Hi everyone -- my husband and I will be in Ko Sumai for 6 days. We are staying in a remote part of the island, away from all the hustle and bustle, so are looking for our own transportation. Should we rent a car or a scooter to get around? We've rented scooters in the past while in Huatulco, Mexico so it won't be our first time.
My advice would be to pass on renting anything. The downside is just huge compared to the convenience of having your own transport. When you get to Samui you will see plenty of guys & gals bandaged up. Many either fall off or get hit while tooling around on the rental bikes. The roads are narrow and the drivers are not skilled. If you can get by with public transport, I would do that. Much cheaper and safer.
If you do rent a bike or car, take photos of it from all angles. Have the rental agent in the photos if you see any damage. Too many rental agents try to charge you for damage to their vehicle. Even if you did not damage it! Ride defensively, always wear your helmet and lock your bike if you rent a motorbike.
A word to the wise: NEVER rent a jet ski. The Thais have been scamming unwary tourists for many years. Here is how it works in Pattaya. It will be the same in Samui.
If you insist on renting, choose a car if you can afford it. One mistake on a bike will ruin your holiday. Good luck.
I lost count of the number of air-headed tourists I almost flattened on Koh Chang!
I'm a motorcycle guy. I ride, almost daily, in Bangkok. I have been riding since the 60s, been professionally certified, and always wear a Shoei helmet, gloves and proper shoes.
But, Thailand is not the place to be mindlessly putting around on a scooter. One needs to pay full attention. The traffic is almost 3 dimensional. Cars, trucks, motorcycles and pedestrians will enter your space from all directions, including head on. Dogs are also a concern.
If you do rent, it may be wise to rent from the accommodation at which you are staying. Renting motorcycles is probably not their bread and butter. Therefore, they are less likely to scam you. As vegasmaike suggested, photograph every inch of the machine.
Keep in mind that in Thailand they drive on the "other" side of the road like UK. You may during an emergency situation react wrongly just by instinct.
I do find it easier to ride a pedal bicycle in Thailand than in the US.
An accident with injuries can really put a cramp in your holiday enjoyment.
Thanks for the feedback everyone! We've decided not to rent immediately and will wait to see how the roads/drivers are before we decide to rent. A pedal bicycle is a good idea too!