Renting at Phuket
Bungalows, Hotels, Villas...
The first thing that the tourist is looking for before arriving in Thailand is accommodation, of course.
There is no shortage of hotels on the island of Phuket, neither villas nor seaside bungalows.
Many commercial websites offer this type of rental for short or longer stays. On these sites, you can even locate the location of the accommodation in relation to the nearest beach, which can be very useful depending on whether you are autonomous or not, i.e. you may rent a scooter...
We move easily in Phuket and if your accommodation is 5 km from the beach, it won't be a big problem, however you have to remember that if you don't travel by your own means and you have to take a taxi (or tuk-tuk) every day, it might make a big dent in your budget. Example: for a 5 km trip, taxis in the corner of Rawai-Nai Harn easily ask for 400 to 500 baht for a trip, which will already make you 800 baht minimum per day, just to go to the beach!
Indeed, taxis and tuk-tuks have become very expensive in Phuket. Their prices are still lower than in Europe, and I have not made this kind of comparison for a long time, but if I compare with Bangkok, the price of a transport to Phuket remains exaggerated. At least that's what I think.
If you have the possibility to rent a motorcycle, the problem no longer exists. Apart from the risks of accidents, you have unlimited travel autonomy, the same applies to cars for a reasonable daily rental cost.
How to choose a drop-off point in Phuket ?
Everyone will have their preference: quiet, isolated, relaxing... more lively, more active, more lively... all tastes are in nature.
Patong is by far the busiest and craziest place in Phuket.
For young single people in need of a good time, Patong is the ideal, that's for sure. There are countless restaurants and bars, nightlife is world famous with all its excesses and extravagances, its risks...
There are hotels or simple rooms in large numbers and at all prices: from the luxurious hotel to the crappy little room.
Noisy, stinking at times, very heavy traffic, Patong beach is just as busy during the day: Jet-Skis, parachutes, water skiing... and so on.
Kamala, Surin, Bang Tao, Karon, Kata: much quieter and located north of Patong for the first 3, south of Patong for the next 2, with beautiful and large beaches.
These "villages" offer many restaurants and bars, and life is much quieter and geographically not so far from Patong if you still want to go there from time to time in the evening or during the day for shopping.
In these villages we meet many tourists who come with their families.
Motocycle or Car Rental
Driving licence and passport
The first thing is already to have an international driving licence (grey booklet)
If you go to a specialised agency, you may well be asked for this permit, but it is rather the police who may ask you for it during an inspection.
Once you have your car, I advise you to always carry your driver's license, but also your passport, or at least a copy. During a police check, a copy of your passport may not be enough and may, according to the police officer, create some turmoil.
Some small local rental companies want to keep your passport for the duration of your rental: systematically refuse this. If the landlord doesn't agree, go to another person's house.
Your passport may be requested during your stay at a police checkpoint, during a bank transaction, or even if you go to the hospital... so leaving it at the rental company can be very embarrassing.
Very important point to observe during the negotiation.
In large agencies such as Hertz, Budget, there is no problem, in general "All Risks" insurance is included in the rental price. The Thai call this insurance the "Number One".
At the small local rental companies, there, sometimes the rental companies promise you that the car is insured but very often it is only an insurance to the third party...
How to check........have someone from your hotel or your acquaintances if you have any.
Please note that there is generally no insurance for the motorcycle. During the rental period, the lessor will ask you to sign a contract on which the value of the motorcycle is indicated. If you have an accident and the motorcycle is destroyed, or if it is stolen, you will have to pay the value specified on the contract. It is as simple as that.
The rental company must give you two helmets, one for you and one for the passenger. Be aware that wearing a helmet is mandatory (fine: 300 baht)
When renting the car or motorcycle, take a tour with the owner or lessor before leaving.
If it is a serious agency, it will have a document with a car plan on which you will affix crosses or signs to represent the dents or scratches that existed at the time you took possession.
When you leave, there is never a problem, and sometimes when you return you are charged for certain defects for which you have nothing to do with it.
Hitch, Accident (Car or motorcycle)
Unfortunately, this can happen.
If you have an accident with another car, the first thing to do is to keep calm and be courteous, especially not to be aggressive.
In Thailand you don't get angry, you don't scream, whatever the situation: the more you get angry and the more complicated the situation gets...
If you have a collision with a vehicle whose owner is insured, he will contact his insurance company, and you, your rental company, who will also call his insurance company.
Both insurers will arrive on site to take pictures of the damage, make accident reports of both parties. All this will cost you about one to two hours, but at least everything will be clear. But you will still have a deductible to pay, the amount of which must appear on your rental contract....
Unfortunately, often Thai people drive without insurance and now it gets more annoying.
What should I do in this case...?
Call your landlord calmly.
The basic rule in all cases: keep calm, never get angry!
For a little snag....
If you are at fault, they will ask you for money and usually a sum well beyond the real value of the repair. Since after a few minutes you will find yourself with about twenty or more curious people around your car, keep your cool.
The best solution is to call the "Tourist Police"[Tel: 1155 ] who will arrange all this and also your insurance or your rental company.
If you are not at fault, they will also ask you for money! Even if it seems completely absurd to you, don't get upset. Call the police while remaining calm.
This is most often the case when a collision occurs with a local motorcyclist who has no knowledge of traffic regulations and priority rules.
For this type of individuals, you are a farang (foreigner) so you have money, so it is up to you to pay. A very simplistic and strange way to see things, but very real!
Again, without getting angry, call the police.
Once everything is settled with the police, don't give your phone number, let alone your address, to the person with whom you had the collision.
Europe/Asia: Two Worlds with very different Reactions
They are minibus drivers (9 seats)... if they are not really dangerous, they are really uncomfortable. They overtake you where it would never occur to you to do so.
In my opinion, the craziest and most dangerous are the "spinning top" drivers, or if you prefer, the concrete trucks. These guys, they're completely crazy most of the time. They drive their vehicles like a moped: fast (too fast) and slalom their way through urban traffic.
On the Road
Many roads in Thailand are four lanes long, but Thai people tend to travel only in the right lane (the faster lane).
Why? The motorcycle traffic is such that in the end, the left lane is quite dense. There is a constant risk of getting a motorcycle hooked up... so it's much easier to ride on the other lane.
You get used to it....
While driving you will quickly realize that the way of driving here is quite different from your European habits.
Nevertheless, there is no aggressiveness, even less rudeness (style... a finger or an arm of honour when passing something I strongly advise you not to do and which can lead to many complications going to the extreme).
Again, be courteous in all circumstances.
are extremely useful. Always keep an eye on one or the other of the 3 mirrors, because motorcycles appear from all sides when you least expect them, especially in Phuket where traffic has become very dense.
If you ride a motorcycle, be very careful and careful: sometimes it's a dog that can come along and you won't have time to brake to avoid it: it's the guaranteed bowl with everything that follows.
If the roads are not too bad in Thailand, it happens very frequently to cross sectors with accumulations of sand or gravel... so here too, be careful.
In any case, and in general, motorcycle traffic is such that you should never be distracted, not even for a second whether you are in a car or on a motorcycle.
Another important point not to be neglected: Thai people have the unfortunate tendency to come from a Soi when you are already well engaged. It seems they're unconscious.
In terms of priorities, the only priority I know of is the roundabouts. As in Europe, the one who is in the roundabout has priority, so there you should not be disoriented... except that a roundabout is taken in the other direction... since we drive on the left!
The 4-lane roads
From south to north Thailand, the 4-lane roads are free (except some in Bangkok), of good quality and all signs are in two languages (Thai/English) which already makes things easier for foreigners.
However, it is important to be very careful because dangers are frequent on these types of roads: between those who drive strangely (probably under the influence of alcohol), the many heavy goods vehicles, buses, motorcycles, and then the "U-Turn" which sometimes cause major slowdowns, the slightest inattention can be fatal.
At night, even if the traffic is less, the danger remains real since it often happens to find motorcycles (or even cars) without lights... perhaps surprising, but very real.
However, there is a speed limit to respect: 110km/h.
Radars are becoming more and more frequent and well hidden in order to alert offenders.
If you see cars making headlight calls... you will know what it means. There is no driving licence point system in Thailand, however, many roadside checks take place, especially in the Thai New Year period, in April, when traffic becomes extremely heavy and with many traffic jams, and there, it is better to have a passport and an international (or Thai) driving licence...
Namely that traffic police officers very, very rarely speak English, so in case of a problem..... it is not easy.
Pedestrians, be careful...
Since in Thailand we drive on the left, the first elementary thing to signal to pedestrians is to look first to the right and not to the left as in Europe before crossing a street... a reflex not necessarily easy to acquire....
Another point to mention: on a pedestrian crossing, don't think you are a priority. Motorists rarely let you through.
I sometimes have fun observing Europeans who find themselves in this situation and who start grumbling because several motorists have passed on their toes...
In Malaysia it's even worse, by the way, over there crossing a street trying to impose yourself is simply playing with your life...!
Far be it from me, the idea of wanting to frighten you....
I have lived in Phuket for many years, and I have never had any problems. Unfortunately, I often observe some Europeans who arrive in conquered territory and think they can do anything, this behaviour is not very appreciated in general.
Thailand is the land of smiles, don't forget it. On my first visit here, I never forgot a reflection from a Thai man who says to me with a big smile: "In Thailand, we always find a solution".
OTHER TYPES OF RENTALS
Unfortunately, too many accidents occur every year.
These devices are found on most of the beaches of Phuket and especially in majority, that of Patong.
To see like that from a distance, it can make you want to rent such equipment for a few minutes in order to experience some sensations of gliding, speed, freedom.
But this discipline remains a very dangerous activity on several levels which unfortunately has proved its worth.
Every year, many accidents occur with fatal accidents all too often: the person who rented the vehicle wants to go much faster than it should, and no longer controls its mount at a given time: poor appreciation of speed in a wave, or near rocky coasts for example. It is often the fatal accident.
All too often, too often, a much too fast approach to the beach, a swimmer who is not noticed in time and who is necessarily hit in the head: the result is an almost instantaneous death.
Many, far too many, have been these extreme cases in recent years.
Jet-Skis rental companies
On the beaches, there are many rental companies and sometimes for the young holidaymaker, there is a strong temptation to see these machines on the horizon jumping or making impressive turns.
Know that the people who rent these machines are unscrupulous, and will not hesitate to create a mountain of problems for you...
They are able to find you mechanical defects that dated before the beginning of your rental and to ask you for compensation that is necessarily much higher than the reality.
If you refuse to pay, it becomes very complicated because these people are all very supportive and are like a very powerful and even dangerous mafia.
During all these years of being in Phuket, I have heard a lot of stories about this activity, and the best advice I can give you: "keep your hands off", avoid playing with fire.
Squad or Buggy
Also a nice little outing in the nature in Quad or Buggy.
Actually, I don't know if it's the same scam as in jet skiing, I haven't heard much about it.
On the other hand, I know that you have to be suspicious for a detail of the road code: Very often the rental companies are on the side of a road and use it in the middle of urban traffic (with their group of 10 quads or buggy or more) for several hundred meters to access the circuit.
Please be aware that these quads and other buggies do not have license plates and therefore are not allowed to travel on a road and are not insured. Therefore, if there is a road accident, you will be faced with additional worries.
Unfortunately, there too... mistrust!
See article: A little tour of Buggy in Rawai here: Buggy / Quad à Phuket