Train to Koh Phangan
Whether you are traveling to the island from North or West of mainland Thailand, or even from Malaysia, you can take a train to Koh Phangan with ease. Phun Phin in Surat Thani is the nearest train station to Koh Phangan Island. From here you can take a connecting bus or mini-van to Donsak pier for the ferry or if taking the night ferry to Koh Phangan, then a taxi will drive you to Surat Thani Pier.
If you are expecting high speed trains similar to the Eurostar for example, then you may be disappointed. Despite the trains lack of speed they are a cheap, comfortable and convenient way of getting a train to Koh Phangan (via Surat Thani). Taking a day train is also a great way to see the Thai countryside, villages and scenery. Most days you can travel by train to Koh Phangan from Penang in Malaysia or from Hat Yai in Thailand, all within a few hours journey.
The Thai train system has three classes, first, second and third. First and second class have sleepers, third does not. Within first and second class you can choose between fan or air-con and also an upper or lower bunk. If you opt for fan, we’d recommend going for a lower berth as you’re then able to open the window behind the shutter, giving you a cooling breeze through the night. Lower bunks cost more than upper berths as they are larger.
First class sleeper trains consist of two full size bunk beds. A second class sleeper train to Koh Phangan have bunks assembled from two facing seats that form the bottom or lower bunk. The upper bunk is a pulled down and unlocked when the beds are made up. All beds use fresh cotton sheets, pillows with cases and laundered, sealed, towel-like blankets. Beds are set up by the train staff at around 9:00 pm and stored away again around 7:00 am. In both classes the beds are around 2m in length.
Most night trains arrive in the morning at Surat Thani Train Station allowing you plenty of time for the connecting ferries at Donsak pier, approximately a 1 hour drive away. If taking a day train to Surat Thani, bear in mind that you wont make it to the pier in time for the last ferry, so you will need to take a taxi into the town for overnight accommodation. If you arrive at the train station without an onward ferry ticket there are plenty of travel agencies opposite the railway station, any of which can arrange the transfer to the pier.
Every evening it is also possible to travel by train to Koh Phangan from Bangkok on an overnight sleeper train. This is an excellent way to travel fairly cheaply, save on a nights accommodation cost and potentially get some sleep at the same time. The folding bunks are reasonably comfortable and you are not even expected to erect the bed yourself, a lovely speedy train assistant will do all that for you. If taking the night train to Koh Phangan we recommend you opt for a 1st or 2nd class sleeper seat with air conditioning. It can get quite crowded and hot on the trains so air conditioning is essential if your budget will allow it.
On night trains, bags are stowed in racks near your berth (within arms reach). We’d suggest chaining your bag to this rack and keeping valuables (passport, credit cards and so on) on your person. While theft is nowhere near as common on the trains to Koh Phangan as it is on the buses, it does sometimes happen, so be careful. The State Railway of Thailand allowance is one large suitcase or similar and a carry on bag per passenger. Extra bags are generally not charged and the system is flexible as staff are mainly very helpful. Bicycles and other large items can be taken on the goods carriage.