When you rent a motorcycle on koh phangan you should always wear a helmet for safety reasons as well as avoiding a 200 baht penalty if the police decide to work extra hard that day. They will be lurking in unavoidable spots and will sneak up on you from nowhere and make you pay a fine there and then. Guess its better to be safe than sorry or broke.
Whilst living on Koh Phangan for three years I was witness to many horrific taxi crashes on the Haad Rin road and was involved in a serious incident myself.
For those going to and from the full moon party please take car when getting in a full taxi. As many would know there are no safety harnesses in these (sometimes) enclosed utility vehicles. Many people would not know that most of these old taxis (the blue songtaews) have NO HAND BRAKES.
Not only is the road steep and dangerous as described by many others, but it is deadly when the taxis are full and the car stalls on a hill.
The accident I was involved in injured 14 out of the 17 people in the car, including my boyfriend who was pinned under the car's chassis when it rolled (yes rolled) down the hill. Another man, an artist in our group nearly lost his hand. The taxi driver broke five ribs. If you have an option, slip the taxi driver an extra 200B and go just with your group of friends, if not leave early (3am) or wait until well after sunrise.
Dont be afraid, this is a Marsh Gecko and you will hear them calling during the day. In the evening they congregate around the lights with the spiders to eat the flies and mosquitoes. DONT FORGET YOUR DEET BASED REPELLANT, HAADRIN IS WHERE ANDY AND I CAUGHT DENGE FEVER. A VERY PAINFULL TYPE OF MALARIA.
p.s. keep the toilet/shower area as clean as possible or you'll be kept awake by the cockroaches.
So thats cockies, snakes, flies, mosquitoes, sharks, spiders, wild monkeys, drugs squad and German tourists....still think its a tropical paradise?
If you dont get bitten, stung or infected then it could be one of the best places you ever visit.
Do not rent a motorbike from Fuang Fua convenience shop in Sritannu. There was a scratch underneath the bike on a plastic panel and they wanted 5000 Baht to "repair" the damage and tried to keep my passport until I paid. The husband even pulled a knife trying to intimidate me. I went to the police in Thongsala, "Keow" was very helpful, we both drove back to the supermarket and got them down to half...even though I didn't do it, still better than 5000 baht. I suspect they had heard from other motorbike rental shops how to do the scam and tried it themselves.The deformed house wife /convenience shop owner are now on record with the local police. If anyone is on the receiving end of this scam, tell the police...here is a little trick..it is illegal for a bike to be rented to a tourist without a valid international bike licence. We don't get fined, but the motorbike owner does. 10 000 baht. Mr Toh's motorbike shop at the main roundabout at the Thongsala pier was then recommended to me by Keow the police officer.
beware of a taxi (songthaew) driver picking up customers in haad rin. this man robbed our friends (1 male/1 female) after driving them to their resort at 3am.
this is a photo from the police, that is the man who robbed them. he is well known to police, and commits robberies and druggings regularly. he is known to be aggressive. please be careful and only take taxis in groups.
The night ferry from Ko Phangan to Seurat Thani is great. When you get off the ferry you will be bombarded by several taxi services. The foreigners traveling should figure out who needs to go where. If you have a group then you can negotiate a fair price but if you say you are alone then you will be charged five times the price. I was in a group of 6 going to the airport and we were each charged 300 baht. That's 1800 baht for one taxi..way too much!
Walking around Hadrin, you will see many guys with cuts/bruises/bandages/arm slings.... Don't worry, they did not get robbed, but fell off their motocycles while attempting to travel inland. Phangan roads are notorious for the potholes and bumps. Do not attempt unless really foolhardy or a dirtbike expert.
Took kae (probably wrong spelling) are a bit more dangerous than the usual lizards (jing jok) and quite a bit bigger and fatter. You will often hear these took kae before you will see 1. It sounds like they are shouting took kae and is quite eery. These lizards can jump a fair distance and defends itself by biting people with its large jaws and will then lock its jaw into your flesh. The only way to remove these lizards once bitten is by getting to a hospital meanwhile the lizard is still alive flapping about on your flesh.
The photo shows a took kae beside the lamp above our bungalow door.
If going to a Full Moon Party then try to arrive at least 3 or 4 days before the party. In the high season a week before would be better because all the rooms will be taken and you will have to stay outside Had Rin.
I rented out a geared scooter for a day and although it was really fun I had never riden a geared bike before and so had a few problems at first. Some of the roads on Ko Phangan are quite bad with collapses in places and also incredbily steep towards Hat Rin and in the centre of the island. In the centre where it is most hilly the raods are dusty and loose. I was in 1st gear and still struggling at points.
It's best not to rent a bike at this island. The roads are very bad.
Many tourists have bike accidents here, because they lost control of their bike. Their wounds are called: the bike scarifications / souvenirs.
Also when renting a bike: watch out for the insurance. When you don't talk about it and pay for it before renting a bike you will be sure of having to pay for it all when the bike is ruined or stolen.
While at the full moon party you will see the amount of garbage in the water, and all around the beach. It is a very sad sight to see but, if you want to experience this party, it is unavoidable.
I saw and spoke to a few people that had bad stories to tell about the glass on the beach. My only suggestion I can give is to wear footwear while parting to avoid all the debris, and you may want to avoid the water, unless you like swimming in urine, and vomit (sorry but it's true). The other glass stories involved people wrestling around on the beach, and cutting themselves quite badly on the broken glass.
A meditation-retreat means getting up at 4 in the morning, doing sitting meditation most of the day. And beware: it could change your life!