How to get to Koh Samet from Bangkok

Travelling to a Thai island from Bangkok for the first time can be confusing. You have an array of transport options to choose from including buses, minibuses, taxis, songthaews and maybe even tuk tuks. What should you do? When travelling to Koh Samet, I did a lot of research on the best way to get there (cheapest way) and here's how we did it.

Go to Ekkamai (Eastern) bus terminal

We went via BTS to Ekkamai station (pretty easy as we were staying in Bang Na in eastern Bangkok). The journey cost 38 Baht each. At Ekkamai BTS, there are signs pointing you to the correct exit to take for the Eastern bus terminal at Ekkamai station. However once we got out onto the street we were instantly lost! We turned left instead of right and were going away from the bus terminal. Luckily we asked a traffic warden ('Eastern bus terminal yuu-tee-nai?') and he pointed us in  the right direction.

Look for the correct ticket booth

This is really confusing! We were searching for a booth that sold government bus tickets, but there was nobody at the counter for the government buses and there were no signs advertising a bus to Ban Phe. We found a booth (number 5) which was advertising 'Ban Phe, Koh Samet' which was manned by  an over-enthusiastic lady trying to sell tickets to anyone who walked past. We are so wary of getting scammed here and this certainly set off alarm bells! However, there was seemingly nowhere else to buy tickets. We asked the lady at the counter if there was a government bus to Ban Phe and she said that there wasn't. Whether this was true or not, we will never know. Tickets at this booth were 151 Baht one-way, which seemed like a good price. We bought two and hoped for the best.

These tickets were for a Cherdchai Tours 'Big Bus' to Ban Phe. The lady also tried to sell us return ferry tickets to Koh Samet for 100 Baht each. We decided to buy ferry tickets when we arrived at Ban Phe instead, but if we did this journey again I would have bought these with the bus tickets. The ferry tickets we purchased in Ban Phe were exactly the same and the same price too! Other blogs recommended not buying a return ticket, but we just kept our return ticket safe and used it with no problems.

The bus leaves from its designated stand outside of the ticket hall

Once we bought the tickets we weren't sure where to get the bus from, but I went for a scout-around and it turned out to be pretty straight-forward. Outside of the ticket hall with all the booths, there's an outdoor area where all the buses wait at their designated spots. I clocked the sign for the Ban Phe bus and checked it was a blue Cherdchai one. So far, so good! The lady at the booth had told us our bus would leave at 12.30pm, so we had lots of time to kill.

We ate a cheapie packed lunch of 20 Baht 7 eleven sandwiches and 50 Baht Lays crisps (which were less than half full! The scandal!) and then moved outside to wait by the the bus stand.

Wait to be shown to your seat

We waited until the bus was ready to accept passengers and then we were able to board. We had the option to put our luggage in the hold, but chose to keep it with us (after hearing about scams involving theft from the luggage hold, we wanted to hang onto ours at all costs! Although apparently that only happens on private 'VIP' night buses, so I think we would have been fine. We're just super cautious!). You have to show your tickets before boarding and then wait for the driver to show you to your seat. Used to UK bus etiquette of being free to choose any seat, I ploughed on ahead and sat down, in my own little world. I think the driver was too polite to tell me to move, but another traveller kindly pointed out that I was being directed into a seat! Oh the shame! Good to know before you get on.

Enjoy the journey (but bring a jumper!)

Once seated, the driver came round and offered everyone a small bottle of water. This was a nice touch! There's lots of room and curtains, if you want to sleep. The air con was turned up, which was great at first but then became a little too chilly. I closed the vent, which helped, but also brought an easily accessible jumper, which was definitely needed! The journey to Ban Phe took 3.5 hours from Bangkok (but the traffic was good, so it could have taken longer). We weren't sure if there was a toilet on board, but there are free toilets at Ekkamai bus terminal so probably best to go there. We also saw people get off along the way, so if you don't want to go all the way to Ban Phe the driver can stop where you like along the route. At least that's what seemed like what was happening..

At Ban Phe

We bought our ferry tickets (not speedboat; this was way more expensive!) from the counter at Nuanthip pier. Tickets were 100 Baht per person for a return. There are lots of different piers, but Nuanthip is the pier the ferries to Koh Samet leave from. There are toilets and lots of food options here. We were able to get on a boat straight away, but they leave once an hour.

Arriving at Koh Samet

You will be greeted by a huge bronze statue of a mermaid. She's slightly terrifying, I don't think you'll be lured into the sea by her! We disembarked the ferry and on exiting the pier we had to pay 20 Baht each for pier maintenance (not sure why this isn't included in the ferry price, so just a heads up about that!). Then you could catch a songthaew to your accommodation, but walking on this island is so easy and is the cheapest option (depending on where you're staying). If staying in Koh Samet village I would definitely advise walking to your accommodation (unless you have a lot of luggage). It took us 7 minutes to walk. We just said 'Mai ow ka/kup' (no, thanks!) to anyone trying to sell us a ride.

The last ferry to Koh Samet leaves at about 5pm, so be sure to arrive before then otherwise you might have to fork out for a speedboat!

Have you had any experience using government buses or Cherdchai?
Have you made the journey from Bangkok to the islands?
We'd love to hear in the comments!

Want to see more? Watch the vlog of our day travelling to Koh Samet!


Popular posts from this blog

How to get from Koh Samet to Koh Chang

Bangkok for Beginners

A Week on Koh Samet