The thought of renting a scooter has never crossed our mind—until we arrived in Phuket, Thailand. It is common to rent scooters here, because it is much cheaper than taking a taxi or songthaew.
In Phuket, red songthaew are owned by the mafia and they blocked private vehicle from picking up travelers. Songthaew and taxi drivers pay the mafia to pick up passengers. So a 15 minute drive in a songthaew/taxi costs 500baht ($19 CAD), while renting a scooter only costs 250baht a day without insurance. If you do the math right, then like us, you would think that the most logical decision is to rent a scooter. Well that was exactly what we did—and it was the best day ever! With our own scooter, we drove all around the island, and visited many beaches and towns. This was the perfect way to get around Phuket. We were converted to a couple of scooter believers!
After that day, it was only natural for us to want to rent another scooter in Koh Tao, Thailand. The cost was about 500baht per day but it included insurance, 250baht for without. This was a bit surprising, because Phuket is known to be the more expensive area, so why is the cost of renting a scooter in Koh Tao comparable. Anyways, we wanted to rent for 4 days, so trying to save money, we opted to pay the lower price—without insurance. Yes, it was a bad decision, and yes, we did get into an accident, not once but twice! You see, unlike Phuket, the roads in Koh Tao were terrible. On the bright side, we got off lucky with only minor scratches.
While in Koh Tao, we noticed that 4/5 people that rented a scooter got into at least one accident. They, unfortunately were in much worse shape than us. We counted at least 4 people limping or in a leg cast. We talked to a few, one guy had an accident in the same place as us, unfortunately the scooter dug a small hole into his foot. Another guy, with many years of riding a scooter, was going up a steep hill with a passenger, but his bike did not have enough power so it started sliding backwards. The bike kept on spinning and eventually, he too, ended up with a hole in his foot. Yikes!
Throughout our trip in Thailand and the Philippines, we were still meeting people who have been through a scooter accident. The worst story we heard, was from an Australian couple, they rented a scooter for the first time in Vietnam, and got hit that same day. A car ran a red light and hit them. He broke his leg unfortunately, but with 3 months of travelling left, he kept on travelling with a cast on.
After hearing all those stories, we thank our lucky stars we only had scratches and bruises. So as much fun as it was in Phuket, our experience in Koh Tao really vetted us against renting a scooter.
Since then, I am no longer a scooter believer. My advice for you, if you choose to rent one, is to not have a passenger. Riding a scooter with a passenger will give you less control and stability.
These pictures were from the 1st accident. I didn’t take any photos of the 2nd accident, but I fell on the same side, so the same scratches, but doubled.
The video is from the 2nd accident. Apologies for my swearing at the end of the video.
Don’t forget to check out our Phuket blog (coming soon).