Koh Samui is a relatively small island and getting around it is not that difficult thanks to all the available transportation options. The island is just 25 km long and 21 km across so getting to any tourist attraction won’t take very long.
However, there is one thing that you must keep in mind: there are no tuk tuks or buses in Koh Samui. Also, the public transport is not standardized meaning that there are no set stations or timetables for any of the options below.
There are several transport options in Koh Samui such as: songthaews, motorbikes, taxis or cars but first, let’s talk about Uber and Grab.
Quick jump list
Tip: the rush hour in Koh Samui is between 7-8am and from 4.30 to 5.30pm. Make sure to avoid driving during these times as the traffic is congested. Also, everyone is in a hurry and accidents happen often.
1. Grab app and Uber in Koh Samui
As an European who uses taxi apps a lot, I was expecting to find Uber in Koh Samui. I was a bit disappointed to find out that Uber was acquired by Grab App in all Southeast Asia.
Therefore, Uber is not available in Koh Samui. Although you can use Grab App, you won’t find that many drivers compared to another popular app on the island called NaviGo. NaviGo is a ride-sharing Thai mobile application which offers cheap fares.
To use NaviGo, you will have to set up your pick up point and your destination and the app will search for drivers nearby. The app will show a rough estimate of the journey’s price which includes the 100 baht booking fee and 25 baht per kilometer charge.
If you are used to Grab App, NaviGo is very similar to use. The price is usually 30% cheaper than the traditional taxis.
Tip: giving the fact that NaviGo is relatively new in Koh Samui, order your taxi at least 20 minutes in advance. There are not that many drivers and it might take a while until you find one.
I know, the name is a bit weird but I actually love songthaews. They are typical for Thailand and you should definitely try them!
Your first contact with songthaews in Ko Samui will probably be at the airport or ferry terminal. They are similar to buses and riding one is extremely affordable.
Songthaews are pick-up trucks with roof coverings and two benches fitted in the back. You might think that they can’t accommodate many people but you’ll be surprised. They can fit up to 15-17 people; some of them will sit on the benches, others on the floor. They also have luggage racks on top so you can easily carry your luggage if you are taking a songthaew from the Koh Samui airport or ferry terminal.
Songthaews are extremely popular among locals too so riding one will definitely be an unforgettable experience.
Koh Samui songthaews routes
Songthaews in Koh Samui basically circle the ring road (the main circular road around the island which is 51 km). There are no predetermined routes or schedules.
Tip: If you want to catch a songthaew, just go at the main road and flag one. When it stops, go and talk to the driver and tell him your destination. Depending on how much you are willing to pay, the driver can even take you to off-route destinations. When it’s time to get off, just ring the bell inside.
The price starts at around 40-50 bahts but it can vary depending on where you want to go. To avoid any misunderstandings it’s best to ask about the price before getting in a songthaew. You will have to pay when you get off.
Tip: In the evening many songthaews operate as private taxis. Make sure to negotiate the fare before getting aboard.
The taxis in Koh Samui are all colored in yellow and maroon. There is only one taxi company operating in Koh Samui which, of course, means that they can set any price they want.
Taxis are definitely the most comfortable means of transport in Koh Samui and if you want to attend an event in elegant clothes, you don’t really have a choice than to take a car. An alternative would be to use NaviGo.
Even though the taxis have meters, few drivers use them. Before getting in the taxi, make sure to ask the driver to set the meter. If he refuses, negotiate a fixed rate for your route.
4. Motorbike taxis
Considerably cheaper and less comfortable, motorbike taxis in Koh Samui are a good transport option if you don’t mind clutching on to a stranger. You can find them by looking for drivers with colorful vests.
If you are traveling on your own and you are not comfortable renting a motorbike, a motorbike taxi will do the trick.
You will have to negotiate the price with the driver in advance. Usually, the prices offered are fair and they depend on where you’re planning to go.
5. Rent a motoribke
Renting a motorbike in Koh Samui is the easiest and most convenient means of transport. As you will arrive on the island, you will see that most of the people, both locals and tourists choose motorbikes as their transport.
With that many motorbikes, you will have to be careful when driving. There are always people in a hurry and some of the roads are pretty bad.
Please note that an international driving permit is necessary if you want to drive legally in Thailand. You can rent a motorbike without a licence but keep in mind that in case of an accident, there will be bigger consequences without a driver’s licence.
Where to find motorbikes for rent in Koh Samui
Most of the accommodations in Koh Samui offer motorbike rental services. Just go to your host and ask. If they don’t have their own motorbikes, they definitely work with someone who rents them.
If all the motorbikes are already rented at your accommodation, try another hotel or guesthouse nearby.
To rent a motorbike in Koh Samui for one day you will have to pay around $7-$8. The gas is very cheap (under $1) and you will find it along the main ring road.
Tip: when renting a motorbike, you will see that you will be asked to leave your passport as a guarantee. This is not a good idea since you never know when you’ll need your passport. My recommendation is to offer to leave money as a guarantee. When we rented our motorbike in Koh Samui, we left $200 in local currency as a guarantee instead of the passport.
Also, beware of motorbike scams. Read more here.
6. Rent a car
Legally renting a car in Koh Samui requires having an international or Thai driver’s licence. Although small companies might not check if you have one, big companies will definitely do.
When renting a car, make sure that that the car has insurance as the traffic on the island can get a bit crazy. Fun fact: Koh Samui has one of the highest rates of traffic accidents in Thailand.
The prices usually start at 800 baht/ day but it really depends on the type of car you want to rent.
Tip: if you are planning to explore the inside of the island, I recommend renting a 4×4 since the roads are pretty steep and bad.
7. Rent a bicycle
The healthiest alternative to get around Koh Samui is renting a bicycle. You can choose to take a guided tour around the island on bicycle or just explore by yourself. Either way, you must keep a few things in mind before deciding to rent a bicycle:
- the temperatures during the day are hot hot hot. Make sure to wear sun protection and bring water with you
- don’t underestimate the traffic
- if you’re planning on visiting remote areas, inside the island, keep in mind that it will take a lot of effort since the roads are very steep
A good mountain bike will cost you around 80 baht per day.
Even though it’s a good form of exercise, walking in Koh Samui might not be safe. Most of the streets don’t have pavements. In the few areas where you will find pavements, they will mostly be occupied by parked cars or motorbikes.
While walking on small distances is fine, I would definitely recommend using one of the options above for longer distances.
You already know this: it’s free!
Where to stay in Koh Samui
I’ve searched for the best accommodation on Koh Samui, for every budget. I recommend staying somewhere near the Bophut area where all the restaurants, bars and shopping malls are located. Here are the best hotels to choose from:
- Budget – Gecko Hotel – great location, clean & spacious rooms, very friendly and helpful owner
- Mid Budget – Ban Mok – beachfront villa, beautiful infinity pool, excellent location, modern & spacious rooms
- Luxury – Sensimar Resort & Spa – rooms with private pool, excellent location on the beach, modern & luxurious hotel, breakfast included
I hope that you found all the answers you were looking for in this ‘how to get around Koh Samui’ article. If you have any further questions, please let me know in the comments.
May the travel bug bite you!
More about Koh Samui:
- 8 incredible Koh Samui hidden gems – click here
- Koh Samui hidden beaches – click here
- Na Muang 2 – an incredible hidden waterfall in Koh Samui – click here
- The best photography spots in Koh Samui – click here
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