Getting to and from Koh Chang from Bangkok does take some time, but have no fear: the steps are quite minimal and as long as you can take your time (3/4 of your day), you’ll have a smooth ride and be on your way to one of the best island beaches I’ve been on.
What we did: transportation for the budget traveler
You can take a flight to Koh Chang. If you don’t have much time to waste, but you can afford to spend some extra cash this is certainly a viable option. We did not have that money to spend. So! We decided to bus it the 6 hours to Koh Chang.
In early December, we took the BTS (skytrain) from Victory Monument around 6:20 am to the Ekkami BTS stop for around 40 baht each (approx $1 USD). We read up online that December is the start of tourist season for Thailand so we wanted to be on the safe side in catching our 7:30 am bus as we had not yet bought our tickets. We arrived at the stop, walked out exit 2 and down the stairs, then made a quick hair pin/u-turn on the sidewalk, walked straight back passed a 7-11 on the left hand side and crossed a small side street to the bus terminal.
At the terminal, the first booth on your left-hand side is for the government 99 bus. We bought a one way ticket here around 7am for 275 baht each, which is less than $10 USD at the time this post was written. This buys you a reclining seat on an air conditioned bus and also gets you a water and very tiny snack on the bus ride. There is a bathroom on the bus although I’m told it is small! Waiting for the bus: sit in the chairs out front, as someone will probably notify you to get on the bus if they can see you sitting there. If unsure, just ask someone and show them your ticket or watch what most other people are doing. Our bus was white and blue, and waited out front. It left about 15 minutes late, although it was early leaving on the way back. I would suggest being early to be safe. At this point, we’ve spent around $10 per person and we are well on our way to Koh Chang.
With this bus, there were 1-2 bathroom breaks at a rest stop while the bus was refueling. It stopped a few times to pick passengers up, but these stops were never long. It arrived at the Centerpoint Ferry at 2 PM. We were ushered out of the bus and to the ferry ticket booth (which was just a woman sitting at a fold out table with tickets). We bought a one way ticket here around 80 baht, not knowing which ferry we would return on (there are multiple). There is a free shuttle truck that drives you about 200m down the road to the ferry. Board the ferry (we waited about an hour on board before leaving) and you’re off to Koh Chang!
Once on the other side, everyone is rushing to get into the songthaews, which are white pick up truck taxis. Have your hotel’s name, address, and phone number written down on a piece of paper just in case when talking to a driver. Tell them which hotel you are going to and on which beach. There are set prices depending on how far down the island you go. We were going to Khlong Prao Beach which was only 60 baht per person. You load your luggage on the roof and then hop in the back, ride to your hotel and get dropped off where you can walk into the paradise that is Koh Chang.
In total, we spent around 455 baht per person to get from Bangkok to Koh Chang, which is around $14 USD. Not bad for a half day’s worth on public transportation! Not bad at all.
The Return Trip: Koh Chang to Bangkok
Funny enough, I have found plenty online about getting to Koh Chang, but not much about the return trip. It is as easy as doing everything in reverse, you just have to be a little more specific in telling the locals where you want to go and what bus to take. Let me explain…
At our hotel in Khlong Prao Beach, we told our hotel that we wanted to catch the 12:30 PM Centerpoint Ferry back to the mainland to catch the 2PM bus that arrives from Bangkok and immediately leaves again. They called a songthaew for us (same price) and we left our hotel at 11:15 am. We arrived at a ferry port that did not look like Centerpoint. Everyone got off the songthaew. I politely asked the driver if this was Centerpoint Ferry. He told me no. I asked him if would mind driving us to Centerpoint about 5km away (he told us) and he pleasantly agreed to for the same price. We were off with only 1 other person left in the truck with us.
Getting to the ferry an hour before it left, we wandered around a little, then boarded, and it did leave promptly at 12:30 PM. We arrived on the mainland 40 minutes later. On the mainland, some drivers wanted us to get into their songthaews, but I thought perhaps they wanted to take us to Trat so I declined because I did not want to pay for a ride when I could just catch the 99 bus right near the ferry. We walked back along the path to the same little town we had been dropped off at upon our original arrival. Take note, there is the same free shuttle car ride back, but be sure to get on the truck that says free ferry shuttle.
There, we asked where to buy the government 99 bus ticket, bought it at the same table we bought the ferry tickets at previously, and waited for the bus to leave. The driver let us know, we boarded, and left about 10 minutes before 2PM. Again, it helps to be early everywhere for public transportation… just in case!
We had the same bus to go back to Bangkok that made two rest stops instead of one this time. It also stopped at the airport. In the end, we were dropped back off at Ekkami bus station around 8PM and took the BTS back to our hotel. It all worked out smoothly and on the cheap!
Top 5 what to bring for the bus ride
1. Water: you’ll want water for a six hour ride in AC. Stay hydrated, friends! I’m usually bad at this and end up getting headaches… Lame.
2. Sweater and pants: again… AC. For six hours.
3. Sleep mask: reclining seat, no free WiFi, no movie, and no space for bananagrams? Unless you have cards, you may want to nap. We did.
4. Pepto or something to aid with motion sickness. Hear me out: I really don’t get car sick, but these buses drive fast and on bumpy roads where there’s not much to see beyond close up landscape zooming past. I was happy to have an ache reliever.
5. Toilet paper: yep, rest stops are the squatting kind and they usually didn’t have toilet paper so come prepared.
***I would also suggest bringing cash and snacks, but you can buy snack food at the rest stops.***
How did you get to Koh Chang? Do you have any tips to add? Please leave ’em below!