Most resorts run taxis to Thongsala every morning to catch the boats leaving the island. The price in a normal shared taxi is 200 Thai Baht. To rent a taxi the cost is usually about 2,000 to 2,500 Thai Baht.
When you arrive in Koh Phangan you should have no problem finding a space on a shared taxi to get you to Haad Salad. If the taxi has less than 4 people they will ask for more money or ask you to wait for the next boat so that the driver can get some more paying customers. We advise paying more money as you might be in for a long wait otherwise.
Taxi drivers don't drop their prices very much on the island. Throughout Thailand taxis are organized by 'mafias' who set the prices and make the rules. Nobody is keen to break the monopoly on prices.
Until the airport is built everyone arrives on Koh Phangan by boat. There are two main ferry ports - Thongsala and Haad Rin. The speed boat service (if it is running) goes from Ban Tai. Also a few private speed boat hires use Ban Tai pier.
Koh Phangan is connected to Koh Tao and Koh Samui by ferry as well as Donsak, Chumphon and Suratthani on the mainland. The fastest ferry service is provided by the Lomprayah catamartan service. Those wishing to bring a car to Koh Phangan can use the Raja Car Ferry that makes regular trips between Thongsala and Donsak on the mainland. Other ferry services from Thongsala are Seatran and Songserm.
From Haad Rin pier there is a small boat, the Haad Rin Queen, that plies the route between Haad Rin and Maenam in Koh Samui. This service gets very busy around the time of the Full Moon Party.
Finally, there is the Thong Nai Pan Express that travels along the east coast of the island stopping at Than Sadet, Haad Thian and Haad Yao before heading over to Maenam in Koh Samui. The small boat only makes the journey once a day and doesn't run between October and February. See the links on the left for information about timetables.
Koh Samui Airport
Koh Samui airport in the north of the island is close to Bang Rak, Maenam and Big Buddha piers where you can catch a boat to Koh Phangan. The flghts between Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) and Koh Samui are monopolised by Bangkok Airways. One way flights cost between 3,000 and 4,000 Thai Baht. If you are prepared to fly early in the monring or late in the afternoon you can pick up promotional fares. If you get a late flight thge chances are that you will have to spend one night in Koh Samui as the ferries to Koh Phangan finish around 5pm.
There is a travel desk at Koh Samui airport where you can organise boat tickets and taxis to get you to Koh Phangan. It is possible to buy combined taxi and boat tickets that take the stress out of having to negotiate with Samui taxi drivers.
Fly and Ferry
A cheaper option than Thai Airways are the low cost carriers that fly between Bangkok and airports on the mainland. Air Asia uses Suratthani Airport, Nok Air uses Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport and Solar Air flies from Chumphon. These three companies offer combined flight and ferry tickets to take people to Koh Phangan. Because of the extra distance fly and ferry services take 2 or 3 hours longer than using Bangkok Airways but cost about 1,000 Thai Baht less per journey.
You can buy fly and ferry tickets at Thongsala pier, at travel agents in Koh Phangan and Bangkok and also online.
Because the boats stop at 6pm from Donsak and Surat Thani it is sometimes unavoidable that you stay in Surat Thani for the night. Surat Thani Airport Hotels (www.suratthaniairporthotels.com) provides help with getting a room either in town or near the airport.
The cheapest way to get from Bangkok to Koh Phangan is to get a combined boat and ferry ticket. The quickest provider is Lomprayah. Buses leave from Khao San road late afternoon, travel overnight and get to Chumphon pier early in the morning. The reverse journey goes from Thongsala at midday.
There are several companies offering cheaper combined bus / boat tickets between Bangkok and Koh Phangan. You can get a ticket for as little as 700 Thai Baht. These companies normally use the Songserm ferry service. Don't leave your valuables in your main luggage as one common scam is for someone to go through the luggage in the hold during the night. If a bus makes an unexpected stop during the night there is a good chance the stolen items are being smuggled off the bus while the driver pretends to fix a problem with the bus.
The other bus option is the Government 999 bus. This is the only bus that goes on the Raja Car Ferry. It means you don't have to unload your possessions. There is no other advantage in terms of time and money to taking the government bus.
The North - South train line starts in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand and goes the entire length of the country to the Malaysian border at Butterworth. The stop for Koh Phangan is Suratthani.
Most people get an overnight sleeper between Suratthani and Bangkok. The second class sleepers are good value for money, and you get a better night's sleep than on the bus.
There are plenty of travel agents who will organize joint boat and train tickets to take you all the way between Bangkok and Thongsala. Tickets in Koh Phangan go up during the Full Moon for no other reason than the avarice of travel agents. You can buy some train tickets online - use the ticket search box in the left column on this page. For more about the possibilities of train travel in Thailand check out www.thailandtrains.com
Full Moon Taxis
For many people they want to chill out in Haad Salad but they also want to go to the Full Moon Party. Most resorts put on taxis until 11pm to take people to the FMP. They cost about 300 Thai Baht a person.
You will be very lucky to find a taxi driver who will wait for you to finish your festivities and take you back to your bungalow. Instead you will have to run the gauntlet of the Haad Rin taxis. They won't leave until full, they drive fast, and they don't find negotiating very interesting. All part of the full moon experience. Expect to pay nearly double for your return journey.
Motorbike and Car Hire
If you want to rent a car or motorbike in Koh Phangan you cannot do it in advance over the net. A number of resorts and travel agents have bikes for hire. They are mostly automatic Mios or Honda Clicks. There are also a few more powerful bikes to hire that have gears. A simple scooter costs about 250 Thai baht a day and a more powerful bike between 300 and 350 Thai Baht.
Some of the resorts advertise car hire. They usually telephone round for the customer to organize car hire and naturally take their cut. It is slightly cheaper to find the car vendors in Thongsala and rent directly from them. Older jeeps cost about 1,500 Thai Baht a day. 4 Wheel Drives, typically Japanese pick ups, cost between 2,000 and 2,500 Thai Baht a day.
To hire either a motorbike or car you have to leave your passport as insurance. If the vehicle is undamaged the passport is returned. If they detect some type of fault you have to negotiate the price for repairs before your passport is returned. This is a big bone of contetion for tourists. Naturally, certain vendors are worse than others in this regard. Check any vehicle you rent carefully for any scratches, dents, faults etc. before agreeing to take the vehicle.
When renting cars it is important to bring plenty of cash as you need to pay in advance.
Generally speaking riding bikes in Koh Phangan is pleasurable and relatively safe to go all over the island. The road to Thong Nai Pan will be completely paved by October 2013. The hill to Haad Rin is another point to watch out for because of the steep incline and the few drivers under the influence of drink and drugs.
The police fine people who ride bikes without a helmet. They also implement stop and search posts around the full moon time.
No driving license is required to rent a motorbike. Your normal driving license is enough to rent a car. It should be mentioned that travel insurance policies normally include a section that states they will only pay out for car damages on a vehicle rented on a valid international driving license.
There are quite a few mountain bikes for hire both in Haad Salad and elsewhere on the island. The West coast is fairly flat and easy to get around. However, the heat by mid-morning means you have to be fit and well hydrated to cover any distance more than 10 km. In a way walking at a steady pace is a better way to get around on your own momentum. Don't set off on a hike in the afternoon as the sun goes down quickly on Koh Phangan thanks to its location in the tropics.
A good walk is from the beach to Wang Sai Waterfall. It is about 1 km from the beach.
Hitch hiking is possible in Koh Phangan. There are often taxis for Thai workers (builders and hotel staff) who sometimes stop if they see someone by the side of the road. Also tourists might stop to give you a ride on the back of their motorbike. If a Thai stops you should establish whether they expect to get paid before excepting a lift.