Koh Samui/Phangan/Tao in April 2020

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UFOrb

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Other than proximity to Sail Rock and the Full Moon Party, is there any reason to stay on Koh Phangan?

It's a bigger island than Koh Tao with more topside activities, such as a waterfall and temples to visit.
We only stayed a couple of nights many moons ago (not for the full moon party though) and hired scooters to see some of the island. We stayed on a beach on the southwest of the island which was ok but I believe there are some nice beaches in the NW and NE.
We thought about staying on Koh Phangan on our trip this year so I did some research. Some dive shops offer speedboat trips to Sail Rock, eg H2O Original, but I don't think there's much else to write home about in terms of diving from Phangan.
We ended up staying on Tanote Bay, Koh Tao which was great for us with young kids. We did some nice relaxed local diving on the east side of the island with Calypso divers who were great, but we didn't make it down to Sail Rock.
For diving I reckon you'd be best off staying on Koh Tao, unless you're happy just to dive Sail Rock each day from Phangan as I'm guessing you'd be disappointed with the rest of the sites round there.
 

Centrals

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5 ways how to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao

I prefer the train myself.
Book the berth(2nd class AC) on line.
Dump the pack at Hua Lamphong Station for storage and gone for walk about. Back around 18:30, get something to eat at the food stalls inside it. Board the train and let the attendant to make my bed, lie down and wake up by the staff just before the train pull up at Chumphon. Buy the combined ticket to Koh Tao at Lomprayah office which is right next to the arrival platform. And there are at least couple of places at the platform offering food/drink. The rest is plain sailing.
Plenty of time to go for two afternoon dives if I am inclined to do so.

Ditto for the return and there is NO Fly penalty.
 

Divemaster No.1

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I usually dive with Big Blue Diving, they have trips to all sites around the island and a great location on the nicest part of Sairee beach. They also have Sail Rock trips when the dive conditions are good there, rather than every day or so regardless of conditions like one of the places mentioned above.

I like that they have a separate boat for certified divers, so they dont have to go the boring beginner sites everyday.
 

dirtfarmer

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Thanks to everyone so far.

Other than proximity to Sail Rock and the Full Moon Party, is there any reason to stay on Koh Phangan?

Yes.
I'll preface my answer with a note that's it's been about 10 years since I've been there and things change. I used to stay on a beach on the north side called Ao Thong Nai Pan, it was a great beach, back then it wasn't over developed, the resort I favored was building new bungalows and a pool even though it had a great swimming beach. So there are probably more upscale places now and more noise. Yes its closest to Sail Rock which was a great dive site even without a whale shark. I didn't do any other dives on the island back then. I was there on a beach vacation not a diving vacation.
There should be a small shop on Ko Tao that will give you a quiet beach, small groups of divers not cert seekers, and trips to Sail Rock.
 

divinh

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When I first started going to Koh Tao for diving, I would fly from BKK to Samui, spend the night, then take the ferry the next day to Koh Tao. I would reverse to return. It was more expensive, but quite easy to navigate over trains and buses for me. My last trip, September 2018, to Koh Tao involved the NokAir package, which was a flight to Surat Tani, connection to pier via bus and Lomprayah ferry to Koh Tao:

12:50 PM Bangkok (DM) NokAir from Don Mueang, about 500 THB taxi from central Bangkok. Upon check-in, you get a sticker to put on color-coated by destination (Samui, Phangan, Tao).
02:00 PM Surat Thani On arrival, there will be people directing you to buses based on the sticker you have on. The buses are pretty timely.

02:30 PM Surat Thani Coach. The ride is relatively quick.
03:00 PM Tapee Pier The waiting area is all outside, so it's hot and sweaty. There aren't a ton of seats. There's a shop to buy drinks and snacks.

03:30 PM Tapee Pier Lomprayah Catamaran. If other customers are late, departure will be delayed. No worries, as you'll still arrive on time.
07:15 PM Koh Tao Make sure your accommodations know you're coming and have a shuttle/car waiting for you; otherwise, you'll be overwhelmed by all the offers for transport.

For the return:

02:45 PM Koh Tao Lomprayah Catamaran. You can have your luggage stored on deck or inside the cabin. First passengers on will be directed to put on deck. It's not a huge difference, as it'll be dry when you get it back. Either way, many bags will be stacked, so keep fragile stuff with you or pad well.
04:30 PM Thung Makham Noi Pier Everyone will be directed to waiting buses to the Chumpon airport.

05:00 PM Thung Makham Noi Pier Coach to airport
06:00 PM Chumphon Airport Airport has plenty of seats, aircon and shops to kill time.

07:00 PM Chumphon Airport NokAir flight to Don Mueang.
08:15 PM Bangkok (DM) You can take the bus back to central Bangkok for only $0.60! But it'll take some figuring out and this is best done on return than rushing out to catch a plane!

Hope this gives you a picture of the NokAir transport part. Definitely pay for extra weight so it'll be hassle free. NokAir will weigh.
 

chillyinCanada

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I have actually been looking into the feasibility of a longer stay in Chumphon.
 

dirtfarmer

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I have actually been looking into the feasibility of a longer stay in Chumphon.

Why Chumphon?
What are you looking for?
I'm still looking for a tropical island with a nice beach, with excellent diving within a 30 minute boat ride, a shop that knows how to keep to a schedule, lots of good restaurants/ food to choose from and that is affordable. Say in the 80-100 night for decent lodging.
 

Edward3c

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Why Chumphon?
What are you looking for?
I'm still looking for a tropical island with a nice beach, with excellent diving within a 30 minute boat ride, a shop that knows how to keep to a schedule, lots of good restaurants/ food to choose from and that is affordable. Say in the 80-100 night for decent lodging.
Have you looked at Koh Lipe.
 

dirtfarmer

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Have you looked at Koh Lipe.
The hitch is as I said is excellent diving, I've looked at Lipe but the diving isn't rated as excellent. The island would fit what I l look for but the diving not so much.
 

chillyinCanada

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Why Chumphon?
What are you looking for?
I'm still looking for a tropical island with a nice beach, with excellent diving within a 30 minute boat ride, a shop that knows how to keep to a schedule, lots of good restaurants/ food to choose from and that is affordable. Say in the 80-100 night for decent lodging.

Beautiful quiet area with a marine park that's supposed to have some good to very good diving. Also easy ferry ride to Koh Tao if inclined, can go over for a couple of days to dive Sail Rock.

Accommodation is reasonable based on current research. Sources for info on the diving quality may be iffy. I was told it's brilliant by someone on Koh Tao. So, is it brilliant compared to Koh Tao? LOL or is it genuinely good Thai diving?

I'm going to be doing some long stay wandering for the next couple of years. It's on my list for consideration.
 
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