just would like to share my own guide to friends that wishes to try backpacking via bus to ko-samui. Out of the blue, i decide to hop into a bus budget packpack bus trip for 3-4day. below are my experience.
1. buy a bus ticket from golden mill or golden tower (both place will have tour agent that have bus to hatyai). (total travel time is 14 hr)
2. usually the bus to hatyai departure at 6pm. you can always hop on to buy a last min bus ticket (if it is off peak season) at 5pm. ticket price is about $60.
3. bus arrive at the thailand border (saodao). here we can decide to "drop off" the bus and stay at saodao for a night. we can take a mini bus (infront of the 7-11 shop) to hatyai the next morning. ticket price is about $55baht. or a taxi price is about $hundred ( did not take a taxi for me).
4. when you reach hatyai. it is in the morning before 11am. take a motor-taxi to the bus station. price is about $20 baht
5. at the bus station, there is a tour agent that is opp of the bus station enterance. ask for a bus ticket to ko-samui when leave the station at 11pm. the ticket will include the bus fare and the boat fare. price $600baht. (total travel time is 7hr)
6. the bus goes to the ferry port and the conductor will give you a ferry ticket (fyi, the ferry ticket cost $140baht but it is included in our purchase already). you will be ask to walk to the boat while the bus drive into the boat. (the boat travel time is 1hr).
7. when reach ko samui, depart from the boat by foot and walk to the enterence of the port (it is a open space and the bus is there. normally you will have your baggage on the floor). take your bag and walk to a "pickup tutu that they call it long tail". ask the tutu that you want to go chaweng beach and they will point which tutu to take. the price is $55-60baht.
8. tell the tutu you want to alight at chaweng beach moo3 at the "club mango" (this is the most crowded/tourist place in ko samui and the beach is nice also). travel time is about 15-30min.
9. once you alight, walk up and down the street to choose a hotel that you want to stay. you should be there around 7pm. so there is still amber time for you to decide. I personally stay at a hotel (next to christy bar) which cost $600baht. it is new and the bed and facility is not bad. it is 5 min walking distance to beach and all the night spot.
the hotel that is along the beach is $1500baht, i was on budget, so i did not stay here. and there are fast food at this location too, just in case you don't want to spend on expensive western food.
10. congrad as you have reach the destination. if you want, you can choose to visit some local resturant (which always at the back alley) and each simple meal cost about $100+ baht.
rent a bike for a day to roam around. rental price is $200baht.
the tutu is expensive. the tutu can charge from $55-100baht each trip (if you are silly like me and use walking method, each 5 min tutu trip is about 30min of walking time).
11. important note. always travel with 2 bag. your backpack which will only contain non-expensive clothing (which it can be left in the bus during the travelling unattented. of cos a small lock is needed. fyi, my lock was picked on my way but i lost nothing in the bag). then also carry with you a smaller bag which contain all your expensive thing but remember not to leave expensive thing at the side pocket or you can always use a small lock to secure your small bag (we are travelling in public transport). also carry with you small food in your small bag as the bus has nothing to eat or drink.
It is also important to have more then 1 wallet. the wallet that you are carrying with your pocket must not contain any credit card and only enough cash for your usage on that day only. we must beware of pickpocket. (i was pick pocketed once in this trip).
12. visit any tour agent and say you want to buy a bus ticket to hatyai tomorrow. you can choose a bus ticket or a minibus ticket. price is around $600-800baht. i choose a minibus ticket which i kind of regret. it is very packed all the way (unlike my bus trip). yes it is slightly faster then a bus.
the next morning 6am, the mini bus come to pick you at your hotel, then bring you to a ferry port. i took a smaller boat to the main land. another mini bus/bus will bring you to their bus terminal. then you will change to a minibus to hatyai.
basically you will reach hatyai around 4pm (yes, there is lot of delay when using a mini bus becos they want to make sure all seats are taken before they depart. a public bus will just depart on time).
when in hatyai, just buy a hotel voucher from the tour agent. basically i will suggest don't buy anything that is more then 600baht.
at the same time you may also want to buy your bus ticket to sg. there is now 2 choice. the standard 12pm-1pm bus (there are many bus to choose). or the 6pm bus (only 1 bus per day). price is about 800baht
well, that is it. the end of my backpacking trip. total budget is $400-500. I will save more if i could find a buddy to share the room cost, too bad i travel alone this time. The avg travelling cost for this trip is about $200. the avg room cost is about $100+. the avg food cos is about 100+. i also spend another optional of $100 to buy tipbit to bring home as gift.
tutu price in hatyai is alway expensive compare to my old experience. price about $20-50baht for motor-taxi. and when i return from disco at night, the tutu charge $100baht.
I hope next time i can find a travel mate and share the room cost and taxi cost. and also to keep each other company during the travelling.