The roads continue to improve in Koh Phangan. Over the last 3 years there has been a concerted road building effort on the island. The change in government in 2014 has signalled a change in the overall road strategy for Koh Phangan. As yet, no big car hire operators have started doing business on the island.
The biggest road news for Koh Phangan is the completion of the Baan Tai to Thong Nai Pan Road. This road was traditionally the worst on the island. It deterred day trippers to the fantastic beaches of Thong Nai Pan Noi and Thong Nai Pan Yai. It also held back the luxury hotel business developing on Thong Nai Pan Noi. Now the best road on the island is the Thong Nai Pan road. It has 2 lanes complete with drainage. The result is that Thong Nai Pan is now very much connected to the rest of the island. It is now feasible for people to stay in Thong Nai Pan and easily get to the shops in Baan Tai as well as the Full Moon Party in Haad Rin.
Part of the motivation for the excellent road is no doubt Koh Phangan Airport which is down the road from Thong Nai Pan at Than Praphad. The airport site has been cleared but no concrete has been poured. The road and the airport will have a major effect on the east coast. One obvious impact will be the completion of the road that leads off the Thong Nai Pan road that goes to Haad Than Sadet. Another one might be the upgrading of the Thong Nai Pan to Bottle Beach road. At present it is a rough track only suitable for 4 wheel drives; and only suitable for those on motorbikes who are used to bad roads.
The previous Thaksin government had indicated that the plan for Koh Phangan was to build a ring road around Koh Phangan in a manner similar to Koh Samui. The present military junta has different plans for Koh Phangan. They want to re-brand the island as being about Thai culture not party culture. They have also stated they will not fund the building of a ring road. This means that the East and West of Koh Phangan will still be disconnected by a northern road. It will remain the case that to get from Haad Salad to Thong Nai Pan a driver will have to go south and through Thongsala.
The roads on the west of Koh Phangan used to be the best on the island. They were built in the 1980s and 1990s. Now they are getting a bit old and need of repair. They have several large potholes. People on motorbikes have to take particular care not to take their eyes off the road. The roads are flat and the scenery is gorgeous. It is easy to lose concentration for a moment and hit a pothole.
Finally, no recognised car hire brand such as Avis or Hertz have set up shop in Koh Phangan. You can organise car hire in advance through the internet but only by contacting local vendors. Most people either rent a villa and get the rental agent to organise car hire or find a car to rent when they get to Koh Phangan.