Matching poncho sold separatelyIf you are planning on vacationing in Phuket and anticipate leaving the confines of your resort to explore everything the island has to offer, then I strongly urge you to rent a motorbike during your stay. Granted, the winding roads and seemingly non-existent traffic laws can seem daunting at first, but I promise you, after an hour of practicing on the side roads to get accustomed to the motorbike you will feel confident to go explore, and you will not regret your decision.
By renting a motorbike for the day, the week, or however long you are vacationing, you will save countless money by not having to rely on tourist trap tuk-tuks. It is common knowledge that the tuk-tuks will undoubtedly overcharge you. Simply pick up a copy of the local Phuket Gazette and you will surely see an article regarding how the tuk-tuks are singlehandedly destroying Thailand Tourism due to their disgruntled passengers feeling duped out of their money having to pay exorbitant fares. Stories of a 5 minute ride in Patong costing 500 baht are not unheard of, whereas the same distance traveled in Bangkok would cost 20 baht!
Aside from the money you will save, the motorbike will let you have the freedom to explore the island on your own terms, allowing you to soak in all the sights, sounds and smells Phuket has to offer. If you see something interesting, you can just pull to the side and check out that cool little market that first enticed you with its smell miles back. You can find any beach, simply pop the bike up on the kickstand and you are good to go. And once you are sufficiently sunburned from forgetting to put sunscreenon, there is no need to try to hail a tuk-tuk, go through the inevitable haggling over the price of the 10 minute ride that you WILL over pay for in the end, not to mention the possibility of having the aggravation of a language barrier occurring trying to explain where your hotel is, when all you want to do it get home to take a shower. Have I made my case for renting a motorbike yet? If not, how about one more aspect of the bike I find so appealing. It only costs about 100 baht to fill the gas tank (roughly $3), and that should easily last you a trip to the southern tip of Rawai all the way back to Patong. In an uncomfortable, loud tuk-tuk that easily would cost you 1000 baht (about $30).
As with all things in Thailand, the longer you wish to rent something, whether it be a room, house or motorbike, the price drops. And if it doesn't, you are being taken advantage of so either make it known that you wish a lower price if renting longer than a day, or take your business elsewhere. For motorbikes, the going rate for a day rental is 200 baht. The price may go up a little bit if it is a newer model with a bigger engine, and be cheaper if it is a motorbike that is not automatic. But if you are a beginner, I suggest a motorbike that is an automatic as these are the easiest to become used to driving. If you decide you wish to rent for the month, prices vary between 2500 – 3500 baht for the month, depending on the bike as well as if it is high season or not. The company renting you the bike will ask for a copy of your passport, which is normal practice. Under no circumstances give them your passport to keep until you return the motorbike. Not only is it simply a bad idea, it is illegal for you to be without your passport anyways, so kindly tell them "no way jose." If they insist on keeping your passport, take your business elsewhere, there are hundreds of places to rent motorbikes. Also keep in mind you must wear a helmet when riding your new motorbike, or else face the headache of being stopped by the numerous police checkpoints and having to fork over the 300 baht fine. Trust me on this one, the police find pleasure in bagging farang riding around without helmets. I think I personally financed the police chiefs' new gold rings from all my helmet violations. In my next post, I will let you know where I always send friends to rent motorbikes. One friend, upon paying for his rental, hopped onto his new rental and proceeded to drive straight into the bar he rented the bike from. And the owner was only worried about whether my friend was ok. It is these kinds of companies that are the best to deal with when you are traveling abroad. So it is with ease I can put my name behind his business as well as a few others. Until next time, stop day dreaming and get busy traveling!
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