You’ll want to stay close to the pool and the beach for most of the time you are on vacation in Koh Samui, but there are moments when you’ll want to explore a bit further. Koh Samui is not a huge island but you can’t walk everywhere – you’ll need a little extra help from some in-island transportation: public transport and privately hired choices.
Whether you get around on a bike, in a car, by songthaew or bus, here’s what you need to know about transportation in Koh Samui.
Take a Taxi in Samui
Taxis are all over the place in Koh Samui. Taxis are a pricier option than the songthaews but a good idea if you want to arrive without windswept hair or you don’t really know where exactly you would get off a songthaew. Most probably the driver won’t use the meter so you should set a price before you set off. It’s not easy to bargain a good price so don’t be too frustrated if you seem to be getting a poor deal. If you do want to get the best deal then walk away from the area with the expensive hotels and resorts, you have a better chance of a lower fare in a less expensive place.
Tuk tuks are also available, which operate like taxis but you are unlikely to get a good price.
Tuk Tuk/ Image via Mark Fischer/ Flickr
Scooter Taxis in Samui
A cheaper option is to take a scooter taxi but you must be prepared to hold on tight to the driver, and take your chances in the traffic.
Koh Samui Car Rental
If you know that you want to explore many different places on the island, a car hire is the best option. You can rent a car for your entire stay so you have complete freedom, or just for a few days. Either way it’s a good way to see the island although it is not cheap.
Hiring a Motorbike or Bike
Many people hire scooters or motorbikes but you must be extremely careful when doing this – the accident rate for motorbikes and scooters is sky high. Make sure you always wear a helmet even if no one else seems to do so. Go to reputable companies to hire a bike as there are scams around, and inspect the bike before you take it.
Bicycles are a good option for Koh Samui and you can hire one very cheaply for the day.
Take a Songthaew on Koh Samui
A songthaew or “song-tao” is a converted pick-up truck that functions as island public transport. It’s not a bus, but it’s not a tuk tuk. You can fit as many as 10 people inside on two benches, although you will also see people trying to hang off the back of the truck as it progresses through the streets. There are usually luggage racks on top of the vehicle so you can take your backpack along with you. You’ll find that these are the cheapest options for transport that you will find on the island, and they are useful for going short distances.
There are several main songthaew routes including around the ring road through the main beach towns, and along the major secondary roads inland. If your destination is one of the larger towns or resorts there will be a songthaew going to it. You need to ask the driver if they are going where you want to go.
How do you take a songthaew? You simply stand at the side of a busy road, wait for one to come along, and flag it down. Say where you are going and then agree on a price. You don’t negotiate a price, as such, but accept the price that the locals are paying. Sit in the back and when you reach your destination ring the bell, go to the drive and pay. Use the correct change or you won’t make any friends!
Transfer from Koh Samui Airport
There is a taxi point at the arrivals hall when you get to Koh Samui but the service can be quite slow. A variety of taxi operators have websites where you can book a service online in advance, or take advantage of your resort’s pick-up service which will often be the same price as a taxi.
Samui Airport/ Image via randomix/ Flickr
For more information and a longer list of options, visit Koh Samui Sunset.
Find more Koh Samui tips and information at PhuketOn. Visit PhuketOn for your guide to Phuket, Koh Samui, Hua Hin, Bangkok and more.