Getting around Koh Samui is relatively easy. The island can be circumnavigated by car in an hour.There are various types of local transport and vehicle hire to suit everyone’s needs. See the list below;
The easiest and cheapest way to get around the island is a Songthaew, a basic utility type vehicle with customized passenger seating in the back. Songthaews are readily available and circle the island on the ring road in both directions. Just hail one to the side of the road, negotiate a price with the driver and jump in the back. When you wish to disembark, ring the bell in the back or bang the roof and the driver will pull over.
At night many Songthaews act as private taxis, the price will be more expensive than day time public service, so ensure you agree a price before boarding.
Taxis on Koh Samui are the most expensive in Thailand, it can cost 500 Baht to get from Samui Airport to Chaweng Beach (10-15 minute journey). The meter is not used, you must agree a price with the driver before your journey. Usually there's a fixed price to each area of the island.
Fortunately, the only time you really need to use a taxi is if you have no pre-arranged transport from the airport to your hotel or if you need a very early morning ride somewhere.
The most popular way to move about Koh Samui is by hiring a scooter. It’s relatively cheap at approximately 200 Baht a day and a great way to get from a to b. You can hire a bike from virtually anywhere these days, your hotel, a bar, tour operators and shops all over the island hire bikes. For more experienced riders you can hire everything from off-road bikes, to custom choppers.
You may be asked to give your passport as security at some shops, please be aware your passport is the most important document you have while travelling. You should not leave it in the possession of strangers, it is the property of your country of origin. A good renter will not ask for a passport but rather a deposit of around 4000 Baht, which is fair enough. For total piece of mind take photos of the bike, with the date on the picture, particularly of any existing marks or scratches.
Ensure your travel insurance covers you in case of an accident on the bike. If you have not ridden a bike before or are a complete novice, the last place on this planet you want to learn is Koh Samui. We have the highest rate of road deaths in Thailand. Don’t think it won’t happen to you, because there is a very good chance it will. Do not drink and ride, do wear a helmet. We see so many people riding around taking stupid risks, not wearing helmets etc. At least one person a day dies on these little island roads, just spend a night in one of the hospital A&E departments and you’ll see some horrific injuries, most not covered by insurance. We are not trying to scaremonger people here, we live here and this is the reality.
Hiring a car is the best option for exploring this great island, and a 4x4 the best type of vehicle if you want to get off the beaten track. When we say "off beaten track" the roads on Samui are not the best in many places and some places of interest are only accessible in a 4x4 vehicle. It will set you back approximately 1000 Baht a day, depending on the type of vehicle and who you hire from. Most international hire companies can be found at the airport, you’ll find many small independent companies dotted around the island. The Suzuki Jeep is a popular hire vehicle, and is probably the best value from independent hire offices.
The cheaper alternative to the 4 wheel version if you need to take a quick journey around a resort area. Obviously a bike is only good for one passenger, just remember the safety issues mentioned above in motorbike hire.
A growing trend of transport on the island is on a bicycle. It certainly is a cheaper and safer alternative to other modes of transport and if you only need to move about a small area, like Chaweng or Lamai it is perfect. If you want to explore further then be aware the connecting roads between villages are hilly, with steep climbs and deep descends. The cost is around 100 Baht a day.