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How To Go From Koh Tao To Phuket


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Reggie Alger



Welcome to the mesmerizing tropical paradise of Thailand, where pristine white-sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, and vibrant local culture await you. If you’re planning a visit to this beautiful country, you may find yourself wanting to explore different destinations, such as the idyllic island of Koh Tao and the bustling city of Phuket.


Koh Tao, meaning “Turtle Island” in Thai, is a small island located in the Gulf of Thailand. Known for its stunning coral reefs and abundant marine life, it is a haven for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts. The laid-back atmosphere and breathtaking sunsets make Koh Tao a popular destination for travelers seeking tranquility and natural beauty.


On the other hand, Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and a well-known tourist hotspot. This diverse destination offers a perfect blend of stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, cultural heritage, and exhilarating water sports. With its array of luxury resorts, bustling markets, and world-class dining options, Phuket attracts millions of visitors every year.


Whether you’re staying in Koh Tao and want to venture to Phuket, or the other way around, knowing the best transportation options can help streamline your journey and make the most of your time in both destinations.


In this article, we will explore different ways to travel from Koh Tao to Phuket and provide you with essential information to make an informed decision for your journey.


Overview of Koh Tao

Nestled in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Tao is a small island that offers a slice of paradise for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. With its stunning landscapes, vibrant marine life, and laid-back atmosphere, Koh Tao has become a must-visit destination for travelers seeking tranquility and natural beauty.


One of the main attractions of Koh Tao is its vibrant underwater world. The island is renowned for its crystal clear waters and vibrant coral reefs, making it an ideal destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a beginner, there are plenty of dive centers and schools that offer courses and guided underwater excursions to cater to every skill level.


Aside from diving, Koh Tao offers a range of other outdoor activities. You can explore the island’s lush jungles and hike to scenic viewpoints, such as the John-Suwan viewpoint, which offers panoramic vistas of the island and its stunning coastlines. You can also indulge in paddleboarding, kayaking, or simply relax on the pristine beaches and soak up the tropical sun.


Despite its natural beauty, Koh Tao also has a thriving social scene. The main areas of the island, such as Sairee Beach and Mae Haad, are dotted with trendy beach bars, restaurants, and shops. At night, the island comes alive with beach parties and live music, offering a lively and festive atmosphere for visitors to enjoy.


Koh Tao is also known for its warm and friendly locals who will make you feel welcome. The island has a diverse range of accommodations to suit every budget, from luxury resorts to cozy guesthouses. You can indulge in delicious Thai cuisine at local restaurants or savor international dishes at the island’s many eateries.


With its breathtaking natural beauty, vibrant underwater world, and lively social scene, Koh Tao truly offers something for every traveler. Plan a visit to this tropical paradise and immerse yourself in its charms.


Overview of Phuket

Phuket, often referred to as the “Pearl of the Andaman,” is Thailand’s largest island and a popular tourist destination. Located in the Andaman Sea, Phuket is renowned for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and rich cultural heritage.


Phuket offers an array of beautiful beaches, each with its own unique charm. Patong Beach is the most well-known and vibrant, attracting partygoers with its lively bars, clubs, and entertainment options. Karon and Kata Beaches are ideal for families and those seeking a more relaxed atmosphere, while Surin and Kamala Beaches offer a touch of luxury with their upscale resorts and tranquil surroundings.


Aside from its pristine beaches, Phuket is home to a rich cultural heritage. The Old Town of Phuket, with its well-preserved Sino-Portuguese architecture, is a testament to the island’s history. Strolling along the streets, you’ll come across colorful buildings, charming cafes, and boutique shops. The town’s night market is a must-visit, offering a wide variety of local street food and handicrafts.


For adventure seekers, Phuket offers a multitude of activities, both on land and in the water. You can embark on an exhilarating elephant trek through the lush jungle, go zip-lining across the treetops, or take a thrilling ATV ride to explore the island’s rugged terrains. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy snorkeling, diving, jet skiing, and even try their hand at surfing or paddleboarding.


Phuket also boasts a vibrant nightlife scene, with a plethora of bars, nightclubs, and beach clubs. Patong’s Bangla Road is the epicenter of the party scene, with its neon lights and pulsating music. However, there are also more laid-back nightlife options, including beachfront bars where you can enjoy a cocktail while watching the sunset.


The island offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury resorts and boutique hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses and backpacker hostels. With an abundance of dining choices, you can savor traditional Thai cuisine, indulge in international dishes, or even enjoy a romantic dinner on a sunset cruise.


Phuket’s combination of stunning beaches, vibrant culture, adrenaline-pumping activities, and lively nightlife make it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a diverse and unforgettable experience in Thailand.


Transportation options from Koh Tao to Phuket

When it comes to traveling from Koh Tao to Phuket, there are several transportation options available to suit your preferences and budget. Whether you’re looking for convenience, speed, or a combination of both, these options will ensure a smooth and efficient journey.


1. Option 1: Ferry and bus combination: This is a popular choice for travelers as it offers a good balance between affordability and convenience. You can take a ferry from Koh Tao to the mainland, specifically to Don Sak Pier, and then transfer to a bus that will take you to Phuket. The ferry ride takes approximately 2-3 hours, and the bus journey to Phuket takes around 6-7 hours, depending on the traffic and road conditions.


2. Option 2: Ferry and flight combination: If you prefer a quicker journey, you can opt for a ferry ride from Koh Tao to the mainland and then take a flight from Surat Thani Airport to Phuket. This option will save you a significant amount of travel time, as the flight duration is around 1 hour. However, it is important to note that you will need to arrange transportation from the airport to your final destination in Phuket.


3. Option 3: Private transfer: For those seeking a more luxurious and personalized experience, private transfers are available. You can arrange for a private car or van to pick you up from your accommodation in Koh Tao and drive you directly to your destination in Phuket. This option offers convenience, comfort, and the flexibility to customize your journey according to your preferences.


4. Option 4: Rental car: If you enjoy the freedom of exploring at your own pace, renting a car is a viable option. You can take a ferry from Koh Tao to the mainland and then drive to Phuket. Rental car services are available at various locations, including the ferry terminal and the mainland. However, it is recommended to familiarize yourself with the local driving laws and conditions before embarking on this option.


It is crucial to consider factors such as cost, travel time, and personal preferences when selecting the transportation option that best suits your needs. Additionally, it is advisable to check the schedules, availability, and any necessary bookings in advance to ensure a hassle-free journey from Koh Tao to Phuket.


Option 1: Ferry and bus combination

One of the popular transportation options for traveling from Koh Tao to Phuket is the ferry and bus combination. This option offers a balance between affordability and convenience, allowing you to enjoy a scenic ferry ride and a comfortable bus journey to your destination.


The first step is to take a ferry from Koh Tao to the mainland, specifically to Don Sak Pier. The ferry ride takes approximately 2-3 hours, depending on the weather conditions and the chosen ferry company. The ferry terminals in Koh Tao are easily accessible, and there are multiple departure times throughout the day, making it convenient to plan your journey.


Upon arrival at Don Sak Pier, you will transition to a bus that will take you to Phuket. The journey by bus usually takes around 6-7 hours, depending on the traffic and road conditions. Rest assured, the buses are comfortable with air conditioning and ample legroom, ensuring a pleasant travel experience.


The ferry and bus combination is a popular choice for several reasons. Firstly, it provides an opportunity to enjoy the picturesque views of the Gulf of Thailand during the ferry ride. You can relax on the deck, feel the fresh sea breeze, and marvel at the turquoise waters and surrounding islands.


In addition, this option offers an affordable mode of transportation, especially for budget-conscious travelers. The cost of the ferry and bus tickets is relatively reasonable, making it an economical choice compared to other transport options.


Furthermore, the ferry and bus combination allows you to have a seamless journey without the need for multiple transfers. Once you board the ferry in Koh Tao, you can sit back and enjoy the ride until you reach Don Sak Pier. From there, you simply transfer to the waiting bus that will take you directly to Phuket.


It is important to note that ferry and bus schedules may vary, so it’s recommended to check the available timings and make any necessary bookings in advance. This will ensure a smoother travel experience and minimize any potential delays or inconvenience.


Overall, the ferry and bus combination is a convenient and cost-effective option for traveling from Koh Tao to Phuket. It allows you to experience both land and sea transportation, providing a diverse and enjoyable journey as you make your way to the enchanting island of Phuket.


Option 2: Ferry and flight combination

If you’re looking for a faster and more convenient way to travel from Koh Tao to Phuket, the ferry and flight combination is an excellent option. This choice allows you to enjoy a scenic ferry ride and then swiftly hop on a flight to reach your destination in Phuket.


The first step is to take a ferry from Koh Tao to the mainland. The ferry ride typically takes around 2-3 hours, depending on the weather conditions and the specific ferry operator. Several ferry companies operate between Koh Tao and the mainland, offering multiple departure times throughout the day, ensuring flexibility for your travel plans.


Once you arrive at the mainland, you will then need to travel to Surat Thani Airport, which is the nearest airport to catch a flight to Phuket. You can arrange a transfer either with the ferry company or by booking a private taxi. The transfer from the ferry terminal to the airport usually takes around 1-2 hours depending on the traffic conditions.


From Surat Thani Airport, you can catch a domestic flight to Phuket. The flight duration is approximately 1 hour, providing a time-efficient way to reach your final destination. Several airlines operate regular flights between Surat Thani and Phuket, giving you flexibility in choosing a suitable flight time.


The ferry and flight combination offers several advantages. Firstly, it significantly reduces travel time compared to other transportation options. By taking a flight, you can skip the long bus journeys and arrive in Phuket in just a fraction of the time, allowing you to maximize your time on the island.


Secondly, this option provides a seamless journey with minimal transfers. After the ferry ride, you will be taken directly to Surat Thani Airport, avoiding the hassle of arranging additional transportation or dealing with multiple transfers. This convenience allows for a smoother travel experience overall.


Lastly, opting for a flight offers stunning aerial views of the Andaman Sea and the surrounding islands during your journey to Phuket. You can capture breathtaking photos as you soar through the sky, adding to the excitement and beauty of the trip.


It’s important to plan and book your ferry and flight tickets in advance to ensure availability, especially during peak travel seasons. Additionally, it’s advisable to take note of the ferry and flight schedules and plan your itinerary accordingly to avoid any unnecessary delays.


Overall, the ferry and flight combination is a fantastic option for travelers seeking a quick and hassle-free journey from Koh Tao to Phuket. It allows you to experience both land and air transportation, ensuring a memorable and efficient travel experience.


Option 3: Private transfer

If you prefer a more luxurious and personalized travel experience from Koh Tao to Phuket, opting for a private transfer is an excellent choice. This option allows you to enjoy the convenience, comfort, and flexibility of having your own private vehicle and driver to take you directly to your destination in Phuket.


With a private transfer, you can arrange for a car or van to pick you up from your accommodation in Koh Tao. The vehicle will be exclusively for you and your travel companions, ensuring privacy and comfort throughout the journey. The driver will handle all aspects of the travel logistics, including navigating the ferry and coordinating with any necessary transfer points.


After an enjoyable ferry ride from Koh Tao to the mainland, the private driver will be waiting for you at the pier to continue the journey to Phuket. This eliminates the need for any additional transfers or public transportation, providing a seamless and stress-free travel experience.


Opting for a private transfer offers several benefits. Firstly, it provides flexibility in terms of departure time. You can schedule your departure at your convenience to match your preferred travel itinerary, without being restricted by ferry or bus schedules.


Furthermore, a private transfer allows you to travel in comfort and style. The vehicles used for private transfers are typically well-maintained, air-conditioned, and spacious, ensuring a pleasant and relaxing journey. You can sit back, enjoy the scenic views, and even make stops along the way if you wish to explore any attractions or take a break.


This option also offers the advantage of personalized service. The driver is often a local expert, knowledgeable about the area and able to provide insights or recommendations along the way. They can also assist with any language barriers or questions you may have, enhancing your overall travel experience.


It’s important to note that private transfers may come at a higher cost compared to other transportation options. However, the convenience, comfort, and exclusivity they offer make them a preferred choice for travelers seeking a seamless and hassle-free journey.


When arranging a private transfer, it’s recommended to book in advance and communicate your specific travel requirements, such as the number of passengers and luggage, to ensure a suitable vehicle is provided. It’s also advisable to inquire about any additional services or amenities offered, such as Wi-Fi or refreshments, to further enhance your travel experience.


Overall, a private transfer provides a luxurious and personalized option for traveling from Koh Tao to Phuket. It offers convenience, comfort, and flexibility, ensuring a pleasant and hassle-free journey to your destination in Phuket.


Option 4: Rental car

For travelers seeking flexibility and the freedom to explore at their own pace, renting a car is a great option when traveling from Koh Tao to Phuket. Renting a car allows you to have full control over your journey, enabling you to make stops along the way and experience the sights and attractions at your leisure.


The first step is to take a ferry from Koh Tao to the mainland. Once you arrive at the ferry terminal, you can proceed to a designated rental car service counter. There are several car rental companies available, offering a range of vehicle options to suit your needs and preferences.


Having a rental car gives you the freedom to customize your route and make detours if desired. You can explore hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path attractions along the way, taking advantage of the scenic landscapes and local villages that you might encounter during your journey.


One of the main advantages of renting a car is the flexibility it offers in terms of timing. You can set your own departure time from Koh Tao and plan your breaks and rest stops according to your preferences. This allows you to have a more relaxed and enjoyable travel experience, without being restricted by the schedules of public transportation.


However, it is important to familiarize yourself with the local traffic laws, road conditions, and driving habits before embarking on a rental car journey. In Thailand, driving is on the left side of the road, and you may encounter different traffic patterns and local driving customs that may differ from your home country.


Moreover, it’s recommended to plan for the potential toll fees along the way, as some highways and bridges in Thailand require a toll payment. Having some local currency on hand will facilitate the process and ensure a smooth journey without any unexpected delays.


Before choosing a rental car, it is advisable to research and compare prices, read reviews from previous customers, and consider factors such as insurance coverage and fuel policy. Taking these factors into account will ensure that you select a reliable and trustworthy rental car provider that meets your needs.


Finally, it’s important to note that upon reaching Phuket, you will need to return the rental car to the designated drop-off point. Many rental car companies have outlets near the airport or in the main tourist areas, making it convenient to return the vehicle.


Overall, renting a car provides the independence and flexibility to create your own itinerary and explore Koh Tao and Phuket at your own pace. With proper planning and preparation, a rental car can be an excellent option for those seeking a personalized and adventurous journey.


Tips for traveling from Koh Tao to Phuket

When traveling from Koh Tao to Phuket, it’s always helpful to keep a few tips in mind to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. Here are some tips to consider when planning your trip:


1. Plan and book in advance: It’s advisable to plan your journey in advance and make any necessary bookings for ferry tickets, flights, private transfers, or rental cars. This will help you secure your preferred mode of transportation and avoid any last-minute availability issues.


2. Check the schedules: Ferry and flight schedules may vary depending on the time of the year, so it’s important to check the timings and plan your travel accordingly. Allow enough time for transfers, especially when catching a flight, to avoid any potential delays or missed connections.


3. Be aware of the weather conditions: Keep an eye on the weather forecast, as it can affect ferry schedules and sea conditions. The Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea have different monsoon seasons, so make sure to check the weather patterns for both destinations before traveling.


4. Pack essentials: Remember to pack essentials such as sunscreen, insect repellent, and swimwear. Both Koh Tao and Phuket offer beautiful beaches and outdoor activities, so it’s always smart to come prepared for the sun, water, and outdoor adventures.


5. Stay hydrated: Thailand’s tropical climate can be hot and humid, so it’s essential to stay hydrated throughout your journey. Carry a water bottle and drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated and energized during the trip.


6. Bring local currency: It’s recommended to have some Thai baht currency with you for any toll fees, snacks, or small expenses along the way. ATMs are widely available in both Koh Tao and Phuket, but having some cash on hand can be convenient, especially for more remote areas.


7. Embrace local culture: Thailand has a rich cultural heritage, so take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions. Respect the local customs, dress modestly when visiting temples, and try out the delicious Thai cuisine that both Koh Tao and Phuket have to offer.


8. Allow time for exploration: While traveling from Koh Tao to Phuket, take advantage of the journey to explore the surrounding areas. Whether it’s a quick stop at a viewpoint, a visit to a local market, or a detour to a hidden beach, allow yourself time to discover the beauty and charm of the destinations along the way.


9. Stay updated with travel advisories: It’s always good practice to stay updated with travel advisories and check for any travel restrictions or safety information before your trip. This will help ensure that you have the most current information and can make informed decisions regarding your travel plans.


By keeping these tips in mind, you can make the most of your journey from Koh Tao to Phuket and create unforgettable memories in these beautiful destinations in Thailand.



Traveling from Koh Tao to Phuket offers an exciting opportunity to explore two stunning destinations in Thailand. Whether you choose the ferry and bus combination, the ferry and flight combination, private transfer, or rental car option, each offers its own unique advantages based on your preferences and travel style.


Koh Tao, with its pristine beaches and vibrant underwater world, provides a haven for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. Phuket, on the other hand, offers a blend of stunning beaches, lively nightlife, and rich cultural heritage.


When planning your journey, ensure that you consider factors such as cost, travel time, and flexibility. Making advance bookings, checking schedules, and staying updated with travel advisories will help you have a smooth and enjoyable experience.


No matter which transportation option you choose, be prepared to embrace the beauty of Thailand’s landscapes, indulge in delicious cuisine, and immerse yourself in the warm hospitality of the locals.


From the turquoise waters of Koh Tao to the vibrant streets of Phuket, this journey offers an adventure filled with natural beauty, cultural exploration, and unforgettable memories.


So, pack your bags and get ready to embark on a journey from Koh Tao to Phuket, immersing yourself in the charms of Thailand along the way.