One of the most frequently asked questions I encounter when booking rental properties on Koh Samui for my clients is about transport and getting around the island. Unless you are planning to spend your whole holiday in your chosen hotel, villa or a nearby beach, you will need some form of transport to get around Koh Samui to see the local attractions, scenery and to visit places of interest. There are several options available to visitors including local public transport, taxis and car, motorbike or minibus rental.
Public transport on Koh Samui is in the form of ‘song-taew’ trucks (literally translated as ‘two rows’). Song-taews are pick-up trucks which have been customised with a roof and two benches fitted on the back, allowing passengers to sit in relative comfort with protection from the sun or rain. Song-taews on Koh Samui circulate around the main island ring road, most frequently on the east and north coasts between Lamai and Chaweng to Bang Por. There are also song-taews which serve the beach road areas of Chaweng, Bangrak, Choeng Mon. Depending on your locality, song-taews may pass by every five to twenty minutes and can then be flagged town to take you to your destination. Song-taew fares depend on distance travelled and should be around the 20 – 50 Thai baht per person for the journey. On flagging down the song-taew, you should tell the driver where you are going and agree a price. When approaching your destination, simply ring the bell located in the back of the truck and the driver will stop to let you out and ask for payment.
Koh Samui taxis have quite a bad reputation on Koh Samui as the taxi drivers refuse to use meters. Drivers claim they are forced into this practice because of high living costs on the island. In the past, there have also been highly publicised cases of taxi drivers attacking their customers when they refuse to pay high fares. Generally, taxi drivers on Samui won’t even let you into their cabs for less than 200 Thai baht with typical journeys costing as much as 500 – 1,000 Thai baht. To put this into perspective, not long ago I hired a taxi from Bangkok to Chonburi, a journey of 200km, for a total cost of 1,000 Thai baht. If you are going to use Koh Samui taxis, make sure you agree on a price with the driver before setting off to avoid any problems on arriving at your destination.
Vehicle rental is the final option for getting around Koh Samui with the option to rent a car, motorbike or scooter or to hire a minibus with driver. Insured car rental costs range from about 850 – 2,300 Thai baht per day depending on the age and model of the rented car. Cheapest car rental rates are for basic, worn Suzuki jeeps and the most expensive models are luxurious Toyota Fortuners which have room to sit seven people comfortably. Scooters are available to rent for 200-350 Thai baht per day, again depending on the age and model of the bike. It is very important to note that scooter rentals on Samui are not insured and so if you cause an accident, it is your responsibility to fix not only your bike, but any other vehicle involved and the medical expenses of any other person involved. For large groups, minibuses are also available to rent, with a driver, for single journeys, by the half-day or full-day. Rates, which include diesel and a driver, work out at around 300 Thai baht per hour for half-day or full-day rental with costs for single journeys, such as supermarket runs, working out cheaper than taxis.