KOH CHANG TO BANGKOK – THE 999 BUS VS. A PACKAGE DEAL
Koh Chang to Bangkok with the public 999 government Bus vs. a pre-booked package deal
Comparing the “600 THB package deal” with a “self-organised taxi – ferry – bus trip” – WHAT IS CHEAPER AND BETTER?
Planning on travelling from Bangkok to Koh Chang or vice-versa and still unsure about how and where to book your transfer? Then keep on reading! In this post we want to highlight the differences between using a local tour agent, making an online booking or simply using public transport for your trip between the island of Koh Chang and Bangkok. Which option is more comfortable, which one is cheaper and what’s the fastest one?
Bangkok to Koh Chang – Using online booking agent vs. local agent or public transport
When we booked our trip from Bangkok TO Koh Chang we used 12GOAsia – an online agent which we use for pretty much all our travels around Thailand and which we can highly recommend.
It’s a complete “no-worries”-package once you’ve booked it, it’s quite comfortable and it’s not even much more expensive.
Especially for our journey TO Koh Chang island it was much better using 12GOAsia instead of organizing the whole trip ourselves or using a local agent for the following list of reasons:
REASONS FOR BOOKING OUR TRANSFERS ONLINE:
- Peace of mind! We only spend one day in Bangkok before continuing our trip to Koh Chang and I would have freaked out if everything was left to this one day to organise and book. Especially in high seasons seats on the bus fill up quickly so if you have already booked your hotel on Koh Chang and are not that flexible on changing dates around it’s very helpful to simply book your trip online which you can do weeks (if not months) in advance and secure your seat.
- Price! Turns out the price when booking online for our trip from Bangkok to Koh Chang the price was exactly the same as if we had booked through a local agent on the spot – 600 THB pP* (*plus a small booking fee which we were happy to pay for reserving our seats already a few weeks in advance while still being in Chiang Mai)
- Credit Cards are accepted! YAY! When booking your trip online you can also pay online which was a big plus for us. We try to pay as much as possible with our credit card because of the super high ATM fees you have to pay everywhere in Thailand (220 THB per withdrawl). So to make our cash last longer we pay whenever possible by credit card which will work out much cheaper if you have a certain “travel deal” with your CC.
- No hidden fees! Everything was already included when booking our Koh Chang transfer package online (Bus + Ferry as well as the trolley ride between the bus terminal and the ferry pier and some snacks). If you travel to a smaller island such as Koh Kood, they even include the taxi on the island to your hotel. (For more information on the Bangkok to Koh Kood trip click here)
- Comfort & Safety! 12GoAsia uses the Boonsiri Bus + ferries which are relatively modern and well maintained – especially compared to some of the local ferries we’ve seen. The buses have good A/C and even most of their ferries come with an A/C room #travelinstyle 🙂 Also, it’s not just more comfortable it’s also more modern and well maintained which means it’s SAFER and we happily spend a few more baht if it means it makes the whole trip safer.
- Choice of piers! With 12GoAsia you have the choice between two piers – Centrepoint Pier and Bang Bao Pier. Usually Center Point Pier will be fine for everyone staying in the White Sand / Klong Prao / Kai Bae Beach area. However, as our first accommodation was located in the very South of Koh Chang in the Bang Bao Bay having the choice to go to that side directly was a big advantage for us. Our cozy guesthouse Bang Bao Paradise Homestay* was actually located right on Bang Bao Pier so taking the ferry directly to this pier rather than having to go all the way around the island (Taxi would have probably costs us 300+ THB pP just for getting to our guesthouse) was a big plus.
- BIG BUS! Travelling on a big bus rather than a small mini-van was one of our top priorities as we heard (and experienced) a lot of “not-sooo-great”-things about the over-packed mini-vans here in Thailand. Too crowded, crazy drivers, no stopping – in short, not for us! Somehow we feel much safer on a big bus and knew that 12GOAsia uses Boonsiri for their Koh Chang & Koh Kood transfers which always comes with a big (and quite modern) Boonsiri bus, a snack and a modern Boonsiri ferry! And since it’s the same price anyway we would ALWAYS go with the big bus option.
CHECK FOR AVAILABITY AND PRICES HERE:Powered by 12Go Asia system
Note that when booking the Boonsiri transfer with 12GoAsia your bus will leave from their booking office near Khao San Road. We always book a hotel nearby so that we can easily walk to the bus in the morning. For that we can highly recommend the Lamphuhouse Hotel* which is located just a 5 minutes’ walk from the booking office in a quiet side alley. We stayed there several times and with rooms starting from 15 EUR you can’t go wrong. (Room tip – we especially like the balcony room with A/C but the standard rooms with fans and en-suite bathrooms where fine as well.
Koh Chang to Bangkok – Using the 999 government bus vs. package deal from local agents
Now for our journey from Koh Chang back to Bangkok we got a bit adventurous and wanted to see how a self-organized transfer using the public ferry and the local 999 government bus would compare to a pre-booked package deal which you can buy pretty much everywhere on the island to find out – which of these options was the cheaper and better one.
As we knew we wanted to be as cheap as possible while also having the comfort of a big bus we quickly realized that we would have to organize it ourselves as all local agents would only sell the transfer back to Bangkok on Mini-Vans! Not one offered the option of using a proper bus saying that they would only use big busses in high season. Apparently beginning of December when we needed the transfer did NOT fall into high season.
However, going the local way using public transport gave us the opportunity to see how this option compared to the pre-booked package deals.
In case you’re also planning on taking the local 999 Government Bus back to Bangkok here is a detailed description of our experience.
Koh Chang – Bangkok with the 999 Government Bus
We already booked our tickets for the 999 government bus a few days in advance as seats are limited. You can do the booking through: https://www.busticket.in.th/. It was about 260 THB pP plus a management fee.
There are 2 public busses going from Center Point Pier (mainland) to Ekamai Station in Bangkok every day. As the journey takes quite a few hours we opted for the bus leaving at 14:30 pm and then planned everything around accordingly.
11:30 AM: Check-out from our hotel at Klong Prao Beach and looking for a Taxi that would take us the Center Point Pier on Koh Chang.
Apparently there is a public shuttle going from Bang Bao to the pier at around noon every day which only costs 80 THB pP. However, nobody could tell us when the taxi would pass through Klong Prao exactly and as we wanted to catch the ferry at 12:30pm we didn’t want to risk missing it so we opted to take a “private” taxi which cost us 600 THB/Taxi. Luckily we were 4 people going from the hotel to the ferry pier (so it was 150 THB pP), otherwise this would have been way too expensive.
Attention: Transfer Hotel to Pier
Note that if you don’t take the mentioned shared taxi (80 THB/pP) which runs at around noon your only option is a private taxi (it’s the exact same shared taxi you see going around the island only that they’ll suddenly call themselves “private” taxi when taking you to the pier). We checked with several taxis and they always quoted us 600 THB per taxi ride.
12:15 PM: Arrival at Center Point Pier, Koh Chang
Right on time. At least so we thought until we saw our ferry LEAVING! Turns out that the scheduled departure was different from the timetable we found online. Instead of leaving at 12:30pm the ferry left already at 12:15pm.
Luckily we had a bit of a buffer so knew we would still be able to catch our bus when taking the next ferry at 1:30pm. So we got our ferry tickets (80 THB pP) from the small little ticket counter and sat down in the only coffee/food place there was.
1:30pm: Departure Centrepoint Pier, Koh Chang
When the ferry arrives foot passengers can board first before the scooters, cars and vans.
Note that if you’ve booked the package with the local agent chances are your mini-van will also take this ferry and you will stay on that same mini-van with the same driver all the way to Bangkok.
The ferry itself is nothing special and very rusty. It comes with an open-deck seating area upstairs (no inside area or A/C rooms) and a small shop that serves snacks. Definitely much less modern and less comfortable than the Boonsiri ferry we took to get to Koh Chang (as part of our 12GoAsia booking).
However on the plus side – the crossing is much shorter and only takes around 40 minutes.
2:15 PM: Arrival Center Point Pier, Mainland
From here you take a rusty old shuttle bus back to the bus terminal (free). Luckily it’s just a short 2-3 minute drive and it did the job but again, the trolley ride included in our 12GoAsia package which took us from the Waiting area to the Boonsiri Pier was a bit more, well trustworthy 😊
Once you get to the bus terminal you need to check-in at the counter for the 999 government bus (if you haven’t bought your ticket yet, here is your chance). There is also toilet + a few snack stalls nearby.
2:30 PM: Departure 999 Government Bus Center Point Pier
The bus left right on time. It was maybe not as modern as the private busses but we’ve definitely seen worse. We even got a little snack box (instant coffee + bread snack + bottle of water) but make sure to pack some more snacks as this won’t last you long. There is also a toilet on board.
TOILET & SNACK STOPS
Note that there will only be ONE stop where you’re allowed to get off the bus for a toilet break or to buy some food which was after around 3-4 hours!
2:45 PM: Arrival at Natural Pier to pick up a few more passengers (mainly locals)
4:15 PM: Chantaburi Bus Terminal
We just stopped for a few minutes to pick up more passengers however, we’ve heard that if you go from Bangkok to Koh Chang on the 999 government bus, than this is where you’ll have your longer toilet + food stop.
6:30 PM: Toilet + Snack stop
We stopped for 10 minutes at a gas station where you’ll find some toilets as well as a 7-11 supermarket to buy some snacks or drinks. As it’s still a few hours to go from here to Bangkok you better stock up!
8:25 PM: Arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok
9:30 PM: Arrival at Ekamai Bus Terminal, Bangkok
This is your final stop when taking the 999 government bus. In total the drive from Center Point Pier to Bangkok took us 7 hours.
As our hotel wasn’t located in walking distance we simply called a Grab Taxi to get us to our accommodation near Khao San Road which was an extra 280 THB divided by 4. (so roughly 50 THB pP). However, there is also a Skytrain station right across the street which might be useful and cheaper depending on where you’re staying.
If you’re travelling as a group, taking the local ferry + the 999 government bus might be your cheapest and best value-for-money option as we ended up paying roughly 580 THB.
However, this was mainly down to splitting costs for taxi rides. If you’re travelling solo or as a couple make sure to budget for those extra taxi costs which will sum up quickly – making this supposedly cheaper trip much more expensive in the end than the package deals.
For the next time, we would probably go with the 12GoAsia Transfer package again for our trip to Koh Chang (for all the reasons mentioned at the beginning of the article). For the return journey, especially if we aren’t travelling with friends, we would probably consider booking with a local agent and taking the mini-van, as it’s more or less the same price but much faster. However, if you’re scared of mini-vans than the 999 government bus is definitely a good alternative.
For our Trip from Koh Chang back to Bangkok we also created this little overview:
- * The local tour agents only use busses in high season (approx. mid Dec – mid January), if there aren’t enough people they will switch to Mini-Vans
- ** If you book your ticket for the 999 government bus online you can pay by credit card. For anything you’re paying on the spot such as the ferry crossing, the taxi to the ferry and also the bus, if you didn’t do the online booking before, you have to pay in cash.
- *** Although the bus ride in general is much more comfortable than sitting in the mini-van used by local tour agents, the journey takes so much longer which costs some comfort points.
As a small reminder the following links are affiliate links as well, which means that if you book a stay through these links, we’ll get a small commission. Don’t worry–the price is still the same for you.
Where to stay on Koh Chang?
When visiting Koh Chang in November 2019 we decided to stay in the Bang Bao Bay area which is the less touristy part of Koh Chang. It’s also ideal for a trip to the abandoned cruise liner as you can simply walk there (20 – 30 minutes on foot).
We found a cute and very affordable guesthouse directly on Bang Bao Pier which we can highly recommend called Bang Bao Paradise Home Stay* This cute family-run accommodation offers cozy bungalows directly over the water as well as a beautiful deck where you can relax, enjoy a delicious breakfast or watch the sunset. Some rooms are very basic with shared bathrooms and no A/C, others come equipped with A/C and ensuite-bathrooms (starting from approx. 20 USD/night). However note that there are only a view rooms available and it’s usually fully booked so be quick! 🙂
Further reading suggestion: Koh Chang Scooter Tour
Want to see more of Koh Chang? Make sure to check out our post: Scooter Tour on Koh Chang – Exploring the beaches along the west coast giving you all the information on what else to see and do on this amazing island.
– Quick Guide –
How much does it cost to travel from Bangkok to Koh Chang?
We paid 600 THB (= $20) per person for the Boonsiri Bus + Ferry package booking our tickets online with 12GoAsia. In total the journey took us 7 hours to get from Bangkok to Koh Chang.
Best things to do on Koh Chang?
1) Relax and recharge
2) Rent a scooter and explore the island
3) Go Beach Hopping
4) Chase some waterfalls
5) See an abandoned cruise ship
6) Watch a sunset
Where to stay on Koh Chang island
For visiting the abandonded cruise ship your ideal starting point is Klong Kloi Beach or Bang Bao Bay.
We stayed at the Bang Bao Paradise Home Stay*. which was ideal for a trip on foot to the ship.
* = Affiliate links.