Getting to Ko Lanta from Ko Samui was never going to be straight forward. The journey was to take me right across Thailand by way of the able awful catamaran I had staggered of off a few days earlier, two buses, two minibuses and two ferry journeys. Even as I set off I was thinking that such a journey in one day was a little ambitious.
I bought my ticket though my accommodation. I probably paid over the odds but to me it seemed cheap, and the promise was that I was sorted all the way to Ko Lanta.
Getting off of Samui
This party was easy,which was lucky as I’m a bit dopey in the morning.
I woke at 6am to be picked up by a coach at 7am and taken to the dock. Having swallowed sea sickness tablets I was mildy confident of not heaving up but the sea looked a little choppy. Despite this the journey was nothing like my first a few days earlier and I arrived at Surat Thani by 11am
Surat Thani to Krabi
I was shown to a reasonably decent coach not long after arriving at Surat Thani. This coach departed in short order but took me to a random bit of pavement somewhere or other where I was ejected along with a small group of travellers and a huge bag of cuddly toys.
You really do have to just relax and let things happen in South East Asia. Just typing this makes me realise how weird the system can be. If you bought a bus ticket in the UK and after only 10 minutes you were ejected onto the pavement and told to wait for some other coach to collect you at some point in the next hour or you would be far from pleased. But in Thailand this is normal, and it does no good to fret. So I sat on my rucksack and made some new friends (the travelers, not the cuddly toys).
After a short while a decrepit old coach arrived and we once again began loading suitcases into the hold, which was as usual too small. So most of the cases went on the back seats and on the floor down the aisle. When I boarded I realised that my relaxed approach hadn’t done us any favours as I ended up standing in the aisle….for the whole 2 hour journey. During the journey a Thai man clambered over the cases in the aisle to attach coloured stickers to the tourists on board.
During this hair raising 2 hours the bus stopped to collect a couple of local people. We also stopped to discard some huge packages into a road somewhere. As we drove away from these parcels people were appearing and poking and prodding them. Again, totally random, unless you are Thai.
Eventually the coach pulled into a dusty yard and all of the tourists were once again ejected. Depending on what sticker we were wearing we were told we would have varying amounts of time to wait before being collected.
I found out later that this was the outskirts of Krabi.
Krabi to the Ko Lanta Ferry
I was told I would need to wait for 1 hour, but 10 minutes later I was being bundled into the back of a pick up truck with 5 others and taken to a tour operator’s office close by in Krabi. I transpired we were all destined for Ko Lanta and once we reached the tour office we were again told we were to wait. As a group we took the chance to grab a bite to eat and to get to know each other. Crazy journeys like this do bring people together it seems.
After an hour or so a mini van appeared. It had tinted windows and a little too much chrome – as do most minivans in Thailand. We bundled into it, again with cases on seats and the floor and set off to make the ferry crossings which would eventually get us to Ko Lanta.
The Ko Lanta Ferries – Any Excuse for Race
This was where the journey became slightly terrifying. We guessed that we were behind schedule and may miss the ferry. This was the best explanation I could find for the absolutely insane driving. During the journey I chatted to my fellow passengers but it was very hard to concentrate due to the overtaking on corners, hard breaking and fast cornering being expertly performed by our non-communicating driver. Again random locals climbed in during hurried roadside stops and after 30 minutes or so we reached the first ferry in time for sunset.
One fellow passenger, a Swede, had made the journey in 2009 and told us that when crossing the island between the first and second ferry drivers race as the second ferry is smaller. So again we had to hang on for dear life during a white knuckle journey complete with some insane overtaking by our driver. We made it to the second ferry just in time and took the final space on board.
Eventually, some 13 hours after departure I arrived at my resort at Hat Khlong Nin beach, Ko Lanta.
My Thoughts on the Journey
I find these kind of journeys fun, but many wouldn’t. They are often frustrating, sometimes dangerous and they can take a very long time.
It seems that flights from Sumui over to the Western coast are fairly reasonable. Or you could break the overland journey up into two days maybe.
But one thing is for sure. The overland journey can give you some great memories and an amusing story to tell your friends.
I have to admit to enjoying the surreal and often terrifying overland journeys in Thailand. This one was particularly fun.
However this would not be for everybody. If you are new to Thai adventures like this it can be stressful, tiring and it is a great way to wast a whole day.
Bare in mind that you can fly from Ko Samui to Krabi for around £60 too.