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Taxis in Samui are very cheap by European standards though quite expensive in Samui compared to what you would pay in Bangkok for a similar length journey. Samui taxi meters are almost never 'working' so always, always, agree a price before getting into the taxi - and you can bargain, you don't have to accept their first offer. But it is harder to get a bargain at peak hours or near going home time. Most taxi drivers speak at least a little English. In the main resort areas such as Chawaeng, Lamai, Bophut, Bang Rak (Big Buddha) etc they are at least fairly easy to find in the mornings and evenings. Afternoons tend to be more difficult as many taxi drivers take the opportunity of that 'quiet period' to have a rest before the evening rush. In the south and south west of the island taxis tend to be much harder to find at any time.

Rather than renting a car though do consider hiring a taxi for a half day tour or so. In 2011 expect to pay around 2,000 baht for the taxi for a 3 to 5 hour trip. That can easily get you around the island with enough time to stop off at various temples and other sights and is much better value, if there are 2 to 4 of you, than taking a tour or hiring a car. However, remember the taxis are not usually 4 wheel drive so would not be suitable if you want to visit some of the less easily accessible sights in the interior of the island. Most drivers will be quite happy to do a round island tour or partial island tour, and don't usually restrict themselves to just one area.

However, renting a car can also be cheap and offer real independence if you drive defensively within the law. 2011 prices for the main car hire chains tend to start at over 2,000 baht per day plus insurance and of course petrol costs. You can get cheaper rentals at smaller local car hire shops but don't expect the cars/jeeps to be in the best condition and be extra careful about what is covered by insurance. If you have an accident remember that as in the rest of Thailand, a Western driver is rarely given the benefit of the doubt. Always drive with great care and pay close attention to both your wing mirrors at all times as motorbikes can appear as if from nowhere at any time which can easily cause a problem if you are not paying attention. However, renting a car will give you the opportunity, and motivation to drive around the beautiful island, as well as to go out at night - though as everywhere, drinking and driving don't mix.

Chaweng is about a 10/15 minute drive from Bophut and a little more from Maenam. If you want to drive around the whole island it will take you about 90 minutes (about 60 kms).

NOTE: Thais drive on the left side of the road (like in the UK) so better stick to taxis if you are not comfortable with this.

LICENCE REQUIREMENTS

Here's how to stay strictly within the law if operating any vehicle (car or motorcycle) on Thai public roads - LINK