The mistakes the people make when visiting Koh Samui can be quite expensive and potentially ruin your holiday experience. However, the island is a a very safe destination to visit, and such mistakes are easily avoided, if you know what to look out for. Most of these potential scams and hazards are fortunately already pretty well-known and may even sound obvious to experienced travellers. However, it’s easy to forget about them in the excitement of discovering such an exciting, exotic holiday destination.
‘Be vigilant and stay cool’ should be your motto every time you visit a new destination, especially in a foreign country. The old quote “forewarned is forearmed” sums it up nicely, which is why we’ve listed a collection of known problems to avoid in Samui below.
- Ang Thong Adventure Tour
- Ko Tao & Ko Nang Yuan Snorkeling Tour
- Jungle Adventure
- Sea Kayaking at Ang Thong Marine Park
- Around the Island Tour
- Temples & City Tour
- Big Game Fishing Full-Day Tour
- 4-Wheel ATV Adventure
- Red Baron Junk Sailing Tour with Transfers
- Guided Photography Tour with Golden Pagoda & Big Buddha
Not knowing how to use Samui taxis
There are 2 types of taxi in Samui – taxi meters and songthaews (pick-up trucks used as buses). In the former, always ensure that the meter is turned on and do not accept any discussion of a flat fare beforehand with the driver. If they do quote a price or don’t turn on the meter, calmly say “meter” and, if the driver still refuses, get out and find another taxi. Unfortunately, you might find that this doesn’t work late at night as all taxis start using flat fees, so just haggle it down as low as you can.
Songthaews are cheaper than taxi meters but they have a set route so might not take you exactly to your destination. A journey by songthaew from Nathon (west coast) to Chaweng (east coast) should cost you no more than about 60 baht. However, some drivers unfortunately apply double pricing for tourists. Since 120 baht is still pretty cheap and there’s no way to avoid this kind of overcharging, the best solution is to smile, pay the fare, write down the taxi’s plate number, take a photo of the driver’s licence, and report him to the police. In any case, stay cool.
Underestimating how dangerous the roads are
Driving in Samui, and more generally in Thailand, can be somewhat risky. In fact, the roads here are ranked as some of the most dangerous in the world. Furthermore, Samui roads are generally in poor condition due to the increasing number of vehicles that use them and the tropical maritime climate which, in low season, spoils the road surfacing.
That said, driving in Samui can be very pleasant for experienced drivers, it just requires more attention and prudence, especially if you rent a motorbike. It’s certainly wise to take it slow, especially at night. Above all else, do not expect other motorists to behave like they would in your home country. Expect the unexpected at all times.
Not preparing for the infamous jet ski scam
From Phuket to Pattaya to Samui, jet ski scams often hit the headlines. The trick is simple: after you’ve enjoyed 15 or 30 minutes at sea, the owner of the jet ski claims that you’ve damaged his vehicle and you are liable to pay exorbitant amounts of money to get it fixed, otherwise he’s going to call the police.
The best way to avoid this is to simply not rent a jet ski. If you really can’t resist the appeal of having fun on a jet ski, the first thing you should do is to take as many photos of the vehicle as possible, including close-up shots of any pre-existing damage, before you ride it. That may save you from being scammed by the operators when you return to the beach.
Not being careful at night
Going out at night in Samui is pretty safe, but the same general precautions you would take anywhere else in the world should be applied here. Vigilance is the only way to avoid trouble while going out at night: pickpockets, drink spikers, and other criminals are in a tiny majority, but they are present in Samui.
It’s wise to only carry the cash you need for that night (or, at least, don’t show it off), and be discreet. Also note that people can be rather hot tempered after a few drinks, so it’s best to not get involved into any kerfuffle – leave it to the authorities because things can get out of hand rapidly.
Not being alert for creepy crawlies
Although Koh Samui has greatly improved its infrastructure (roads, electricity, hospital, and more), it’s still a tropical island covered by lush vegetation, sheltering a variety of insects and reptiles. The chances that you encounter a centipede, scorpion, or cobra during your holiday are pretty slim, yet it may happen.
To stop any unexpected visitors entering your room, keep your windows and doors closed and, if you keep your shoes outside, double check inside them before putting them on. Mosquitoes are also plentiful in Samui, and some of them carry diseases such as Dengue, Chikungunya, and Yellow Fever. Don’t forget to use a good mosquito repellent, especially between 4 pm and 8 pm, when the Aedes Aegypti (the mosquito that spreads these fevers) is the most active.