How to get from Bangkok to Koh Chang.
Information on taking minibuses, buses, planes, boats and cars to Koh Chang.
In brief, as it’s taken for granted you:
a) Will be clutching 800+ pages of Lonely Planet / Rough Guide guidebrick when you arrive in Thailand and will have spent plenty of time sitting in airport lounges memorising large tracts of it in order to avoid looking like an obvious tourist and wandering around wide eyed and gawping as soon as you arrive in Thailand. Head permanently bowed and buried in a well bookmarked guide doesn’t mark you out as a worldly wise traveller. It marks you out as someone likely to want to load up on cheap gems at a top secret government sale, that’s only on today, but fortunately is open to lucky folks like YOU!
b) Possess enough wisdom, as an independent, worldly wise traveller, to be able to buy a ticket for the transportation of your choice from a tour agent. If not then a couple of words of Thai and a bit of sign language will get you sorted. Walk into any travel agent and say the magic words “Koh Chang” to the nearest available member of staff, gesticulate at the wall calendar to indicate your desired departure date and then point at a picture of a minibus, bus or plane. ( don’t point at a train – that will only confuse everyone as there are no trains to this part of Thailand. )
Hand over the requested amount of Baht & don’t forget your “Kop khun ka/krap” on the way out. All you then have to do is to find your way to the pick up point or bus station without being taken on the 2 hour scenic route by a friendly tuk-tuk driver who’s brother in law just happens to have some ancient Thai artifacts that he’ll sell to you for a bargain price, as you really are a very nice person.
You’ll find timetables and schedules for all transport services on this aptly named ‘Timetables & Schedules‘ page
Trat Airport opened in April 2003. There are daily flights from Bangkok for those with money to burn or who are horrified by the alternative prospect of a 5 hour bus ride. The Trat office of Bangkok Airways can be reached on 039 525 299-30. But you’ll find it far easier and cheaper to book tickets online via www.bangkokair.com. Don’t expect much change from 7,000 Baht for a return trip during High Season.
There are three flights per day. But be sure to reconfirm your flight the day before as flights do get cancelled even in High Season as they are rarely full, or even half full, this applies more to the early morning PG302 from Trat to Bangkok which means being picked up at 6.30am or earlier which isn’t an ideal time for many people.
In Dec 2010 Bangkok Airways began operating new services between Trat and Samui ( and on to Phuket ). The flights weren’t cheap but did make sense if you were doing a two centre holiday and didn’t want to either waste a day travelling or spend the night in Bangkok. You’ll notice the use of the past tense in that last sentence – as not enough people were doing a two centre holiday and so the flights stopped operating in 2012. Not really surprising as the type of person who likes Phuket or Samui isn’t the type of person who usually likes the sleepier Koh Chang.
From Trat Airport you’ll also need transport to your hotel on Koh Chang. If you don’t want to pay rather a lot for your hotel to pick you up privately a shared minibus service which can be booked in advance operates from the airport to all Koh Chang hotels. The price is currently 500 Baht/person including ferry ticket. In an ideal world cheap taxis would be hanging around the airport waiting to take people to their hotels – but there aren’t. You can try walking to the main road and flagging down a local pick up truck taxi to take you to the ferry pier – but that isn’t a fun way to start your holiday. And if you were planning to save money, you wouldn’t have flown in the first place.
Book the shared transfer between Trat Airport and any hotel on Koh Chang here.
Getting to Koh Chang by self-drive is easier than you might imagine. It’s a straightforward drive. Companies such as Hertz or Budget Car Hire will provide a GPS in English which makes life much easier. But the majority of road signs are in English and Thai, so driving is pretty simple in Thailand.
In brief . . . follow the Bangna-Trat road or motorway (Highway 7) out of Bangkok until you see Highway 344. Stay on the 344, looking out for police checkpoints as they like to stop drivers for no reason on this stretch of road. Join Highway 3 again near Klaeng and then, about 23km before Trat, turn left at the T-junction with 3156, signposted to Laem Ngop. 25 mins later you’ll be at the first of the ferry piers – ‘Ferry Koh Chang’, known as Ao Thammachat to most Thais.
This is the better of the two car ferry companies, with a shorter crossing time and sailings every 45 minutes from 0700 – 1900 daily. To reach the other ferry, Centerpoint, head about 5km east of Ferry Koh Chang. Crossing time is about 45 mins to an hour & ticket prices are just about the same. Centrepoint’s last ferry is at 1930.
See this Google Map for the best route from Bangkok to Koh Chang by car.
By Minibus or Bus
You may have thought that getting five gap year students with backpacks the size of ATM machines; 3 full figured Swedish chicks; a honeymooning English couple reliving their travelling days and now regretting it; a muscle bound middle aged German and a bewildered Chinese couple loaded down with camera gear plus two Thai blokes, who appear to be mates of the driver, into the back of an 1995 model Toyota Hiace minivan was a physical impossibility. It isn’t, as you’ll discover if you make the trip from Khao San Road to Koh Chang using this form of authentic Thai transport. Figure on 600 – 750 Baht for the clapped out minibus experience.
Getting to Koh Chang by full size bus from Ekkamai bus terminal in Bangkok might not be as convenient, but it means you’ll still have some circulation in you legs when you eventually arrive at the ferry pier. The bus you want to take is the 999 run by the government ‘Transport Co. Ltd’. There are two departures at 07:45 and 09:45 which will drop you off at one of the ferry piers. These buses also make a stop at Suvaranbhumi Airport Transportation terminal around 08:20 and 10:20. The buses are modern and you’ll also get served a free snack onboard. They’ll stop once on the way for a 15 minute break. If you’re on the earlier bus you should reach Ao Thammachat pier around 13:30. The later bus drops people off at Centrepoint at around 15:30.
You can also use this bus to get to Krom Luang pier, Laem Ngop to take a speedboat to Koh Mak. But be sure to tell the staff when you buy your ticket that you want to be dropped off there and not in Laem Ngop village , about 1Km away.
In mid 2009, a new government minibus service between Victory Monument in Bangkok to Trat started running with minivans departing from both locations pretty much hourly from early morning, 04:30 through until late afternoon. But if you want to get to Koh Chang, be sure to be on a minibus by 13:00. The ticket price 300 Baht/person.
The minibus will be heading to Trat, so passengers heading to Koh Chang will be dropped off at a village called Saen Tung, about 20Km before Trat. From here you’ll be put on a songtaew ( pick up truck taxi ) to the ferry pier. It’s around 25 minutes drive to the pier. Ticket price is around 130 Baht including ferry ticket – which is a good deal. The ferry ticket is 80 Baht one way.
There a very good map of the minibus stands ( in English) here.
Coming back from Koh Chang to Bangkok, minibuses depart from the mainland pier at Ao Thammachat every couple of hours. Buy tickets before you get on the ferry. You can’t miss the ticket office with huge sign. These minibus services also run to Pattaya and Rayong.
If you are flying into Suvaranbhumi Airport, a bus and minibus service from the terminal building to hotels on Koh Chang began running in 2010. When you land go to Entrance 8 on level 1 on the main terminal building. There you will find the Suvarnabhumi Burupa Bus counter. Buy tickets there. * Tickets cant be booked in advance * Ticket price is 600 Baht one way, including ferry ticket and 900 Baht return. You’ll be dropped off at your hotel, providing you are staying north of Lonely Beach. ( The minibuses terminate at Siam Beach Resort, Lonely Beach. )
There are services at 07:50, 09:30, 11:00, 14:00. A big bus is usually used for the 07:50 service, minibuses are used for the other services.
Nowadays more people are now flying into Bangkok’s second airport, Don Meuang which is used by budget carriers, however there aren’t any direct transport links to Koh Chang or Trat from that airport. You’ll need to take a shuttle bus from the Arrivials level to either Morchit Bus Station or Victory Monumnet. From Morchit you can take a bus or minibus to Trat. Another alternative is to take one of the regualar shuttle buses to Suvarnabhumi Airport and then take the minibus to your hotel on Koh Chang.
FAQ : Why is getting from Bangkok Airport to a hotel on Koh Chang by minibus the same price as getting from Trat Airport to a hotel on Koh Chang by minibus?
. . . . It’s called a ‘monopoly’.
There are also minibus services making the trip from Pattaya to Koh Chang. Buy tickets from any tour agent or your hotel in Pattaya for around 700 – 900 Baht depending on the company and if you want dropping off at the mainland pier or your hotel on Koh Chang. They tend to pick up from hotels in Pattaya early – around 7am. It is possible to do the trip by public bus. But it’s slow and a hassle as you have to change buses a couple of times on the way. So I’d recommend taking a minibus unless you want top spend the entire day travelling. *Tip for independent travellers:- Don’t feel left out – rent a Thai g/f (or b/f) before boarding the bus. If not you’ll be the only person on there not playing ‘touchy feely’ and with the neighbouring seat for the entire trip. To feel one of the crowd aim for a 30 year age difference, or whatever is still borderline legal, between you & the partner of your choice.
It is possible to flag down a taxi in central Bangkok or hop in a taxi at Bangkok Airport and go to one of the mainland ferry piers for Koh Chang. It’ll require some negotiations with the taxi driver and the cost will depend on both your haggling skills and how desperate the driver is to spend the next 10 -12 hours on a round trip. With a bit of luck you’ll be quoted around 3,500 Baht, if you look wealthy or desperate expect the price to be nearer 4,000 or more.
It’s worth bearing in mind that most Bangkok taxi drivers wont have ever driven to Trat before so you’ll have to have an idea of which direction you should be going in. The taxis also usually won’t go onto the island, they’ll drop you off at the pier and then head back to Bangkok. So you’ll still have to buy ferry tickets and then hop on a crowded songtaew to your resort. It’s probably best to leave getting to Koh Chang by public taxi to people who have travelled in Thailand before and know what to expect from a taxi driver.
Private Transfer by car or minibus
Maybe you want to see a bit of Thai countryside after a long flight. Maybe you don’t enjoy jumping on and off public transport with suitcases and children. Maybe the cost of flying a family or a group is prohibitive. Whatever the reason, more people are now booking private transfers between Bangkok and Koh Chang. The cost for a van that will comfortable accommodate up to 8 people and their luggage is from 5,100 – 5,600 Baht for a one way transfer, less for couples. Since 2005 I have partnered with both a reliable, well-known Koh Chang based tour agency and also a group of drivers with their own vehicles, in order to provide a private transfer service through this site. To date, well over 4,000 couples, families and groups have used the service and lived to tell the tale. It isn’t the cheapest service, you maybe able to save a couple of hundred Baht elsewhere, but if you wanted cheap then you would be on the bus. Instead I use drivers that I know provide a good, reliable service and won’t screw up advance bookings or fail to show up.
No deposit or advance payment is required for transfers. Prices have remained the same for the past 3 years. A couple of examples:
Private transfer for two people by Toyota Camry, Honda CRV or Toyota Altis. Hotel in Bangkok or Bangkok Airport to any hotel on Koh Chang. Price: 4,600 Baht – total. Including tax, driver, gasoline, expressway tolls and ferry tickets.
Private transfer for group or family, 4 or 5 passengers by Toyota Commuter minibus. Hotel in Bangkok or Bangkok Airport to any hotel on Koh Chang. Price: 5,100 Baht – total. Including tax, driver, gasoline, expressway tolls and ferry tickets.
Here are full details of the Koh Chang transfer service.
In the old days, pre-2007, there was a wooden boat service from Laem Ngop, a less than riveting mainland fishing village, where travellers caught an over-crowded passenger boat (a converted wooden trawler) to Koh Chang. These have stopped running. Everyone now uses the larger, safer, vehicle ferries.
There are two car ferry companies running regular services to Koh Chang from piers on the mainland. These are ‘Ferry Koh Chang’ and ‘Centrepoint Ferry’ that run from piers about 5Km apart on the mainland. Ticket prices are the same, 80 Baht for Adults & kids over 10/11 years old & 30 Baht for Kids aged 7-10. Under 7 is free.
Centrepoint sells return tickets for 140 Baht – however, Ferry Koh Chang is more convenient for most people and there are more buses & minibuses using this pier for trips back to Bangkok. So I wouldn’t bother buying a return ticket. Both run services from around 0630 – 1900. Although during High Season Centrepoint often runs later services over the weekends and Thai holidays. Several buses from Bangkok will stop at the piers and you can also catch a bus or minibus back to Bangkok from the mainland piers, rather than having to do a detour to Trat in order to get between Koh Chang & elsewhere.
More information plus videos and photos on KohChangFerries.com
Coming from Siem Reap? . . . Please see the Siem Reap to Koh Chang travel page
Travelling from Phnon Penh? . . . Then the Phnom Penh to Koh Chang page is probably worth reading