Samui is one of the most expensive places to get around in Thailand. The cheapest form of public transport on the island is the songthaew, a small pick-up truck with benches for passengers along either side of the covered truck bed. Fares are a flat THB 50. Destinations for any given songthaew will be displayed on the front or sides of the truck. The basic routes are Nathon - Chaweng - Lamai - Nathon and Nathon - Big Buddha - Chaweng - Nathon. Tell the driver where you're going before you get on to be sure he's going there. They don't always follow the same route.
There are a good number of air-conditioned taxis which can be easy to find in Chaweng and Lamai, but slightly more rare elsewhere. Although they display "Taxi Meter" signs on their roof, fares are actually fixed depending on pick-up and drop-off points, and start at THB 200 (5.19 USD). Taxis can be flagged down on the main roads, or can be called by your hotel.
To and From the Airport
Samui's award winning airport is located in the north-east corner of the island, about 5 km from Chaweng beach. Air conditioned vans are available to take you to the resorts on the popular beaches. The fare depends on distance, ranging from THB 100 to 200. Many hotels will have their own transfer service. They're more convenient, although the charge is usually higher than the public vans. You can also book airport transfers through the links below:
Driving & Car Rental
There are dozens of places around the island where you can rent Jeeps or motorbikes. Be sure to look over any prospective rental vehicle carefully before taking it off the lot. Many independent rental companies can be less than diligent about maintenance. If you want to rent from a more reputable agency, Budget has two locations, one at the airport and another at Chaweng Beach. National can be reached at tel: +66 77-245-393.
So you can rent a car or motorbike on the island, but should you? Thailand has one of the worst road accident rates in the world, and Samui has the most accident prone roads in Thailand. Narrow, badly maintained roads combine with poor driving habits by locals and tourists unused to the rules of the road to make for some very dangerous conditions. If you decide to take to the road, keep in mind that driving is on the left. Motorcyclists must wear helmets at all times, or face a THB 500 fine. Cycles must also keep to the extreme left of the road unless over-taking. Many of the main roads have a small side lane for motorcycles.
A very practical alternative to risking your life on a motorcycle or by driving yourself around is to rent a car with English-speaking driver. It costs THB 1,200 (31.16 USD) for a half-day rental, or THB 2,000 (51.94 USD) for a full day, which is not much more than just the cost of a car from the international rental firms.