Wondering how to rent a car on Koh Samui? It’s very straightforward – you can even rent through Avis, Hertz and Budget. Read through the rental car process below, and get answers to all your questions, too.
How to rent a car on Koh Samui?
First, you have two choices for where to get your rental car:
1. Major car rental chain
- Pro – convenient, often a larger choice of vehicle.
- Con – more expensive.
You’ll find their offices at Koh Samui Airport
2. Local, independent shop.
- Pro – cheaper, fewer rental agreement terms.
- Con – can appear “dodgy”.
What type of cars are available?
The big corporate rental agencies have a wider selection. Local independents mostly have Suzuki 4X4s and Honda/Toyota compact automatics.
Can you get car seats on Koh Samui?
Are you coming to Koh Samui with kids? Some rental agencies do have car seats available, though we imagine they’re the exception. You might want to bring your own if this is a concern.
The Koh Samui car rental process
1. Pick your car: Ensure it has a license plate/number plate. Note that some cars have seatbelts and air bags, and some don’t. (Likewise for other comforts such as air-conditioning and stereos). Finding the car with the features you require may take more shopping around but they do exist!
2. Confirm the price: A local, independent shop will often quote a per-day price. If you’re renting for longer than 2-3 days, try to negotiate a better rate (especially in low season).
3. Confirm that your car has insurance: In Thailand, the car is insured, not the driver.
4. Sign a lease agreement: The lease also includes the insurance.
5. Provide your ID: Come prepared with both your driving licence and passport. They’ll ask you to leave your passport behind as collateral. This is standard practice.
6. Don’t forget … Note their opening/closing hours and get the shop’s contact details. Take their business card or mobile number in case you need to get in touch.
Driving on Koh Samui (FAQs)
What side of the road?
You drive on the left in Thailand, as in the UK. (And you can turn left on a red light.)
Where do you buy gas/petrol?
Roadside stalls sell 1-litre bottles – though it’s expensive. A better choice is the full-service petrol stations dotted around.
Where can you park on the island?
For the most part, you can park for free wherever there’s space along main roads. The exception is Fishermen’s Village, where a small fee applies unless you find a lot without an attendant!
Be sure to check for dogs and cats sleeping underneath before you drive away.
Do you need GPS for Koh Samui?
No. But you might if you’re planning to drive in other parts of Thailand. See my thoughts on the matter, as well as my Garmin SE Asia review.
Any hazards you should know about?
Oh yes! And probably ones you won’t often see in your home country. My closest call yet was a run-in with a rogue water buffalo. Roads can narrow to one lane in certain areas, and the lack of pavements mean that pedestrians often have to walk in the road.
- Be especially wary of scooters and motorbikes – use of mirrors is optional at best
- Road conditions vary around the island, and potholes can be large
- Some roads flood during Koh Samui’s rainy season & require creativity in navigation
- Big trucks and lorries don’t always play nicely with others
Why rent a car on Samui?
Simply put – because there’s lots to see! While most hotels and many private houses are within easy walking distance to the beach, there’s plenty else to do. Whether touring Koh Samui over a leisurely day or making daily excursions to Samui attractions – you can rely on a rental car as much or as little as you like.
So… where should you go?
With idiot-proof island maps, The Koh Samui Guide gives you great itinerary ideas to explore Koh Samui and enjoy your holiday even more. Enjoy!