The Island of Phangan has some fairly well taken care of roads. With regular maintenance carried out on the main roads if any potholes or cracks appear. Its nothing like Europe, but its good enough for a car user. The roads are cement roads, thick concrete is laid down with steels on a prepared ground, these are the roads of Koh Phangan. On the mainland, they use tarmac like in Europe, but the machines to lay tarmac don’t exist on this Island, so we stuck with cement roads for now.
Cement roads have different grip levels, some smooth cement laid on the roads can be slippy in the rain and also sippy in the dry with some sand on top. Other parts of the roads can have a high amount of grip, where the cement has been laid down roughly creating a more porous texture, which is great for car tires. Through the year the roads do get damaged from high temperatures and heavy rains and a hole or crack that wasn’t there before can suddenly appear in ever-changing road conditions.
The main downfall to cement roads is they hold the water on top and create huge puddles, in a car, this is important to remember the water levels can be deep in places after a big rain storm. Traveling over 60km and hitting some of these puddles can cause you to lose control.
The rules of the road are similar to everywhere else in Thailand. The driving, however, is slightly different compared to Bangkok for example. The official speed limit on Koh Phangan is 60km per hour, although most drivers go over that speed, we don’t suggest in going fast.
Wear your seatbelts.
We drive on the left, this can be difficult at first for drivers from the UK or other places in the world that drive on the right side. Driving in Thailand one of the biggest obstacles you will come up against is scooters, anywhere you go in Thailand, scooters are everywhere. Scooter riders especially Thai people use the roads differently and can come at you in all directions. You will understand this your first day on Thai roads. Drive slowly, keep close attention to your mirrors. Driving in Koh Phangan is relatively easy and scooters are your biggest problem on the road, trying to get past a slow scooter on some of the small roads that we have on Phangan, needs patience and care.
The Island has its seasons, low season the traffic is very low and in high, peak Season and Full Moon party time the roads get busier. During the full moon period, the main danger again is new scooter riders on the road. We call them the day riders as they as come for full moon party and have decided to go around the Island for a day by renting a scooter. You need to take care during this time as new riders are a hazard to the road, they are 90% of the time first time scooter riders and first time riding on Thai roads. Another big hazard is the taxi drivers, they are on the road all the time and know the roads well, but they will cut corners. They attack the roads harder, trying to get from A to B faster because they make money especially during full moon party time delivering people to there destinations and racing back to the full moon party to get more customers. Taxi drivers tend to take risks on the road. As a driver just hold your position and drive at a sensible speed. Use your Mirrors!
Driving at night is also a difficulty, most the roads around the Island are not lit up with street lamps and don’t have white lines. Also, some of the roads are not signposted to warn you of sharp bends and steep hills and descents. Stay focused on the road at night, animals especially dogs, pedestrians and vehicles parked on the side of the road are all hazards that can catch you off guard.
Some parts of the Island cannot be accessed by car or even 4×4. Bottle Beach is one of the main areas you cannot drive too, you must take a taxi boat. Even though there is a road to bottle beach, we do not recommend it, as it is not so much a dirt road, more of a road with rocks on it. This could damage the vehicle if you do not know the road.
We do sometimes of the year get very heavy downpours of rain. Drive with caution if you have to drive at all during these storms. Roads clog up with water quickly. Rivers of water cross the roads making it sometimes impossible to pass. Small cars lift easily in fast flowing water. A 4×4 is better in conditions like this, but we recommend drive with caution. Even after the rain has stopped, puddles can sometimes be very deep and cause the car to lose grip and send you off the road.
The main villages will have blue lines or red and white lines on the pavement stating you cannot park. Double parking is also not allowed. Park sensible where you believe the car will be safe. Around some beaches and resorts, they normally have parking areas. Parking your car is easy, but we aware of falling coconuts! Best to park your car not under a coconut tree that has a dozen coconuts. A coconut is about 1kg in weight and can damage your car very easily. If you are worried about parking your car somewhere, ask the nearest shop or person nearby if its ok. Some Thais get annoyed when parking in front of there premises. Some common sense is needed when parking and you will be fine.
Renting a car from us we will guide you on the do’s and not do’s on the road. See Car Hire