Koh Samui is situated off the East Coast of Thailand. In this area also known as the gulf of Thailand, the island finds itself between Malaysia, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Its positioning thereby prevents it from being in great danger if a tsunami or heavy storm were to appear.
The island may be the perfect fit for retirees as it is very welcoming, because of its economy being dependent on tourism. Plus, on this serene island the local Thai people are very amicable. In cases where you’ll have to depend on locals (for their activities or services), you’ll almost always be in safe hands and have a great experience.
Right-hand traffic is largely adopted by most of the world, yet in Thailand, there is left-hand traffic. Most of the concerns people have with transport stem from this fact. With little to no additional experience, foreigners are able to drive on the roads. But the problem many new drivers in Thailand face is not knowing how to position themselves on the road.
With motorbikes driving along the left of the road and cars stopping in the middle of the road to make turns, you have to be very aware of what’s happening in front, behind, and next to you. Motorbikes will pass close to cars and that’s okay. So be very careful driving a car, because cars take up most of the road and motorbikes riders are very vulnerable. As a motorbike rider, be aware of cars coming and going, and don’t stick too close or too long to cars. Also try to keep left because cars may not be able to see you at times. And that way by being on the left of the roads, you can pass slowing/turning cars and be safer.
Also, don’t forget to wear a helmet if you plan to ride a motorbike. Even if they are not required to ride on the road, they truly should be, as with more tourism comes more potential on-road dangers, fatal or not.
Like all places that attracts large crowds, problems can occur if you’re not aware of them beforehand. Many tourists and newcomers to Thailand are faced with potential scams and more often than not have to pay up after going along with these seemingly ‘innocent’ acts. Unfortunately, this happens all around the world in hot tourist destinations. People have always done this and will always do this. This doesn’t change the fact that the local people are very friendly and willing to help you, it’s just that some are less well-off than others and simply hope to make a living, even at the detriment of others.
Though, thankfully these pitfalls set in front of you are avoidable with enough experience and familiarity. More often than not, these ‘scams’ are the result of accepting a shady deal by overlooking it as a ‘first experience’. You have to be prepared to be faced with such situations and familiarize yourself with the environment so your kindness and curiosity are not taken advantage of.
Below is a list of ‘scams’ you should be wary of:
This well known scam is used on tourists all across the world. Taxis drivers will take advantage of the fact that you may be unfamiliar with the local currency and will upcharge you for their service. Some may even make use of a ‘meter’, to measure cost in relation to distance traveled. The drivers may reset it or not turn it on at all, and then demand 2-3x the regular rate.
So when choosing a taxi, be sure to either use a taxi meter and make sure no tricks are pulled (i.e the driver resetting the meter), or check the normal rate and negotiate the price before going in the taxi. Furthermore, having an idea of the normal rate and currency can help you not overpay for many other things.
As for the pricing of other transport methods, housing, and foods, you can take a look at our other article ”is Koh Samui Expensive?” to get an idea at what kind of prices to expect on the Island. You’d be surprised how affordable living or retiring on Koh Samui can be.
Around bars and hotspots late at night, you will find young kids asking you to play connect four with you. They are highly skilled at the game and will trick you into betting large amounts of money.
Even if you play for small amount of money and find it amusing, we think these actions should not be encouraged. Behind the scheme are greedy adults using these kids for their own gain. Plus, these types of areas are not quite kid-friendly, especially so late at night.
This scam is very easy to evade, just take some pictures of the jet ski(s) before using them and make sure that the fellow renting them to you sees you do it. These pictures are there to protect you and will most likely stop the jet ski owner from even attempting to scam you.
To explain shortly, the fellow renting you the jet ski will claim that you have damaged the jet ski. They then ask for an outrageous amount of money as compensation for the damages. If you do not oblige, they threaten to call the police and bring over a fake police officer who is working with them on the scam.
Taking pictures of the jet ski(s) prior to use will protect you, but in case you the jet ski owner still tries to go through with the scam, simply call the tourist police with the following number; 1155. They speak English and will be able to assist you in resolving your issue. If you show them that you took pictures and are actively being scammed they will act immediately.
Stay away from anyone proposing you drugs, and yes, that includes marijuana. It is simply not recommended to take any form of drugs from anyone when staying in Thailand. Marijuana sellers need licenses to sell their product, and consuming any form of marijuana in a public or unlicensed location may result in you getting a fine. Some people may even offer you drugs with the intentions of bringing over a police officer to get you heavily fined. They will also take a cut of the fine.
However, that excludes marijuana shops/cafes/bars which are now a prominent industry. They are allowed to sell marijuana to people who are over 20 years old and not pregnant or breastfeeding. Just be sure to consume the product indoors or hidden from the public’s view.
To those interested in medicinal drugs, medical marijuana is legal in Thailand, and even foreigners can benefit from it providing that they have an eligible medical condition.
Absolutely. It is rare for people to be put in grave situations or face dangerous individuals. A lone young lady could walk late at night without the fear of being attacked or robbed. Plus, the locals are very welcoming and friendly and would be eager to help you if you ask. Furthermore, Thai people are polite and it is rare to encounter a ‘rude’ Thai person.
You could even leave your keys on your motorcycle/motorbike for the whole day and not break a sweat. This is why nobody attaches their bicycle to fences or poles and house doors are usually always unlocked. It may also be because the police take theft crimes very seriously, and thieves will spend a minimum of a few years in jail if caught. Thieves be warned!
If you have any questions regarding the laws & regulations, property/land purchase process, timeframes, building regulations and references or any questions related to Koh Samui, we would be happy to help you.
You can reach us on our Contact us page for any further inquiries.