Scooters and Bikes on Koh Phangan
To fully explore and discover Koh Phangan a scooter or bike must hired or rented. A scooter or bike is almost essential on Koh Phangan as there is only a limited number of taxis and there are even fewer songthaews (set route taxis) making it both expensive and time consuming to travel any distance on Koh Phangan. The roads on Koh Phangan are comparatively quiet when compared to Thailand’s other beach resorts and are possible the safest to ride on.
Why hire a scooter on Koh Phangan
The capital of Koh Phangan, Thong Sala holds very little of interest as a base for a holiday to Koh Phangan but the food market is a must and all substantial amenities are based within Thong Sala. The best beaches are to the north of the island have very limited transport options and even less accommodation options, which almost totally exclude budget options; so the answer to both of these dilemmas is to hire a scooter!
Scooter and bike hire prices and advice
Scooters cost between 400-550 THB per day with the price decreasing for longer or multiple rentals. Only considering hiring a scooter when you actually plan to leave your local resort area, so not to waste money with it sat in-front of the hotel. When hiring a deposit is always required, this is either a passport or a large amount of money, so go prepared.
The best option for Koh Phangan are the smaller 100cc scooters which are suitable for most people, even people with limited riding experience. Scooters and bikes can be rented from so many different places throughout the island, do not be sucked into renting from your own hotel as this is usually the more expensive option. On the opposite end of the scale consider why a rental place is significantly cheaper than everywhere else, their bikes could be old or poorly maintained.
Different types of bikes on Koh Phangan
There are two styles automatic or step-though gears, with the former easier to ride. The bikes wont reach outstanding speeds but are fine for cruising the winding tarmac roads of the coast and have just enough power to climb the hill roads. All bikes are suitable for a pillion passengers but consider the added weight when braking and on dirt roads.
Before leaving the rental shop test the brakes, it is surprising how many have worn or are unresponsive due to hard driving. Good brakes will be needed when riding down the mountain dirt track roads in the centre of the island. Check that there are no oil leaks, treads in the tyres and the chain is not too tight. Also check for damage and agree with the owner before leaving otherwise an inflated repair may be required.
Check if the bike has a full tank or is expected to be returned with a full tank as part of the deposit can be lost for this. Always take and wear a helmet, Koh Pha-Ngan has some of the safest roads in Thailand but there are pot holes, debris on the road and manic drivers. Wearing a helmet is the law and you leave your self open to on the spot fines by police if not wearing one. It is suggested that pillion passengers wear long trousers as not to burn on the exhaust pipe.
Places to go on your newly hired bike
There are three popular routes for rental bikes and scooters :
- The first is along the main road around the west coast, the beaches to the very north west of Koh Pha-Ngan are some of the best on the island. This route is suitable for all riders including inexperienced riders as all of the roads are tarmac and the road west of Thong Sala is almost deserted. Beaches include Hat Salad, Hat Yao and Ao Mae Hat Lisbon.
- The most popular route is through the centre of the island to the beach to the very north of the island and Bottle Beach (Hat Khuart). The route heads north to the east of Thong Sala the first few hills of the road are tarmac but soon the roads change into sand and dirt tracks with multiple rocks, gullies and potholes. This section of the road should only be attempted by experienced riders and never at night or dusk.
- The third route is to the water fall of Ban Madeuawaan, the water fall largest drop on the island but the volume of water quickly diminishes outside of the monsoon season. Ban Madeuawaan is located on the main road north from Thong Sala.