Come sun, come rain… public transport on Koh Samui
To make the most of our stay on the island we decided to rent a motorbike.
Renting is a great way to escape horrendous taxi fares on Koh Samui.
Because on the island, there is no real public transport.
You will notice this, right after you have landed.
Airport Transfer Tourist Rip
At the airport, the only available means to get away are airport taxis or airport minibuses, which can be booked from the transportation counter at the airport.
The airport taxis have no meter, despite carrying the roof top sign ‘metered taxi’ and demanding fares that are somewhat difficult to justify.
A taxi ride to a hotel at Chaweng or Lamai – about 2-3 km away from the airport – will start at 400 Baht. The price is equivalent to a 30 km taxi ride in Bangkok! BTW gasoline costs are the same.
The airport ‘buses‘ are taxi vans with a similar price regime. They start at about 120 Baht per person (from airport to hotel).
Here is the price table at the airport counter.
Because taxis refuse to use their meters (island conspiracy), make sure you agree on a price before you get in.
The usual sight on Koh Samui: haggling with taxi drivers.
In the end we did not take his ride due to wayward pricing.
Taxis would have way more clients, if they would use meters. Maybe. Or are tourists to blame, paying whatever taxi driver’s demand? Which, in all fairness, is way cheaper than what you would pay at home for a taxi ride.
Shared Taxi Pick Ups
15 years ago I remember that locals would hop on and off shared pick up taxis. We used those as well, paying the driver with 5 Baht coins. Times have changed.
The pick up taxis are still around but no by now, locals have switched to cars and motorbikes. Taxis are reserved for tourists who will have to pay about 50 Baht per person to sit at the back of a pick up for a 2 km ride.
A comfortable metered taxi ride in Bangkok will be 35 Baht for the same distance.
Tourists using pick up taxis will not get to see much of Koh Samui because pick ups mainly run along the tourist paths of Chaweng and Lamai road.
We had to get a ride with those suitcases after we found ourselves a nice beach front hotel room.
Holding on tight to our bags during the shaky ride at the back of the pick up.
We were a funny sight. Tourists taking pictures of us (from their rented car).
To be more independent (and save a lot of money) many tourists decide to rent a car starting from 400 Baht per day or a motorbike for around 150-200 Baht per day.
Renting quads, Harleys and other weird vehicles is easy.
We were not even asked to present a driver’s license for a motorbike. (Which we have!)
After reading this warning about a jet-ski rental that didn’t end so well on Koh Samui, we made sure to take pictures of our bike at the rental, so as not to get into any tragic ending disputes.
Anyhow, filling up your bike is as easy as renting it.
There are petrol stations.
And private gasoline stands. Which are cheaper and more frequent.
Wearing a helmet is mandatory but not greatly reinforced.
The sign has missed its purpose. Locals prefer to invest in different kind of accessories.
It might look slightly ridiculous but we like to have and additional layer under the helmet. The sun won’t burn your neck and the old helmets have a tendency to smell rotten.
The sunglasses? At 60 km/h insects have a blinding impact.
Sometimes motorbikes have their own designated parking lots but mostly, they are parked wherever there is space.
There can be a lot of signs. Good for us, usually they will feature English subtitles.
This one is important!
Doing a motorbike tour around Koh Samui, on its main roads circling the island, or driving around its interior hills is super fun. You get to see remote temples and great viewpoints.
To do one circle all around the island was about 50 km and took us half a day.
With plenty of picture stops…
I think this one is probably free to rent.
More on transport.
Riding along the ocean, away from the Big Buddha temple.
It is wise to bear in mind that in Thailand the rainy season starts on the 1st of June.
That was more or less when we arrived on Koh Samui.
The first two days were a pouring disaster.
During the rainy season rain comes in buckets. Vanishing as quickly as it has arrived.
Pink body condoms are a pretty (good) investment.
The other way to see more of the island is by booking various day tours organised by travel agents and hotels. Sadly, some still feature animal riding and animal shows.
Monkeys prefer to be free.
And to enjoy the beautiful sunset over Koh Samui.
More on our rental and a list of 25 attractions on Koh Samui we rode to with our bike, right here!