Koh Samui - FAQS
Q. When is the rainy season ?
A: Generally speaking, October through December
Q. How do I Know the correct taxi fare and what should I do if I think I'm being over-charged ?
A: See the rates in this page. Prepare the exact amount in advance and give it to the driver when you get out.
Q. Is the drinking water safe? What about the ice?
A: All restaurants, even little roadside ones serve bottled water and clean factory-made-ice cubes. Vegetables are usually washed in tap water, but are safe when cooked. You may want to avoid eating raw foods.
Q. How much should we tip restaurant service staff?
A: Many employees receive some or all of the service charge that hotels and restaurants may add to your bill. However most locals when eating out, leave a small additional amount if the service was good.
Q. I have a severe case of diarrhoea. Could it be serious?
A: Probably not, however a visit to a doctor or a clinic is a good idea. They can prescribe effective medication that will ease your discomfort within hours.
Q. How do I avoid overpaying when souvenir shopping?
A: Competition amongst merchants is high. Shop around and compare prices. Try to negotiate a discount (maybe 20-30%). Always bargain with a smile!!
Q. What should I do if I have a serious problem ?
A: Contact the Tourist Police. Their number is 421- 281.
Q. Until what time do the public (red) taxis operate ?
A: Until quite late in Chaweng and Lamai, but not much past dusk in the smaller villages and in Nathon, where the last ones leave with arrival of the last ferry about 6:00 pm.
Q. The rental company say my jeep is insured. Really ?
A: Ask for specific information. If you are sceptical, you may want to rent from one of the international agencies. You will pay substantially more, but receive the most complete coverage available.Want to rent a car ?
|Getting Around Safety||Choosing Accommodations||Public (Red) Taxi Fares|
|Avoiding Mishaps||Beach and Water Safety||Cultural Dos & Don'ts|
|Medical Care|| Environmental Conservation
||Visa Extensions and Overstays|
|Leaving Samui||Other Useful Information|
If you rent a jeep or especially a motor scooter, be aware that many local drivers have not received proper instruction in traffic safety, and tourists are often quite inexperienced, especially at operating scooters. Before renting a vehicle, check the treads on the tires, the horn, the lights, brakes and turn signals. Don't rent a scooter unless a helmet is provided. Wear it, its use is required by law and it may save your life. Be aware that cars often pull out without warning and dogs pop out into the street. So watch the road, use the turn signals and don't speed!
Do not stop in the middle of the roadway to chat, enjoy the view or read the map. Pull over and get safely off to the side. When driving, keep pace with the traffic.
Don't even think about driving while intoxicated. It is by far the easiest way to lose your life on Samui.
For private and tranquil beaches at a medium sized hotel or budget bungalow resort, try the villages of Maenam, Bophut, or Choengmon. The southern and western coasts are also good for those seeking peace and quiet, but bear in mind that taxis do not run there long after dark. For lively beaches, night life and lots of shopping, head for Chaweng. For plenty of activity on a budget, try Lamai.
If you are arriving on Samui by ferry, you may be approached on the boat by a friendly person who is happy to recommend and give you a lift to a friend's nice budget resort. These people are sales agents. Make sure they are quoting you nett prices, and if you decide to go with them, make it clear you are not committing yourself until you have seen the accommodation.
If at any time you feel you have been mislead or worse, contact the tourist police. They have locations in every village and are there to assist you.
Exchanging Money & Using Credit Cards
You can convert major currencies to Baht at all banks and exchange booths. The rates are fairly similar island-wide at both types of locations. Always count the change you receive. Some ATM cash machines do not accept credit cards. Look for the VISA and MASTERCARD signs. Try not to depend totally on these machines, as they sometimes run out of cash or go out of order.
CHANGING TRAVELERS' CHECKS
Can also be done at most locations. Your passport will be required for identification.
USING CREDIT CARDS
Many exchange booths accept credit cards. These cards will be displayed in their windows. Note that businesses accepting credit cards for goods and services, often take VISA and Mastercard only.
For transactions requiring a teller, there are banks in the villages of Nathon and Chaweng (only.) They close at 3:30 pm and are not open on Saturdays.
|Within all Downtown Areas
|YELLOW TAXI METER
add extra service charge 50 bath
Thais are extremely tolerant. However a little awareness and consideration will help you avoid causing offence and are sure to make your stay on Samui more enjoyable.
1) Smile and greet people. Everyone understands "Hello" and "Thank you"
2) Bathing suite are not appropriate attire away from pool and beach areas. Both men and women should wear a shirt in village streets. Topless women sunbathers are deeply offensive to many people, especially Samui's many Muslims.
3) Thais are very affectionate with children. Feel free to fuss over little ones and let others fuss over yours.
4) Public displays of physical affection are deemed immodest and inappropriate.
5) Leave a small tip if you liked the service.
6) Be soft spoken and deferential. This kind of humility is especially respected, and it is how most Thais would behave in your country.
7) Try to be patient with people's many personal questions. No harm is meant by their queries.
8) Try to eat Thai-style. Don't be surprised if everything you order does not come out at the same time. Since Thais usually share, they don't care much which dish comes out first.
9) Do not point your foot at anyone or place it near them. This is extremely insulting.
10) Displays of anger are likely to worsen a trying situation. So are declarations of "Thai 's not the way we do things in my country !" Try to win the day with quiet and calm persistence
11) Avoid directly accusing someone if you feel you have been cheated. Contact the Tourist Police.
12) Remove your shoes before entering someone's home, or a temple.
13) Don't touch a stranger on their head.
Thailand is an extraordinarily safe country for travelers. Use your common sense and it is very unlikely any harm will come to you on Koh Samui.
1) Do not accept rides from strangers.
2) Safeguard your valuables at all times.
3) Do not accept food or beverages from strangers, especially in nighttime entertainment areas.
4) If in an isolated area, avoid people ( especially groups ) who appear to have been drinking a lot of alcohol.
5) If you take a new friend back to your hotel room,be sure to hide your money and valuables.
6) Do not open your hotel room door to a knock if you are not expecting anyone.
7) Don't go alone to the beach at night with strangers.
8) If you have a serious disagreement, stay calm and contact the nearest tourist police.
9) If you are caught with marijuana,hashish, ecstasy or any other illegal drugs,you will go to jail. Your release will be very costly, you will be deported, and your future re-entry into Thailand will be difficult or impossible. Don't take the risk.
Beach and Water Safety
It is easy to overdo it on Samui's glorious beaches. Unfortunately sunstroke and sunburn ruin many holidays every year. So wear sun block and never fall asleep in the sun.
During the months of December through April, very strong rip currents come and go on certain days at the beaches of Chaweng. Every year people lose their lives. Even strong swimmers can be at risk. Encourage your hotel to monitor sea conditions during these months. If you see red flags displayed, swimming is DANGEROUS !
There are several hospitals and a number of clinics on the island. The medical professionals speak English, and are well qualified to treat most common ailments and minor injuries. Be aware that doctors in Thailand often prescribe antibiotics more freely than their western counterparts. Good quality dental care is also available on Samui,and at prices much lower than in many countries. If you sustain a major injury such as a badly broken leg, or if you become seriously ill, you will need to be treated in Bangkok or Phuket. The facilities on Samui are not yet equipped with a full range of modern equipment and medications. As everywhere, prevention is best! Be careful in the sun and in the sea, and use extreme caution when driving your rented motor scooter or jeep.
The growth of tourism is out pacing the island's infrastructure, and the ability of our eco-system to sustain it. We cannot turn back the clock, but we can speed up our conservation efforts. It is expected that tourist arrivals on Samui will soon reach 1 million annually,much more than our municipal services with their very limited budget can handle. Organized community efforts however, are helping. If you wish to contribute to such efforts,please donate just 1 baht upon departure, in the TAKS boxes at the ferry terminal and airport. In the meantime: Don't leave your trash behind. If you see another person litter, tell him or her how sad it makes you. If you dive or snorkel, don't touch the coral you see. Avoid using plastic and other non bio-degradables when you can, and encourage others to do so.
Visa Extensions and Overstays
If you decide to extend your stay, check in your passport for the date your entry stamp or visa expires. If you overstay, you will pay a per day fine when you leave the country,and it can get expensive. In most circumstances, you will be able to extend your tourist visa by a week or two at the local immigration office in Nathon, for a fee. If in doubt about any aspect of your status, go and see them. To get a three month tourist visa or one that will allow you to seek employment, ( fairly difficult to obtain ), you will have to visit a Thai consulate or embassy in your home country or somewhere outside of Thailand. The nearest one is in Penang, Malaysia. Check with our local immigration officers for advice.
Many direct flights leave daily. Bangkok Airways now also flies to Phuket,Krabi and Singapore. Don't forget that there is a 400 baht departure surcharge payable in baht before you board. If purchase one in advance at the airport or Bangkok Airways' sales office.
By Train and Bus
Those returning home or going elsewhere on a budget,can visit one of the island's many travel agencies to book a combination boat/bus/rail or boat/overnight-bus ticket to their next destination. You will depart from the Nathon ferry pier in midafternoon and ( those Bangkok - bound ) will arrive in the city early the next morning.
Local and national calls can be made from coin-operated phone boxes or those accepting prepaid phone cards, sold in shops and at the post office. International calls can be made from the post office, most hotels, and many travel agencies. Prepaid international phone cards can now also be purchased and used in the yellow phones installed in some locations for this purpose. For international direct dialing (IDD) out of Thailand, dial 001 and then the number.
Every village has a post office, open from 8 am to 4:30 pm. For important documents use the EMS express services
Shipping Souvenirs Home
You can avoid overloading your baggage by using the sea freight services of the Thai Postal Service You may be pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive it can be to ship even heavy objects this way. Every village has a depot, and quality shipping boxes are sold in many sizes.