Interested in renting a motorbike here on Phuket? Well is it the most common way locals and tourists alike travel around the island. It is very easy to rent motorbikes here, although different rental shops have differing ideas of what they want from you, with regards to security for their precious bikes.
Some shops seem to think it is OK for them to use your passport as security, now this may seem like a good idea to them, but it is illegal. As stated in most passports, they are not own by the person pictured in the passport, but they are owned by the government of the country that the person comes from. They are a legal document and can be recalled at any time.
I strongly recommend that you do not leave you passport with anyone for any reason, leave a copy of it by all means, but if you relinquish your passport, then all sorts of problems can find you.
You can find motorbikes of all shapes and sizes for rent and on almost every street in Phuket. From little twist and go’s to the massive Super bikes and Harley Davidson's, the choice is yours, as long as you have a license, well almost.
Most shops do not usually ask you if you have a license, but the police certainly will if they stop you. And they will stop you, they tend to set up road blocks around the island to catch those that are not riding correctly, those who do not wear a helmet or have not paid their tax and insurance.
If everything is in order, then you will be on your way in no time, however, if there is a problem, then they can fine you, invariably they do fine you. And you will be whisked away to the nearest police station to pay the fine, while they hold your keys for you until you return with your receipt. It’s all well organized so be ready, come with your license and wear your helmet.
The cost of motorbike rentals can vary tremendously, depending on what bike you have rented and what kind of bike you prefer. Normal automatic 100cc bikes can be rented for as little as 150 baht a day and you can also get great deals for the week and monthly deals are in place too.
You can rent bigger bikes too, regardless of what it says on your driving license, the theory being you pay for what you break. The bigger superbikes vary again from 500 baht a day well up to 2000 or 3000 thousand baht a day for the old classic bikes.
I would not be doing my job here, if I said that renting such big machines here on Phuket without adequate experience is a good idea; the roads can be a dangerous place and in particular somewhere where you do not know the roads too well. What with the many sharp turns and high cliffs and small paths, be careful.
If an accident does occur, then the rider / renter will be held responsible for the bike and will have to pay to have it fixed or by a new one, it’s that simple.
If the bikes needs a new tyre or gets a puncture, then it is easily fixed, there are small bike shops all over the island and they can fix a puncture in minutes and all for a small fee. If the bike is suffering mechanical problems and they are it is not your fault, simply take the bike back and the owner will either offer you another bike or get the one fixed, at no cost to you
With regards to gasoline, there are garages everywhere, there are the usual Shell, Caltex and Esso garages splattered about, and these are the cheapest and best places to fuel up, guarantying the best fuel at the best price.
There are also small shacks about offering fuel at marked up prices they are usually brightly coloured with a fifty gallon drum by the side of the road and they literally pump the fuel into your bike at a markup of about twice the price.
You will also see small shops selling bottles of gasoline, usually in old whisky bottles these again are greatly marked up and I do not recommend you fill your bike up at one of these little filling stations, they are to be used in an emergency only, put enough in to get you to the next legitimate filling station.
So to clarify when renting a motorbike here in Phuket:
- Take it easy on the road
- Do not drink and drive (the hospitals are full of people who drive too fast and drink)
- Wear your helmet
- Do not leave your passport with the bike shop (photo copy will suffice, if not, go somewhere else)
- Always carry a little spare cash in case the police wish to have a chat with you.
- Make sure you have enough fuel for the trip
- People tend to drive on both sides of the road here and exit junctions without looking, be aware of this
Biking can be fun in Thailand, but, please be careful, enjoy your experience here and look after yourself!