Before going any further, it is very important to note that someone who doesn’t hold a bike licence and does not drive a bike on a regular basis, moreover on the left side of the road, should not attempt to drive in Phuket. This is ok for other small, less crowded islands but in Phuket, the traffic is something of another planet. There are no rules, everybody goes too fast, there are stray dogs in the middle of the road, food trucks, overtaking on both sides, and careless pick-up and tuk-tuk drivers. And even though driving without a helmet, with your hair getting nicely bleached from the sun, seems very cool (not even talking about the heat), wearing a helmet is, if not mandatory, more than recommended.
What do you need ? International driver licence. We were checked by the police twice and they asked for it every time. No international driver licence equals a fine.
How does it work ? Motorbike rental in Thailand comes without any kind of insurance. It means that in case of an accident with a Thai, you will be wrong. Even if you are right. You will be asked to pay for the damage. When bringing the bike back to the shop, you will also be charged for any scratches or more serious mechanical damage, often at a higher price than what it really costs to get it fixed.
We did however found one place renting bikes and cars with a full AXA insurance, for a small daily fee. Nina’s Cars offers a full insurance in case of accident, with a maximum waiver fee of 40 euro. Which means that, worst case scenario, should you destroy the bike, you only have to pay 40 euro. They also delivered the bike to our hotel for 6 euro, which was really handy, and the bike was in great condition. It became our best friend for the next 10 days.
Her : Drive slow. The slower, the better. There is no rush anyway, you are on holidays. And keep your eyes wide opened.
Him : I have been driving bikes since I am 15, mostly in Italy where the traffic is known to be messy. It is also 6 years I live in Ireland, driving on the left side and I already drove in Thailand. I risked my life a dozen times in Phuket. People are simply crazy there, no speed limit, not traffic light, no proper overtaking, bad road conditions (huge scary and dangerous holes), people driving bikes on the wrong side at max speed, dogs, cats and rats that cannot wait to cross streets. You drive faster than 50km/h, you risk your life! You drive slower than 50km/h you risk your life, but less. Still driving through the jungle in small streets is quite an experience.