How to Travel From Koh Samui to Koh Phangan in 2023
Wondering how to get to Koh Phangan? As two islands separated by twenty kilometers of ocean, getting from Koh Samui to Koh Pha-Ngan is relatively straightforward. There is an array of ferry operators ready to help you move freely between the two islands, so read on with this guide to find out which, in our experience is the best option for you.
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Koh Samui and Koh Pha-Ngan are two of Thailand’s best-known and most-visited islands. The neighboring islands sit alongside each other in the Gulf of Thailand, on Thailand’s east coast, and attract an array of tourists from all over the world.
You will see Koh Phangan and Koh Pha-Ngan on signs – both are correct
If you’re planning on visiting either of these beautiful islands in southern Thailand, you may want to move between the two so you can take in the different vibes and sights of each.
What are the best ways to travel from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan?
The best, and indeed, the only way to travel between Samui and Pha-Ngan is via one of the various ferry services.
There are a variety of ferries running between the two islands, from speedboats to slower vehicle ferries, and everything in between.
One factor to consider when you book tickets to Koh Phangan is how you will get to the appropriate pier. Ask when booking if the ferry ticket price also includes a transfer from your hotel to the ferry pier.
Depending on which ferry operator you choose and where you buy your tickets, some include the whole journey, door to door.
Koh Samui to Koh Phangan – Which Ferry service is the Best?
The best ferry service to the popular island of Koh Pha-Ngan from Koh Samui will depend on a couple of factors.
Firstly, your location on Samui – most ferries depart from Samui’s northern coast.
There are a couple of ferry piers close to Samui International Airport,
- Bang Rak Pier- Head to this pier for the ferry for the full moon party
- Maenam Pier – Lomprayah ferry
- Nathon Pier – largest pier in the northwest of Samui.
If you are looking for the quickest option for crossing between Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, then maybe check out the high-speed catamaran service operated by Lomprayah.
This journey leaves from Mae Nam Pier, and the crossing takes around thirty minutes.
If you are looking for the most economical option, the Raja Ferry company runs between Lipa Noi Pier on Samui’s west coast and Thong Sala pier on Koh Phangan.
There are three ferries a day and this service is a little more time-consuming, taking an hour and a half. Some of these ferries are ancient and not particularly comfortable. In fact one had an accident and missed the wharf last week so I would give this one a miss unless you really have to take it.
We rode one last September that was pumping black smoke on the outer deck and had very little air conditioning inside – personally I would pay a little more and avoid it.
How to Get to Koh Phangan Full Moon Parties from Samui
If you are on Samui Island and looking to head across the water for the Full Moon Party on Pha-Ngan Island, then the best ferry option is the Haad Rin Queen.
Haad Rin Beach is the setting for the monthly parties. The Haad Rin Queen ferry departs from one of the piers in Bang Rak (sunset pier), a short distance from Koh Samui Airport.
Rather than disembarking in Thong Sala, in the southwest of Pha-Ngan, the Haad Rin Queen docks directly in Hadd Rin town itself, and the journey takes around fifty minutes. It’s not a comfortable service with wooden benches, but it’s cheap!
If you are looking to head to Samui for the party alone, there are also speedboats returning to Samui throughout the night. If this is your plan, you can take the Haad Rin Queen ferry across in the afternoon, then take a speedboat directly from the Full Moon Party on Haad Rin Beach whenever you are feeling partied out.
Keep an eye on the weather conditions if planning this option; big waves in the dark of the night can make for a more exciting ferry ride than usual.
How much is the ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan?
The various ferry services between the two islands have differing prices. As a foot passenger, you can expect to pay between 200 baht and 350 baht for an adult ferry ticket to Phangan.
The faster speedboat services operated by Lomprayah have the most expensive ticket prices, but they are also the fastest route. The slower Raja ferry ticket is the cheapest option for budget travelers.
How often do ferries run from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan?
The route between these two giants of the Thai tourism industry is well-traveled, and there are plenty of ferries plying the route throughout the day.
For the early risers, the first Raja ferry departs from Nathon ferry port at 7:00 am each day for Thong Sala on Pha-Ngan. Raja Ferry also has a service leaving Koh Samui at 4:30 pm.
The Seatran Discovery service has large boats with air conditioning leaving at 9:30 am and 2:30 pm each day.
The Seatran ferries leave from the Big Buddha pier, close to the airport, and arrive in Koh Phangan in the main town of Thong Sala.
Lomprayah operates ferries from two piers on Samui, so check your departure point carefully at the time of booking.
Their air-conditioned catamarans leave from Lipa Noi Pier in Nathon at 12:15 pm each day, and their speedboats leave from Mae Nam pier three times per day – at 8:00 am, 12:30 pm, and at 4:30 pm.
The Lomprayah ferries arrive in Koh Pha-Ngan at Thong Sala pier.
The Haad Rin Queen ferry departs from the pier close to the Fisherman’s Village in Bang Rak twice daily, the first at 10:30 am and the second at 5:00 pm.
This ferry arrives at the Haad Rin Pier in the southeast of Koh Pha-Ngan.
Is there a car ferry to Koh Phangan?
Yes, there is a car ferry service operating between Samui and Koh Pha-Ngan. This service is operated by Raja Ferry and runs between Lipa Noi pier on Koh Samui and Thong Sala pier on Phangan.
The service runs twice per day, and the journey time is around an hour and a half. It is best to book ferry tickets for these popular routes in advance to ensure there is space for your vehicle.
How long does the ferry take from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan?
The ferry rides from Samui to Koh Phangan take between thirty and ninety minutes, depending on which ferry tickets you buy.
The faster Lomprayah speedboat takes around half an hour, whereas the slower car ferries operated by Raja Ferry are closer to ninety minutes.
Is it worth visiting Koh Phangan?
The island of Pha-Ngan is famed for its Full Moon Parties, but the island has much more to offer besides these monthly mega-parties.
As the more chilled-out island of the two, Koh Pha-Ngan is one of the popular destinations for those looking to get close to nature and relax.
With stunning, remote beaches, jungle walks, and acres of natural beauty, Koh Pha-Ngan has been wowing visitors for decades.
It is a brilliant choice for those looking for a nature retreat, with plenty of options for yoga and health & fitness retreats.
Not only is it a great place to party, but it’s also a great place to recover from the excesses of the party lifestyle.
How long should you stay on each island?
The two islands have very different vibes, and how much time you plan to spend on each will depend on what you are looking for from your trip.
Samui is more commercial and is home to larger resorts, whereas Koh Pha-Ngan has a more chilled vibe, with smaller, more intimate resorts.
Both islands have a great party scene, with Chaweng on Samui offering the best party vibe aside from the Full Moon Parties.
If you are traveling for a shorter period, why not split your time between the two islands? From Bangkok, Samui is easier to reach, as it has its own airport.
The various ferry ports make it easy to hop across to Pha-ngan on the ferry and back when you want to fly back to Bangkok.
Is Koh Samui or Koh Phangan better?
If you are looking for luxury resorts, shopping opportunities, and an easy-to-reach destination, perhaps Koh Samui is the better choice for you.
If you are looking to party on the beach, chill in a hammock overlooking the ocean, or attend a yoga retreat, then Koh Pha-Ngan will best serve your needs.
Can I take my car to Koh Phangan?
Yes, you can take your car, or scooter, to Koh Pha-Ngan from Samui.
If you are looking to take a vehicle across with you, you will need to book with Raja Ferry. These ferries leave from Nathon twice per day.
The price for a car with one passenger is currently 550 baht. You can also head across on the early morning ferry with a scooter, and after spending the day exploring Koh Pha-Ngan, return to Koh Samui via the afternoon service on the same day.
About the author: Richard (Rich) Reardon, is a freelance writer and scuba diving instructor from England and now lives in Southern Thailand. “I have spent the last twenty years traveling and working throughout South East Asia. For around half of that time, I’ve been based in Thailand. Thailand stole my heart, and I hope my writing will encourage you to find out why!”
Wondering where to go next? How about Island hopping from Phuket?