Well, I think it’s time to tell you guys a bit about motorbikes and cars, especially these lovely taxi cars and all that other nasty stuff that could happen to you once you decide to hit the road here on Koh Phangan with your newly rented motorbike from one of those “Sudden Death Bike Rental Services”!
First of all some facts about those motorbike rental services. You can find these bike rental services at any tiny corner around the island. There must be hundreds of those shops spread all over the island now and more to open up soon I suppose. It seems to be a really good business here on the island and at some shops you can see an armada of about 30-50 bikes standing in front of the shop. To rent out a bike for one day costs you in average about 150 Baht per day but prices can of course, like usual, become more expensive for whatever reasons the shop tells you. It’s Full Moon, it’s high season, it’s low season, it’s no season or I’m just a bit short of money at the moment!
What ever … once you finally agree to the “Sudden Death Bike Rental Deal” you will be asked for your passport and some money for deposit. Then they let you sign this rental contract which is against every law I think but there’s no over choice if you want to rent a bike. Just make sure you check your bike for any already damaged parts and let them mark it on the check list. Otherwise you will later have to pay a very special price for it 🙂 And always remember that they have your passport to probably use a bit force on you if you’re not willing to pay. And most of the shops work pretty well together with the police … so you’ve been warned and informed!
Well, let’s now assume you’ve finally managed to rent your holiday bike and want to hit the road! Just keep in mind that there are NO RULES while driving on Koh Phangan! The biggest vehicle always wins 🙂 Most of the Thai road users never took any driving lessons or read a book to find out about the meaning of a specific road sign! Instead you can simply buy these so called drivers license here in Thailand for about 3000 Baht and then you are certified to do whatever you want to do on the road – that’s great, isn’t it 🙂
Please check out the Picture Gallery => Motorbikes, Cars and Accidents on Koh Phangan Island
And in case of an accident the golden rule here is also pretty simple and straight forward. The tourist ALWAYS has to pay. No matter what happened! No matter who was wrong! By the way you already signed that option in your rental contract. It’s always that tiny printed stuff that’s main important, isn’t it?!?
I’m not kidding here! I know at least from 3 accidents where the tourist or foreigner had to pay everything even they were totally innocent. The bike owner and the police can play some really nasty tricks on you and in most (all?) cases it normally works! Who wants to be stressed out while enjoying holiday? And 30.000 Baht is not that much money for us people from the rich western world isn’t it?
Always remember you have to drive on the LEFT side here in Thailand! So driving on Koh Pa-ngan can get a bit tricky from time to time. Especially in the high season or at any other Full Moon Party event around the year. Everybody goes really nuts here, especially taxi cars, and run after the thing most humans run after. MONEY!
Then there is this road up and down the mountains which guides you to the world famous Had Rin beach. Please be aware that this road needs some advanced driving skills and is really not recommended for those sitting on a rented motorbike for the first time. Especially if it is raining the road to Haad Rin turns into a slippery experience and can cause you lots of trouble in navigating your vehicle. Please don’t be brave and give it a try – better skip it and re-think your actions 🙂
Road conditions here on Koh Phangan are also very far away from excellent I would say. Be prepared for holes, stones, sand in curves, coconuts, snakes and whatever hangs around on the street. Sometimes dogs and I also met a water buffalo once directly in the middle of the road at night!
However, drive slowly and watch out! Taxi cars normally never show considerations for anybody except themselves! Ruthless bloody bastards I would say 😉
Take care and enjoy your ride!