Driving on Koh Phangan
Phangan Island Transport | Getting around on Koh Phangan by yourself
Driving in and around Koh Phangan can take a little getting used to if you have never done it before. In fact, we suggest that you let someone else drive you around for a while before attempting it on your own. Having said that, if you are a Thailand driving veteran, you will find that a car and a good map will open all of Koh Phangan to you. Happy driving.
Koh Phangan is a beautiful place, but it does have a high accident rate. You can be getting along just fine, but if something happens, you don't have the reflexes that a native Thai has that will keep him from getting injured. Koh Phangan roads are narrow, steep (as much as 40% grade), and full of tourists who don't always remember which side of the road they should be driving on.
In theory everyone is to drive on the left. This rule is sometimes taken as more of a suggestion. Motorcycles will zip into any spaces they think they can fit into, regardless of the direction. You can find tour buses driving down the middle of the road. If you see one coming toward you, pull off to the side. Then there is the odd road project that can delay traffic in either direction.
No matter where you look, someone will be happy to rent a car to you. You can rent a car from the airport, or wait until you get to the island. This latter option is highly recommended for those of you who haven't driven in Thailand before.
Stay away from car companies or people who offer to rent a vehicle to you without insurance. The lower rental cost isn't worth it. Accidents happen. Don't ruin your trip over a few extra Baht a day. Most companies will accept a European license, though a few will ask for an International Driver's licence. You have to get one of these from your home country before travelling, so plan ahead. You have to be 21 or over to rent a car, with some companies requiring an older driver.
You may find a wider selection in Samui or Bangkok, but then you will have to drive your car onto the ferry and into Koh Phangan. Weigh the added bother against the wider range of car choices.
Here are some companies that would be happy to rent a car to you:
Your hotel can also help you arrange a car hire.
It is very easy to find a place that will rent a bicycle to you for a very reasonable rate. Check with your hotel or resort first; sometimes a complimentary bicycle is included in your stay. If not, you can either enlist the help of the hotel staff in locating a rental company, or find a bicycle on your own. Koh Phangan has some very fine trails that you can explore on the back of a mountain bike. You can easily spend your whole trip riding from one beautiful spot to another!
Koh Phangan is a bicyclist's paradise. It is possible to ride or walk almost all the way around the island using the extensive foot trails throughout Koh Phangan. Stay off of the concrete road that circles Koh Phangan and all other streets with active traffic unless you are a veteran Thai bicyclist. Still, sometimes you have to us the streets to get to that secret beach. Avoid busy roads unless you have experience with Thai traffic. Better yet, sign up with a bike trip that comes with a guide and an itinerary. It is the safest way to see the best of Koh Phangan.