How To Get From Koh Samui To Koh Phangan Easily

Hmmm how many more people could be put on this Haadrin Queen Ferry - so unsafe. Tanya is freaking out here!

Note: This is one person's personal opinion recorded shortly after taking a ferry between Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Unless the author listed below the post is you it may not match your own experience. If you have a different experience and are willing to tell others about it then include it in the comments. Any comments that aren't constructive will disappear never to be seen again.

There will be no sugar coating here. We made a mistake by catching the Haadrin Queen Ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan. Nothing bad really happened in the end but at this point in our lives, after all of our travelling we have done, we do know better. For some unknown reason we chose the Haadrin Queen Ferry to take us from one island to another. Most likely it was just easier on the day which is a poor way to decide anything. We both knew what the ferry would be like. Overcrowded, wooden seats, full of half naked frequently drunk tourists. But we just wanted to get there so we did it anyway. Sigh!

Our lovely host at Meewaya Chaweng House offered to take us to the Big Buddha Pier on Koh Samui to purchase our ferry tickets. This was so nice of her. The cost of the ferry tickets were either 150 baht or 200 baht each. We seem to have misplaced the receipt so we're having to rely on our fuzzy memories.

Again, why didn't we listen to our own instincts? When we purchased the tickets, the staff were very rude, wouldn't offer anything other than.. "next ferry at 10:30. you want ticket?" No smiles, then a big sigh when we said that we wanted two tickets and only had a 1000 Baht note. Not providing the exact right amount when buying ferry tickets, outrageous!

Waiting at Big Buddha Pier for the Haad Rin Queen ferry to take us to Koh Phangan

Next red flag. All the tourists. There may have been five local Thai people waiting to catch the ferry. There were lots and lots of tourists. With buses in particular this can indicate that this is a more expensive but also much more comfortable service. With ferries however it always seems to indicate that this is a particularly over crowded, over priced service where you will be treated like cattle. Still, we were here now, ticket in hand so we pressed ahead.

The ferry finally arrived, a few minutes later than 10:30am, and we waited for the hoards of people to get off the boat. There seemed to be a lot of people coming off a not so large boat. It was like watching a clown car at a circus. The people just kept coming. What red flag are we up to now?

The songtheaw drivers helpfully moved those waiting to catch the ferry aside to create a clear passage for those disembarking. They then blocked this clear passage themselves so they could personally accost each passenger yelling "Chaweng", "Airport", "Bophut" "where you go? where you go? hey! hey! hey! where you go?" etc.

Finally, at about 11am, we got to board our ferry boat. It was more herding than boarding. We were moved along very quickly, pointed to where we could pile up our bags on the deck, where we could sit on the deck or how to get to the seating area below. We opted to hold onto our bags as we always do. The seating options came down to either being inside with the diesel fumes or outside in the direct sun. Figuring that the big open windows would disperse the fumes once the boat was moving we opted for inside.

The inside seating area was filled with wooden seats so tall that we couldn't quite reach the ground. There were life-vests scattered around. Upon inspection, presumably to stop them falling on the floor, many of them had had their straps threaded through the wooden slats of the seats making them impossible to remove quickly. Andrew spent a few painstaking minutes liberating two life jackets just in case. Perhaps this whole thing was a bad idea. We were on now. Perhaps we shouldn't have boarded and just accepted the lost money and caught a different ferry. But we didn't.

The first 15 minutes of the ferry ride was quite enjoyable. The wind coming through the windows, the little splash of sea water hitting our faces occasionally, but once we moved away from the calm blue waters of Koh Samui, it was a different ocean. It was rough, tiring, noisy, horrible... So many sick looking people, including Tanya. She didn't throw up, but probably should have. Just to top this story off. The deafening engine strained and the boat rolled but our windows never quite dipped below the surface of the water...

A very unhealthy Tanya on the ferry ride from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan

We did both had fleeting moments of enjoying this ride. We got to see beautiful islands sitting in perfectly blue waters, an awesome stainless steel looking sailing boat that looked like it didn't have one scratch, and then a very over loaded Haadrin Queen ferry going the other way, from Koh Phangan to Koh Samui. The two ferries pulled alongside so close that several crew members were able to leap between the boats.

Finally, we arrived at Haadrin, Koh Phangan. It was meant to arrive at 11:30am, we think we got there just after 12:00pm, but we could be wrong. Very seasick. Haadrin Pier wasn't a very nice place either. Again, full of semi-naked tourists, the only local Thai people around are those who want to either rent you a motorbike or sell you a seat on their songteaw to somewhere else on the island.

The one good thing we did do when organising our trip to Koh Phangan from Koh Samui was to ask our resort to come and pick us up from the ferry pier. Which they did happily. Score!

So, that is our story oh how to not get to Koh Phangan from Koh Samui. There are other ferry companies that can take you on this journey that are MUCH nicer. Check out the below companies instead.
Lomprayah Catamaran
Seatran Discovery
Raja Ferry

We strongly suggest you DO NOT catch the Haadrin Queen Ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan or return.

Just in case you think we're being a bit dramatic here are some links to relevant news articles of tourist boats sinking / crashing in Thailand:

Tourists leap into water to escape sinking boat on abc.net.au

42 injured as Thai speed boats crash taking tourists to beach rave on dailymail.co.uk

Welcome to Haad Rin, Koh Phangan. Have some mud while you wait and an ambulance transporting a foreigner. Fun times!

Note: This is one person's personal opinion recorded shortly after taking a ferry between Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Unless the author listed below the post is you it may not match your own experience. If you have a different experience and are willing to tell others about it then include it in the comments. Any comments that aren't constructive will disappear never to be seen again.

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13 comments

    • Ren 28 August, 2012 at 10:40 Reply

      I disagree. Its just the way it is on the islands. Sounds to me this woman would wine and complain about everything instead of enjoying the experiendce. And to pack life jackets for a trip to an island you can see. What a wus. Learn how to swim.. Lol

      • Wiley 1 November, 2012 at 13:36 Reply

        Agreed, book a yacht next time and miss out on the experience, oh and the HORRORS of being with tourists like yourselves, kinda contradicting not wanting tourists then whinging about the locals.

    • Tanya 30 May, 2012 at 07:51 Reply

      Probably ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I still feel the same way! That ferry is not safe. Most of the lifejackets were tied up to the chairs…

      Check this post out by Adventurous Kate. It is based in Indonesia… the quality of the boats are just the same!

      Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Roy @ Thaizer 27 November, 2012 at 10:28 Reply

    Thank you for taking time to share your personal experience, Tanya. I’ve not taken that particular ferry, but your post raises the wider question of safety standards on Thai boats. Thai authorities have been trying to improve things in recent years, but even they admit there is still a long way to go.

    • Tanya 29 November, 2012 at 06:56 Reply

      Thanks for reading Roy. It is a very touchy subject when it comes to sharing an experience such as the one I had from KS to KP. I look forward to returning back to KP in the future.

  2. Juraj 28 December, 2016 at 16:42 Reply

    Probably jumping in a bit late but we actually took the exact same ferry two years ago and had no problems. Yes, the boat is old and full of tourists heading to the FMP but what do you expect.

    Btw, the links included are not even related to the same ferry.

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