Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Ko Phayam.
Happy Air/Ranong Air has a useless website and no online booking facilities. You will probably need to book tickets through a travel agent if they are actually flying to Ranong next season. Last high season they had three or four flights a week (depending on who you asked) and prices were 3,200 baht one way, 5,200 baht return. The website doesn't make it clear whether or not this airline actually has flights to Ranong any more as their schedule page is totally blank.
The nearest station is Chumphon and the best overnight train to catch is the Express number 85 which leaves Hualumphong at 19:30. From Chumphon it takes about two hours to get to Ranong by bus or minibus. It is possible to make the morning ferry or speedboat if you manage to get a spare seat on the first visa-run minibus to Ranong, and you might just make it on the first bus out too. If not you'll have to spend the morning in Ranong and get the afternoon boat. An overnight bus from Bangkok is a more straightforward way of getting to Ranong.
Both government and private VIP buses leave from the Southern Bus Terminal in Bangkok and the journey time is about 9 hours. The two private bus companies (New Mit Tour and Chok Anan Tour) both stop at Ranong bus station but passengers can also get dropped off at their offices in Ranong which saves you having to get transport from the bus station into town. The government VIP bus only drops people at the bus station and fares are more expensive than the private bus companies.
Overnight buses leave Bangkok at around 20:00-21:00 and get to Ranong in time for the morning ferries. Daytime buses also leave around 09:00 but these arrive in Ranong too late to catch a ferry the same day. Cheaper but less comfortable second class air-con buses are also available. A VIP bus costs 666 baht (departs Bangkok 20:00) and a first class bus 428 baht (departs Bangkok 20:30).
In high season there are two slow boats and three speedboats a day. In low season there are no speedboat services and just one slow boat a day, weather permitting. Ferries from Ranong leave from Saphan Pla pier which is about five kilometres from the centre of town. To get to the pier:
Car or pick up truck
Pon's Place is a reliable (but always busy) travel agency which offers tourists this service for every ferry departure. T: (077) 823 344; (081) 597 4549. email@example.com
A red No. 3 (from the market) or blue No. 6 (from the bus station) will drop you off at the pier turnoff. The No. 6 has a more circuitous route and takes longer so best to choose a No. 3 if you're leaving from the market. The pier is a few minutes' walk from where they drop you off. Just go straight down the road and you'll see the pier on your left once you've gone round the corner. Songthaews are the cheapest but slowest option; allow at least 30 minutes to get to the pier from the centre of town.
These are plentiful and a fast way of getting to the pier if you don't have too much luggage.
If the tide is very low a different pier may be used. When this happens transport to the alternative pier is usually provided for free but you need to be at the pier at least 15-20 minutes prior to departure.
The speedboats have limited capacity and are often full. It's strongly recommended to book speedboat tickets in advance in peak season and safer to do it in high season as well. Pon's Place or your guesthouse on Ko Phayam can do this for you. The slow boat is a bit more flexible as far as capacity is concerned but there have been cases of tourists getting left at the pier due to lack of space on the slow boats too. Another reason to not get to the pier at the last minute!
High season ferry schedule
Slow boat (approximately 2 hours, 150B)
Ranong to Phayam: 9:30 and 14:00
Phayam to Ranong : 8:30 and 14:00
Speedboat (approximately 45 minutes, 350B)
Ranong to Phayam: 10:00, 14:00 and 17:00
Phayam to Ranong: 09:00 and 13:00
There is also a longtail boat that departs daily during high season from nearby Ko Chang's Koh Chang Resort at 10:00 for 150B. The boat returns to Ko Chang at 16:00.
Low season ferry schedule (May-October)
In low season there are no speedboats but the slow boats still run daily, weather permitting.
Free island maps showing shops, accommodation, places of interest, roads and walking tracks are available on the island and also in Ranong on the mainland. Most people rent a motorbike but cycling is also a good way of exploring the island as there aren't too many steep hills and some people even prefer to walk everywhere.
A motorbike costs around 200B a day to rent and a decent bicycle is about 100B.
The island also has a fleet of motorbike taxis waiting at the pier to transfer guests and luggage to their chosen resort when the ferries arrive. All motorbike taxis charge the same fixed rates and the price depends on where you're going but it's typically 50-70B. Your resort can call a motorbike taxi for the return journey or any other time you may need one.
A couple of electric golf carts are used by the most expensive resorts to pick up guests and their suitcases but if you're staying in an ordinary resort it's best to use a backpack as it's much easier to transport on a motorbike. Nobody wears motorbike helmets and because there are no cars, the transportation of young children and babies is also by motorbike.