Sunday, September 18, 2011

Getting to Samui the Cheaper Way

Bangkok Airways monopolized the only airport in Samui, and with that, they shout the price they want and we have no choice, or do we? Well a short flight in Bangkok Airways to Samui from Suvanaphum cost THB 3,000 one way at least (and that's during the promotion period). Double that and double the passenger, it cost THB 12,000 at least for a round trip. Yes you buy the time and the convenience, but I did it all for less than THB 5,000. That, I took the alternative, going by Air Asia to Surat Thani, and a ferry across to the island paradise. All in all, six hours or so of adventure I see it to be, and it was definitely worth the savings.

Hunting for good cheap budget airlines promotion, one could end up with return tickets for two as cheap as THB 2,000, so with that I had a smile broader then Joker in Batman - The Dark Knight . Now, once at the airport in Surat, there are 2 ways to get across to Samui. I rented a Vios from Hertz, and enjoyed my one and half hours drive over to the ferry terminal at Donsak. Or, you could purchase the bus tickets inclusive of the sea crossing while on board Air Asia when the staffs announces it.

Getting to that speck of paradise in the Ao Thai Sea consist of an enjoyable drive across well paved roads covering a distance of about 100km, that which I took one and half hours. The critical point to note is that the last ferry leaves at 19:00 hrs. So if you arrive at Surat at 16:00 to rent a car, you could be skating on thin ice. The thing about the ferry service is that, you do not know how long a queue there will be till you get there. I bought my advance ferry tickets at Raja Ferry counter at the airport for about THB 500 and they could not guarantee my getting over to Samui on the same day. You have to expect the worst if you are going during the public holiday season, so plan your timing well. Coordinates for Raja Ferry Terminal at Donsak is 9°19'42.41"N , 99°44'39.62"E .

Now, something about renting the car from Hertz, make sure you check them wheels before you take the car. It was into the second day on the island that we realized there was something stuck in our wheels. We called Hertz, they said, whatever we do, don't pull that out. It was part of the previous puncture repairs. The job looked shoddy and we asked what if the tire went flat while we were driving, won't that be dangerous? Should we not get proper wheels in the first place where safety is concerned? To which, there was no answer to our question.

Anyways, I did arrived at Donsak after a fun hour of discovering that being in the Vios taking on corners is like being in a ferry before I even got on one and that the 2000cc engine can churn out quite good torque even at speeds beyond 150km/h. I was relieved to see the clam pier with only less than five vehicles on queue and my girlfriend was glad we were still alive.

We caught the 6pm ferry, drove over the rusty gangway into the belly of the beast, we left the car on the lower deck and head on up into the comfy lounge area above to spend the next one and half hours looking through large windows as the sky turned an orange and into the deep blue. We walked the upper decks and have the breeze blow our hairs into a frenzy.

I was quite surprised the ferry was rather presentable, but not every day is we-strike-lottery day as you can see from the pictures above, on our return trip the other ferry in the Raja fleet was of a much inferior quality. Getting to a destination by never tried before means, yet another exploration chapter in my book of adventures as it continues in Thailand.


Brunty said...

Great post and a big saving and the airfares are a rip off. You can fly international cheaper than that return. I think this sounds like a more adventurous and fun trip and the ferry looked pretty decent. More money in your pocket to spend sounds a good idea to me. Thanks for sharing.

Samui Villas said...

Nice post! This is actually a really great idea to save some money (leaving you with more to spend when you reach the island). Cool photos too. Thanks for sharing.