There's a bit of a stigma with renting a scooter in Asian countries, due mainly to the risk of accidents and lack of road safety, including tourists that can hire a scooter without any experience of riding before. We have hired scooters in the past and whilst there is a degree of apprehension, as long as you keep your wits about you, you should generally be fine.
Langkawi for those of you that don't know, is rather different to many other countries in South East Asia due to its remoteness, the place still feels up-and-coming and there are less tourists, the roads are generally quieter than most other places due to its pretty low population density and also no-one is in a rush to get anywhere. Renting a scooter here is arguably the best way to get around with its scenic views and drives. It’s the most convenient way to see everything, from beaches to secluded villages to remote mountain areas. You have the freedom to explore the entire island on your own.
Here is our guide to hiring and riding a scooter in Langkawi
Hiring your scooter - There are many tourist shops dotted along Cenang Beach (the main tourist strip) all offering competitive prices on bikes. We chose to hire through our hotel (The Smith House) as we felt it would provide us with some cover and someone to help us should we get into any trouble.
How much should it cost? - The tourist shops can charge as little as £4 per day, we paid £6 per day for 5 days. Do you need insurance cover? - We didn't take out any policy cover and weren't asked to. We did have travel insurance.
Driving licence - Was not required to show the hire company, we kept ours with us though.
Need to have a scooter licence? - No shockingly you don't, Pam doesn't have one and whilst she could ride a 50cc in the UK without licence, these scooters were 110cc
Passport needed? - Always take your passport when on the scooter, and indeed Langkawi being a tax free island, your passport is required for most purchases anyway- even in the supermarket. Passport was required to show hire company.
Fuel - To fill the tank it cost less than £2. We chose the 'Petronas' large petrol stations over the smaller companies. You will strangely need to go to a pump then head to the cashier hand them money, even if its a large note, then fill up then go back to cashier for your change.
Helmets - You are told to wear them and you should wear them at all times! No excuses for it being sweaty or messing your hair, wear a helmet! One helmet can fit under the seat compartment and the other clip onto the seat compartment to secure it to the outside.
What side of the road do you drive? - Drive on left, like in UK (car steering wheel on right of cars)
Road conditions - Traffic lights are adhered to, left turns are not always included in traffic lights (i.e you can freely turn left at lights) Just watch other drivers movements to gauge. There are many many speed bumps around, use caution and slow down when approaching and be aware they aren't always noticeable, some are same colour of tarmac as road. Always be on the lookout for animals (especially buffaloes) crossing roads. Avoid driving late at night as it’s difficult to navigate and streetlamps aren’t very frequent. Be aware that whilst the main roads are well maintained the side roads tend to get muddy after the rain.
Speed limit - It wasn't always clear as you could go for miles without seeing a speed limit sign, but as far as I can recall the highway was 70kmph and the main roads/ dual carriage ways 60kmph, around town roads would be 40kmph
Safety - Always wear your helmet, cover up body in case of accident, don't ride in torrential rain- know how heavy the rain is to be safe (It rains 3/4 of the year in Langkawi). Lock valuables inside seat compartment if needed. Be on the lookout for other drivers
Other road users - Other drivers generally fine, however just keep your eyes peeled. And bear in mind if we didn't need any insurance or prove our licence then others won't necessarily have either.
Parking - In car parks, motorcycles may park for free, just check each one. Street parking even in busy Cenang Beach, just find a spot, there will no doubt be multiple other bikes to park next to, to be sure. This is why a scooter can trump cars as you can just park anywhere.
Finding your way around - It is easy to navigate around as there is good GPS signal, and to buy a phone card with data is easy. Everything is well signposted.
How easy to ride? - Pam had never rode a scooter before and picked it up rather easily, even with the weight of Shannon as a pillion.
How big is the island - Langkawi island is 478.5 km² which is similar size to Singapore. Langkawi Ring Road which covers the main road of the island via highway has 46km of roads in total.
Always be safe and vigilant!