Koh Samui Airport has opened a new modern terminal and the old thatched roof is no more. But the award-winning terminal is still in keeping with the surrounding tropical landscape and is one of the most picturesque transport hubs you will come across anywhere.
It also has a great deal more to offer tourists now, with an improved arcade of shops, even better security and improved customer service. The area is bejewelled with palm trees amidst lush green tropical gardens.
If intending to head straight to Koh Phangan from Koh Samui Airport, the last boat leaves from Big Buddha Pier at 18.30. So anyone arriving on a flight after 17:00 will realistically have to charter their own speedboat or spend a night on Samui. Of course, during the night of the Full Moon Party there are boats traversing the gap between the islands all night long (300 baht per person) so there is no rush.
As one might expect, Koh Samui Airport as an entrance for departures and another for meeting arrivals. The departures entrance is closer to the Chaweng side of the terminal, while the arrivals lies farther north in the direction of Big Buddha Beach. But both lie only five minutes’ walk from one another.
As Bangkok Airways actually owns Koh Samui International Airport, they are the island’s largest operator and have a monopoly over certain routes – keeping prices artificially high. Although there are a few budget carriers flying to the island, it nonetheless remains probably the most expensive destination for flights in Thailand
Berjaya Air now offer services to Kuala Lumpur, while Bangkok Airways has flights to Koh Samui from Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket and Bangkok with at least a dozen flights daily from Suvarnabhumi International. They also connect with Singapore and Hong Kong. Thai Airways offers two daily flights to and from Bangkok.
New arrivals to Koh Samui International Airport are still greeted with necklace of orchids in true boutique tropical style, and there is a decent duty free counter to stock up on premium spirits.
Transportation at Koh Samui Airport is in the realm of mafia-controlled taxi cabs which charge new arrivals extorionate fixed fares for getting around (around 500 baht to most beaches). Car hire is available from the terminal building through the usual international firms.
Other than the expensive private taxis there are also shared minivans, with the price depending on the number of people also heading to your chosen destination. The cheapest option, by far, is to wander out of the airport and find a songthaew shared taxi pickup truck (around 50 baht per person). Otherwise the fearless can balance with their bags on the back of a motorcycle taxi, but remember to wear a helmet.