Traveling Between Islands in Thailand
If there’s one thing that you should do while you’re in Thailand, it’s taking the opportunity to make the most out of it by island hopping. This Southeast Asian country is full of jaw-dropping, gorgeous islands waiting for you to explore.
With over 300 islands to choose from, you’ll never run out of things to do here.
But, it might be a bit overwhelming and intimidating for a new traveler to Thailand to put together an island-hopping itinerary especially if you choose not to join a group tour.
Thankfully, it’s easy to do it once you get your head wrapped out the budget and ways of traveling.
So we did all the heavy research and put together a quick guide for traveling between islands in Thailand. Let’s start with your different ways to get around and how much it can possibly cost you.
When it comes to your Thailand trip, there are a lot of ways to travel around using their public transportation system. The most common one is the famous Tuk Tuk which are three-wheeled vehicles that can take you anywhere.
It’s more expensive than an average motorcycle taxi because it’s a popular mode of transportation for tourists.
Other transportation methods are Songthaew (small pick-up trucks), motorcycle taxi, taxi, bus, Skytrain, MRT Subway, and their railway network.
- Tuk Tuk: 80-150 Baht
- Songthaew: minimum of 10 Baht
- Motorcycle taxi: 20-100 Baht
- Taxi: flat rate of 35 Baht plus 2 Baht per kilometer
Now, for island hopping, there are generally two ways to do this depending on the location: either by boat or by flying.
Flying obviously costs much more and your destination will be limited to those islands that have an airport or suitable for a chartered plane.
Going by boat is definitely the most popular option for island hopping since it’s more convenient and much more enjoyable.
There are different ways to go around on your island hopping trip but most likely, you’ll start off at Phuket then go from there.
Phuket Ferry Ticket Prices
- Phuket to Krabi: 750 Baht
- Phuket to Koh Phi Phi: 600-800 Baht
- Phuket to Koh Yao Yai: 875 Baht
- Phuket to Koh Lanta: 1,000 Baht for a ferry, 1,500 Baht for speed boat
- Phuket to Koh Muk: 1,750 Baht
- Phuket to Koh Kradan: 1,950 Baht
- Phuket to Koh Lipe: 2,500 Baht
Before booking a ticket, it’s better to check out the general predicted weather in that area. Ferries between islands are closed during monsoon season for rough seas so getting there won’t be as convenient and safe.
Some islands are only accessible during the high season from November to May. Ferry dates also change per year so make sure that you’re up to date with their schedule before planning your island hopping route.
How is it to travel by boat in Thailand?
Now you know the basic prices of a ferry ride in Thailand, riding it will be your next agenda.
Boat and ferry rides in Thailand are well-regulated by their companies and the government. Generally, your comfort will also increase the more luxurious you go for. There are a lot of cruise companies that offer an all-inclusive package which includes three meals a day, accommodation, plus guided visits to local villages.
Overall, there won’t be any hitch during your boat rides in Thailand especially if you’re booking from a good company. Here are some tips and tricks that you might want to remember to make your boat travel as convenient and comfortable as possible:
1. Book your trip in advance
This is really important especially if you want to stick with your island hopping trip. Booking your trip in advance will not only help you travel hassle-free, but you’re also sure that you’ll have a seat on the day of your island hopping. Boat rides are so popular in Thailand especially during the peak season so book your boat ticket ahead of time!
2. Research about the boat company
Your safeness is just as important as your comfort (maybe even more). Do a little bit of research on the boat company you’re looking to just to make sure that you’ll have insurance on the duration of the trip, enough safety precautions, and re-booking or cancellation terms.
3. Get a back-up plan
If things start to hit the fan, you have to have something as a back-up. Start to look for other means of travel just in case there might be a problem with your boat ride.
What kind of different boats are there in Thailand?
Thailand is definitely a country that is serious when it comes to their boats. Chances are, whatever water activity you want to do, they’ll have a boat for it. Knowing what boat is appropriate for your trip is important since not every boat can go to a certain island. Here are some of the boats that you can ride around Thailand:
In Thai, longtail boats are “ruea hang yao”. This is a handmade wooden boat and you can immediately recognize this because of the long snout of the boat.
Longtail boats are great for island hopping because usually, your longtail driver will also become your tour guide for free. You’ll find longtail boats almost anywhere near the shore.
Speedboats in Thailand are famously used in island hopping trips because they can always stop anywhere else and it can be parked directly to the beach shore. It’s really easy for you to get out and get in whenever you want to stop for a bit of snorkeling or a swim.
These are faster than your usual longtail boats. So if you want to island-hop and your islands are quite spaced apart from each other, then you should go for a speedboat.
These liveaboard boats are great for scuba diving cruises. So if you want to snorkel or scuba dive at night which are not offered if you book at a day trip boat, liveaboard boats are your best option.
This is also great if you want to just go around the waters of Thailand or even do a cross-border boat trip in Mekong River going to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, or China.
There are also scheduled trips around Thailand that you can catch if you want to do your own island-hopping adventure. Ferry boats are a great choice especially if you want to get around the famous Riverside area of Bangkok.
There are different types of Express Boat river taxis in Thailand. The local line, blue flag line or tourist boat, and orange, yellow, and green flag lines.
The local line of river taxis stops at every pier and runs only during the weekdays. The tourist boat or blue flag line will stop at any point that you like and available every day. You can pare the fare per trip or get yourself an all-day pass. The rest of the lines differ in operating hours.
How is it to fly domestic in Thailand?
If you usually get seasickness which is a definite bummer when it comes to island hopping, that doesn’t mean that you’ll miss out on the entire experience of it. Of course, there are certain downsides to this because you’ll only get to visit certain islands if you will island-hop via plane.
But, you might want to switch out some boat rides for a plane ride. When it comes to long-distance travel in Thailand, a flight can often be the best option in terms of convenience and price. Plus, local Thai airlines are always great in their service. You’ll definitely be treated to the Southeast Asian hospitality.
Flying domestic in Thailand is generally hassle-free and will always be a great experience.
How much does it cost to fly domestic in Thailand?
The price of airline tickets varies depending on travel season and comfort. Here are the average prices of a one-way ticket between Thailand airports throughout the year:
- Bangkok to Chiang Mai: 1,200 Baht
- Bangkok to Chiang Rai: 1,000 Baht
- Bangkok to Phuket: 1,100 Baht
- Bangkok to Krabi: 900 Baht
- Bangkok to Samui: 1,800 Baht
There are only select local Thai airlines that have direct flights from Bangkok to Samui and vice versa so make sure that you check with your airline if you need to find an alternate route or switch planes to reach Samui.
How can you find cheap domestic airline tickets in Thailand?
All year round, the prices of domestic airline tickets in Thailand aren’t that bad compared to other countries. But that doesn’t mean that you can score great deals on it.
There’s no such thing as the “cheapest airline” in Thailand. Each airline regularly releases promotions where you can get great deals on domestic flights. Here are some tips that might come in handy when looking for cheap tickets:
1. Use price comparison sites
2. Book in advance
Airlines have a promotional period scheduled for flights in advance so make sure that you make use of advance booking as much as possible.
If your timing is right and you’re pretty much flexible when it comes to travel dates, you can score deals that can be as low as 80% on ticket prices.
3. Look for third-party sites
Finding available ticket promotions in Thailand is relatively easy if you know where to look. The biggest regular discount offers that you can find is available on the Thai version of Expedia. Just switch to the English language and browse away.