at the respective pier on the day of departure. But high season and the time of the Full Moon Party does see more passengers so buying in advance does help. Go to the pier at least a day before your intended travel date and buy from the ticket counter or book online directly from the boat company.
From Bangkok to Ko Pha Ngan
The quickest way to travel from Bangkok to Ko Pha Ngan is to fly. If you prefer slower travel, the sleeper train is a better and more comfortable option than the bus. If you do want to travel by bus, one of the best options is the official government bus service which departs from Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal. Journey time to Ko Pha Ngan by bus is approximately 14 hours which includes the ferry crossing. As an alternative, the Lomphraya bus service from their office in central Bangkok is another option.
From Ko Samui to Ko Pha Ngan
Lomphraya run a catamaran service between Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan. The journey time is approximately 20-30 minutes and the current adult price for a one-way ticket is 300 Baht. Departures leave from Maenam Pier and Nathon Pier.
Seatran Discovery from Bangrak Pier on Ko Samui takes 30 minutes and current price is 300 Baht.
A combination of speedboats and longtail boats also run from Ko Samui’s northern beaches of Maenam, Bophut and Bangrak (Big Buddha Beach) direct to Hat Rin beach on Ko Pha Ngan. Times and frequency fluctuate, but for the Full Moon Party there are all-night services shuttling between Hat Rin and Samui’s northern beaches.
From Ko Tao to Ko Pha Ngan
Depending on weather conditions, there is a choice of speedboat, express ferry or slow boat.
From Ko Tao (Mae Haad Pier) with Lomphraya 1 hour (600 Baht)
from Ko Tao (Mae Haad Pier) with Seatran Discovery 1.5 hours (430 Baht)
From Chumphon to Ko Pha Ngan
Chumphon Pier to Ko Pha Ngan with Lomphraya 3 hours (1,000 Baht)
From Donsak to Ko Pha Ngan
Donsak (Laem Thuat Pier) to Ko Pha Ngan with Lomphraya 1.5 hours (450 Baht)
Donsak Pier to Ko Pha Ngan with Raja Ferry 2.5 hours (210 Baht foot passenger)
From Hua Hin to Ko Pha Ngan
Hua Hin to Ko Pha Ngan with Lomphraya 7.5 hours morning departure or 11.5 hours overnight (1,300 Baht)
From Krabi to Ko Pha Ngan
Krabi to Ko Pha Ngan with Lomphraya 4.5 to 5 hours (800 Baht)
Krabi Town to Ko Pha Ngan with Seatran Discovery 6 hours (850 Baht)
Railay Beach to Ko Pha Ngan with Seatran Discovery approx. 8.5 hours (1,000 Baht)
From Phi Phi to Ko Pha Ngan
Ko Phi Phi to Ko Pha Ngan 8 hours with Seatran Discovery (1,100 Baht)
From Phuket to Ko Pha Ngan
Phuket to Ko Pha Ngan with Lomphraya 7 to 7.5 hours (1,400 Baht)
Phuket Rassada Pier to Ko Pha Ngan with Seatran Discovery 8.5 hours (1,100 Baht)
From Surat Thani to Ko Pha Ngan
Surat Thani airport to Ko Pha Ngan with Lomphraya 3.5 to 4 hours (700 Baht)
Surat Thani airport to Ko Pha Ngan with Seatran Discovery 5 to 6 hours (700 Baht)
Surat Thani city to Ko Pha Ngan with Lomphraya 3 hours (550 Baht)
Surat Thani city to Ko Pha Ngan with Seatran Discovery 3 hours (550 Baht)