Koh Samui
April 19, 2024

Your essential guide to Koh Samui Airport

Koh Samui Airport has won every award going for the most relaxed place you could ever hope to board a flight – and almost all of it is outside.

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Koh Samui Airport Guide

Koh Samui Airport has won every award going for the most relaxed place you could ever hope to board a flight and almost all of it is outside. Whether you’re arriving, departing or just starting to plan your trip, below, find answers to all your airport questions.

Arriving at Koh Samui Airport

Welcome! If you're looking for a quick guide to start your holiday on Koh Samui, here are a few helpful tips:

Start here

How to arrive on Koh Samui an island expert? Start with The Koh Samui Guide. Since 2012, it’s helped people in 97 countries plan and enjoy incredible Samui vacations.

The Koh Samui Guide
The Koh Samui Guide

No matter what stage of holiday planning you’re in (whether you’re deciding on Koh Samui as a destination or are sitting on packed suitcases), The Koh Samui Guide puts everything you need to know in one tidy place.

Whether you’re totally spontaneous or a list-making travel fiend, a parent, a honeymooner, a retired couple, a solo traveller with a backpack and a yoga mat – even an obsessive bird-watcher – The Koh Samui Guide makes sure the reality of your trip is even better than you hope.⁣

Airport transfers

Arrivals at Koh Samui Airport
Depending on your destination, you might save roughly 30% to 55% by booking your airport transfer yourself (independently of your hotel).

While you can of course arrange your airport transfers directly through your hotel, you can also arrange it independently. By doing so, you’ll likely enjoy some cost savings.

Book your airport transfer: It’s easy to book your Samui airport transfer online with a range of car options depending on your group size and luggage requirements.

Need to back up? Don’t have a destination quite yet? See where to stay on Koh Samui.

How much are airport transfers to and from Koh Samui Airport?

If booked directly through your hotel, airport transfers to or from Samui airport will cost between 300 to 2500 THB depending on the hotel, its relative fanciness and the distance. That’s approximately £6.65 or US$8.50 for hotels relatively close to the airport up to £55 or US$70 for a high-end hotel further away.

The average one-way transfer is 700 THB (£16 or US$20) when booked directly through your hotel. Booking it yourself? You can easily save 50% or more. Here’s how.

Tip: Transfer to Holiday Inn Resort in Bophut is one of the most reasonably priced, whereas – no surprise – transfer to Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui has an extra zero.

Airport transfers booked through your hotel (one way):

  • Rates range from 300 to 2500 THB (£7 to £56 or US$9 to US$71)
  • The average rate is 700 THB (£16 or US$20) in each direction

With this in mind, it’s worth doing a cost comparison and, depending on your travel budget, it’s probably worth booking your own transfer. I made a few test searches for popular Samui hotels and found the following:

Koh Samui Airport to SALA Samui Choengmon Beach Resort (Choeng Mon)

  • Rate booked through hotel: 700 THB
  • Rate booked yourself: 474 THB (standard car for 3 people), 518 THB (people carrier for 4 people) or 719 THB for a minibus (up to 9 people).

Koh Samui Airport to Bandara Resort & Spa (Bophut)

  • Rate booked through hotel: 1000 THB
  • Rate booked yourself: 486 THB (standard car for 3 people), 620 THB (people carrier for 4 people) or 847 THB for a minibus (up to 9 people).

Koh Samui Airport to Lub d Koh Samui Chaweng Beach (Chaweng)

  • Rate booked through hotel: 700 THB
  • Rate booked yourself: 441 THB (standard car for 3 people), 518 THB (people carrier for 4 people) or 719 THB for a minibus (up to 9 people).

So if you’re coming as a couple and just need a small car, you could book your own airport transfer and save anywhere between 30% to 55% of the cost. As a group of four, your savings using the above examples would be between 26% to 48% – still well worth the effort. (Especially if you translate all savings into Singha Spending).

The rates above include taxes, fees and gratuity (but might not cover additional requests such as child seats).

The arrivals terminal at Koh Samui Airport
In total Thai style, Koh Samui Airport is almost entirely open-air pavilion

How to book your Koh Samui airport transfer?

1. To book your airport transfer directly, first, choose whether you’d like a one-way or return transfer. Got your flights booked? If so, for convenience, it’s probably worth booking your transfers for both directions in one go and then you don’t have to think about it again.

2. Next, enter ‘Koh Samui Airport’ as your pick-up location (it will come up as ‘Samui International Airport’ – same place) and then your hotel as your destination.

3. Add your arrival date and the time of your flight’s arrival, then the number of people in your group. Click search.

4. On the next page, choose your type of car. If you’d like to get fancy click ‘Show More’ to reveal flashy options like Mercedeseses.

5. In the comment box, add any special requests like whether you need child seats or what you’d like the names on the driver’s sign to be.

6. Finally, add your flight details – this is the magic bit that makes it someone else’s problem if your flight is early or delayed. The driver will be there (he or she will wait for 45 minutes after your flight arrives) so you don’t have to worry.

7. That’s it – click book and pay. (Then get back to planning the fun stuff).

If you need to cancel, you can do so up to 24 hours in advance.

Don’t worry about needing hotel addresses – unless you’ve managed to find some utterly obscure brand-new hidden-in-a-cave secret villa, the transport company will know where it is.

Car rental at Koh Samui Airport?

Want to drive yourself into the sunset? No problem. It’s easy to rent a car on Koh Samui, and picking up a hire car at Koh Samui Airport is easy to arrange.

How to rent a car on Koh Samui?

Find the long answer in this detailed post (which covers all your FAQs about hire cars and driving on Samui), or simply jump into your car booking online. All the big names in car rentals have desks in the arrivals area of Koh Samui Airport.

More questions?

Wondering how to transfer from Bangkok? Got immigration questions or just totally confused about every step of everything? It’s all in The Koh Samui Guide – specifically the ‘Getting Here’ chapter that starts on page 194. If you still have questions at this point – everything is answered in the guide.

Departing from Koh Samui Airport

You'll be glad to know that departing from Koh Samui Airport is almost as stress-free as arriving.

Domestic departures at  Koh Samui Airport
Domestic departures at Koh Samui Airport

When should I arrive at Koh Samui Airport for check-in?

For pretty boring legal reasons, I’m obliged to say that you should make sure you arrive at USM with enough time to check in two hours before your departure. But, with a heaping dose of caveat emptor, I’ve found this can be flexible. I favour ninety minutes.

Bangkok Airways offers kiosk check-in from 24 hours to 1 hour before departure with 90 minutes required for international bag drop. As a cutting-it-close minimum, you need to be at the gate 30 minutes before a Bangkok Airways domestic flight and 40 minutes before an international flight.

(Make it 3 hours if, like the poor man I saw last Christmas, you left your passport at the hotel. A forty-minute drive away).

Flying Bangkok Airways?Get my best tips for flying Bangkok Airways, including check-in times and luggage weight.

Transit time to Koh Samui Airport?

In general:

  • 10-ish  minutes from Choeng Mon and Bang Rak
  • 15-ish minutes from Chaweng and Bophut
  • 30-ish minutes from Maenam and Lamai
  • 30+ minutes from the island's opposite corners, Lipa Noi, Nathon and Taling Ngam

Your hotel concierge and/or Google Maps will be able to give you an accurate idea of the drive time to the airport, depending on both your location and time of day. Believe or not, Samui does have a rush hour. As with all experiences, your mileage may vary.

Aiming to arrive at the airport ninety minutes before a domestic flight, my math is as follows. Leaving from somewhere like SALA Samui Choeng Mon, I’d take the Google Maps time of 10 minutes and add 5 minutes as a buffer – then another 5 minutes for loading in luggage to the car or van. So, for a 12 pm domestic flight, I’d leave Choeng Mon at 10:10 am and be confident of a stress-free experience with lots of time for a fresh coconut or a coffee.

Travelling with kids? Adjust the math accordingly.

Busy times of the year? Around Christmas or New Year or after a Full Moon Party, add a little more time to account for a busy airport.

Since you'll no doubt be coming back to Samui, I recommend giving yourselves a little longer the first time, and of course, as much time as you need to be cool and comfortable when flying. This is not the time to undo all your holiday relaxation.

Gardens at Koh Samui Airport
Koh Samui Airport gardens

Early morning flights from Koh Samui?

Many flights returning to Europe from Bangkok leave in the late morning or early afternoon, so, depending on where you're heading, there's a chance you'll be on an early hop from Samui.

The earliest flight out of Samui departs at 7 am, and the next, depending on the day of the week, tends to leave around 8 am. Are you on the early flight? If so, you'll find the streets of Samui still very dark, and more or less empty. With one flight going out and none yet coming in, Samui is still pretty sleepy at this time of the morning.

Once checked in, you can choose to proceed straight to the gate (which may include passport control if you're on an international flight or connecting to one in Bangkok)  or take your time to enjoy and explore the world's friendliest airport.

What to expect at, and after, check-in?

Combined with friendly, helpful staff and a new terminal designed to handle a few flights' worth of passengers, check-in is usually efficient with a short 10-15 minute wait (but do plan on longer at busy travel times like Christmas, New Year, etc).

Koh Samui Airport departures also tend to be busy for the few days following a Full Moon Party on nearby Koh Phangan, so check the events calendar and plan accordingly.

Things to do at Koh Samui Airport

1. Shopping

An outdoor shopping mall is one of the sweetest parts of Koh Samui Airport and some of the shops really stand out. Need to do some last-minute souvenir shopping? A Jim Thompson Thai silk shop is a great favourite, as is a little bookshop with a surprising variety of books about Thailand (need some in-flight reading?). There are also a few shops in the domestic departures area, though options are sparse on the international side.

Shopping at Koh Samui Airport
The shopping and restaurant stroll between check-in and departures. There's a covered walkway if you prefer the shade.

2. Explore the airport gardens

Never in your life have you seen some of the plants and trees on luscious display at Koh Samui Airport. I challenge Koh Samui Guide customers to spot the cannonball tree – see how you do.

3. Enjoy (free) snacks and WiFi

Assuming you're on a Bangkok Airways flight, once at the gate you can sample some complimentary refreshments courtesy of the good people at Bangkok Airways, who, incidentally, own the airport. There's free WiFi for Bangkok Airways passengers, too.

Tip: If you’re flying Bangkok Airways and you’d like to add air-conditioning and pork buns to your wait, you can buy a Blue Ribbon Lounge pass for 950 THB (or 4000 Flyer Bonus points). The lounge is also available to business class passengers. This is a nice option if it’s especially hot outside and you’re already wearing clothes for a colder climate.

4. Children's play area

If you're travelling with children, find a small playroom in the domestic departures area.

Your Koh Samui Airport FAQs

Which airlines fly to and from Koh Samui?

Bangkok Airways offers the majority of flights to and from Koh Samui. Many international airlines offer codeshares via Bangkok Airways (IATA code PG).

Codeshare airlines include Air Astana, Air France, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, El Al, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Finnair, Garuda Indonesia, Gulf Air, Hong Kong Airlines, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Oman Air, Philippine Airlines, Qantas Airways, Qatar Airways, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines and Vietnam Airlines.

Koh Samui Airport’s runway isn’t as big as Phuket's and, as such, has fewer direct international flights as larger planes don’t fit. In addition to Bangkok Airways, there's a Chengdu Airlines flight (three times a week to/from – surprise! – Chengdu).

Thai Airways ceased its flights to Samui a few years ago and now offers codeshares through Bangkok Airways.

Bangkok Airways at Koh Samui Airport
Bangkok Airways offers almost all flights to and from Koh Samui, including dozens of daily flights from Bangkok and six from Phuket.

Is Koh Samui Airport big?

Not at all. Its arrivals and departures areas are just a minute’s walk from each other. As the crow flies, the departures parking area to the furthest point at arrivals is under 600 metres (about a third of a mile). Excluding runway and security perimetre, the entire airport is roughly the size of Heathrow Terminal 5 – however much of this is garden and the majority of it is outside.

 Koh Samui Airport vs London Heathrow Airport size
Koh Samui Airport overlaid on London Heathrow for comparative size. Note that USM is slightly smaller than LHR's Terminal 5 – however much of that includes ponds and gardens (and cannonball trees).

Why is it so expensive to fly to Koh Samui?

Bangkok Airways markets itself as a boutique airline (and it owns the airport). Quick tip? The further in advance you book your flight, the better your chances of snagging a deal.

At the time of writing, a one-way Bangkok Airways flight from BKK to Koh Samui is 4098 THB (£90 or US$115) for a flight this week, and 3386 THB (£75 or US$95) to book a flight for two months from now. So, round trip, you could expect to save about 20% by booking in advance (depending on the time of year – this wouldn't apply over the Christmas/New Year period).

The average airfare for a round-trip Bangkok/Koh Samui Bangkok Airways flight is THB 18,650 (approximately £413 or US$530). Like I said, book ahead and if you see a good rate – grab it.

How early should I arrive at Koh Samui Airport?

If it’s your first time departing from Samui, give yourself at least an hour for domestic and at least an hour and a half for an international flight. However, it’s a delightful experience so – particularly if you find travel stressful – make it ninety minutes to two hours and enjoy the most charming airport on earth to the full.

Tip: Departing Koh Samui from Koh Phangan or Koh Tao? Have an early flight? If you want to sleep close to the airport without necessarily being under the flight path, look at Sea Dance Resort or Hyatt Regency Koh Samui. Both are just around the corner from the airport.

 Koh Samui Airport runway
Koh Samui Airport runways (spot the airport itself in the middle beside the small lake)

How do I get from Bangkok to Koh Samui?

Quickest? Least stressful? Book one of the dozens of daily flights from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) to Koh Samui Airport on Bangkok Airways. (Note that I resolutely didn’t say cheapest).

For more options including ferries and flights to mainland airports in Surat Thani, please see the detailed ‘Getting Here’ chapter in The Koh Samui Guide.

Can I fly from Koh Samui to Chiang Mai?

Yes indeed. There’s a daily direct flight to/from Koh Samui and Chiang Mai. (It leaves Samui just before noon). Otherwise, you have many more options with a Bangkok connection.

Which airlines fly from Krabi to Koh Samui?

Bangkok Airways flies to/from Krabi (KBV) and Samui on a daily prop plane flight (ATR 72s). The flight departs Samui just after 1 pm. Otherwise, you have more options from Phuket with six daily flights direct to Samui.

How many terminals does Koh Samui Airport have?

Technically six, but you’ll only notice the larger sections: arrivals, departures and, within those, domestic and international. You cannot get lost. Truly cannot.

Arrivals has a domestic and an international area (with separate baggage claims) and departures similarly splits passengers into domestic/international. Other than that – lots of beautiful tropical flowers and a last chance at mango sticky rice.

Does Koh Samui Airport have food?

Yes, on the departures side. You have lots of options in the outdoor concourse before security, more on the domestic side and a few in the international departures area. If you just want a quick snack, there’s a courtesy counter for Bangkok Airways domestic passengers with small sandwiches and assorted Thai snacks and desserts.

Note that restaurants opening times are typically 8 am to 7:30 pm, so keep this in mind if you have an early morning or night flight.

Cannonball trees at Koh Samui Airport
Koh Samui Airport's famous cannonball trees

Is there immigration at Koh Samui Airport?

Yes. However, if you’re connecting elsewhere in Thailand (e.g. Bangkok) before arriving in Thailand, you’ll complete immigration at your first port of entry. If you’re on the Bangkok Airways Hong Kong or Singapore flights or the Chengdu flight you’ll of course do immigration on arrival in Samui.

How do I contact Samui airport?

They have a Facebook page. Otherwise by phone (077-428-500) or in person.

What’s the airport code for Koh Samui?

Koh Samui's airport code is USM. For reference, Phuket is HKT and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi is BKK.

Are there shops at Koh Samui Airport?

Yes – don’t miss the one that sells notebooks made from … elephant poo.

Koh Samui Airport

Headed elsewhere in Thailand? See my best recommendations for where to stay in Thailand, including a boutique, bungalow, budget and 'best of the best' option for every obvious (and far-flung) destination in the country. Happy travels!