Heading back from Koh Lanta to Bangkok the easiest and most sensible way is to get to the mainland either by van/ferry or by boat first and then proceed to the capital by plane or by bus. If you want to travel by train, your best bet is Suratthani or Chumphon, but you will need to reach either of them by bus first. If you do not want to plan your trip to Bangkok all by yourself, there are a lot of tour agencies in Ban Saladan on Koh Lanta ready to offer you package tours to Bangkok, but as prices, travel times and means of transport included into such packages vary greatly, always check the itinerary in advance to avoid any possible disappointment of spending much more in terms of money and time than you have expected (e.g. if going via Koh Phi Phi, for instance).
From Koh Lanta to Bangkok via Krabi or Phuket
Krabi and Phuket are two most convenient airports for a quick hop from Koh Lanta to Bangkok. Tigerline Ferry offers a direct ferry+van combo from Koh Lanta to either of them (THB1100 and THB1700 respectively). Note that these are two separate routs: Koh Lanta–Krabi is served by the Krabi Route boat and Koh Lanta–Phuket is included into the Andaman Route of the same company. It takes 4½ hours to get to either airport from Koh Lanta, and the only reason why you may want to consider Phuket instead of Krabi is a wider choice of flights from Phuket to Bangkok.
Thai AirAsia, Thai Lion Air and Thai Smile all operate daily flights between Phuket and both airports in Bangkok: the two former are based in Don Mueang, the latter flies to Suvarnabhumi. Though ‘Bangkok to Phuket’ and vice versa routes are among the most popular ones in Thailand, almost any time of the year you can buy one-way tickets for about THB1000, and often even cheaper (THB750); travel time is 1½ hour.
That said, Krabi is probably a more convenient stop on your way to Bangkok from Koh Lanta as it is the closest to Koh Lanta large town on the firm land and can be reached not only by boat but by van+ferry as well. Vans drive through to Koh Lanta Noi which is now connected to Koh Lanta Yai by a new bridge and then take a car ferry from Koh Lanta Noi to the mainland (7 minutes; but you may need to queue for a fair amount of time, especially during high season). Shop around to find deals under THB600 per person for a van ride from Koh Lanta to Krabi airport. The distance your van has to cover is around 75 km, and it takes under two hours to get from Koh Lanta to Krabi airport.
If you are travelling as a group of friends or a family, consider ordering a private transfer from Koh Lanta to Krabi Airport – if there are more than five people in your group, you end up paying less for the private transfer than for any other means of transport between Koh Lanta and Krabi airport. A 9 pax van will cost you THB3000. On Koh Lanta, you can choose any pick up location which means you will not need to get to the pier/Ban Saladan all by yourself.
The airfare for Krabi–Bangkok tickets is more or less the same as for Phuket–Bangkok route (from THB700 one-way) and you have the same choice of airlines flying to Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok. For the best deals check Thai Lion Air – they include some checked luggage into their ticket price.
If you are against air travel by some reason, both Phuket and Krabi are linked to Bangkok by long haul buses. Buses take from 12 to 14 hours to bring you to Bangkok and cost between THB450 (Express buses) to THB1000 (VIP24). Most buses arrive to the Southern Bus Terminal on the Western banks of the Chao Phraya River, but buses of some private companies proceed further north to Morchit Bus Terminal.
From Koh Lanta to Bangkok via Suratthani
Though it is not the fastest way to get from Koh Lanta to Bangkok, those who love travelling by train can pass via Suratthani. Suratthani is located on the Gulf Coast and to get to Suratthani from Koh Lanta you can take a van from Koh Lanta to Krabi and then switch onto a bus to Suratthani (4 hours, THB250). There is a package deal from Koh Lanta to Suratthani, too – check in the street tour agencies (THB900).
Tip: Note that Suratthani train station is located in the town of Phun Phin, not in Suratthani proper.
At Suratthai train station take a train to Bangkok. The most convenient trains #86 and #84 pass Phun Phin at 6.37pm and 9.05pm respectively and deliver you to Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok the next morning by 6.30am and 8.30am. Both have first and second class sleepers (THB1500 and THB1000).
Why go to Bangkok
Is there another Asian capital where the latest progress and traditional lifestyle blend in such a harmony as in Bangkok? Bold skyscrapers pierce the skies, golden temples adorn the city; chic shopping malls host top world brands while the vibrant street markets tempt with delicious flavours of the yummiest and spiciest local dishes. State-of-the-art skytrain cuts through the city, flying high above the street bustle, clumsy ferries ply the muddy waters of the Chao Phraya River and it seems that real magic helps speeding cheerful pink, yellow and green taxis find their way through the labyrinths of incredible Bangkok spaghetti junctions.
As centuries ago, the stately prangs of Wat Arun catch the first rays of sun dawning over the capital and the dazzling chedis of Wat Phra Kaew shine bright. Austere giant Yaks guard the capital while the Bangkokians and the guests of the Land of Smile alike dine and wine in the vertigo rooftop restaurants, work, party and picnic. Steel and concrete have not yet taken control over leafy parks and squares, and quaint khlongs embraced by wide modern thoroughfares are reminiscent of the times when the Bangkok of today was only a newborn.
Where to stay in Bangkok
It is easy to get lost in the sprawling neighbourhoods of Bangkok and become totally confused by the endless accommodation options on offer. First thing to do is to define the budget you are going to spend on accommodation and take into consideration the activities you are planning to be engaged in while in Bangkok.
A perennial backpackers’ favourite, Khao San Road and a couple of adjacent streets, including Soi Rambuttri, Soi Phra Atit and Soi Samsen, is the realm of budget accommodation in the capital with all the traveller-oriented services readily available. Chinatown, known as Yaowarat, possesses infinite charm for any city explorer and boasts very decent budget guesthouses. Silom and lower parts of Sukhumvit Road both have solid mad-range hotels normally located within a walking distance from BTS stations. For a shopaholic paradise head to the centrally located Siam but be prepared to pay no less than THB2000 for a simple room. The atmospheric Riverside is famous for its luxury hotels but for budget digs Thanon Charoen Krung is worth browsing.
Things to do in Bangkok
Time spent in Bangkok is never enough as the city offers virtually endless opportunities for exploring, sightseeing, dining and wining. While everyone will surely find an activity and a destination within Bangkok to their tasting, no visit to the Thai capital is complete without:
- Checking-in at the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew where the most revered image of Buddha in the whole country is hosted.
- A heavenly massage session at Wat Pho, the national headquarters of preservation of Thai medicine.
- A drink in one of the glamorous rooftop bars with an outstanding city view in a company of beautiful crowd.
- A river boat ride along Chao Phraya elbow to elbow with other commuters and unexpected water splashes into your face.
- Browsing the narrow twisted aisles of the crazy Chatuchak weekend market selling a wealth of souvenirs, cheap closes, local designer creations and exotic animals.
- A relaxed afternoon at Jim Thompson House, a leafy little oasis of peace and tranquillity by the side of a khlong.
- A strenuous ascend to the main prang of Wat Arun or to the top of the Golden Mountain.
- A ride on a skytrain for a bird’s eye view of the city.
Have a pleasant stay in Bangkok. Relax and enjoy – we know, you will!