Pattaya to Koh Mak

Posted from Laem Ngop, Trat, Thailand.

The busstop outside of the gas station on Sukhumvit 3 heading south.

The busstop outside of the gas station on Sukhumvit 3 heading south.

Trying to figure out my way to Koh Mak from Pattaya during low season wasn’t as straight and narrow as one would think. But it’s easy to get there once you know the ins and outs.

The thing about low season is many services are on hiatus until the tourists return, which is understandable, but when you don’t speak or read Thai, it kind of complicates things, especially if all your info comes from sites geared for the high-season tourist.

Short of taking a taxi, if you want to get from Pattaya to Trat on the cheap, there’s only a few ways that I could suss out. There are many combo packages that’ll get you to the ferry piers to get to Koh Chang, Kood or Mak, but they all seemed to leave at retarded early o’clock. I wanted to sleep in, so I decided to miss all the ferries and try to get there later. Plus, many of these will get you to the ferry pier, but then you still must pay for the ferry, or they get you right to your hotel in Koh Chang after the van goes over on the car ferry to Koh Chang for less than I paid to get to Trat! That’s all good, but I was going to Koh Mak.

There is one government bus in the morning at 6 a.m. heading to Trat. The bus stops are on Sukhumvit 3 heading south at the intersections of Pattaya North, Pattaya Central and Pattaya South Roads, and I think there’s another stop in Jomtien. This is what I’ve read. I went to the stop near Pattaya Central (also called Pattaya Klang) thinking there was an 11:15 bus, but apparently that is only in the busy season, unless the helpful stranger who spoke limited English at the bus stop lied to me. With no bus coming, I caught a minivan here for 200B to Rayong.

We are, in fact, on our way to Trat.

We are, in fact, on our way to Trat (but this picture was taken much later in the journey.)

I thought the price was rather steep. And for all I know it was a tourist price and I was ripped off, but 200B is about $7 and it got me 150km to Rayong. Truth is, you can catch a minibus from the northern bus station to Trat also for about 300B, but apparently I had to do things the complicated way.

The trick anyway, is if there isn’t a minivan to Trat at the time of day you want, just catch a minivan to Rayong or Chantaburi and catch a connecting bus or minivan from there. These are kind of hubs, so there will be heaps of minivans and buses headed toward Trat at any given time of day.

Our van getting some propane!

Our van getting some propane!

Boo.

Boo.

My minivan pulled over to get more fuel (propane) and we all got out in case the van blew up, as per Thai safety standards, but then just after the van filled up, one of the tires blew. So there we were, dead in the water. The nice Thai lady who over-charged me for the pleasure of this van ride led me and the other two people across the highway, hailed down another van and got us inside and on our way to Rayong.

The minibus station in Rayong.

The minibus station in Rayong.

From Rayong I caught another minivan to Trat for 200B and had him drop me off in the city. He wanted to drop me off at a place 20km outside of the city, probably a joint he got commission at for bringing in customers, but I knew it was too late to catch any of the ferries and I would be stranded here and forced to stay at the guest house for whatever price they chose to charge me.

Instead I stayed at a The Center Hotel in the city for 650B/night, a bit steeper than I like to pay, but I had a really big bed with TV where I watched the Ninth Gate, had a hot shower, blasted some AC and had a nice seafood soup for breakfast. I know. I ate seafood in Thailand. I’m living on the edge.

The market in Trat. There are two places to get song-taess. This is one of them.

The market in Trat. There are two places to get song-taess. This is one of them.

In the morning I walked to the market about 500m away and caught a song-taew to the Laem Ngop pier for 100B. In high season they’re about 60B, but there was only two of us going, so we split the fare.

Then the driver dropped me off at a café/shop where I paid 450B for the speed boat to get over to the island and then he dropped me off at the actual pier where I saw him give the lady 500B and her return him 200B. So he made 150B off me. The price at the pier still said 450B. I’m guessing that’s his commission. And then he still has to pay the song-taew driver the commission for getting me there.

The pier.

The pier.

Our chariot awaits. It took 45mins in this badboy.

Our chariot awaits. It took 45mins in this badboy.

There is a cheaper boat, at 300B, but it only operates twice a week and I happened to not be there on that day.

So. Long story short. The easiest way is to book a package that includes the minivan and the ferry ride. If you want to go super cheap, catch the 6 a.m. morning bus to Trat. But if you fancy leaving when you choose, just catch a minivan from the station to Trat or from any stop and get to Rayong, and connect form there.

My first glimpse of Koh Mak.

My first glimpse of Koh Mak.

I need to also point out that getting to Koh Mak or Koh Chang from Bangkok is considerably cheaper, as it’s a direct route, but then I wouldn’t have been able to write this very confusing and silly blog post about how I spent too much money to get to a dream island in the Gulf of Thailand.

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