…to fly. It’s not too expensive, either. My thanks to Honey who translated the Thai Transport Authority web page and helped me work out the bus times (which weren’t suitable).
If you’re not in a rush, you can get to Ko Tao two ways: bus or train then boat. Thing is, they’re both six-hour journeys and both will get you to Chumphon around 9pm. This is too late to get a ferry onto the island. Also, the train can be very busy so if you can’t book far enough in advance you may find yourself stranded in Bangkok waiting for a seat. Also, the new Southern bus terminal is way out on the wrong side of the river.
If I’d used eitherof these methods I wouldn’t have been diving until the 3rd.
So I’ve opted for a flight. Bangkok Airways do around 12 flights a day between Bangkok and Samui. It’s only an hour’s flight and with me arriving at 7:15 from the UK, I’ve opted to catch the 9:40 flight down. A slight gamble, but I have an hour’s leeway in case of delay.
This gets me to Ko Samui, not Ko Tao, but I’ll arrive at 10:45. This should allow me plenty of time to get down the road to the port and catch one of the ferries up to Ko Tao. Or I could stay on Samui. Or settle on Ko Pha-Ngan. They’re all pretty nice, but wherever I settle I can organise diving for the next day – something it doesn’t look like I could do if I travelled by land.
Another hint – book Bangkok Airways flights directly via their website. Through Expedia or Opodo (who often I do recommend), I found the price increased substantially. Skyscanner, however, got it pretty close once it had updated and located the “live” price. It only failed to add the tax.
I’d also recommend booking as far in advance as you can. Their prices do seem to vary depending on demand.
As I said earlier, though, land transport is perfectly viable. Were I not on a tight schedule I’d definitely have gone that route, but by flying I get an extra day diving which was the whole point of getting a flight from the UK arriving so early in the morning in the first place.