Koh Samui Travel Guide
Relatively speaking Koh Samui is quite a large island. It still doesn’t take long to drive round the island – about an hour or so, but it does mean that compared to other islands you might need to think about your journey just a little more.
A really handy way of getting around is the Songthaews. These are basically pick-up trucks that act as a bus service. They have set routes, but will pick you up anywhere they pass you. They will often slow down to see if pedestrians need a lift. They are cheaper than taxis, although be careful as prices are negotiable and you may find prices inflated for foreigners. Prices should range between 30 and 100 baht, but this can increase if you are chartering it as a taxi, especially at night. Prices should always be lower when it has other people on board and is acting as a bus.
The yellow taxis are also available all round the island and do offer comfortable air-conditioned travel. The taxis all promote themselves as metered – unfortunately it is impossible to get any of them to turn their meters on. The meter rates are the same as Bangkok and so would be reasonably priced. The thing to do is to negotiate a good price from the outset of the journey.
Car rental is also available on the island. They do have the larger companies, such as Avis and Budget, with good standard air-conditioned cars, but also many private operators that will normally offer things like small Suzuki jeeps. These smaller operators will also normally ask for a passport - to be kept by them. It is important that you check that the car is properly insured as any accident could result in a big bill and even compensation to any third parties.
Motorbikes are the favoured mode of transport on Koh Samui, but this also means that there is a high fatality rate so be careful and stay sober. Passports will normally be requested by those hiring the bikes out. Gear bikes can be hired for as little as 120 baht per day. Automatic bikes, which are the sensible choice for those who are not too comfortable on a bike and can be hired for between 200 to 300 baht per day. If you’re responsible and careful it is a great way to get around and see Samui.
Being an Island there are of course boats available and ferries run to the mainland from Nathon in Samui to Donsak port on the mainland – one hour from Surat Thani airport.
Other ferries run from Big Buddha pier to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. There is also a fast catamaran that runs from either Big Buddha or Maenam. It is more expensive but does include hotel pick ups, so is pretty good value.