Bottle Beach has been called one of the best beaches in Thailand, according to Conde Naste Traveller. It's secluded, and tends to attract a more laid back, hippie type of tourist.
Historically, it was the home to Chinese fishers. In the 1980s, European tourists visited the area, making them the first non-Asian visitors and bringing the area out of obscurity. It became popular with backpackers, and remains so today.
All trips to the island end in visitors taking a boat, however, there are various ways to get to your boat. All of these trips will have you arriving at Thong Sala, the main port of the island, or Chaloklum or Haad Rin. Depending on the boat, it takes between 15–40 minutes. Take a taxi or songthaew to Chaloklum. Once you arrive at Chaloklum, you can take a boat to Bottle Beach. The taxi drivers should know how to get you to Bottle Beach and the proper boat docks to bring you there.
Bottle beach 1 resort has a regular taxi-boat schedule (BB to Chaloklum at 8:30, 11:00, 14:00, 17:00, Chaloklum to BB at 10:00, 12:00, 15:30, 17:30) leaving about 100m after "Rose villa, Chaloklum" for 100 THB per person and direction, at other times or to other destinations not scheduled it´s about 200 THB; transfer by car between Bottle beach and Thong Sala pier is 200 THB if arranged by the resort (all prices and times as of March 2016). The other resorts should have similar arrangements, check with the one you´re staying with.
There are other taxi boats for hire (near the restaurant just before you reach "Rose villa"), they usually request 150 THB/person with a minimum of 5 persons.
More information on travel to Bottle Beach, including by trail, is here.
The cheapest way to get to Bottle Beach is by bus, which will eventually lead to a ferry ride to Ko Pha Ngan. VIP offers a cheap bus service to the island. You can catch VIP buses from Bangkok's main bus terminal and purchase tickets there, or from travel agencies. Bus tickets should include ferry tickets, but always double check.
Two private companies offer trips from Chumphon and Bangkok to the island:
- Lomprayah, ✉ email@example.com. If you use their Bangkok services they provide bus and boat transport.
- Seatran Discovery, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flights leave Bangkok to Ko Samui approximately 20 times a day, two airlines provide flight services. Whether you purchase your tickets ahead of time or at the airport, make sure you request a ferry transfer to get to the island.
Another possibility would be to fly to Suratthani airport, both Lomprayah and Seatran offer a combined bus/ferry ticket from/to the airport.
You can travel via train from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong station to the coastal town of Surat Thani. The train takes about 11 hours. Sleeping cars are available. It's more expensive than the bus, but more relaxing. You can get a cheaper "upper" bed or pay a bit more for a "first class" bed which is private and can hold two people. When you arrive at Surat Thani, you'll take the ferry from the pier named Donsak.
- Diving is a popular activity at Bottle Beach. Scuba and snorkelling are offered from the resorts. While Bottle Beach has fish and related undersea wildlife, there are no coral reefs.
- Hiking on one of the many trails on the island. Hotels and resorts offer trekking tours and you can also do your own self-guided hikes. Hike to the highest point of the island, at 600 m.
- Go kayaking and explore the other nearby islands.
- Get a Thai massage on the beach which is often offered by hotels and resorts on the beach.
The resorts on the beach each have restaurants. Most specialize in Southern Thai food, but also offer Thai and western food. Seafood is popular, including fish, crab, lobster, squid, mussels, scallops and prawns, often cooked in clay pots. You'll also find rice noodles and rice dishes, often served with spicy curry. You can also visit Chalok Lam to try other Thai dishes and western specialities.
Being a resort beach, most of the resorts in the area have their own bars. You can also visit Chalok Lam for additional bars.
- Bottle Beach 1 Resort, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Resort that features private bungalows, some with air conditioning. The resort has a restaurant, spa, bar and swimming pool, and beach access. They also organize activities such as sports (volleyball, Muay Thai boxing lessons, fishing) and other activities like yoga and scuba diving. They will also pick you up upon your arrival in Thong Sala if you let them know ahead of time.
- Smile Bungalows, 74/9 Moo 7 Haad Khuad, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Four bungalows of various sizes on the beach, each with a garden and beach view. The property has a restaurant, store and laundry facility. They offer kayaking and tours. If you arrange ahead of time, they will pick you up and bring you to the resort. 450-750 baht.
- Haad Khuad Resort, 154/1 Moo 1, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Hotel and bungalows are offered, some with garden views and some with beach views. They offer kayaking, fishing, snorkelling and other sports. They offer Thai cooking classes, movie nights, and also have a fireworks show. If you call ahead of time you can arrange travel to the resort. 550-1,800 baht.
- Chalok Lam - Tours and general transportation to Chaloklum should be available from Bottle Beach resorts.