Most Bangkok travel agencies will sell an all-in-one ticket from the Thai capital to Koh Phangan which involves an overnight coach to Surrat Thani, transfer to the pier and ferry ticket to the island – typically costing around 650 baht per person. This is hardly the most comfortable journey in the world, but it’s cheap and relatively easy despite the endless hanging around that is unavoidable.
These buses depart Bangkok at around 19:50 and arrive in Surat Thani in good time for the first ferry to the islands. On the return journey, passengers for Bangkok must usually get to Thong Sala Pier by 13:00 at the latest, and then hang around for hours until the bus back north leaves Surat Thai bus station at around 17:00.
The scheduled buses to Surat Thani leave from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal, but there are cheaper ‘tourist’ buses that depart directly from the backpacker mecca of the Khao San Road. These are generally shoddy services with few creature comforts, but fine for travellers on a budget.
However, thefts are extremely common from the luggage compartment so, even if you have padlocked everything securely, never store anything valuable underneath the bus. This is less of a problem on scheduled services, but still take normal precautions with your belongings.
A neat option is now The Transport Co., Ltd which leaves from Bangkok and actually drives directly to the Surat Thani ferry port and onto the boat, eliminating the need for multiple transfers with heavy bags and greatly reducing any waiting around time.
These leave Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal at 19:00 and arrive in Koh Pha Ngan at 11:00, with the return journey departing Thong Sala at 17:00 and arriving in Bangkok at 06:00. Tickets cost 784 Bbaht. The Transport Co., Ltd (Call Center: 1490 (24 Hours), Tel: +66 2 872 1777).