The nearest airports are in Chumporn Airport, Pathio District, Chumphon and Samui Airport. Both offer onward high speed ferry connections to Koh Tao.
Chumphon Airport, Pathiu
This option is one of the fastest to get to Koh Tao and generally much less expensive than via Samui Airport.
Nok Air operate two daily flights between Don Mueang Airport (DMK), Bangkok and Chumphon Airport, Pathiu with van transfer for the 55 minute ride to the ferry terminal. Nok Air sells an integrated fly and ferry ticket from Bangkok to Koh Tao via Chumphon Airport directly on their website, this combines flight, transfer and high speed ferry in a single ticket.
Samui is fairly well connected to major cities in the region such as Bangkok, Singapore and Penang. There is a 300 baht departure tax for all flights.
Other Airports Several airlines, including Thai Air Asia, Nok Air and Thai Airways operate from the Suratthani Airport.
From Bangkok via Chumphon
The closest departure point for the island ferry service is Chumporn. Numerous agents sell tickets for a variety of boats and speeds travelling. The fastest Lomprayah High Speed Catamaran takes about 90 minutes, the slowest night boat almost 5 hours. Lomprayah have a pickup service from your hotel to the pier for 100 baht. The ticket itself is 600 baht wherever you book it.
These ferries depart Chumphon at 07:00, 13:30, 23:00 and midnight. The ferries at 07:00 and 13:30 are the normal passenger ferries offered by
Both Lomprayah and Songserm sell packages from Bangkok by bus or Nok Air offer a fly / sea combi ticket.
The late night ferries are normally vehicle or cargo ferries, making for a slower (5-6 hour trip, arriving at 05:00) and offer a comfortable bunk bed in a dormitory included in the 300 baht ticket. If you are arriving via bus or train, be sure to arrive well before the ferry times, as the ferry terminal is around 1 hour travel time from the train station, and a missed connection either results in a late night trip on the vehicle/cargo ferry or an overnight stay and a 05:30 start to catch the bus to the ferry terminal for the first ferry the next day.
Train to Chumphon then boat
A good option for travelling from Bangkok is to book Sleeper Train #85; leaving Bangkok around 19:30 and arriving in Chumphon at 04:00 and then have a ticket booked for the 07:00 ferry. Most ferry operators can pick you up from the station where you can while away the 3 hour connection gap. You can also buy your ferry ticket at the station when you get off the train at 04:00.
Bus to Chumphon then boat
Lomprayah have an inclusive ticket from Bangkok on a comfortable large bus included in the price with connections to the port.
If you're coming from the south, you can take a ferry from Suratthani on the mainland with a travel time of around 3 hours for the morning ferry, or from Samui, 1.5 hours, or Phangan 1 hour. If you're taking a boat from Suratthani, one other possibility might be an overnight ferry. These depart around 23:00 and arrive in the morning, about 06:00 (subject to changes). It's advisable to arrive early to grab a mattress as most of the boats are former cargo boats and so the passenger facilities are basic.
From the other islands
You can also day trip on diving charters from Samui. Many have high speed boats that can make the trip to Ko Tao in about 1 hour.
Lomprayah High Speed Catamaran or Seatran are the fastest and most comfortable way to get to Koh Tao. They run 3 times a day from Samui, Nang Yuan, Phangan, Suratthani and Chumporn.