A special air-conditioned tourist bus leaves regularly just outside and downstairs from the new Bangkok Airport arrivals area, and takes you directly to Khao San Road. For newcomers to Thailand, this may be the best place to start out, as it is the most “tourist-friendly” neighborhood. Purchase a joint ticket from any of the hundreds of travel agents in Bangkok. You may choose with this ticket to go by overnight bus (usually 36 seats) for approximately 600 Baht or to go by second-class train sleeper (fan) for approximately 1000 Baht (ticket is around 50 Baht cheaper for the upper bunk). If you choose to take the bus, you will be directed where to meet it usually at about 18.00; if you choose the train it is your own responsibility to get yourself to the Hualamphong Train Station in the later afternoon; any taxi or tuk-tuk can take you. This ticket pays for your journey south to Surat Thani, transfer early in the morning (usually about 06.00-07.30) to the pier, and a boat ticket for the remainder of your journey to the island. You will arrive at the pier in Thongsala, the main town on Koh Phangan by noon.
For a complete schedule of trains between Bangkok and Surat Thani, call +66 (0)22 204334 or visit www.railway.co.th. It is possible to do this trip on your own, but a bit more cumbersome than the joint ticket option.
If you have a lot of luggage, you may want to take the government bus, +66 (0)2 434 7192 in Bangkok (or +66 (0)77 238762 on Koh Phangan). It leaves daily from the Bangkok Southern Bus Station (“Sai Tai Mai”) at 19:45, and costs about 1200 Baht. Get there early to secure a seat. The main advantage to this route is that once you put your luggage on the bus, you will not need to move it from taxi to train to shuttle bus to pier to boat to taxi. The bus will take your luggage all the way from the Bangkok bus station to the Koh Phangan taxi stand. You may also take the Lomprayah catamaran via Chumporn pier combined with bus to reach the island quite fast. Buses leave Bangkok from the Khao San Road area (just off Rambuttri, where the Lomprayah office is located) at 21.00 (arriving on Koh Phangan at 10.30) and at 06.00, arriving on the island at 16.00. Tickets cost around 1100 Baht. Call +66 (0)77 238412 or visit www.lomprayah.com.
For those who wish to save time instead of money, you may also fly directly from Bangkok Airport to Koh Samui, the adjacent island, for approximately (cheaper fares can be found at inconvenient hours but you might may not find a connecting ferry). The main carrier is Bangkok Airways; arrange this flight in advance, online, or at the Bangkok Airport. You can also try www.airasia.com, www.airninja.com or www.flylowcostairlines.org to find which airlines are currently flying this route.
From Samui you would take a shared taxi to the Lomprayah pier near Big Buddha (if you can catch the Lomprayah catamaran, you can check the ferry times at the airport or to the main port of Nathon, from where all other boats leave regularly for Koh Phangan, again, check the times at the airport. Call Bangkok Air at +66 (0)22 655555 or visit www.bangkokair.com. Lomprayah often has representatives at the airport who will book you a taxi and boat ticket on site; and the airport has a stand just after the luggage pickup which arranges taxis and group-share buses to the ferry terminals. Its easy.