If you need transport to get you around the island and don’t have a big bag or lots of groceries to carry and if you don’t need to transport a family around the alternative to jeep / car hire is motorbike hire.
There are plenty of motorbike hire places scattered around the island. Not only can you rent a motorbike in the main towns of Thongsala and Haad Rin but you can get them at most of the popular beaches.
Generally speaking it is slightly cheaper to rent a motorbike in Thongsala than it is to get one on the beach (with the exceptions of Bantai and Haad Rin).
Motorbike hire starts at 150 Thai Baht a day for a Honda Click or Yamaha Mio. These are automatic 125cc scooters. You simply twist the accelerator and off you go. They can manage two people but not up some of the steepest hills on Koh Phangan.
You can also rent proper motorbikes, scrambler motorbikes, and a few places have ATVs for hire. ATVs are about the same rental price as a jeep, and so are not goog value for money; not to mention the fact that they are more dangerous than jeeps.
As with car hire, motorbike hire is fraught with possible mishap. To rent a bike you must leave your passport behind. If you damage the bike you will have to pay a large sum of money (more than likely) to get your passport back.
There are more and less honest places to rent motorbikes. It is always a good idea to ask around before renting a bike. Choose a place with a good reputation.
If you do scratch a motorbike and are worried about the consequences for your wallet it is a good idea to take the bike to Chai Motorbike in Bantai. They will repair the bike for a few hundred Baht. Hopefully, the person who rented you the bike will be none the wiser.
Before you rent a motorbike or scooter check the back break. They are often mysteriously very loose. Insist that it is tightened up before you rent. It is a 10 second job. Having no back breaks and very good front breaks will possibly lead you to going head over arse when you have to stop quickly – the bike gets damaged and the person renting you the bike gets his or her pay out!
Nowadays, the Koh Phangan police occasionally set up road blocks. They are looking for people with drugs and for people driving without a helmet. Not wearing a helmet is an offence that carries an automatic fine. However, when you drive around Koh Phangan you will see lots of people who ignore this law. Indeed they are wearing nothing but beach wear. If you want to take the chance it is up to you. Remember Koh Phangan hospital is small and basic. They see so many people with bike injuries that is now commonly called a ‘Koh Phangan tattoo’ to have the skin rubbed off your arm or leg from a crash.
If you are seriously ill there are medical centers in Haad Rin that will organize emergency speed boat transfers to a big hospital in Koh Samui. Without travel insurance this can be very costly.
If you rent a motorbike or car without a valid international passport and have an accident then your insurance company will not pay out. You won’t be asked to show your driving license when you rent a vehicle in Koh Phangan or probably anywhere in Thailand but you might want to reconsider getting insurance if you know that they won’t pay out in the event you have an accident.
Moreover, several travel insurance policies now have in their small print that they won’t pay for hospital bills incurred from road accidents caused by driving a motorbike. Read your travel insurance policy carefully before making decisions on holiday. Thai hospital prices, especially the big hospitals in Koh Samui, are comparable with Western prices.