Scooters are the most common form of personal transport in Thailand and are a popular choice for tourists to rent to explore Koh Tao. Sadly we hear of stories where the experience has turned sour, whether an accident has ruined dive plans or heavy damage fees have thrown a holiday budget into disarray. Our general recommendation is don’t ride here, especially if you do not have a motorbike licence from home – Koh Tao is not the best place to learn how to drive! For those that do still want to rent a motorbike, check out our handy guide to getting the best hire experience and staying safe while you’re at it:
Standard procedure will be to sign a contract. This should list all the charges for damage so check what you may be charged before you sign. Almost all operations will ask for a passport for deposit. Regardless of your opinion about the legitimacy of this, it’s standard procedure for hire here. You’ll be asked to check the bike over. Usually both parties will take photos / videos of the condition of the bike at the point of hire. There are dozens of companies out there, but we hear consistently positive feedback about the following operators:
Just a couple of minutes’ walk from Master Divers, this long standing and well-regarded operation offer a range of scooters (110 & 125cc) and smaller semi-automatic bikes as well as a range of larger manual bikes from 150 – 500cc. Good for short term rental but can be costly for longer term.
Around 5-10 minutes’ walk from Master Divers, Oli’s offer a range of well-maintained automatic scooters (125cc) and semi-automatic bikes. They also offer resort pick up and drop off service for those staying a little further away. They also provide maps, road safety tips, and hazard information.
Less than 5 minutes’ walk from Master Divers and just a couple of minutes from the ferry arrival point, Island Travel have automatic scooters. They offer different pricing plans depending on the level of damage insurance you’d like to add to your rental. Clear pricing and damage cost information is provided. Will take a cash instead of passport as deposit.
Located right on Sairee Beach, RPG offer 125cc automatic scooters for hire. This friendly and honest operation doesn’t usually charge for the odd minor scratch on the bike and the costs for damage are reasonable. Also a good option for longer term (1 month+) hire.
It’s the law in Thailand that all drivers and passengers must wear a helmet. Legally all hire shops must provide a helmet for the rider and a passenger. Do not try to ride without wearing one.
Carrying a passenger
It can be tempting to save money by renting one bike for two people but it is a lot harder to control a bike with someone on the back, so this is not recommended.
Although there have been huge improvements in the conditions of the roads on Koh Tao in recent years, do not expect conditions like you get at home. Sand frequently covers the roads making them slippery and older surfaces are littered with potholes. Some major roads also have unexpected unsurfaced sections so always drive slowly.
Don’t expect other road users to obey or even understand the rules of the road. Indicators are not widely used and there are some surprising habits of drivers making right turns which involve pulling over to the left had side of the road first, or even driving against the traffic on the wrong side of the road before making the turn.
As always, if you are worried about riding, don’t do it! Koh Tao is small so many things are accessible on foot, there are lots of taxis available and some places even have bicycles for hire.
To end on a lighter note, join us on a trip to Tanote Bay if you want to find this neglected scooter on your dive! 😉