Touring Thailand

 

 

Koh Tao Biking

Bobs Bike

Although more and more pick-ups seem to appear on Koh Tao each day the island remains a haven for off-road bikers. The narrow paths and trails can take you to were no car or 4X4 can fit. In the low season the roads are very quiet for most parts of the day but in high season expect plenty of traffic from pick-ups and trucks transporting divers to and from the resorts.

Koh Tao Bike Routes

It's not just diving that Koh Tao has to offer a visitor there are some decent road routes and offroad trails that will challenge some of the hard-core bikers out there.

The Main Island Road.

The easiest route on the island is done by keeping to the main road that runs from the top to the bottom of Koh Tao. It starts at just before Rocky Bay and finishes at the north-west edge of the island. The road doesn't actually have a name and actually bypasses Mae Haad town and Sairee beach completely, effectively making it a by-pass. Theres no major hazards other than the occasional pothole and the storm drains that line the road in parts. Of course, remember that Koh Tao, while not notorious, is something of a party island so keep that in mind if your going for a night-time blast as drunken bikers and drivers are present here. I'll start the route from the southern point.

Setting off from Rocky bay you'll pass lots of resorts on your left and right. Presently you'll reach the turn-off for Chalok Baan Kao. if you take it you'll enter 'Buddha View territory', most of the restaurants and resorts tend to be affiliated to this diving resort. If you carry on the resorts will thin out a little bit. You'll reach a fork in the road at sooner or later and you have the choice of either taking the high road which is the left hand fork or the low road which is the right hand fork. The high road is newer and wider than the low road but is slightly longer and in the rainy season is often covered in sand. It's got some girly bars on it as well so expect plenty of traffic at night!
The low road starts off as wide and as new as the high road, but after about a kilometer the road becomes a dirt track and narrows to about six to eight feet, the jungle closes in as well cutting down visibility for a right-hand bend.
While this is not hardcore once you've entered the trail a concrete platform about a foot high and cutting across half the trail certainly is! A generator sits atop it and chunters away by day until nightfall (when the main island generator fires up). This is not too bad to allow for coming from the south, but coming from the north means you come around a left-hand bend and suddenly the concrete platform is upon you so stay sharp! An unfortunate German biker returning from Venus Park learned the hard way about this obstacle and it cost him his life.
After this you'll climb up an incline and meet a road junction, turn left and you'll rejoin the main island road, turn right to continue north on it.
The occasional resorts and bungalows will increase in density again as you approach the outskirts of Mae Haad town. A cross-roads is here that allows you to either head east and across the island to the other side (the right-hand turn) or west and move on coastal trail (the left-hand turn). After here is the main petrol station for the island.

The main road then passes the turn-off for Mae Haad town center and then a second turn-off just after it will take you into Mae Haad as well. The terrain becomes more undulating and hilly from this point on.

This stretch is the fastest point on the island. As Mae Haad sits on a hill that descends sharply you can get some serious speed up here. The road is very straight and there are no major junctions for a good kilometer or so. Enjoy the speed but keep your wits about you.
You'll pass the island temple of Koh Tao (known as Wat Koh Tao) on your left. After some climbing and turning about the hills will fall behind you as the road levels out for a long mile or so straight towards the Sairee beach junction (another opportunity for a bit of a blast).
At the Sairee Beach cross-roads (the left-hand turn is Sairee) there is a right hand turn that takes you deeper into the jungle infested hills that line the spine of the island (eventually that trail will take you to the east side of the island).

Koh Tao Road Looking South
The road then climbs into the hills again and it narrows by about five feet or so (see pic). You'll pass numerous resorts and two viewpoints before reaching the roads end. The tallest point (Doi Koh Tao) on Koh Tao is nearby here. A restaurant with fantastic views of Koh Nang Yuan is where the route finishes.

Koh Nang Yuan

It shouldn't take you long to complete the route as the road is only 4 miles long.

Offroad Trails

Ryders Bike

The Hin Wong Trail

Starting from the 7/11 in Sairee head straight towards the main road, once you reach the cross-roads head straight across.
After you pass a large resort building on your left the road will become a dirt trail. Keep riding on and the trail will bend around to the right then to the left followed by a very steep climb into the hills.
Once you're at the top you're about halfway there.

Hin Wong Trail and Jungle

From here keep riding, following the trail as it wends and winds around the jungle.

Hin Wong Trail 2

After this section the trail bends around to the right and you'll be right next to the coast! Welcome to Hin Wong Bay! From here just follow the trail to the nearby resort for a rest and a breather.

 

Road Lore: In the rainy season the road can be flooded in areas so watch out! Also be aware that the rain can spread sand and silt onto it making riding in dry weather a more dangerous feat altogether.
At the Chalok Baan kao zone of the road be wary at night-time. The mangy dogs and mongrels are a bit meaner than most here and like to yap and bark like mad at bikers.

Here on Koh Tao though, the local police will turn a blind-eye to unlicensed bikes, but periodically the police from Surat Thani will show up and often 'take-over' sections of the road and impound bikes that are not road-legal. Their prime hunting ground is the main north-south island road into and out of Mae Haad, but they sometimes focus on Sairee.

They will threaten to impound and confiscate and remove them from the island if you do not pay a fine.
Whether to pay the fine is your call, but it can be pretty steep some farang have been hit for beyond 20,000 baht at a time. They often bluff about shipping them back to the mainland and when they leave they'll just abandon them at the islands police station for you to pick up when the coast is clear. However some other stories stress that they often do carry-out complete confiscations. You could gamble whether the cargo ferry is due to arrive for when they are bound to leave (usually at the end of the week-end), or do what we do and just avoid the check-points

Click on an area to explore the map!

Koh Tao Map Koh Nang Yuan Mae Haad

 

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Chang Mai Province Phitsanulok Bangkok Koh Tao Koh Pang Yan Koh Samui