Exploring Phuket On Two Wheels

December 21, 2016

I have always wanted to explore Phuket on two wheels and make all of the island view points my pit stops. I never got the chance to do that when I visited in 2014 (because of the accident) but this time round, instead of succumbing to the usual touristy activities, I decided to make use of the money I've initially set aside for tours to renting bikes instead, and indulging in all the food I could possibly consume and stopping anywhere I thought was nice for a scenic picture - at my own time and pace. Best, decision, ever.


Before renting in Phuket: 

If you're a paranoid traveler, I'm sure you would have done plenty of research about renting / riding a bike overseas / checking out forums of other people's experiences with renting, etc. Before my first trip to Phuket, I was as skeptic as hell. Heck, even now, I still get so paranoid of every Traffic Police spotted on the road, just because I'm afraid that I'd be fined for not having any drivers license. 

What you should know:

  • You don't actually need an international driver's license to rent a bike in Phuket (or any license at all, for that matter) but that doesn't mean that there won't be Traffic Police officers around to stop you at road blocks whenever they feel like it.
  • If you do get stopped by an officer for no apparent reason, and they are trying to fine you for the stupidest reasons, you can usually get away with a bribe. If you're scary looking, just stand your ground and show them that you know they're just trying to con you by a fake fine. Use lines like, "Everyone else never wear helmet, why are you only fining me?" or "I'll pay the fine only if you settle this at the Police Post" and they usually back down, cos, you know, it's fake.  
  • You will need to surrender your passport to the rental shop owner. Literally. I have tried making up some story about not having my passport with me (and I've tried this multiple times) but the shop owner will look at you with the most ignorant look and say, "no passport, no bike rental"
  • Check and double check your bike before setting off from the rental shop. Take a picture of any visible dents or existing damages, if you have to. Some (not all) shops will try to squeeze you out of your money by claiming that you caused that damage when you return the bike to them.
  • Some traffic lights are redundant and signal lights are extremely under-utilised. If road users who don't signal get on your nerves or is one of your biggest pet peeves, then please do not rent a bike in Phuket. 
  • Contrary to the point above, road users here are pretty forgiving / understanding towards bike riders. Cars and trucks usually give way and do not honk when I accidentally hog the road, and I usually ride at like.... 50km/hr max.   
  • And I ride at that turtle speed because I'm a scaredy cat. Roads here can be pretty run down and dangerous - what we Singaporeans call jia lat or rabak. The roads being filled with debris and potholes is one thing, but the roads being as steep as hell is another story. It gets worst when it rains so please be careful. 
  • Helmets are completely optional - but absolutely necessary for your safety. Trust me. As much as I love having my hair flowing in the wind while riding along the coastline, it is not a pretty sight when you ended up with your head on the ground, SGD360 Ray-Bans shattered and blood smeared all over your forehead and cheeks. 
  • Scams still exist. Always trust your instincts. 

Where I rented the bike: 

There are so many places where you can rent a bike from and there are countless types of bikes up for rent - from an old school Vespa, to a Ducati Monster, to even the biggest of Harley's. According to one of locals, the bigger and more expensive bikes are usually available along the beach - because that's where most tourists are. So if you're not picky and only looking for something to simply get you by, check out the alley ways like I did.


Stores with online websites always seemed more legit, but then again, never judge a book by it's cover. Sometimes, all they have is a good web developer but the products aren't living up to expectations. I was pretty disappointed when I arrived because the prices at those "legit" stores were a little overpriced for the quality of bikes displayed. The bikes weren't cleaned from what I assume were the previous users and the tires were really really bad. I am very particular about worn out tires and the bikes left on display / for rent were pretty well used, so I decided to continue walking down the same lane of rental shops. That was when I stumbled upon Ging's Bike Rentals - opposite Baan Paradise Hotel.


There isn't an official website for Ging's (neither could I find traces of it on Google) but I'm really glad I settled for her bike rentals instead of taking up the first few offers on impulse. Her shop looks super underrated and is located further in (towards the end of the alley) but the bikes provided were pretty new. I was only the second user for the bike that I rented. That, for 50 baht cheaper than the first few shops I checked out. Maybe I got lucky but, it's definitely a good deal.


What I rented:

If you have me on instagram you might have seen how I was pretty happy with my automated Honda click. As much as it would've been a dream to ride the XR200, I wouldn't wanna stall in the middle of the busy Phuket highways and get honked at by big trucks. 


These automated bikes are extremely easy to operate (for me, at least) and gets me from place to place in the shortest time possible. It was still considerably cheap though. I paid 200 baht (SGD 8) for 24 hours with the bike and only spent around 70 baht (SGD 2.80) on gasoline to last me the whole time. Still pretty well worth my money, if you ask me.

The route I wanted to take: 


Looks pretty straight forward, right? Well I didn't exactly have a proper itinerary planned out for the day, except for a rough idea of some scenic view points to stop by - that's about it. A few of those places include Kata Viewpoint, Karon Viewpoint, Windmill Viewpoint, Phromthep (or Sunset) Cape and the Big Buddha. I wrote about about it on havehalalwilltravel as well :) 


The route I ended up taking:


HAHAHA. 


I don't know how many wrong turns I took but I ended up getting lost (twice) along the way and almost got into an accident, twice. Thank god nothing happened. Also, I didn't manage to visit Windmill Viewpoint and Phromthep Cape. 

Nonetheless, I did chance upon many other view points, random forests, elephant camps - so many places that were never originally on the map / I never even knew existed and even ended up on someone's front lawn for lunch. I will spend some time to write an even more detailed post on what I did / where I went for this day but it was definitely a good experience and a good day spent, indeed. If you are anything like me (spontaneous, can't ever sit still, full of wild ideas and occasional scaredy cats who still want to fulfill some crazy plans), I would suggest you try renting a bike for a day and exploring the island on your own accord. 



This blog post was not written under any pressure, endorsement or sponsorship of any of the parties mentioned. All thoughts and opinions here are as always, our own. Feel free to contact me should you have questions :) 
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