Bangkok

How to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok (BBK) to Koh Chang Island – with detailed information and photos – July 2019

Before travelling to Koh Chang in July 2019, I did A LOT of research about the easiest/cheapest way to get there and I opted for the minibus option. While there is information available online on how to do this, a lot of it is conflicting or simply outdated. 

This is the most detailed information you’re going to find online as of July 2019, I promise!! I’m your woman on the ground, I’ve been there, done it – and taken photos! 😉 

How to get a minibus from Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok (BBK) to Koh Chang island:

To book your ticket, go to the ‘Suvarnabhumi Burapha’ bus counter on level 1 of the airport, it’s next to exit 8 and looks like this:

Suvarnabhumi Burapha bus counter

Suvarnabhumi Burapha’ bus counter

The buses run from Suvarnabhumi airport to Koh Chang at 7.50am, 11am and 2pm.

(I don’t know what time the ticket counter is open, I went there at around 7pm and it was closed, so I assume it’s open 7am-2pm or something like that.)

Suvarnabhumi Burapha bus – times from the airport to Koh Chang

Sorry about the grubby picture 🤣 this is actually what the counter looks like! 🤣

Many websites I found said that you could book online in advance at 12go.asia but that wasn’t the case for me. I looked a couple of weeks in advance and also the day before but I wasn’t able to pre-book from Suvarnabhumi airport. So I turned up in person about an hour and a half before the bus was due to depart. (I got the 2pm bus.) 

The price I paid was 900 baht return! 👌🏻 (Or 600 baht one way.) As the sign says, the prices are set/fixed by the government.

Some online sources quote that the price is 1,050 return but as you’ll see from this photo of the counter itself, this simply isn’t true.

Koh Chang map

(Sorry – another grubby picture taken from their counter 🤣) It’s hard to read, but the last stop is Kai Bae Beach – which on this map is the Siam Bay Resort. If you’re going to Lonely Beach (as I was) you will need to pay the driver an extra 50 baht when you reach Koh Chang.

If you have time to kill at the airport:

If you’re peckish, and have time to spare, there’s a ‘Street Food Market’ a few metres from the ticket counter.

Considering it’s airport food; 45 baht for pork, rice noodles, morning glory and gravy is very reasonable! And mango sticky rice was 55 baht 🙂

Not your usual airport food

The minibus and ferry journey to Koh Chang:

You’ll need to be back at the counter 15 mins before your departure time. We left at 2pm sharp and arrived at the ferry port in Trat at 6.30pm. (This will obviously vary depending on traffic conditions.) 

The bus is air-conditioned and we had 2 x 10 minute stops along the way to use the toilet/buy snacks. 

Luckily for us, upon arrival at the ferry terminal there was a ferry with one space left! So we drove straight on and left almost immediately! I’m told that there can be up to an hour wait for the ferries to fill up… 

Once aboard, the ferry takes 20ish mins and I was treated to these views: 

Koh Chang ferry

There’s not much else to do on board, so take in the views and enjoy the short crossing! 🙂 (There is a mini shop on the ferry but it was closed when I was there, not sure if that was to do with the time of day or the fact that it was low season though 🤷‍♀️)

I was at my hotel by 8pm (Lonely Beach) but it depends where on Koh Chang you’re staying. You can expect anywhere between 15 mins – 1 hour depending on how far south your hotel is! 

Koh Chang sunset, taken from the ferry

I hope this information helps with planning your trip to Koh Chang island! But as always, if you have any questions, please leave a comment below 🙂

Thanks

Hayley x

Information and prices correct as of July 2019

 

 

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Thailand Packing List

Having just returned from a trip to Thailand… I learned a lot about what I did and didn’t need on the trip. Obviously there’s no “ideal” packing list and everyone is different, but here’s my essential packing list for a 30-something woman going on a 2-3 week trip to Thailand! (We also did 5 nights in Bali but the list for both destinations is essentially the same.)

Essentials:

Mosquito repellent – if you’re flying into Bangkok, don’t bother to buy this in advance – you can buy mosquito repellent lotion (left with the pink top) in most shops for around 70 baht (£1.40 ish) or cheaper, 7-Eleven shops seem to be everywhere you look.  We bought Pyramid Repel 100 (right) from Amazon for about £7 before we left but it was soooo greasy and just didn’t dry… EVER. The lotion is much better, has a nice smell and rubs in easily, plus it’s so much cheaper! Just remember to wash your hands afterwards!

Mosquito repellent

Mosquito repellent

Suncream – prices are around the same as the UK, so up to you if you want to take it or buy it out there. Make sure you have a high SPF (30+) for the first few days at least before switching to a lower SPF if needed.

Sunglasses – if you’re anything like me, I break or lose at least one pair of sunglasses per trip, so go for cheap ones.

Waterproof bag – our friend had a Gelert Kayak Bag which was essential for our kayaking and snorkelling trips. We took a small waterproof bag but it was just too teeny for all our bits and bobs so we ended using our friend’s much bigger and better bag!

Spare camera battery/charger and memory cards – you WILL need them!

Toilet paper / tissues – a lot of bars and restaurants won’t have it in the loos, so make sure you take some along with you.

Wet wipes & hand sanitiser – wet wipes are handy for everything and often there are no sinks to wash your hands, so the hand sanitiser is essential.

Hat – make sure it’s floppy one or one that can be scrunched/folded. Otherwise you’ll end up like me… only wearing it on flights / having to hold it!!

Copies of important documents  include copies of your passport, travel insurance documents, hotel bookings and flights etc. (And keep them in a separate place than your originals.)

Comfortable shoes – this may sound obvious, but comfy shoes are essential. You will do a lot of walking and especially if you’re travelling to the southern islands, you will do a lot of hopping on and off boats, so choose flip flops or other shoes which can get wet. Flip flops and “Crocs” style shoes can be bought cheaply in many shops and markets, feel free to barter if the prices are not marked. (Only a foolish tourist wouldn’t!) I didn’t take a single pair of heels with me and didn’t miss them at all! Note: fancy sandals (especially ones with straps) should also be avoided for 2 reasons: 1) In many shops, bars, restaurants and temples you need to remove your shoes before entering which is more hassle if you have straps etc. 2) Fancy shoes are more likely to go “walkabout” when left unattended outside in the pile. I recommend only taking “Toms” style shoes and flip flops.

Flip flops

Girly items:

Sarong – Again, these can be bought cheaply from many shops / markets. They’re great for just wrapping around yourself on the beach or can be used as a skirt if you run out of clothes!

(Across the) shoulder bag – I feel much more comfortable if the bag is across my body rather than holding it in my hand or resting on my shoulder, the latter are much easier for muggers to grab.

Hair serum – humidity = frizz! You can attempt combat this with some serum or mousse.

Headband – to keep your hair out of your face while sunbathing, snorkelling, on boat trips etc! I took a few and wore them pretty much every day.

Cardigan – needed on planes / other long haul transport when they crank up the air conditioning!

Eye-mask – for some much-needed sleep on flights / other long-haul travel.

Hairbands and kirby grips – you will get hot and sweaty and it’s much worse when your hair is loose… get your hair off your neck and you’ll feel cooler instantly.

Conservative clothing for temples – the rules are becoming more lax with regard to this, especially in tourist areas. However in some places you may need to cover your shoulders and legs.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun

Other items:

Travel adaptor – most sockets accept the UK 3-pin plug, but to be sure it’s best to take a universal adaptor. (Thailand uses 220-volts.)

Painkillers – can be taken with you or bought in a chemist when you get there.

Earplugs – I always pack these for any holiday, but you’ll especially need them if you’re staying in the backpacker district of Bangkok. I use Laser Light earplugs.

Travel wash – £1.05 at Superdrug. Great for washing your bikinis / underwear etc. It’s very inexpensive to do laundry in Thailand so you can take advantage of that, but personally I prefer to wash my smalls myself!

Thai phrasebook – handy for simple phrases and everyday greetings. It’s also polite and Thais will appreciate you speaking a little of their language.

A good book – I read The Help and Into the Darkest Corner on my holiday. Both excellent reads! Books and magazines are great for long journeys if you can’t / don’t want to sleep.

Man Reading in Sea

A man reading in the sea, Koh Lipe, Thailand

Things to leave at home:

Umbrella – just buy one if you need it, they’re not expensive.

Snorkelling equipment – this can be rented by the day (or for longer periods) and is very reasonably priced.

Expensive (or sentimental) jewellery, watches, sunglasses – enough said 😉

(Too many) t-shirts / casual dresses – again, these are really cheap and can be bought everywhere. They also make awesome souvenirs of your trip! Make sure you leave some space in your suitcase.

Let me know if I missed anything! And most of all…

Have fun!

Hayley x

Koh Lipe: Thailand’s secret island?

Koh Lipe: Thailand’s secret island? Not anymore… but don’t let that stop you! If you’re travelling to the south of Thailand it’s still well worth a visit.

When we started planning our trip to Thailand we had no idea where we wanted to go. Bangkok, obviously, but apart from that we had nothing…. nada… zilch. A friend who’d visited Thailand recently recommended Koh Lanta as the unmissable place to go, so that was set, but we had 2 weeks to fill with adventures and weren’t keen on all the really touristy places like Koh Samui et al. Luckily, we had our secret weapon in the form of our friend’s Thai girlfriend (who accompanied us on the trip) “We HAVE to go to Koh Lipe!!” And that was that.

Arriving via passenger ferry and feeling queasy from all the rocking, we were dropped on a wooden landing platform. (Not ideal when you might chunder at any moment!) After clambering aboard a traditional long tail boat,  most inelegantly, and beginning our short journey to Pattaya beach… I felt better, instantly. What a view! Wow! The-most-beautiful-place-I-have-ever-seen-in-my-life-ever. EVER, EVER, EVER. The water is so blue it almost looks fake and you can’t help grinning like a Cheshire cat all the way to the shore…

Koh Lipe

Sunrise beach, Koh Lipe

We stayed at the The Reef Hotel: clean, comfortable and excellent value. It’s situated 3 minutes from “Walking Street” which hosts the majority of the island’s bars, shops and restaurants and around 10 mins from both Sunrise and Pattaya beaches. The Danish (joint) owner, Mikkel, was extremely friendly and made us feel at home straight away. He recommended some excellent places to us including the OMG! bar and the Sunrise Restaurant (more on those later.)

The island itself is very small: around 3.5km by 2.5km which means it’s easy to walk everywhere. Tourism is on the up though and there are lots of mopeds whizzing around – something we weren’t expecting at all – we were told the island had 3 mopeds and no cars!! As a result of the tourism boom there’s building work almost everywhere you look. In fact, on the day we left a 7-Eleven opened in Walking Street, a sad day for the island I’m sure.

Entrance to Walking Street, Lipe's busiest crossing ;-)

Entrance to Walking Street, Lipe’s busiest crossing 😉

The absolute highlight of the trip was a private boating tour around the surrounding islands of Koh Anang, Koh Jabang, Hinngam, Koh Rawi and Koh Yang to sightsee and snorkel. We organised this via the hotel and as there were 4 of us it was just a few pounds more to rent a private boat and captain than to go on an arranged group tour. With food, drinks and snorkelling gear included, it cost less than £14 per person!! With three snorkelling opportunities and two beautiful islands to explore on foot, it was the perfect way to spend the day. Absolutely amazing trip and unbelievably cheap!!

Our chariot for the day! (Private boat tour from Koh Lipe.)

Our chariot for the day! (Private boat tour from Koh Lipe.)

If you’re on a really tight budget, an even cheaper option is to snorkel directly at the beach which we did twice during our visit (good practice!) We hired the equipment from a shop in Walking Street for 50 baht (£1) for the day (plus a 1,000 baht deposit) and then you just jump in the sea and explore! You’ll see small fish immediately as you enter the water and you only have to go out a few metres to reach the corals – map of snorkelling sites (look for the fish symbol!)  We snorkelled at both Sunrise and Pattaya beaches; at Sunrise beach, some particularly cocky white fish thought they would stop right in front of me, look me dead in the eye and then swim full-speed towards my face! I know it’s only a fish… but I’m scared of… well, everything! I later found out from Mikkel that this is very common and it’s more than likely just some female fish who have laid eggs and are trying to warn you off. Well, it worked!! I lasted about 10 minutes!!

Elderly couple snorkelling off Sunrise beach, Koh Lipe

Very cute elderly couple snorkelling off Sunrise beach, Koh Lipe

Other things not-to-be missed on Koh Lipe are:

  • OMG! Bar – The owner, “O” is an extremely friendly Thai guy. You’ll recognise him immediately from the long hair, no shirt and tribal looking tattoos. Rumour has it he is always topless and only wears a shirt when he has to leave the island. O’s brother owns the famous Pooh’s Bar the island’s first bar, opened in 2001. OMG!’s bar staff Tina and Adam (no doubt he’ll be wearing his signature sweatband), a young couple from Warrington, are living the dream on Koh Lipe. They’ll be working from November 2013 until March 2014 before they’re off on their travels again, so do pop in and say hello! The cocktails and service are excellent, as is the food (a Thai family of 4 run the kitchen) and the toilets are some of the best on the island! Trust me… that’s a big deal on Lipe! In addition to all that, they have a pool table (with a pristine cloth… hard to come by in Thailand by all accounts!), table football, a chill out area and a big screen for sports and “movie night”. Great bar, great people – don’t miss it!
OMG! Bar

OMG! Bar, Koh Lipe

  • Sunrise Beach Restaurant – recommended by Mikkel, it didn’t disappoint. Excellent Thai food, great value. The best fried chicken I have ever tasted… so good we ordered another portion at the end of the meal!
  • Zanom Sunrise Restaurant (& Resort) –  We  didn’t stay here but we ate here twice. Not as cheap as the above, BUT they have a seafood BBQ. Biggest prawns we’d ever seen. Job done.
  • Walking Street – considering it’s name, there are a suspiciously  high number of mopeds driving around! Supposedly they’re only allowed to drive there during certain (off-peak) times of the day, but we didn’t see this being adhered to, let alone enforced. The locals are so laid-back they’re horizontal! Nevertheless, it’s the place to be – filled with bars, restaurants and shops. Too many to name!! Plenty of seafood BBQs – some even have a whole swordfish!
Swordfish at a seafood BBQ Restaurant, Walking Street, Koh Lipe

Swordfish at a seafood BBQ Restaurant, Walking Street, Koh Lipe

  • Shopping – even though Koh Lipe is a tiny island, there are plenty of opportunities for souvenir shopping at excellent prices. We bought loads of t-shirts, a few fridge magnets, some beautiful notebooks and fans for ourselves and for loved ones back home. We were told Lipe was not the place to shop, but clearly we were misled!

Best avoided:

  • Reggae bar – we had high expectations, but the music they were playing wasn’t reggae and the cocktails were disappointing. The toilet was the 2nd worse I experienced on the whole trip. No lock, no flush, no sink, no mirror, no toilet paper. Basically a hole in the ground.

Koh Lipe is a stunningly beautiful island… you’ll feel as if you’re in a dream! Make sure you go snorkelling and take plenty of memory cards for your camera, you’ll need them! And don’t listen to anyone who says a few days is enough on Lipe… you can easily fill a week (or more!) so stay as long as you can! Ps – Lucky you!!

Hayley x

Goodbye, Koh Lipe! It's been a pleasure!

Goodbye, Koh Lipe! It’s been a pleasure!