Simple Road Safety Tips When Renting a Scooter in Phuket

 

Phuket is a beautiful island, and if you don’t travel around, then you will miss out on so much. Of course, they are many excellent organised tours, but often you want to take things at your own pace and not be dictated to about what you do or don’t see. It is worth taking some time out and getting a plan about what you want to see and what else is close by.

One of the best ways to get around Phuket is on a scooter, but you want to make sure you use a reputable company so why not rent a scooter at phuketairportscooterrental.com? That way, you can be confident that you have rented a bike which is roadworthy and safe to drive. However, you must appreciate that driving in Phuket, isn’t the same as what you may be used to, so here a few simple tips to help you stay safe.

  1. Drive on the left

Although it may sound a little obvious, in Thailand you drive on the left-hand side. It is something that can take some getting used to if you are from many parts of Europe or the US, for example. If you are more accustomed to driving on the right, take your time to get used to everything, especially at junctions.

  1. Expect the unexpected!

Cow on the road

Cow on the road

Regardless of where you drive in the world, you should always keep your wits about you. However, that is even more, the case in Thailand. Thailand has one of the highest numbers of road casualties in the world as the standard of driving can leave something to be desired! Always double check your mirrors before turning or changing lanes and make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to get out of the way. It is common for traffic to be travelling at excess speed.

Drivers should also be aware that traffic will frequently be travelling in the wrong direction on one-way streets and sois so always look both ways before turning. Although locals don’t tend to leave much braking distance, it is recommended as other drivers tend to stop unexpectedly should they see friends or a street food seller.

  1. Never get road rage

The worst thing that you can ever do when driving in Thailand is to display anger, no matter how tempting it may be. Losing face in Thailand can result in an extreme reaction, so biting your lip is to be advised. Hand gestures, particularly the raising of the middle finger, are likely to be met with an aggressive response. It is not uncommon for drivers in Thailand to carry weapons so you may get far more than what you bargained for!

  1. Use of the horn

Using your horn in Thailand is generally not a sign of aggression; it is merely to let others know of your presence. Drivers in Thailand can be easily distracted, so making them aware you are there may save you from a minor accident. Although this may be alien to you, it can be wise to use your horn if the person in front is behaving erratically. It shouldn’t be too loud or done with aggression and a pleasant smile as you pass will also help.

  1. Quality of the roads

Poor street quality in Phuket

Poor street quality in Phuket

Although the roads in Phuket have certainly improved in recent years, there are still a lot of streets that have potholes, particularly towards the sides. Being aware of the quality of the roads and giving yourself time to react to potential problems is a necessity in Thailand. It is one of the many reasons why you should watch your speed as hitting a hole in the road can cause serious injury and significant damage to your bike.

  1. Parking

It is worth noting that other drivers do tend to park anywhere, often as close as they can get to where they want to go. It can mean that cars are stopped in driving lanes even if they are blocking traffic at a junction. Once again, allow yourself plenty of time to react and use care when pulling out. If you are parking, you should avoid parking where there is a continuous yellow or red line.

  1. Inexperienced drivers

Phuket is an island which is full of tourists, many of whom will never have ridden a scooter before as many companies don’t check if the renter has the appropriate license. While twist and go bikes are easy to become accustomed to, you should be prepared for nervous and shaky drivers. It goes back to point #2; you should expect the unexpected. Remember, even if you are familiar with motorbikes, driving in Thailand is a whole new ball game.

  1. Crossings

Drivers and pedestrians should exercise care when crossing the road, even, if not more so, at a designated crossing. Very few drivers stop and show little regard for the signals. It is not uncommon for motorcyclists to get knocked off bikes for (correctly) stopping at a crossing and the vehicle behind driving into the back of them. Always double check before stopping and if in doubt, continue with caution.

  1. Traffic Lights

Traffic in Thailand

Traffic in Thailand

When you are at traffic lights, you will have probably noticed that the motorbikes congregate at the front. It is standard practice and indeed expected. We would recommend doing the same for your own safety but be prepared to set off quickly when the lights change. You should also be aware of traffic not stopping when the lights change to red, so make sure you conduct the necessary checks, both with vehicle travelling in a different direction and those behind.

  1. Common Sense

Finally, you should always use common sense when riding a scooter in Phuket. Always wear a helmet even if you are only travelling short distances and other drivers are ignoring the advice. Never drink and drive even if you have “only” had a couple of beers regardless of how tempting it may be. Finally, you should always carry your driving license with you. Really, this should be a Thai driving license or a valid international driving permit.

 




Doing Your First Phuket Holiday Right: 5 Things to Know Before You Go

Thailand has many tourist destinations that attract hundreds of thousands of travelers each year. One of these destinations is Phuket, known for its beautiful beaches and crystal blue waters. Foreign or local, tourists flock in droves each year to Thailand’s largest island to see its beauty first hand.

If it’s your first time traveling to this island paradise, you might want to check out Traveloka’s tour packages to Phuket. It’s a good way to save some money and time since you’ll book your flight tickets and hotel room in one go. For other travel tips, check out our list below about some of the things you need to know before going on your first holiday to Phuket.

Kamala Beach Is Popular, but More Congenial Than Other Well-Known Beaches

Phuket is a beach bum’s wonderland, with long stretches of white sand beaches, sandbars, and surrounding gorgeous islands. The most popular of these beaches are Patong, Kata, Karon, and Kamala, and as such, you’ll find some of the best hotels, restaurants, and bars in these tourist-favorite locations. For a quieter, more family-friendly setting, however, consider going to the last of these—Kamala Beach. It usually doesn’t get as crowded as the other three, which is perfect if you have children who want to run around or who get antsy with big crowds. The clubs are also far enough away from the beach and most hotels, so you’ll have plenty of peace and quiet.

Kamala beach in Phuket (หาดกมลา), by Tuderna, wikimedia commons

Kamala beach in Phuket (หาดกมลา), panoramino by Tuderna, wikimedia commons

The Island Isn’t All About Beaches

Phuket is definitely a haven for beachgoers, but it isn’t just about the sand and sea. The island is also teeming with cultural, natural, and historical charms. For one, you can visit the sparkling white, 45-meter-tall statue of Buddha sitting on top of Nakkerd Hills. Seeing the towering Buddha statue is an experience in and of itself, and it also comes with the bonus of having a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape.

Phuket is also known for Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. Here, you can see elephants roaming around freely, interacting with their fellow gentle giants. If you visit during mealtimes, you may even be invited to help prepare the elephants’ food. There’s also an observation deck where you can watch the animals take a bath in the lagoon.

Thailand Phuket Elephants_panoramio, by Scorewith German, wikimedia commons

Thailand Phuket Elephants_panoramio, by Scorewith German, wikimedia commons

For those who want to explore Phuket itself, you may want to walk around Phuket Town. The charming neighborhood has plenty of preserved heritage buildings, which bore witness to Phuket’s heydays as a tin mining town. Over the years, artists have also filled Phuket Town’s walls with murals and artworks. You can see some of them on Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road, and Krabi Road.

It’s a Great Place to Disconnect

Internet connection isn’t too much of an issue in Phuket. You can find plenty of restaurants and cafés that offer free Wi-Fi, and your hotel will most likely have a Wi-Fi network as well. However, the speeds tend to be slower when compared to other city centers. It’s as if the island is telling you to turn off your devices for a bit and do something else than looking at a screen. Indeed, Phuket is a great place for you to disconnect, relax, and just appreciate the beauty of nature.

Nai Harn Beach, Phuket, Southern Thailand, taken by Wolfgang Holzem, wikimedia commons

Nai Harn Beach, Phuket, Southern Thailand, taken by Wolfgang Holzem, wikimedia commons

It Has Awesome Spas

Phuket isn’t really a shopping destination. There are street and night markets, of course, but you won’t really be able to shop till you drop here. Better leave that for when you visit Chatuchak and Siam Paragon in Bangkok. However, what’s great about Phuket is that it has a lot of great spas so you can relax even more. From a simple foot massage to a luxurious full-body Thai massage, from aromatherapy to hot stone massage, you’ll surely be utterly pampered. Body scrubs, hand treatments, manicures, and pedicures are also popular services in Phuket spas.

It’s a Foodie Destination

Thailand as a whole is a foodie destination, and Phuket is no different. It’s just that the beautiful beaches and islands often overshadow other aspects of this paradise. With that being said, Phuket is a veritable foodie haven. Not only will you find places that serve traditional Thai dishes and Phuket specialties like por pia and mee Hokkien, there are also a lot of international restaurants on the island. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Persian, and even Turkish restaurants dot the streets and beaches of Phuket. If you’re also interested in preparing your own Thai food, you can even find cooking classes in Phuket. These usually come with market tours so you’ll know how to pick the freshest ingredients.

Phuket is one of those destinations that will make you come back again and again. There’s something that will appeal to any kind of traveler, and you’ll see it for yourself once you finally visit. Book that trip today, and experience the paradise that is Phuket!




A Short Guide to Koh Larn, Thailand’s Coral Island

Escape Pattaya’s crowded and touristy beaches and head over to Koh Larn or Coral Island. This paradise island is only 7.5 km away from the nearest shore in Pattaya and is a popular day-tour destination. While the island itself is only 4 km long and 2 km wide, the beaches are pristine and surrounded by crystal-clear turquoise waters.

How to Get There?

There are a two of ways of getting to the island. The cheapest option involves riding a ferry, which costs 30 Baht per person and takes about 40 minutes. On the other hand, you can opt to ride in style on a speedboat, which costs between 300 and 2,500 Baht. The cost may be higher, but it slices the travel time in half.

You can rent the speedboat at the many shops in the Bali Hai pier. However, if you want to get the best price, it’s best to shop around and negotiate. As for the ferry, you can choose between the ferry that goes to Tawaen beach pier or the one that anchors at Na Ban pier. Either way, the ferry begins its journey from the same Bali Hai pier.

Koh Larn island, photo by Alex Voinich, wikimedia commons

Koh Larn island, photo by Alex Voinich, wikimedia commons

 

Where to Stay in the Island?

Due to the rising number of tourists visiting the island, there are quite a number of new places to stay on Koh Larn. Different accommodations are available such as hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, and even homestays. Checking in at one of these เกาะ ล้าน  Koh Larn accommodations instead of the ones in Pattaya means you can save on fares if you plan to fully explore the island.

What to Eat in the Island?

If you like seafood, you’re in for a treat at Koh Larn. It’s best to sample the fresh seafood from the downtown market, especially if you’re staying at an accommodation with a kitchen. For day-trippers, restaurants and cheap food stalls dot the island. Aside from serving world-class Thai cuisine, they also have western, Asian, vegetarian, and halal foods.

Fresh seafood in Thailand

Fresh seafood in Thailand

Main Beaches of the Island

The west side of Koh Larn is where the best beaches can be found. That said, all beaches in the island feature white sand and tropical blue waters, so you can’t go wrong wherever you chose to stay.

Tawaen Beach

Tawaen is the most popular beach with daily visitors numbering around 2,000 to 5,000. Luckily, it’s also the longest with 685 meters of pristine sandy shore accommodating vacationers. Guests have an assortment of water activities to choose from such as jet ski rentals, banana boat rides, and parasailing. What’s more, it’s also very commercial, with restaurants and souvenir shops lining up the shore to cater to every visitor’s whim.

Samae Beach

With a 530-meter shoreline, Samae is the second-longest beach in the island. The sand is not quite as fine, but the beach is still worth the visit, as it features some of the classiest resorts in the country. You’ll also be glad to know that you won’t go hungry with the number of restaurants on Samae Beach.

Tien Beach

Take your Instagram shots in Tien, as it’s one of island’s most beautiful beaches. It’s got a respectable 400 meters of beach front with plenty of Thai and western restaurants as well. The vibe at the beach is more relaxed, but you can still engage in aquatic activities like in the larger Koh Larn beaches.

Koh Larn beaches, photo by pongwit wikimedia commons

Koh Larn beaches, photo by pongwit wikimedia commons

Nual Beach

Nual Beach or Monkey Beach gets its name from the group of monkeys that live on the hillside. In the past, very few tourists ever ventured out on its 350-meter shoreline, but now, the beach has become even more popular. Catering to this rise in visitors are makeshift restaurants and food stalls serving different Thai dishes and western fare as well.

Tonglang Beach

This 215-meter beach used to be one of the most challenging to access. However, a new concrete road makes the commute faster and safer. As one of the smaller beaches on the island, you’ll find less tourists and a more relaxed ambiance. That said, you could still find resorts and food stalls that cater to visitors.

Tayaiy Beach

The smallest of the main beaches in Koh Larn is the Tayaiy Beach with only 140 meters of shoreline. If you want the most secluded beach hideaway with the least crowd, you can spend your time here. Keep in mind that there’s only one restaurant and limited accommodation in the area.

Are you excited to go on a holiday to Thailand and learn more about tourist secrets Asia guide? Consider staying in Koh Larn and experience for yourself why many vacationers are choosing it over Pattaya.




Media Review: Vis-a-Vis Thailand Beaches & Islands (Strände & Inseln)

Today’s media review is about Vis-à-Vis Thailand Strände und Inselnby Andrew Forbes et al. (ISBN: 978-3-7342-0058-8). This travel guide was published by Dorling Kindersley Verlag GmbH, Munich. My review copy is the newest edition (2015/2016). This book is in German language, comprises 368 pages and costs 22,99 EUR.

Vis-à-vis Thailand Strände & Inseln

Thailand Strände & Inseln Cover 2014

Vis-à-vis Thailand Strände & Inseln Cover 2014

However, there is also a corresponding English edition of this guide called DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Thailand’s Beaches & Islands published by Dorling Kindersley Ltd., London which is the partner company of Dorling Kindersley Verlag, Munich. The latest edition of the English version is from 2014. You may take a look inside the book here.

Vis-à-Vis Thailand Beaches & Islands is a very comprehensive, detailed and elaborate travel guide with more than 1000 colour photographs, 3-D drawings and layouts. In addition, there is a cute mini recipe book and an extra map.

The book is divided into four main sections:

  • ‘Introducing Thailand’s Beaches & Islands’ (Thailands Küsten stellen sich vor)*
  • ‘Thailand’s Beaches & Islands Area by Area’ (Thailands Küstenregionen)
  • ‘Travelers Needs’ (Zu Gast in Thailand)
  • ‘Survival Guide’ (Grundinformationen)

*German titels in brackets

First of all, ‘Introducing Thailand’s Beaches & Islands’ suggests some tours to cover three prime areas for experiencing coastal Thailand and the capital city of Bangkok.

Following this comes a portrait of Thailand’s coasts with additional information about flora and fauna, coral reefs, diving & snorkelling, Buddhism, theatre & music, traditional housebuilding, crafts and the most beautiful beaches. Furthermore, there is also a section about festivals, official holidays and the history of Thailand.

The main chapter is ‘Thailand’s Beaches & Islands Area by Area’ which is subdivided into eight sections:

  • ‘Thailand’s Beaches at a Glance’ (Thailands Küsten im Überblick)*
  • ‘Bangkok’
  • ‘Eastern Seaboard’ (Östliche Golfküste)
  • ‘Upper Western Gulf Coast’ (Obere westliche Golfküste)
  • ‘Lower Western Gulf Coast’ (Untere westliche Golfküste)
  • ‘Upper Andaman Coast’ (Obere Andamanen-Küste)
  • ‘Lower Andaman Coast’ (Untere Andamanen-Küste)
  • ‘Deep South’ (Süden)

*German titels in brackets

The chapter about ‘Travelers’ Needs’ deals with different accommodation options and restaurants in the presented areas. It is useful that the section about restaurants also introduces the most important Thai dishes. Furthermore, there are suggestions for shopping, entertainment, sports & outdoor activities and special interests like wellness and spas.

The practical information or ‘Survival Guide’ is mainly about general travel information, etiquette, money & communication, safety & health and public transportation. Finally, the guide also provides a phrase book with some basic Thai vocabulary.

In my opinion, this book is comprehensive and very informative. The structure is very similar to Vis-à-Vis Thailand which I have dealt with in a previous review. The guide is beautifully arranged with numerous colourful photographs and maps. Thus, it may even be called a picture-book. However, for those readers who do not yet know anything about Thailand and its beaches and islands, this guide might appear a little confusing simply because there is so much additional information on different topics.

Nevertheless, I can highly recommend ‘Thailand Beaches & Islands’ as a pre-travel preparation and information guide. It is a very good book to get oneself in the mood for travelling to Thailand. The small cookbook also serves as a preparation for Thailand travel and inspires the reader to try the one or other Thai dish.

Similar to Vis-à-Vis Thailand, I have the feeling that one needs some time and quiet to go through, read and process all the information provided in this guidebook. What is more, the book is not so lightweight and perhaps unpractical to carry around the whole day when travelling.

However, in a nutshell, ‘Vis-à-Vis Thailand Strände & Inseln’  is truly an elaborate travel guide which is created with lots of love for the detail.

Yours, Sirinya




Media Review: Vis-a-Vis Thailand (12th ed. Dorling Kindersley)

Today’s media review is about Vis a Vis Reiseführer Thailand by Colectif (ISBN: 978-3-8310-19847). This travel guide was published by Dorling Kindersley Verlag GmbH, Munich. My review copy is the 12th and newest edition (2012/2013). This book is in German language, comprises 528 pages and costs 26,95 EUR.

Vis-à-vis Thailand

Vis-a-Vis Thailand Cover 2011

Vis-a-Vis Thailand Cover 2011

However, there is also a corresponding English edition of this guide called DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Thailand (Eyewitness Travel Guides) published in Dorling Kindersley Ltd., London which is the partner company of Dorling Kindersley Verlag, Munich. The latest edition of the English version is from 2014. You may take a look inside the book here.

Vis-à-Vis Thailand is a very comprehensive, detailed and elaborate travel guide with more than 1500 colour photographs, 3-D drawings and layouts. In addition there are clear and informative maps and 86 pages about Thailand’s capital Bangkok. The book is divided into nine sections in total:

  • ‘Introducing Thailand’ (Thailand stellt sich vor)*
  • ‘Bangkok’
  • ‘The Central Plains’ (Menam-Becken)
  • ‘Northern Thailand’ (Nordthailand)
  • ‘Northeast Thailand’ (Nordost-Thailand)
  • ‘The Gulf of Thailand’ (Golf von Thailand)
  • ‘Southern Thailand’ (Südthailand)
  • Travelers Needs’ (Zu Gast in Thailand)
  • ‘Survival Guide’ (Grundinformationen)

*German titels in brackets

‘Introducing Thailand’ names the most important highlights of each region in advance.

Following this, each of these sections are divided into an introductory, overview part and specialities of the respective areas. For instance, the Bangkok chapter is subdivided into introduction, Old Town, Chinatown, Dusit, Downtown, Thon Buri, outskirts, shopping, entertainment and map.

Thus, the guide provides the most important information about the different areas and regions. It is interesting to note that some of the introductory parts also provide additional detailed information about history and art. For example, ‘The Central Plains’ section provides info about Sukhothai art and foreigners in Ayutthaya in its introduction. Similarly, the chapter about ‘Northern Thailand’ gives extra information about Thailand’s hilltribes, crafts and birds that occur specifically in this area.

The chapter about the ‘Travelers’ Needs’ deals with different accommodation options and restaurants in the presented areas. It is useful that the section about restaurants also introduces the most important Thai dishes. Furthermore, there are suggestions for shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and special interests like wellness and spas.

The practical information or ‘Survival Guide’ is mainly about general travel information, etiquette, money & communication, safety & health and public transportation. Finally, the guide also provides a phrase book with some basic Thai vocabulary.

In my opinion this book is comprehensive and very informative. It is beautifully arranged with numerous photographs and maps. Thus, it may even be called a picture-book. However, for those readers who do not yet know anything about Thailand, this guide might appear a bit confusing simply because there is so much additional information on different topics.

Nonetheless, I can highly recommend Vis-à-Vis Thailand as a pre-travel preparation and information guide. When reviewing and skimming this book I had the impression that one needs some time and quiet to go through, read and process all the information given in there. What is more, the book is quite heavy and perhaps to unpractical to carry around the whole day when travelling.

However, on the whole, this is truly an elaborate travel guide that is created with lots of love for the detail.

Yours, Sirinya

(P.S. if you’re looking for a compact Bangkok travel guide, check out Top 10 Bangkok, and also the guide for Beaches & Islands)

 

 




Media Review: Top 10 Bangkok by Ron Emmons & Alex Robinson

Today’s media review is about Top 10 Bangkok by Ron Emmons (texts) & Alex Robinson (photographs) (ISBN: 978-3-7342-0510-1). This guidebook was published by Dorling Kindersley Verlag GmbH, Munich. My review copy is the 3rd and newest edition (2014/2015). This book is in German language, comprises 128 pages and costs 9,99 EUR.

Top 10 Bangkok

Top 10 Bangkok German Cover 2014

Top 10 Bangkok German Cover 2014

However, there is also a corresponding English edition of this guide called DK Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide: Bangkok written by the same author and published by Dorling Kindersley Ltd., London which is the partner company of Dorling Kindersley Verlag, Munich. The latest edition of the English version is from 2014. You may take a look inside the book here.

Top 10 Bangkok is a comprehensive travel guide with compact Top 10 lists, detailed maps and more than 250 colour photographs. Hence, the guide is structured in three sections: Bangkok’s Top 10, Around Town (in German: ‘Stadtteile’, meaning different areas of the city) and Streetsmart (in German: ‘Reise-Infos’, i.e. travel information).

The guide names ten highlights that the traveller should visit when going to Bangkok. These highlights are:

  • Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew
  • National museum
  • Wat Pho
  • the Klongs
  • Dusit park
  • floating market (Damnoen Saduak)
  • Chatuchak weekend market
  • Jim Thompson House
  • Wat Arun
  • Ayutthaya

In addition, this guide provides information about important historical events, museums & art galleries, shopping, markets, restaurants, bars & clubs but also about entertainment like theatre & cabaret. What is more, there is also information about special attractions for children, festivals, beaches nearby Bangkok, sports, spas and Buddhist temples.

The section Around Town (‘Stadtteile’) is divided into historic district (Old Town), Chinatown, Downtown, Greater Bangkok and the outskirts of the city (Beyond Bangkok).

As far as travel information (Streetsmart) is concerned, there is advice about travel preparation and planning your journey & arriving in Bangkok. Further there is info about Bangkok on a budget, money, banking & communication, safety & health. In addition, the guide lists things to avoid but also provides shopping, hotel and restaurant recommendations.

Furthermore, the guidebook also includes a phrase book with some basic Thai vocabulary and an extra-map (city map, skytrain map & additional tips for a perfect day off in BKK).

In my opinion, this book is a comprehensive, elaborate and well structured guide. In particular, I welcome that Bangkok’s Top 10 highlights are again each divided into Top 10. For instance, the Dusit park is subdivided into 10 impressions and experiences: 1. Vimanmek Palace, 2. Royal Plaza, 3. Ananta Samakhom throne hall, 4. Abhisek Dusit throne hall, 5. Photography Museum, 6. Royal Elephant Museum, 7, Clock Museum, 8. Textile Museum, 9, Sea Pavilion and 10. Dusit Zoo. Hence, you cannot really miss or overlook an attraction.

In addition, I also find the extra map very useful because it lists some of the important attractions, malls, markets and restaurants and tells you how to get there by public transport (i.e. Skytrain, Metro, bus, ferry).

Finally, I can highly recommend Top 10 Bangkok, in particular to everyone who goes to BKK for the first time. On the whole, this is a very practical and compact guide. Since the book is lightweight and small, it fits in every pocket and bag 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

(P.S. if you’re looking for a compact Thailand travel guide, check out Vis-à-vis Thailand)