Phuket, Thailand

Getting Around


By Car or Bike

Renting a car or motorbike to explore the island on your own is a cost-effective and convenient way of getting off the beaten track. However, given the driving habits of most locals and the resulting carnage on Phuket's roads every year, the risks do demand careful consideration. Driving habits in Phuket (i.e. new visitors unfamiliar with the island) seems to be ignoring all the rules and keep going at all costs - not much worse than Naples, Italy, but traffic does move.
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Due to the geography of the island with its winding hilly roads and poor vision, Phuket certainly gets more than its fair share of accidents. In fact, the death and injury statistics are more than high. More than 10,000 people are injured and over 250 killed every year in road accidents in Phuket. Nine out of ten accidents involve motorbikes. 

Driving Safely
Drive very defensively at first and watch what the locals do. Of course, it helps if you are accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, which in itself could be enough to distract some North American or European drivers. Be aware that many motorcyclists will drive on the wrong side of the road to cover short distances, and undertaking is a very common occurrence on Phuket's roads. Driving under the influence of alcohol is both illegal and dangerous, and driving at night also increases the risk of accidents — even if you're sober, many others aren't.

Street in Phuket Town by GinkgoTelegraph

Motorbike and scooter rentals start at around 200 baht a day, coming down to 150 baht a day for rentals of a week or more. Although both drivers and pillion passengers are required to wear helmets, this rule is sometimes ignored by the locals and even farangs (foreigners). The police fine for driving or riding without a helmet is 200 baht. You must carry a valid driving licence with you or you'll be slapped with a 500 baht fine. Police can check for motorcycle licences and not having the correct licence may result in a fine. There can be police check-points along the way and regular check-point locations include the northern end of Patong Beach Road, Chalong Circle and the northern end of Karon Beach. If you do wear a helmet, chances of being stopped should be low.

Motorbikes in Phuket by moaksey

Renting a car usually costs between 1,000-1,200 baht a day if you want to go for an economical one like a Toyota Vios (stay away from the jeeps). Several rental companies are located in and around the airport. Avis is located within the airport while Hertz, National and Sixt are located within walking distance from the airport (across the road). Bookings can be made online for these. Reputable local car rental companies are also present, which are often a little cheaper.

Be careful to check the level of insurance on a hired car, as many local companies say they have "full" insurance when in fact it is only a very basic level. Motorcycle rental generally includes little or no insurance, so take extra care if you decide to opt for the motorbike option.
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