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There is a regular boat service from the mainland to the islands, for example to Ko Samui, Ko Phangan, Ko Tao, Ko Samet, Ko Chang, Ko Phayam, Ko Mak, Ko Bulon Lae, Ko Lipe, Ko Lanta, Ko Phi Phi and the offshore islands of Pattaya, Phuket and Krabi.
On Menam Chao Phraya (or: Mae Nam Chao Phraya) only a few river boats are available. The tour to Ayutthaya and Bang Pa In is a very interesting trip for tourists.
Longtailboats are common boats in Thailand. They are about 5 to 10 m long, usually open or just covered with a plastic flysheet. Their name derives from the engine propellers that are mounted on long and movable drive shafts. They are fast and noisy, often it can be a very wet ride. Longtailboats serve as transportation for tourists and locals on the Klongs and the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, on the lake in Khao Sok National Park and between many islands.
Passenger boats usually are converted fishing boats with benches for sitting and sun roof. At certain times they go to larger villages on islands transporting among locals especially goods. Diving schools use them for trips and they can be also chartered by tourists.
Night boats are slow and often multi-storied boats, which run at night from Surat Thani to Ko Samui, Surat Thani to Ko Phangan and Chumphon to Ko Tao as well. They are very popular among travelers (“swimming youth hostels”), however in the past there were collisions with the boat coming from the opposite direction. So far, the night boat from Chumphon to Ko Tao did not have any accidents, but during high waves it may turn back or the captain even cancels the departure.
Express boats are fast passenger boats. They serve between Surat Thani, Ko Samui, Ko Phangan, Ko Tao and Chumphon. During normal weather conditions they are quite safe, but they are not always punctual. The boat to Ko Samui is often overloaded and the boat to Ko Tao can be life threatening during waves over 2 meters. A good alternative choice is offered by the Lomprayah Catamaran, who serves this route. However, during high waves even this ferry might face problems. Besides, there are several companies in competition with each other, which operate between Krabi, Phuket, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta. Express boats are used for day trips to Similan Islands as well.
Speed boats are fast and usually large boats with an outboard engine. They are used by diving schools offering tours to diving sites that are further away. Furthermore they serve as transportation for the guests of upper class island hotels. They also offer a regular service from Pakbara respectively Satun to the Ko Tarutao Archipelago and to Ko Lipe. Recently there is a new speed boat service from Ranong to Ko Phayam. Another new route exists from Ko Lanta via Ko Hai and Ko Muk to Ko Bulan and Ko Lipe, which brings you through an amazingly beautiful island world. During bad weather conditions the trip is done by land by minibus from Pakbara to Trang.
Car Ferries offer a safe and reliable transportation, only sometimes you might have to wait for a while. They transport vehicles and passengers between Chumphon and Ko Tao as well as Ko Samui respectively Ko Phangan and Don Sak. There is also a car ferry between the mainland and Ko Chang (Trat Province).
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