Travel by public bus from Bangkok to Koh Chang and Koh Mak remains the cheapest way of reaching the islands, with the government run 999 Bus a particularly popular choice.
999 Bus – Bangkok Departure
The 999 Bus leaves from the Eastern Bus Station (Ekamai) located on the Sukhumvit Road, best reached using the BTS (Skytrain), Sukkhumvit Line. The 999 ticket booth is at the front of the Bus Station on the left hand side. Departures are at 07.45am or 09.45am, price 263bt. It is sensible to either nip up there the day before and secure your seats or to arrive an hour to 45 minutes before departure on your day of travel.
On its way down to Koh Chang, the 999 Bus calls at Suvarnabhumi Airport Transportation Centre (Bus Station to you or me) at 08.20am and 10.20am. It’s very easy to get to the Transportation Centre from the Airport Terminal with the free shuttle bus. This leaves every ten minutes, from either Arrivals, Floor 2, Door 5 or Departures, Floor 4, Door 5. Use the Express route A (4,2), travel time 5 to 7 minutes, rather than the ordinary route A, unless you have a particular hankering to tour the whole Airport Complex.
999 Bus – For Koh Chang
The 999 bus will stop at a gas station along the way for a 20 minute fill-up, where you can buy snacks, grab a quick plate of Thai food and a coffee. It then pulls in at Chantaburi Bus Station after about 4 hours for another 5 minute break. It then heads to the ferry piers for Koh Chang with the 07.45am (08.20am Airport) reaching Ao Thammachat Pier at around 13.30. This then continues up the road to Centrepoint Pier (5 km away), meaning you should make the 14.00 departure to the island. The 09.45am (10.20am Airport) bus goes straight to Centrepoint only, arriving at around 15.30 to 15.45 in time for the 16.00 boat departure.
999 Bus – For Koh Mak and Koh Wai
If you are heading to Koh Mak, you should let them know at Ekamai. The 08.20am will arrive at about 13.30 to Ao Thammachat Pier, but for you it should then continue on to Laem Ngop Pier (for Koh Mak), another few kilometres along the coast. If not, you will have to take one of the small songthaew taxis, 30bt to 40bt person. You may just make the Leelawadee at 14.00 if on the first bus, but can fall back on the 15.00 Suansuk if necessary. For Koh Wai, you must wait until the Panan service at 16.00.
If on the second bus, 09.45am (10.20am, Airport), you will arrive at Centerpoint Pier at 15.30 to 15.45. It is cutting it very fine for the 16.00 last connection of the day, not impossible but tight.
All speedboats cost 450bt per person and take an hour.
999 Bus – Back to Bangkok
The 999 Bus has only one daily return service back to Bangkok, which leaves at 14.00 from Centrepoint. From Koh Chang, you will need to catch the 12.30pm ferry, which in turn means giving yourself enough time to travel down the island from each respective beach. Leaving from Lonely Beach at 11.00am would be fine.
If coming from Koh Mak, the most suitable return speedboats are at 10.30am, either Leelawadee or Suansuk, both of which arrive at Laem Ngop Pier at 11.30am. That does though mean a long wait for the 14.00 bus departure. Minibuses are more frequent and so the better option, ask locally on Koh Mak.
The return 999 bus trip, does briefly call in at Ao Thammachat Pier before it hits the highway. It too will stop at Chantaburi Bus Station and elsewhere have its own 20 minute stop for gas. It reaches Suvarnabhumi Airport Transportation Centre at 18.00 to 18.30 and Ekamai Bus Station 45 minutes to an hour later, depending on the notorious early evening Bangkok traffic.
The buses are clean, safe and relatively new. Each seat does have a safety belt, there’s a movie (in Thai, audio not too loud) and a toilet on board.