Motorcycle renting scams
We were conned by "Sairee Star travel" when we borrowed a dirt bike and I had to leave my passport with them as security.
On returning the bike the boss goes over the bike with a fine tooth comb looking for faults and reasons to extract more money from you.
He found a small scratch on the front gaurd which he said I put the there and ripped me off 1000 THB and would not give back my passport till I paid it.
Later we saw that he was doing the same to everyone who had hired a bike from him.
So many tourist were angry at this guy but he didnt care he was making a killing ripping people off.
We called the government offices to complain and others said they were going to call the police.
Do NOT rent a bike from here the owner is a crook.
It's just not worth it.
The three scooters pictured in somewhat of a December deluge are obviously stationary and that is about the only way a visitor should interact with them. I am quite comfortable riding motorbikes and scooters as many of my other tips will show but I know when to take a bit of advice. The roads on Ko Tao are pretty bad and every expat I met had numerous horror stories to tell about the number of travellers injuring themselves, often quite seriously.
Another thing to bear in mind is that the medical facilities on the island are rudimentary, the nearest half decent clinic being on Ko Samui. Also, there is no airport on Tao. If your injuries are serious and you cannot make the journey by scheduled transport you will need to hire a private speedboat to Samui, and the price I heard quoted was a whopping £1,600 (over $2,000US). Really, it is not worth the risk. If you must get around without walking, get a bicycle, the place is not that large anyway.
The night boat from Koh Toa leaves @ 2100hrs. There are two levels. Upstairs with matresses on the floor or downstairs with cane thin matresses. My advice is to go downstairs, though dingier, you will much more room and maybe a better sleep. I did. When you get to Suratthanni...beware the mini bus drivers that keep your ticket then after dropping you off at the "bus pick up": drive off. You then have to buy another ticket. It's an old con, so I was told (by the police)after it happened to me and my wife. If you argue with the ticket vendor she will pick up a baseball bat and really with hate in her eyes go after you . We had to run. At the police stn there was a spanish lady with a # cheek from a knee to the head (from the hotelier) after she argued that gear was stolen from her room. Southern Thailand is violent and dangerous. Your choice !
Be careful on the main road
We walked from the pier to where we were staying on Sairee beach (all the taxi's had disappeared). Bikes go quite fast along there and there are quite a few bends. I wouldn't recommend walking along here at night as there are no street lights. There is a path that runs alongside the beach that is a better option.
- Budget Travel
Off Road trails
Careful where you go on that motorbike! I rented a smaller bike and was trying to get to a remote beach(i forget the name), but the road was all dirt and very steep. I weighed 175lbs and the bike had no more power when i was almost at the top. The loose dirt gave way and i started going backwards. To my left was a steep drop-off about 500 feet down. I was smart and decided to save the bike and my life by falling to my right. The bike was on top of me and burn the hell out of my leg and my toes were all cut up.
I kept going and made it to my destination and met a nice Swiss fellow who's mother was a nurse. He happened to have all the supplies to treat these types of injuries. A good rule of thumb is to get a good bike with good tires and be sure to wear shoes! And have some kind of first aid kit. Still, it was a time I'll never forget, and the big burn scar on my leg to keep reminding me of that wonder place called Koh Tao!
Know your fish!
The problem with wanting to go scuba divig is the lack of knowledge of fish usually of the trainee divers! Although the instructor will gve you some outlines to the usual fish spotted in the area, occasionally you will get some different ones and you may not know how close you can get without getting hurt! I was in this position this last diving time as I saw a Triggerfish. I had seen one the previous day when I had been out snorkelling and loved the way it glided and the fact of course that is has a rather funny looking face. So when we were diving and had our camera with us I tried to go after it to get an up-close picture. Suddenly I heard my diving instructor clanging his metal ball attached to his oxygen tank to make me aware of something. I turned to look at him and he motioned that it was a trigger fish by putting his hand into the position of a gun. I immediately retracted from the position I was in and let the Triggerfish swim off. It's situations like these that you may find yourself in quite often. If a fish looks ugly and mean, it probably is, so that is reason enough to stay away from it. But be careful with the cute or funny looking fish..they could be just as dangerous!
Ko Tao. Bike / Moped Rental Horror Stories
There are many places to rent mopeds on Ko Tao, most charging around 160 baht. If you see anything for much cheaper than this it **IS** too good to be true.
We rented from a place not far from the pier that had mopeds from 80 baht per day. An excellent deal - so we thought. We ended up with one or two minor wobbles on the road which ended us up with "Thai Tatoos" like virtually *every* tourist moped-rider has from 2nd degree burns from the un-covered exhaust pipe.
When we went to return the bike, however, the manager started to point at small, unnoticable scratches on the plastic bits around the bike. We expressed dismay as the manager showed us that we didn't mark them on the paper that we were given to mark defects when we rented the bike. Long story short, the owner was claiming (with paperwork we'd signed in hand) that we owed 5,300 baht worth of damage and she wouldn't give my passport back. We went to the police (who were out to lunch so no help) and only because it was my birthday and we just wanted to get this mess over and done with, we shelled out the money, got my passport and then proceeded to (with a borrowed screwdriver) take apart the bike. We walked off with 1/2 the bike in our hands, claiming to the lady as she yelled behind us that's what we had paid for. So in the end, even though we lost out miserably with the money, at least she really did have to go and buy all the new parts for the bike. We filed a report with the police later who told us that this is a common occurence, but since we'd already shelled over the money, there was nothing they could do. So WATCH OUT for "cheap" deals on Ko Tao!!!
- Budget Travel
Insect bites and dengue fever
The mosquitoes and other biting insects on Koh Tao were voracious. Once I realised this I covered myself in repellent but at any unguarded moment I was being eaten alive.
One of the dive guides told me that another person who worked with was in hospital with dengue fever and that there had been about 6 cases on the island recently.
Make sure you are covered up and use lots of repellent. Be aware that the dengue mosquitoes bite in the daytime so you have to be on your guard all the time - not just at dusk and dawn.