2017

Pattaya to Koh Chang Ferry Service . . . Coming Soon!

Passenger ferry from Pattaya to Koh Chang

According to a report in the Bangkok Post, Royal Passenger Liner Co. Ltd, which recently launched a Pattaya to Hua Hin service is also planning to launch a Sattahip to Koh Chang service in May 2017.  Sattahip is a naval base 45 minutes drive from Pattaya city centre. 

The operator of the Pattaya-Hua Hin ferry service will launch two additional services in May — Sattahip-Koh Chang, and Sattahip-Hua Hin, Marine Department director-general Sorasak Saensombat said.

The first additional route planned by operator Royal Passenger Liner is between Chuk Samet pier in Sattahip district of Chon Buri and Bang Bao pier on Koh Chang island in Trat province. The service will connect two seaports on the eastern coast.

Mr Sorasak said the company is in the process of acquiring two new vessels, each with capacity for 350 passengers, and obtaining permission to use the seaports, and setting fares.

The aim of the new service is to provide an alternative means of getting to Koh Chang for tourists staying in Pattaya and Jomtien.   However, passengers will still have to get from their hotel to the pier.  As soon as this was announced there were a lot of comments on how having a boat load of stereotypical Pattaya tourists landing in Bangbao everyday would be detrimental to the island.

But will that be the case?  I’m betting it won’t be.  

There are various reasons for this.

Firstly, the initial route from Pattaya to Hua Hin was aimed at tourists who wanted to save time and take the shortest route between the two sides of the gulf.  Going direct by high speed ferry takes around 2 hours.  And that saves around 3 hours over driving.  However a couple of factors have led to the service not being too popular.  

One issue is that the ferry can’t cope with waves.  It wasn’t designed for use on open seas. Just for the river and delta near Shenzhen. The service was delayed due to moderately rough seas in January and other services were cancelled.  There weren’t any storms, just normal sea conditions for the time of year. And yet the boat couldn’t leave port. 

Another was that the one way ticket price was set at 1,250 Baht.  Far more than making the trip by bus or minibus.  ( You can buy tickets for a direct, air-conditioned bus for 390 Baht )  So the aim obviously wasn’t to attract the ‘cheap charlie’ crowd.  

Sorasak said the Pattaya-Hua Hin service carried a total of 10,689 passengers in February and March

The ferry, which was previously used for almost 20 years by a Chinese ferry company, can seat 350 passengers.  It does a return trip daily.  This works out at around 90 passengers per trip.  So it’s operating at around 25% capacity during High Season.

So what do we know about the Sattahip to Koh Chang ferry service?  Not a lot.  The company has already bought or agreed to buy two additional ferries of the same type as already in service.  So it’s safe to assume that they wont be able to cope with waves either.  And that the cruising time from Sattahip to Bangbao pier will be around 3 and a half to four hours.  As it’s around 60% further from Sattahip to Koh Chang than Pattaya to Hua Hin, the ticket prices will have to reflect that. Around 1,750 Baht one way doesn’t seem unreasonable. 

But that’s not cheap.  And, when the time to get from a hotel in Pattaya to the pier in Sattahip plus from Bangbao pier to a hotel on one of the west coast beaches on Koh Chang, is factored in, then the savings in time by going by boat won’t be more than an hour or two. 

On the plus side, it will be an experience.  And on a calm day I’m sure it would be a great way to travel here.  I’m definitely going to try it out.  But I can’t see the mass appeal.  So, I doubt the good people of Koh Chang have anything to fear from this new service. It won’t result in an increase in visitors from Pattaya.  But will provide a small number with an alternative means of getting here in good weather. 

Reason for optimism?

Yes.  One possibility that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere is that this service ties in nicely with the planned development of Utapao Airport.  

Utapao is a military airbase that is now being used by an increasing number of airlines.  It’s also in Sattahip. So this ferry service will allow people flying into Utapao Airport, to transit quickly to a ferry to Koh Chang.  That is the best and most obvious customer base for this service that I can see.  It ties in perfectly with the government’s plan to develop Utapao Airport and increase the number of flights and airlines using it and their initiative to connect the east and west of the Gulf of Thailand by passenger ferries then the services should run for a while. 

I’ll update this page when more details are known.

1 May – The two additional ferries, ‘Royal 2’ and ‘Royal 3’,  that will be used for the new routes have now arrived in Pattaya.  These are the same type as already in service. 

Two passenger ferries from Royal  Passenger Liner Co, Pattaya

2 Comments

  • Nobody is going to pay 5-7 times the cost of a bus/van to save 1-2 hours except a very small minority who value their time very highly, and that won’t be anywhere near enough people to make this profitable. And if you are staying White Sands Beach or Klong Prao or anywhere on the east coast you then have the best part of an hour and another 200-400 baht to get from Bang Bao back up to your resort, cancelling out any time saved.

    How many people go from Pattaya to Koh Chang every day now? 200-300? Fewer in low season? And how many of those take their own vehicle to the island? About a quarter maybe? So there goes 25% of your business because this ferry can’t take vehicles. How many of the remaining people are going to opt for this service over the bus/van, assuming they even know it exists? 10%?

    They’ll be lucky to get 25 passengers a trip. Stupid business idea.

  • I absolutely agreed with Paul, but my question is: Do you know these scrapped HSV of all 26 years old ,sold out with classed with drawn, and for recycling or scrapped only , and now this Thai Company ,by authorization of the Thai Harbour Master allowed these HSV to run, now between Patthaya-Hua Hin just only 2 hours /leg ,engines not too hot but on the 4 hours running(Patthaya-Koh Chang) the temperatures will increase and risk for the spark of old wiring that never changed for 26 years. I am worrying , if any accident happen by these kind of crazy practice….. who will take responsibility ? You can check with Chu Kong in Hong Kong who sold all of these HSV, and in Equasis, also ex-name of ROYAL1 is Wu Yi Hu,and Royal 2 Ex Qi Jiang……Be careful and share it if you have checked definitely. Thanks

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