How to get around in Koh Samui
Getting around on the island of Koh Samui can be a bit different to other areas in Thailand. As the stunning island is full of idyllic beaches and nature, one of the most popular ways of touring the island is by motorbike. But, as Thailand’s roads are considered quite dangerous, it is perfectly fine to not want to get the famous Samui Tattoo (crash rash) while visiting.
Here, we have a few other options that you may consider when visiting the world-famous island in the Gulf of Thailand.
Songtaews are the next cheapest option to hiring a motorbike. Most songtaews are red trucks and feature makeshift seats with rails on the truck bed. They travel mostly on the island’s ring road, which means they usually only pick up and drop off passengers along the road.
You may have to do a bit of walking after being dropped off, but most tourists enjoy the fresh air and small hike to get to their final destination. Songtaews charge around 100 baht, give or take, to bring you from one district to the next nearest.
Make sure you agree on a price before setting off in a songtaew so you aren’t hit with an inflated price upon getting off the songtaew.
Taxis are a popular form of transportation on the island. However, the prices for taxis are inflated compared to the rest of the country. This is due to the island being mostly driven by tourism. However, if you are more comfortable taking a taxi over a motorbike or songtaew, then safety may be worth the price.
Speaking of prices, taxis can and will charge inflated prices to get you to your next destination. Normally, it is around 500 baht to go from one district to the next nearest district. Compared to Bangkok, where you can go from one end of the city to another, the taxi fares are quite expensive in Koh Samui.
If you do prefer to hire a taxi, it may be worth it to get the driver’s contact info so you can call them again for another ride. As taxis can be scarce during busy times, a somewhat personal driver may serve you better.
The island is full of rental cars but it is important to do your research before you say ‘yes.’ As many companies will happily rent you a car for around 800 to 1200 baht per day, make sure you ask if they have insurance that will cover an accident.
Another tip is to take photos and/or videos of the car’s condition before you leave the shop as some scams have involved shop owners trying to charge you for pre-existing dents, scratches, or damages to the car.
It is also not the best shop to do business with if they want your passport as a deposit. As the act is illegal, many car shops insist on keeping your passport as a deposit.
Ferries and speedboats
Visiting the island is easy. Hop on a ferry at Donsak Pier (the mainland’s nearest pier to the island) and enjoy the marvellous views of the surrounding islands. A ferry ticket is cheap and you can even transport a car or motorbike if you book in advance.
Speedboats are also popular when going to and from the Gulf’s three main islands of Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and Koh Pha Ngan. As they take less time, they also are a bit more expensive. The main SeaTran ferries depart from Koh Samui at Nathon Pier and Bangrak Pier. Other ferries such as Raja, depart from the island’s southern end in Lipa Noi.
Regardless of how you choose to travel to and around the island, make sure you wear proper protection. Many tourists can make their trips much worse if they choose to not wear a helmet or seatbelt. And, no one wants to end up in the hospital on their holiday.
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