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Travelling Thailand by bus is easy, convenient and affordable and therefore many backpackers choose this mean of transport to get around. Koh Phangan is definitely a must-see island to discover and many busses depart daily at different times from Bangkok to the ferry station. I decided to leave the city at 6pm and arrived on the beautiful island at 2pm the next day.
If you like to plan ahead and don’t mind paying a bit more you may prefer to book your ticket online (you will also find options to travel by train), but if you like to go with the flow and are travelling on a budget you can book your ticket spontaneously in agencies anywhere in Bangkok (espeacially near Khao San Road). Agencies offer fixed prices and you can buy a bus + ferry ticket for around 700 Baht. Keep in mind that prices may vary depending on the time you want to leave Bangkok – the early morning bus was advertised for 1200 Baht. The night bus I took departed from Khao San Songserm and offered plenty of leg space, retractable seats, a toilet and A/C.
If you decide to take a night bus alone, keep in mind that you might fall asleep and you need to be extra careful with your valuables. Travelling Thailand is generally very safe, but there are thieves around and it can spoil a holiday if you wake up with no cash in your wallet!
Especially as a solo traveler you are an easy target for thieves, so here are some useful tips how to keep your valuables safe on a night bus:
Select your seat carefully
Once you enter the bus, have a look around. If the bus is not crowded, select a seat that is visible by a number of other passengers and try to stay in the front section of the bus. In the back of the bus you will be an easy target for anyone with bad intentions because it is less likely that anyone else will notice that you are being robbed while you are asleep. Stay away from the last row!
Trust your intuition
If you notice a person acting conspicuously near you, trust your gut feeling and avoid falling asleep close by. If you feel uncomfortable and there is space in the bus, change your seat.
Keep your bag with you at all times
Your large backpack will be in the trunk of the bus, but it is recommended to keep a small bag containing your valuables with you at all times. Never leave your bag unattended – take it with you when you go to the toilet or grab some food at the restaurant during the stopover.
Buy a padlock for your backpack
Thieves are skilful and experienced and are not hesitating to reach into your bag, no matter where you keep it. It is therefore essential to keep your bag safe with a padlock while you are asleep. Your bag is not safe under the seat, even if the footrest is up and you push it all the way under. Be extra cautious and don’t let them trick you!
Don’t take too much cash
It is tempting to withdraw a higher amount of cash at a time because ATM charges in Thailand can be quite pricy. Thieves tend to focus on stealing cash since their victim is less likely to notice that they are missing cash until they reach their final destination. There are plenty of ATMs available on Koh Phangan so it is better to take out more cash once you are there! The hostels on the island are generally safe and many of them, for example the Phanganist Hostel, offer lockers free of charge in the room.
Carry your cash in a waist pouch
If you want to be extra safe with your cash, keep it in a waist pouch and keep it under your shirt while you fall asleep on the bus. You might want to keep your passport, credit card and other smaller items there as well. Any thief is going to have a hard time stealing anything from there while you are asleep!
Invest in a proper Travel Insurance
You want to be covered in case you get tricked? Make sure you get a proper travel insurance that covers for stolen valuables in case you are still outwitted by a thief prior to your trip. Make sure you are covered for any loss of valuables like your camera, phone or wallet.
Your best insurance is yourself though – follow the above tips, stay safe and have an amazing time in Koh Phangan!