Koh Tao has one major concrete road which connects the north end of Sairee with Chalok Baan Kao in the south, while passing the main village Mae Haad in the middle.
There is an increasing amount of small concrete roads leading to the other beaches and bays. Everywhere else you will find dirt tracks, many of which will challenge even a skilled driver, especially on a scooter .
Steep trails, sharp curves, sand and grit, potholes, washed out tracks and the occasional dropping coconut demand mindful driving and quick reactions.
Vehicles in Thailand drive usually on the left, but traffic rules are often freely interpreted, speed limits aren't exactly followed and suicidal dogs enjoy sleeping in the middle of the narrow roads. You must always be prepared to make quickly room for the occassional moving or still obstacle.
Yet, it is not as bad as it sounds, as long as you drive carefully and remember that an accident will hurt body and budget as well. Always wear a helmet!!!
Motorcycles can be rented from 150B up, deposit of a passport may be required.
It is highly recommended to thoroughly check the bike before taking it, for scratches and other possible damages and document those with photos and a mentioning in the contract. This will prevent misunderstandings and possible rip-offs upon return, which could be costly.
Other options of getting around:
Pick-up car Taxis
You find them parked in central areas, or just stop them from the roadside. They run from early morning until late night. Be aware that taxi fares are not fixed & can increase drastically at night & due to seasonal conditions.
Always discuss the cost before the ride, not after. Basically fares start with a minimum amount for one or two persons and then increase per additional customer, group discounts are possible.
Remember, always try to keep the discussion about the pricing polite & friendly. Getting aggressive over a few Baht is really not worth the trouble (and you won't win the argument anyway).
Gasoline prices keep going up & down, so do the fares.
Difficult to reach areas like Ao Leuk, Tanote or Hin Wong will start with a min. of 200B and at least 100B per add. person, but due to road conditions or driver's mood, prices can vary a lot. Ask first! Resort pick-ups from the destinations offer cheaper or free rides, but go infrequently.
The colourful, traditional Long Tail Boats take you conveniently and quickly to stunning, secluded bays and snorkel sites.
You can find them at all the main beaches, and they can be chartered for a short trip or a half day tour. Prices are reasonable, but depend on distance, duration, number of stops and the amount of people travelling.
Biking and Trekking
There are mountain bikes for rent around the island, which not only save money, but protect the environment too.
If you enjoy exercise with a bit of adventure, then explore the island on foot, you will be rewarded with the experience of a lush jungle, a cool swim in a lonely bay or a spectacular panorama from a mountain top.
Please note that some popular viewpoints are asking for a small fee, which is used to maintain the area.
Also please respect the privacy of the locals, not every place is for the public, even if there's no signage or fences, if in doubt, go somewhere else. Also be aware of over-protective dogs in remote areas.
An real jungle hike can be very demanding, so be prepared: lots of drinking water, sunblock, mosquito repellent, tight shoes and a hat are essential and please don't go alone, like in diving, a buddy can be a life saver and besides, it's more fun. (see ''points of interest'' for hiking routes)
Warning: Walking on the main road from Mae Haad to Sairee, especially at night, can be dangerous, due to traffic and lack of pedestrian area.
It's way safer, easier & faster to use the hill road passing the school, behind the temple. It leads from the beach promenade at Rama 5 monument, over the hill, straight to Mae Haad center.