I mentioned this a little in my post about Namuang Waterfalls, but after realising there isn’t much information online about getting around using Songthaew’s in Koh Samui, I thought I’d dedicate a post to it.
The Songthaew is a great little invention which is a cross between a taxi and bus service. They are red/maroon in colour and look like your everyday pick-up truck with a roof. The word Songthaew translates into ‘two rows’, as there are two rows of seating and they can hold up to around 8 people. It is pronounced song-tow (but ‘ow’ as in you have hurt yourself).
‘…we just enjoyed the ride in the back of the truck!’
This, I believe, is the best way to get around Koh Samui because…
- They cover all the major attractions in Koh Samui. From from the airport, to Chaweng beach, to Big Buddha, to Mae Nam Pier, Na Muang Safari Park, Lamai beach, Bo Phut and so on. They do all this by going round the main Koh Samui ring-road – 4169.
- You don’t have to wait long for one to arrive, or wait for a schedule. Depending on how popular your resort or destination is, one comes along every 10-15 mins. You flag the car down like you would a bus, just stick your arm out. To end the journey, there is a little button on the roof that you press, or the driver will stop at your destination and give you a shout.
- They are cheap and you can negotiate your price before you set off. This is a must because they will always set the price higher for tourists (known as farang’s). Get an idea of what you should be paying for your journey before you go and you are in a better position to haggle (just have a quick look on Google). However, we were refused one taxi when we tried to haggle because he already had a lot of passengers and our journey must have been out of his way. When we tried to haggle the price he just said ‘no. no’ and drove off. Not to worry, another came along 10 minutes later.
- Before 6pm the route is pretty much set (around that ring road) only deviating to go through the major resorts to try to find more customers. After 6pm, they become a ‘normal’ taxi. They are not restricted to this route, but they do also pick other passengers up along the way.
We used the Songthaew for most of our journeys. We paid 200 baht (approx £4.50) each to go to the opposite side of the island, and paid 50 baht (approx £1.15) each to go to the Big Buddha, only 3-4km from where we staying in Bo Phut.
There are of course taxi’s, minivans and scooter taxi’s you can take too, we just enjoyed the ride in the back of the truck!
Any questions you have, or any tips you need before you head to Koh Samui, just give us a shout.