Koh Samui

By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Koh Samui?

Do you need a car in Koh Samui > Should you rent a car in Koh Samui Thailand > Koh Samui ( USM )

Many visitors might well consider that Koh Samui is the sort of destination where a combination of beachfront activities, watersports and boat trips would make a hire car unnecessary. This might well be the case, but it’s also a great place to explore further, whether by car or not:

Do you need a car in Koh Samui? Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Why should you rent a car in Koh Samui?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Koh Samui?

Koh Samui Car hire summary

Overall drive rating



Cheapest rate for one week




How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?





Free parking score

Total 1007 - of which 641 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • Compared to a heavily congested city like Bangkok, a hire car in Koh Samui might be useful for visiting the various parks and coastal roads which are nearby. A full circuit around the island without stopping would take a good 2-3 hours. This lends itself to getting a car for a single day.
  • The island is relatively small, but distances can be deceptive. Due to the winding nature of the roads, expect to drive slowly.
  • Expect everything else to move slowly too! Compared to a bus, you will have much for flexibility!
  • Because Koh Samui airport is so close to the town of Bophut, a wide range of car hire choices is available, with healthy competition.
  • It is also possible to head to the mainland by taking advantage of one of the car ferry services from the western side of the island. However, one way rental is not advised – it’s far easier to return your car to the same place.
  • You may enjoy the initial novelty of a songthaew (shared pick up truck). After that, you may prefer the comfort of a rental car. Safety, as ever, is a matter of judging your own risks!

Why not? Visiting Koh Samui without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Koh Samui public transport quick facts

Train score



Water travel score


Overall public transport score


Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)


  • If you are staying in Bophut, Samui airport is close enough to be able to walk to your resort!
  • Even with winding roads, the island is still small – and easy enough to tour round in a day using local transport services.
  • Public buses, songthaews (shared taxi services using converted pick-up trucks), regular taxis and NaviGo (app based) taxis combine to provide a range of choice for touring the island.
  • to really appreciate the natural wonders of this part of Thailand, you will need to take to the waters! Ferries are available to the nearby resort island of Pha Ngan, or to the islands which make up Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park to the west.
  • Koh Samui is easy to visit as part of a combined itinerary, taking in the Thai mainland, and also possibly including the island of Phuket, which sits on the western side of the peninsula. You can buy combined through ferry and coach tickets to Phuket, promoted by local ferry companies such as Seatran Discovery and Lomprayah.
  • Ferry companies serving either the mainland or nearby islands will give you the option of adding in a shuttle bus connection.

James says - a few trip notes:

Note – before confirming any ferry bookings to or from Koh Samui, I would always suggest taking a look at the kind of boat that the operator will be using.

If a service is operated as being “fast”, ask yourself first if this is what you really want! Fast often means you will get a catamaran with only very limited outdoor area at the back – for me, this is absolutely the worst way to travel! A more conventional ferry may still label itself as “high speed”, but have far wider outer decks. Why rush when you are travelling on crystal clear waters in one of the most beautiful places in the world? Even if you are just trying to make an onward connection, a two hour “fast” ferry is still unlikely to take more than around two hours as a “slow” service.


Car rental in - Koh Samui Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Koh Samui?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.

Is it worth hiring a car in Koh Samui?

Based on value for money

Should you rent a car in Koh Samui?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Koh Samui if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?


Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Koh Samui if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?


What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Koh Samui if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?



Final score:


Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

So, do you need a car in Koh Samui? This has to be one of the softest “yes” recommendations that we have made, and it is very much one that suggests getting a rental car for a day or two rather than for the length of your stay, but it is still something that might be worth considering nonetheless.

Would you hire a car in Koh Samui?

Have you driven in Koh Samui? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Koh Samui?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

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