Many people visiting Haad Salad consider renting either a motorbike or a jeep to explore the other beaches on the island. It makes a great day out when you can drop in on some of the 20 or so other beaches on Koh Phangan. Life is such is that a person might never get back to Koh Phangan and so they feel compelled to explore the island, to make the most of the experience.
However, beware that vehicle hire is fraught with problems in not only Haad Salad but all over Koh Phangan, and indeed all over Thailand. There is a common scam with motorbike hire, jeep hire and jetski hire that all tourists should be aware of. Sadly, the police and other government officials will do nothing to stop the scams. Rather than go on, the easiest thing is to quote Pamelita22 from Trip Advisor. She wrote the following in March 2011. Please don’t imagine that anything has changed in the meantime:
I am an English teacher in Lopburi Thailand, and recently travelled to Ko Phangan for short holiday. Haad Salad Villa was a decent place to stay, located directly on the quiet and beautiful beach of Haad Salad. The bungalows were comfortable and the restaurant on the resort provided great food.
BUT IF YOU ARE GOING HERE, PLEASE DO NOT GO NEAR THE TRAVEL SHOP LOCATED ON THE RESORT.
On my final day on the island, and myself and one of my friends I met there decided to rent a jeep to explore the island. We saw a sign outside the Haad Salad travel shop (it is attached to a shop selling food goods and items of clothing) We enquired about renting it, and the cost was 1000 BHT for 2 hours. We thought this was great…..500 BHT each and a great way to get around and see some of the other beaches on the island. They ask you to fill in a form and give them your passport. Right away I felt uncomfortable doing this, and asked to see where they would be keeping it- they showed me a safe, and I agreed.
Whilst driving around, I had a SMALL accident, where I scraped the car whilst reversing out. Now, when I say a small scrape, I really mean, it was just a scrape. None the less, I am an honest person, and when we returned the jeep that night, I showed them the scrape, apologised and said I would pay for the expense. The ‘boss’ went mental and said she had to call a ‘mechanic’ 20 minutes later, 2 men showed up who examined the car, and presented me with a bill for 16,100 BHT! The lady then went on to say that it would take them 5 days to ‘fix’ the car, and so for these 5 days she would be loosing 5,000 BHT, and so added this onto the bill…..a total of 21,100……
I said there was absolutely no way I was paying that,, to which she replied if I didn’t then I would not get my passport back.
I have lived in Thailand for a year, and I can tell you honestly that this woman was scamming me. These so called mechanics she called no doubt worked for her, and were not legitimate. I spoke with some other people at the resort who said they were a BAD COMPANY who are known for ripping tourists off…..if anything, they WANT you to have an accident so they can charge you over the odds. After an hour of deliberation about what to do, I decided that if I was going to get my passport, I would have to pay her. When I told her I had spoken to people who had told me about their reputation, she said she would take 2,000 BHT off the price if I told her the names of who had said it……this just goes to show how corrupt this company is.
PLEASE DO NOT GIVE YOUR BUSINESS TO THESE PEOPLE. DO NOT RENT A MOTORBIKE/JEEP from them……if I can make just one person read this and not go, I will be happy.
Please pass on the message to anyone else who is thinking of going.
It is tempting to say that all travel agents and indeed all companies that rent out vehicles are prepared to do exactly the same thing. This would be wrong. However, I have heard far more stories of people being fleeced than being charged a reasonable sum for damages. Even foreigners renting jetskis in Koh Phangan do the same thing.
If you do have a scratch on a bike or car the best thing is to go to a mechanic on the island and get the problem fixed. If they can fix the damage and leave no marks then the rental agent will be none the wiser and will hand over your passport. This is the cheapest option.
It is impossible to rent out a vehicle without giving up your passport. A photocopy will not do.
If this post worries you then the best thing to do is to take taxis. They are pricey but not as pricey as being scammed. Such an experience ruins a holiday.
Have a look at this YouTube video of a jetski scam operation in Pattaya. As with the above experience everyone who joins the incident are ‘in’ on the scam and will be paid when the tourists pay up.
If you do want to rent a vehicle to use in Koh Phangan the safest option is to use a recognised car rental company such as Avis or Hertz that provide insurance and do not ask for a passport deposit. You can find more information about this at Koh Phangan Car Rental.