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Getting Around Samui

Samui is an explorer's dream. It is just big enough to offer a wealth of diversity in landscape, vistas, flora and fauna, yet small enough to seek adventure in its many out-of-the-way places, while hardly ever losing sight of sea. Below are some of the ways you can do this.

Songthaew
Songthaew
Songthaew the local bus service
Songtheaws act as the local bus service. They are red coloured converted pickup trucks with two long bench seats facing eachother in the back. Drivers will often squeeze in as many passengers as possible, leaving late comers to hang onto the running board at the rear.
Songtheaws follow set routes to and from most destinations around Samui, it's destination will be clearly marked in English on the front or back of the vehicle. There are no official stops, so to pick one up between destinations just flag it down and tell the driver where you want to go. Day time rates are very reasonable with a charge of between 20-40 baht per person depending on where you are going. After 6pm the rate increases. Normally after 9pm you will be expected to charter a songtheaw if you want to travel between different resorts and prices vary depending on what deal you can bargain with the driver, sometimes it can be as high as several hundred baht.

Car Rental

Rental Jeep
Suzuki jeep
Car rental is available from many family-owned agencies and some large companies whose names you will recognize. Prices start from 800 baht per day upwards and depend on the type and condition of the vehicle you rent. The rental of a 4 wheel drive vehicle (jeep) will allow you a lot of freedom. It will serve as your basic transport, but you can also use it to circumnavigate the entire main ring road of the island (about 1 hour) and more. You can visit many natural hillside and man-made attractions which are accessible from the ring road. You can stop at them all, going at your own pace. If you are especially adventurous and have experience in off-road driving, you may head up into the mountains. (Rented dirt bikes are another option for those who want to go off-road.)
There, if you can negotiate the ruts and sometimes seemingly impossibly steep inclines, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding islands, as well as flora and fauna that is overwhelmingly beautiful. If Samui is paradise, then the mountains are its Shangrilah.
Some of these vehicles come with insurance, but the coverage is limited. You had better ask for the details.

Bicycle

This is now becoming a popular, safe and pleasant way of getting around. Good quality mountain bikes can be rented at many places around the island for around 80 baht a day. They are ideal for those who want to discover some of the many beautiful nature trails and tracks of the islands interior.
Taxi
Yellow Taxi
Yellow taxi
For many reasons this is the safest and easiest way to get from point A to B if you don't know where point B is!
Air-conditioned yellow coloured car taxis (Taxi Meter) have been around Samui since early 2001. There are many around the island so finding one is fairly easy, especailly on the main ring road or the resorts of Chaweng and Lamai. Make sure you ask the driver to use the meter before you set off, or if not, settle on a price before you start.

Motorbike Rental
rental motorbike
Typical 100cc motorbike
Most visitors to Koh Samui, seem to opt for motorbikes to get around town, go to the beach and go out in the evening; making these inexpensive rentals the most popular option by far. Prices range from 150-180 baht a day for a 100cc bike with semi or automatic gears, though you can bargain for a discount on a long term rental. They are fast, fun and easy to park. Large and off-road motorbikes can also be rented around the island, prices are around 500 baht per day.
BEWARE. Many local drivers have not received proper instruction in traffic safety, and tourists are often riding these bikes for the first time in their lives. Many SERIOUS ACCIDENTS happen. People are killed, and the statistics are alarming. However a prudent person need not panic. These accidents are almost always due to a serious lapse in judgement. Remember that while Samui may be a paradise you are still a mortal.

Motorbike Taxi

Motorbike Taxi
Motorbike taxi
Motorbike taxi drivers can be identified by their coloured, numbered vests. For short journeys they are the fastest way to get around as they can dodge in and out of the other traffic. They are really only suitable for a single passenger and not the easiest mode of transport if you are carrying luggage. They are inexpensive, fares start from 10 baht upwards depending on where you are going.

The Law

Policenam Sign in Nathon
Cut-out policeman traffic
sign in Nathon.
Driving is on the left hand side. Motorcyclists are required to wear crash helmets. The fine for not wearing one is 500 baht. Car drivers and front seat passengers are required to wear seat belts. An international driving licence or national licence is required to hire any kind of vehicle, although some companies and smaller rental places may not ask for any proof at all.
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