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SONGTHAEW

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Koh Samui public transport  - "songthaew", or colloquially "tuk-tuk" is a kind of mini-pickup truck with a double cab (where in addition to the driver there might also be his girlfriend, wife or a child) and a covered body with soft benches along each side of the truck. Of course, there are no seat belts but neither locals nor tourists are afraid to even stand on the footboards of the truck while facing the hot wind ahead.

In the daytime, these "taxis" are following the strict routes specified on the windshield, picking up people standing along the road and making stops on the passengers' demand (two call buttons are located in the middle of the covered body), and after six o'clock in the evening they may take you wherever you want, following any route on demand.. Of course, in this case a fixed price becomes negotiable. However, after 5-6 pm a trip even on ordinary, daytime route may cost more. Therefore in the evening it is better to negotiate the price before taking a trip (usually it is 100 baht per person, so a company of 3-4 people might want to think of taking a taxi - will cost the same).

An evening songthaew differs from its daytime counterpart even externally. Its "evening dress" is shining with colorful lights, so it is impossible to confuse it with anything else.

As I said before, songthaews do not just circle around the island ring road but follow the specified routes: 

1. Nathon-Chaweng through the north, 

2. Nathon-Lamai through the south (going through the tip of Chaweng, where you can change for the route to the north) 

3. Nathon - Big Buddha - Chaweng.

 

The price is not negotiable (in the morning and in the afternoon! But after 5-6 pm the situation is completely different, see above). 

In advance, before taking the trip, take a look at the approximate distance on the map, follow the road, guided by the flashing along the road hotels and resorts, and leaving the songthaew (to stop the truck click on the bell under the roof), give the driver money preferably without change.

 

Today's Rates (March 2015) are: 

- A trip within one district, or from one end of the beach to the beginning of the next one, costs 20 baht per person. Generally, 20 baht is the minimum price for the trip. Even if it is just 200 meters away. 

- A trip from the center of Maenam beach to «Makro» - 40 baht per person. 

- The same trip, but to Tesco Lotus on Chaweng - 50 baht.

- The same trip to anywhere in Chaweng (Chaweng) - 50 baht. To Bangkok  Hospital - 50 baht. The same price will be to get from Nathon to Maenam, Bang Por or Big Buddha). 

- The farthest distance possible without changing a "tuk-tuk" is Nathon - Chaweng or Nathon - Lamai, (the latter goes through the south of the island) - will cost 60 baht per person.

A little more about the prices. Often when it comes to dealing with farangs, especially those not tanned or moving with backpacks, drivers might want to try to raise the price naming rates from 50 to 100 baht per one person for any trip. Therefore, before boarding at least make sure that you are heading the right direction, so that the drive won’t get you to Chaweng, or even Nathon instead of for example Big Buddha.

If the driver in the daytime demands more money emphasizing on the fact that the above quotes are only for "Thai-people", and you are a "farang", and therefore have to pay more - just smile, thank him for the trip in any language and confidently give him the bills. In any case there is no need to shout and get irritated - it won’t help. Better call him greedy while still smiling (you can do it in any language, he will still understands the context and tone), give the money and wave goodbye. However, if the driver is being aggressive, then I would advise you not to bring the matter to extremes - just give him the money (especially be careful with obscene gestures, Thais can be very hot tempered). 

However, if you are absolutely sure that you are right and the driver is getting too much impudent - call the police, as well as write down the number of the troublemaker's car, take pictures of his transport license (it is always attached on the glass behind the driver's seat and is perfectly visible from inside the body) and of himself. As a rule, such actions would sober anyone in a moment, and there shall remain no claims.

I will repeat again, considering the realities of Maenam: 

A trip from the center of Maenam, for example, to Chaweng (the beach) - 50 baht per person,  to Big C and Macro - 40 baht, to Tesco Lotus at Chaweng - 50. Maximum possible cost of the trip - 60 baht.

To get to Lamai and to the south in general from Maenam you will have to change a songthaew in any case. That is what we do: we reach the traffic lights on the ring road at the end of Chaweng (the songthaew then turns towards the beaches and begins moving toward the north). That is 50 baht. From there take another songthaew to Lamai. Usually they would ask 50 for the fact that there is a "Mountain" :) If you want to get to the very beginning of Lamai Beach, you can pay 40 baht. If further and up to any place in the south - pay 50 baht. If your destination is Nathon - 60 baht.


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