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Koh Samui Travel Guide

Car rental, taxis, speed boats and buses

 
Typical paved road

 
A gasoline stand

 
An easy way to get around: a Songtaew

 
Motorbike taxis standing by

 
Going diving by speedboat

 

You won't find a highway or expressway on Samui. Instead, there is only one main road which follows the coast around the island and one road crossing the southern part. These roads are paved, so they are in more or less good condition. It's difficult to go much faster than 60Km/h, so if you feel like enjoying the scenery along the way just go at you own pace, as people won't horn much.

The main road is approximately 50 Km long and connects the main beaches to the town center, airport and ferry. Side roads feed off the main road to smaller towns and villages. Getting around is relatively easy -- all roads seem to lead back to the same place, the beach!

It is recommended that you have an international driver's license to rent a car, and always wear a helmet while riding a motorbike. To avoid any silly accidents keep your eyes on the road and other vehicles, as the rules of driving in foreign countries don't always apply in Thailand. For example, it's not unusual for Thais to make turns without signalling, and they sometimes don't even use headlights at night! If riding a motorbike, also be very careful of dogs and loose gravel or sand on the road, especially after dark.

A tour around the island will take you approximately 2-3 hours depending on how many stops you make along the way. You usually have to access the remote beaches through hotels, but this isn't a problem as legally there are no private beaches in Samui.

Renting a Vehicle:

Travelers who have enough time will appreciate exploring the many interesting sites Samui has to offer on their own. Renting your own vehicle allows you the greatest freedom to do this. The most common mode of transport, although somewhat dangerous, is moped. Renting one is cheap (between 120 and 150 Baht/day) as is fuel, which can be found almost everywhere (usually just a gasoline tank with a pump and an umbrella on top of it...very exotic). Some bigger gas stations can be found, with prices of course cheaper than the smaller stands.

Renting a car will cost anywhere from 800 Baht/day (without insurance and not including gas) up to 2000 Baht for a newer model with insurance. The condition of vehicles can vary quite a bit and the cheapest option is not always the best. Your hotel can usually arrange the rental and delivery of a car for you. Before signing the contract, it's always a good idea to check the vehicle over for any dents etc., that someone may try to charge you for later.

Taxis and Songtaews:

If you visit the beach towns of Chaweng or Lamai at night, you will quickly find out that the main street is narrow and crowded, making both driving and parking a car difficult. If your hotel is not too far, it is probably better to stop a songtaew (dark red, pick-up buses) for 20 Baht within Chaweng or Lamai. There are no official stops at which to wait for them, but they are easy to catch as there is always one passing by horning at you. Just wave to them when you see one. It is recommended that you check the price of the fare before getting into the songtaew, or if you know the real price, just hand the exact amount to the driver after arriving at your destination.

Metered taxis (yellow limousine cars with air-conditioning) are a more comfortable way to move around, but be aware that the meter is often switched off after departure, which can lead to endless debate about the fare.

Another way of getting around is by motorbike taxis, which usually stand by near popular spots in town. The drivers wear colored vests and their fares are a little cheaper (10 to 20 Baht) than the songtaews. They're easy to flag down, even if travelling in the opposite direction. A trip on the back of a motorbike taxi can be a real thrill, so hold on tightly!

Speedboats and Nearby islands:

To reach nearby islands such as Koh Tao, Koh Nang Yuan or Koh Phangan, many speedboats depart from Bophut Bay daily. You can contact one of the hundred tour counters available throughout the island. A comfy way to visit the islands around Samui is via the Catamaran High Speed Boat "Lomphraya". Boarding is at 7:30 am, departure at 8 am. You'll return to Koh Samui at 5 pm. The cost is 1,500 Baht/person.

 
     

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