Following on from part 1 of getting around on Samui, which covered songthaews, motorbike taxis and taxis, in this post we look at renting your own scooter or motorbike, renting a car, and that old chestnut, walking.
Automatic scooters are available for rent all over the island. Expect to pay from 120 to 250 baht a day depending on the length of rental period. Renting for a month can cost as little as 2,800 baht.
Riding a scooter is a great way to explore the island, but be warned: Samui has the highest rate of driving fatalities in the country, so be aware and always wear a helmet, as you are far more vulnerable on a bike.
Also be careful that you don’t end up joining the ranks of tourists sporting a ‘Samui tattoo’ — though they aren’t unique to newbie riders in Samui — a burn on the right calf caused by the exhaust when disembarking.
Fuel is available all around the island at fuel stations or roadside kiosks selling petrol in used whiskey bottles. Petrol at these stands is more expensive, but convenient as you won’t travel more than a few hundred metres without seeing one. There will be someone around any corner that can help repair punctures. Expect to pay 50 to 100 baht for basic assistance.
Motorbikes seldom come with insurance, so you will be liable for any damages or repairs. Should you have a minor mishap, and your bike need repair, have it done yourself at one of the many bike repair shops. Often it is just a case of replacing a broken mirror or plastic moldings. When returning the bike to the rental company, just produce the repair slip, and they will not be able to charge inflated rates for repairs.
Cars are readily available for rental, with small manual Suzuki jeeps being the cheapest and most popular vehicles at about 700 baht per day. More luxurious air-con vehicles are available from 1,200 baht to 2,500 baht per day depending on which model you choose.
Renting a car from your resort is often cheaper, and they won’t ask you to leave your passport as security, which is always a risky business anywhere in Southeast Asia. Small car rental and booking agencies also rent the standard Suzuki Jeeps at a much cheaper rate than the big brand name car rental companies.
Samui is extremely safe to explore by foot as crime is rare. Footpaths are however not very user-friendly, and non-existent in places. Drain covers are often broken so it is important to watch your step. Families with young children would do best with the 4×4 variety of pram due to the uneven pavements.
Walking on the beach — without the pram, of course — is the best way to explore the seafront resorts, such as say along Lamai, as they are often nondescript from the road, but spectacular from the beach.
If you plan to spend the day exploring by foot, remember to pack a hat and sunscreen and keep hydrated, as the sun can be harsh. Packing a fold-up disposable raincoat is also wise, as tropical showers can appear with minimal warning. If you enjoy hiking, seek out several of the paths leading inland to waterfalls and viewpoints.
No matter what mode of transport you choose, be it by foot or luxury vehicle, do get out there, beyond your hotel! Explore! Discover and venture off the main drags; on Samui, it’s generally safe to do so.
By Rosanne Turner
Last updated on 2nd February, 2012.