It is slightly pointless giving a list of taxi prices for Mae Haad since it will be out of date in 2 or 3 months’ time. It is hard to tell whether this is really to do with rising gas prices or the fact that the prices are fixed for taxis in Koh Phangan, and once a price rise is agreed all the drivers fall in line. Competition has not produced better value for the consumer as regards taxis in Koh Phangan.
The typical taxi in Koh Phangan is actually more like a pick-up truck than a taxi. They are also called Songthaew which means ‘2 rows’. The description is apt as the seating is composed of two benches in the back that seat about 8 people. The luggage is tied to the roof or put in the middle. Most of the taxis have a cover but some are still open top. If you are pregnant or elderly you can ask to go in the front with the driver. Otherwise forget it as the passenger seat is for the driver’s mate.
You can try to negotiate prices for a shared taxi. I have seen plenty of young backpackers insist they want a group discount. These attempts at haggling invariably fall on deaf ears. The drivers will say ‘no’ and ‘up to you’ and drive off.
The only time when you can negotiate a discount is when you want to take an empty taxi, or to put it another way, a private taxi. The drivers will start high and given enough pressure will lower their prices.
The standard price to get a taxi from Mae Haad down to Thongsala is 200 Thai Baht per person. As I said before this is not open to discussion.
The longest journey from Mae Haad is to Thong Nai Pan on the east coast. There is no road running along the north of the island to this beach, so the drivers have to go south to Thongsala, east to Ban Tai and then north up to Thong Nai Pan. It takes at least 40 minutes.
The price for a private taxi from Mae Haad to Thong Nai Pan is 1,200 Thai Baht. However, I have heard of people managing to get the price down to 700 Thai Baht. A lot will depend on how much the driver is making on the initial leg of the journey from Mae Haad to Thongsala. If it is a full taxi they might give you a cheap deal as they will have a good chance of picking up other customers on the way. It is worth mentioning that a ‘private taxi’ means the driver cannot pick up other people up. That way, when he invariably does you are in a strong position to ask for the driver to discount or refuse the fares.
Taxi drivers in Koh Phangan are better than in Koh Samui. That is the best that can be said for them. They are, however, light years behind Bangkok taxis that use their meters. Best not to let taxi drivers make you irritated as it puts you in a bad mood before you have arrived at your paradise destination.