Getting Around Koh Samui
One of the great things about staying on Koh Samui is that the island is really easy to get around and if you feel that you ever want to get away from lounging around on the beach then there are plenty of different transportation options open to you.
For example, you could rent a car and travel around the islands main coastal ring road in little over an hour. Alternatively, you might want to hire a motorcycle to travel from one of the islands popular tourist attractions to another. Whatever you decide to do and no matter what your budget you will be able to find a suitable wayof travelling around the island.
If you do decide to hire a vehicle and take to Koh Samui’s roads it is important that you drive carfully and responsibly and it is highly recommended that you visit our Traffic and Traffic Rules page for more information on Samui road safety and driving in Thailand in general.
Here are details on the main methods of transport for people that stay on Koh Samui:
This is probably the most popular way in which many visitors to Koh Samui choose to get around the island. Renting a motorcycle and going off to explore every nook and cranny of Koh Samui can be fun, exciting and also offer great value for money.
The most common types of motorcycles that can be hired on the island include automatic Honda Click’s or Scoopy’s and Yahama Fino’s and Neuvo’s, which can be rented anywhere from about 200 to 300 Baht per day. You can also rent Honda Wave motorcycles whilst staying on the island, these bikes have four gears and are 100cc and can be rented for between 150 and 250 Baht per day.
It is worth bearing in mind that the cheaper the motorcycle is to rent the poorer the condition the bike might be in. It has been known for people to rent a Honda Click motorcycle for around 100 Baht per day. However, when they try to ride up any of the islands steep roads, the bike has struggled and has sometimes even broken down half way up the hill.
If you have experience in riding a motorcycle then you can always rent a much larger motorcycle such as a Chopper or Harley Davidson, which will normally cost you anywhere between 500 and 1000 Baht per day, depending on the duration of the rental period and the condition of the motorcycle itself. Alternatively, if you really want to go off the beaten track in order to explore the island then you can also rent an off road motorcycle that will be more suitable for some of the islands inland mountain roads, many of which are nothing more than dirt tracks. Off road motorcycles can be rented for between 500 and 1000 Baht per day.
On Koh Samui it seems that every man and his dog is able to rent you a motorcycle due to the large number of people who have a spare bike available for rent. Many of the locals provide motorbikes for rent as a way of earning some extra cash, for others it will be their full time income. What you need to remember when renting a motorcycle from a private individual is that although it might be cheaper than renting from a professional hire company, the motorcycle may not always be in the best condition and in the worst case scenario it could be in such a poor condition that it could be dangerous to drive.
The other thing to consider is that if you rent a motorcycle privately it will almost certainly be the case that you are not covered by any type of insurance, so if you have an accident you will be responsible for meeting any costs for repairs, much of which will be charged at well over the normal rates.
Having said that, plenty of visitors do rent motorcycles privately on Koh Samui and have no problems whatsoever so it is totally down to you what you choose to do when it comes to renting a motorcycle.
You can of course rent a motorcycle from a professional hire company. These are likely to be much more expensive but you do have the security of being covered with their insurance policy should you have an accident.
When it comes to filling up your motorcycle with fuel there are three main options open to you. The first option is to visit one of the islands fully operational and modern petrol stations, as you would do back home. The other two options, which might seem at little unusual to most people, is to purchase your fuel from any of the islands roadside stands. These stands usually consist of nothing more than a large oil drum that has a pump attached to it. The other option is to purchase fuel from many roadside shops that sell fuel, believe it or not, in old whisky bottles, which you can use to fill up you motorbike there and then.
Filling up at a proper filling station is probably you best option but the roadside stands can be convenient, particularly if you are about to run out fuel and a far from a regular filling station.
The condition of many of Koh Samui’s roads means that the chances of you getting a puncture or flat tyre are almost inevitable. However, if this happens, you needn’t panic as you are rarely more than a couple of hundred metres from someone who can repair the flat tyre, or who knows someone that will be able to help. The cost of a new inner tube and the labour is also likely to be very cheap when compared to western standards and it should cost you, at the most, no more than 250 Baht.
Before you do rent a motorcycle on Koh Samui you need to be aware that the island has the highest number of driving fatalities out of anywhere in Thailand, with motorcyclists, many of whom are foreign visitors being particularly vulnerable. Samui’s main coastal road is quite hilly in some places, which makes for difficult driving conditions. It is also fair to say that many of the islands roads are anything but pedestrian friendly, so make sure you are careful on Samui’s roads are all times.
Like hiring a motorcycle, hiring a car can be a really great way to explore the Koh Samui, as well as being convenient and often good value for money. Many of the leading international car rental companies all have branches on Koh Samui including Avis, Hertz, Budget Car Rentals and National Car Hire. There are also a number of locally based independent agents and private individuals that will be able to hire you a car during you stay.
As with a motorcycle rental, you should bear in mind that if you do hire a vehicle from a local company or agent that the standard of the vehicle might not be up to the same standard of a vehicle from a multinational hire company, although it probably will be cheaper. You should also think about insurance because with a local company or private individual, it could be the case that you are not covered by any sort of insurance policy to drive the vehicle, whereas with a large multinational hire company, they will provide insurance for you to drive the vehicle on Koh Samui.
When it comes to car rental on the island, prices are likely to vary from anywhere in the region of 800 to 2000 Baht per day, depending on the type of car you choose to hire. Many locally based operators will normally rent Suzuki or Honda jeeps, whilst the major, international rental companies will have a wider range of cars to choose from, which will include both automatic and manual sedans, air conditioned vehicles, as well as jeeps and 4×4’s.
Some rental companies will probably ask you to leave your passport as form of collateral for the car. When renting a car you should always make sure that insurance is included otherwise, you will be held responsible for the potentially financially crippling expense of repairs for any damage should you be involved in an accident. Not only will you have to pay for repairs but you will also be responsible for any compensation to any other parties involved in the accident too.
If you are feeling a little energetic or maybe do not want to hire a car or a motorbike then hiring a bicycle on Koh Samui can be another enjoyable way of travelling around the island. If you ask around you will probably be able to hire a reasonably good quality mountain bike for about 80 Baht per day.
However, you should bear in mind that if you ride a bicycle on Koh Samui you will be by far the most vulnerable person on the road and with Koh Samui’s current road safety record this might not be such a good idea! Also, some of the roads on Koh Samui can be quite steep and you would have to be pretty fit to be able to cycle up them, especially in the warm weather.
Taxis on Koh Samui
For those who want to travel around the island in air conditioned comfort then using one of the islands many yellow taxis will probably be the best option for you. Usually located outside the airport or driving around the islands main roads, they operate both day and night.
The downside with using a local taxi on Koh Samui is that the fares can be extraordinarily high and even though most of the taxis have a meter, the drivers will very rarely turn it on. This is due, in no small part, to the local mafia who have seen to it to take a cut from the taxi industry that operates on the island. This explains why the drivers are forced to charge such extortionate rates, some of which are the most expensive in all of Thailand.
If you do decide to use a taxi always try to negotiate a price from the outset, although be aware that this still does not guarantee you a fair price. Always be aware of what the taxi drivers will be up to with regards to fares, especially as they greet you from the airport.
Songthaews on Koh Samui
The cheaper alternative to taking a taxi on Koh Samui is to use one of the islands many Songthaews. These serve as the islands local buses and are basically a pick-up truck that has been painted red and that has seats in the back for people to sit on. They usually only operate in daylight hours. However the destination of each Songthaew is normally written on the front of the vehicle in English.
Even though the Songthaews follow an official route around the islands roads, there are no official bus stops, so in order to get the Songthaew to stop you ether need to press the button inside the vehicle or bang on the roof to get the drivers attention! A Songthaew fare can range from about 20 to 60 Baht and this is paid to the driver when you have just exited the vehicle.