Travel Information for Koh Phangan
Thailand’s capital Bangkok is served very well by many scheduled airlines with numerous daily flights from Europe, North America, Australasia and the Middle East as well as many other Asian hubs. Last minute cheap flights are generally a myth, especially at busy times so our advice is to start looking into your travel options as soon as possible. Skyscanner, Kayak, Travelocity and Expedia will all search many airlines for fares but it’s a good idea to contact your local travel agent as well as they may have deals that are not made public on the search engines. If you are coming from the UK, Ollie Raikes at Travel Counsellors can take care of your booking and you can reach him at www.travelcounsellors.co.uk/ollie.raikes. Tel 01865 987790.
STA Travel (not just for students) and Flight Centre can be very competitive plus you have the added advantage of being able to negotiate a little on prices and credit card fees etc. If coming from North America, China-Airlines.com are often cheapest but United Airlines & Korean Air have fantastic deals from time to time too – these prices are generally not published, so it is definitely worthwhile looking at airlines own websites for fares. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of your ticket! Our time together on Koh Phangan promises to be transformational and changes to life plans thereafter are very common. Make sure you are not locked into a non-changeable flight if you can possibly avoid it. Don’t forget to sign up for Frequent Flyer* miles!
Once you have arrived in Bangkok, there are many options for getting down to the island. The most convenient (and most expensive) is to fly from Bangkok to Koh Samui with either Bangkok Airways or Thai Airways. Prices generally begin from US$100 although there are occasionally offers with lower prices. From Koh Samui you can catch any number of boats to Koh Phangan, all easily booked upon arrival at Samui airport and costing $5 to $10 including taxi to the pier.
Air Asia fly from Bangkok to the mainland port of Surat Thani and again many boats for Koh Phangan are available from Surat Thani or nearby Donsak for $5 to $10. It is best to check times for the ferry’s before you book your flight or you may end up spending a night in Surat Thani. (www.lomprayah.com www.songserm-expressboat.com www.seatranferry.com)
The most common means for travellers heading to the south of Thailand and to the islands is by overnight train. Joint Tickets to Koh Phangan which include train, bus and boat are readily sold throughout Bangkok and in every travel agent around Khao San Road. Second Class Fan or Air Con sleeper are both perfectly adequate and reasonably comfortable with clean soft sheets, blankets and pillows provided and costs around $25 – $30. If you are in the top bunk however be aware the curtain does not block out the light which will remain on all night. Eye masks are your friend. If you have any trouble booking trains at short notice you may be able to get a cancellation (or a more spacious lower bunk) by going to Hualomphong railway station in Bangkok and booking your train ticket direct. It is also a little cheaper to do it this way. You can then buy your onward boat ticket directly beside the station upon arrival in Surat Thani.
There are also many bus services running from Bangkok to Surat Thani with onward boat tickets. This is certainly the cheapest method available and many tourists travel this way. Tickets are readily available all around Khao San Road. Buses have reclining seats, sometimes show videos and are air conditioned; nice during the day but freezing at night, so bring warm clothes. A standard warning for the buses is that drivers can be very erratic and outrageous speeding is the norm. Also be aware that theft on the buses from under the seats and in the baggage area is unfortunately very common. Please make sure your valuables are safely attached to your body all night and that your baggage is securely locked. If you do decide to come by bus, please seek a Thai Government approved service from the travel agent in Bangkok, this will be the safest option.
Air Asia and Jetstar are the most prominent in a handful of low cost airlines serving the local area. Air Asia have an ever increasing network of international flights coming from Europe, Australasia and India. They regularly have sales and are well worth checking out. Cheap flights into Phuket or Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Sebang in Malaysia are not uncommon and from there you can either connect to Koh Samui by flight or take a long and indirect train journey up to Surat Thani and take the boat as above. Be aware that low cost airlines are very strict in regards to baggage allowances and missed departure fees etc, and they will likely not negotiate or waive anything so be sure to check the terms and conditions of your ticket before you travel.
When you have finally arrived on the island of Koh Phangan either to the port of Haad Rin or Thong Sala, shared taxis are bountiful. Negotiating your fare for the taxi can be quite an experience so remember to smile. Thai people are generally very polite and a smile goes a long way. You should expect to pay between 100 and 150baht ($3 to $5) to come to Serenity Thailand in a shared taxi from Thong Sala, if you arrive at Haad Rin, expect to pay twice that. If you wish for a taxi by yourself, or face a long wait for fellow travellers to share with, it will cost upwards of 600baht.
Overall, transport in Thailand is reasonably priced and reliable. All of us at Jivani have been using the various methods for many years without major drama. Consideration, patience, a pillow and a smile are your best travel companions.
You will need to acquire at least one Two Month Tourist visa (for the purpose of tourism) before you depart your home country. Tourist visa’s can be extended for a further 30 days by a one morning visit to immigration on our neighbouring island Koh Samui. It is possible to obtain up to 3 of these visas before arriving in Thailand but each new visa needs to be activated with a one day trip out of Thailand. Please be aware visa information is changeable without warning. You are responsible for your own travel arrangements so please check with your local consulate before applying and give yourself enough time to get organised.
Vaccinations are a personal choice. Please contact your local travel advisory center for information and consider your options carefully. Insect borne infections like Malaria (which is very rare in Thailand) and Dengue Fever are preventable by using mosquito repellent and there are many very effective repellents readily available here in Thailand.
Please note we adhere strictly to our Terms & Conditions in the event of sudden cancellation for any reason including emergencies. Good travel insurance can cover you for almost any eventuality and we highly recommend you buy it at the same time you book your place on the training and/or your flights. We will collect information from you including an emergency contact at the beginning of the course. Should there be an incident whilst you are in Thailand, you will not regret being protected.
*Frequent Flyer Miles
If you are coming from the USA (and it's worth checking the set up wherever you are from), something you might want to consider is looking for Frequent Flyer Miles introductory offers. Very often new credit cards offer bonuses of 50,000+ miles when you spent $3000 in the first month. Pay for your place on the training with a credit card (via PayPal with a 3.5% fee), earn 50,000 miles and be prepared to put in a few hours or searching, and you could potentially save the cost of your flight to Thailand. Please be responsible with credit cards and ensure you pay in full straight away to avoid large fees. There are many websites that can guide you in this process. The Points Guy is a good starting place.