The kickstart guide to car ferry adventures

Photo taken from Koh Chang Ferry Timetables

Embarking on a journey to Thailand’s enchanting islands? There’s a unique experience waiting for you – travelling by car ferry. This method not only adds a layer of adventure to your trip but also offers the convenience of exploring islands like Ko Yao Yai at your own pace. Imagine the freedom of driving off the ferry and directly into island exploration, without the constraints of public transport schedules.

Navigating the car ferry process might seem daunting at first, but it’s simpler than you think. Upon arrival at the pier, drivers purchase a ticket for both themselves and their vehicle, while passengers get their tickets at a separate booth. With tickets costing just 23 Thai Baht per person, and comprehensive deals available for cars and passengers, planning ahead makes the journey smooth and financially savvy. Plus, with the option to book round trips, your island adventure is not only doable but also affordable.

Thailand ferry

When planning your adventure across Thailand’s magnificent landscapes, incorporating a ferry journey, especially with your vehicle, elevates the experience significantly. The essence of taking a ferry, particularly to islands like Koh Chang, isn’t just about reaching your destination; it’s about the journey itself.

The kickstart guide to car ferry adventures | News by Thaiger
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In Thailand, ferries serve as a vital connection between the mainland and the many picturesque islands, with services accommodating passengers and their vehicles. This means you can enjoy exploring the islands at your own pace, without the constraints of public transport schedules. Among the most frequented routes, the ferries to and from Koh Chang are noteworthy for their reliability and frequency, ensuring that you can plan your travels with ease.

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Booking your ferry ticket

Deciding on whether to pre-book your ferry tickets or secure them upon arrival in Thailand may spark a bit of uncertainty. While many travellers opt for the convenience of pre-booking, it’s often just as straightforward to book a day before your departure. This can be done online, through your hotel, or by visiting one of the local travel agencies.

Safety and standards

Safety on these ferries is a paramount concern that operators take seriously. While standards can vary, the commitment to passenger safety is constant. However, it’s crucial to be aware of possible overcrowding on popular routes, especially during peak travel seasons. Opting for less congested crossings or premium services can enhance your experience.

With a myriad of ferry ports scattered across Thailand, such as Laem Sok and the bustling Pattaya, positioning yourself for your ferry voyage requires a bit of planning. The ports serve as gateways to a multitude of destinations including the serene Koh Chang, with ferries embarking from the convenient Trat Hat Lek Pier among others. Navigating to your designated pier is part of the adventure, with each port offering a unique glimpse into the maritime lifestyle of the region.

Ferries in Thailand provide not just a means of transport but a unique opportunity to witness the country’s beauty from a different perspective. Whether you’re driving onto a ferry bound for Koh Chang or charting a course to a lesser-known pier, the experience promises to be unforgettable.

Where to buy your tickets for ferry travel in Thailand

Securing your ticket is the first step in planning your car ferry journey in Thailand. You have multiple options, ranging from online bookings to in-person purchases at the pier or through travel agencies. Let’s break down your best bets for snagging those tickets.

Online bookings: Many prefer to lock in their travel plans from the comfort of their home by purchasing ferry tickets online. This route allows you to compare prices, check schedules, and often snag the best deals.

In-country operators: Once you touch down in Thailand, buying tickets directly from ferry operators is a straightforward option. This method is ideal for those who prefer a bit of flexibility in their travel plans as it allows you to book a ferry a day before your desired departure without any hassle.

Travel agencies: Scattered throughout Thailand, travel and transport agencies offer another viable route to purchase your ferry tickets. They often provide the added convenience of arranging transfers to the pier, making your journey to islands like Koh Chang seamless.

Pier purchases: If you’re someone who enjoys spontaneity or perhaps left your planning to the last minute, worry not. You can purchase tickets directly at the pier. This option is perfect for travellers who decide on a whim to explore an island or those who find themselves needing to alter their plans.

Regardless of where you choose to buy your tickets, it’s crucial to verify that your selected ferry service accommodates vehicles if you’re planning on bringing your car along. Each island, including popular destinations like Koh Chang, has specific ferry services, so ensuring your ferry can transport your vehicle is essential.

As safety is a top concern for many, you’ll be relieved to know that ferries in Thailand are generally considered safe. However, it’s wise to research and choose operators that maintain high safety standards to ensure a worry-free journey. Remember, while accidents are rare, being informed and prepared can enhance your travel experience, making your adventure exploring Thailand’s islands by car ferry a memorable one.

Departure points for ferries to Thai Islands

When planning your adventure to Thailand’s mesmerising islands with your vehicle, knowing the departure points for ferries is crucial. The convenience of taking your car or scooter allows you to explore these islands at your own pace. Let’s dive into the main ferry departure points for the most sought-after destinations.

The kickstart guide to car ferry adventures | News by Thaiger
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Ferries to Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan

For those aiming to explore the vibrant islands of Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan with their vehicle, the primary departure point is Donsak Pier. Situated approximately 70 km from Surat Thani, Donsak Pier serves as a gateway to these islands, providing a seamless connection for travellers and their vehicles.

Ferries departing from Donsak Pier accommodate cars and scooters, ensuring that you can bring your mode of transport to the islands. The journey offers not only a path to your destination but also a unique chance to admire the picturesque views along the way. Remember, while the ferries are designed to carry vehicles, it’s advisable to arrive early to secure a spot for your car or scooter, especially during peak travel seasons.

Ferries to Koh Chang, Koh Wai, Koh Mak, and Koh Kood

If your journey takes you towards the eastern coast of Thailand, specifically to Koh Chang, Koh Wai, Koh Mak, or Koh Kood, the departure point you’ll be looking at is from the south of Trat at Laem Ngob Pier. This pier is an important hub for ferries catering to travellers with vehicles, providing direct access to these island paradises.

Laem Ngob Pier stands out as the embarkation point for your journey across the azure waters to these islands. With ferries equipped to transport vehicles, you’ll find the transition from the mainland to the island smooth and hassle-free. Be sure to check the schedules and book your spot in advance, as these ferries are a popular choice among those looking to explore the islands with their own transport.

Travelling to Thai islands via ferry with your car opens up a realm of flexibility and freedom, allowing you to dive deep into the islands’ beauty at your own pace. Whether it’s the sun-drenched beaches of Koh Samui or the tranquil escapes of Koh Kood, starting your journey at the right pier makes all the difference.

5 things to be careful about

When embarking on a journey via a Thai car ferry, especially to enchanting destinations like Koh Chang, you must be aware of several factors to ensure your voyage is as smooth as sailing the calm seas. Here are five essential tips to keep in mind:

The kickstart guide to car ferry adventures | News by Thaiger
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  • Overcrowding: Always assess the ferry’s capacity before boarding. Ferries brimming over with passengers and vehicles might pose a risk. Should the ferry appear overloaded, consider waiting for the next one. This is particularly important during peak seasons or events like the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, where the influx of travellers can lead to packed vessels.
  • Weather conditions: The seas can be unpredictable. While larger ferries are designed to withstand rougher conditions, adverse weather can significantly impact your journey, especially on smaller boats like speedboats. Always check the weather forecast before setting off and heed any warnings from the ferry operators. They’re well-versed in local conditions and will know when it’s safe to travel.
  • Night travel: Venturing by ferry at night, specifically on speedboats, can be tricky due to reduced visibility and the higher likelihood of encountering passengers who might not be in the best condition to travel. Whenever possible, plan your ferry trips during daylight hours.
  • Safety practices: Pay attention to the safety measures implemented by the ferry service. A reputable operator will prioritize your safety, making judgements about travel conditions and overcrowding with your well-being in mind. If you have doubts about the safety protocols being observed, it’s better to wait for a ferry that meets your standards.
  • Waiting areas: While waiting for your ferry, particularly in areas leading to popular islands like Koh Chang, be vigilant in the designated waiting zones. These spots can sometimes be chaotic, doubling as parking areas for motorbikes and other vehicles. Stay alert to avoid any unnecessary accidents.

Remember, your journey begins the moment you drive onto the pier, and keeping these considerations in mind will not only ensure your safety but also enhance your overall travel experience to Thailand’s marvellous islands.

These ferry trips will be incorporated into your road trips around Thailand. To understand where to go, this guide on the best destinations to take a road trip to will give you a head start on your journey.

Parts of this article, including images, may have been generated using AI tools before an editor reviewed it.


Alessio Francesco Fedeli

Graduating from Webster University with a degree of Management with an emphasis on International Business, Alessio is a Thai-Italian with a multicultural perspective regarding Thailand and abroad. On the same token, as a passionate person for sports and activities, Alessio also gives insight to various spots for a fun and healthy lifestyle.

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