One of the great things about traveling around Thailand is that lots of other people are doing it too so you can make arrangements to get most anywhere no matter where you are by using local agents. We always got at least two prices (often there was a difference), if in doubt we went with the agency which would be easiest to track down if there was an issue and if it one price was way too cheap we avoided it.
We traveled from Ko Lanta to Ko Phangan using multiple modes of transportation. The total price was 950 Bht each. We were picked up at our hotel on Long Beach in Ko Lanta by a crowded air conditioned van which we took on a ferry. We drove for a while, took another ferry and ended up at a bus depot in Karbbi town which was out of the way and had overpriced food. As with all trips in Thailand we had extra time at each stop and were strongly encouraged to buy food from whichever spot we were delivered to.
We were all given stickers of different colours and after some discussion we got blue ones. A bus arrived and all the people with yellow stickers (who were going to Bangkok) were told to get on. The blue sticker people were then told to get on as well. We were a little concerned because we did not want to go to Bangkok. The bus took us all to a restaurant in the backstreets of Surat Thani where we were of course told to buy food. It was 6:30pm and we were taking an overnight boat to Ko Phangan which left at 11:00pm. We bought some not very exciting fried rice and were then loaded into a share taxi and taken to the port, Ban Don Pier which turned out to be close by. There was an active night market in the port with all kinds of vendors selling all kinds of food at local prices which looked really good. If we had known more about where we were we would have walked to the port and eaten.
The share taxi driver bought us tickets for the overnight ferry trip they were 400 Bht each and it was included in the 950 Bht we had paid for the trip. The guy selling the tickets was sitting at a desk with a ledger in an undershirt which was a bit unusual but he was friendly.
We had booked passage on the night boat which is actually a supply boat for the island. The lower deck was loaded with all sorts of supplies including, eggs, peppers, and motorcycles. There were locals sleeping on that deck. The tourists slept one deck up in a single room with rows of mats along the sides. The pillows were rock hard and I don’t really want to know what was living in the mats but we put a beach mat and some pillow cases from home down and hoped for the best.
We had time to kill so we left the big bags on the boat which was guarded by the guy in the undershirt had a beer, bought some 50 Bht flip flops and explored the night market. There was a shadow puppet show and lots of stalls and amusements for kids. Everything closed at 9:30 so we went back to the boat. The crossing was smooth and we managed to get a window open so other than being under the only light which was on all night we slept well.
We arrived in Ko Pangan early the next morning. A woman on the boat tried to convince us to book at taxi to our hotel for 900Bht but it sounded too high so we turned it down. It was 5:30am when we arrived on the dock at Thong Sala a little earlier and darker than we had hoped. There was a jeep taxi going across the island to Than Sadet at 1pm but we had no idea where to catch it, we had full packs and it was really dark.
There were share taxis on the dock to meet the boat. The first one wanted 1200 Bht but we eventually settled on 300 Bht each. Our hotel was on the quiet part of the Island and rather isolated so we were not too sure about taking a taxi there and arriving at 7:00 am with a 1:00 pm check in. We did not have a better plan so we went any way.
We had read that the road across the island was very rough and not drivable without a jeep but it turned out to be better than expected. Lots of ups and downs and only a few unpaved sections where we drove down the middle of the road and crossed our fingers and hoped nothing bigger than us was coming the other way. Large sections of the road looked like they had been recently paved.
Ko Phangan is famous worldwide as a party island and the major party is the full moon party at Hat Rim. 30,000 tourists pack Hat Rim every 30 days for a wild party involving body paint, tecno music, a lot of drinking and a lot of drugs. The popularity of the full moon parties has lead to ½ moon parties, waterfall parties and jungle parties. Hotel prices go way up on party nights although many tour operators offer trips to Ko Phangan for party nights with no accommodation so you can party all night and just come back in the morning. The local police are trying to crack down on the drugs.