One of the best ways to discover the hidden gems of Koh Samui is in the saddle of a motorbike. You are mobile, flexible and independed. Just jump on your bike and off you go. To make sure you stay safe in the crazy Samui traffic I collected 7 advises for your preparation. You should read them carefully.
You might also be interested in my article 7 reasons on why you should rent a motorbike on Koh Samui”.
Driving a motorbike around Samui is fun. But. Well of course there is a but; a big BUT to be honest. Driving a motorized vehicle at Koh Samui is something completely different. And it can be very dangerous. Research the internet for statistics about traffic accidents. If that doesn’t scare you off, continue to read.
How to drive safe in Koh Samui traffic?
1. You should be a trained, licensed and experienced motorbike rider. That should be obvious. But to many its not. I strongly recommend not to start to learn it here. You are better off with a rental car, a private driver or one of the trips your tour agent can offer you.
2. Get a proper bike from a trustworthy rental shop. I recommend Jürgen’s shop. For his website (only in German) click here. For English call or WhatsApp him +66 89 88 37490. He runs this business for many years and is completely trustworthy. His staff will deliver a proper tended motorbike to your hotel and they will pick them up as well. Jürgen doesn’t ask you to deposit your passport. He also provides helmets.
3. Wear a proper helmet. Invest some extra money and get a halfway decent helmet. For around 25 Euro you get some at Tesco or BigC. Don’t get tempted by the many drivers who don’t wear helmets.
4. Being on the road you must be aware of your surrounding all the time. Think ahead. Ask yourself constantly the question what completely unexpected thing could the guy in front of me, next to me, behind do next.
Typical unexpected behaviors to look out for:
a. Look out for vehicle coming from left side roads. Very often they turn left without checking the traffic.
b. Be careful with motorbikes approaching you at your lane. This is very common behaviour and its very confusing. Look out they might suddenly cross the road.
c. Be aware of vehicles that overtakes you. They might slow down abruptly in front of you to turn left.
d. Motorbikes will overtake you from the left and the right. Never change your position without checking traffic around you. Always use your indicator, even if you move only 1 meter.
e. Drunk drivers. I’ve seen people sitting in cars or on a motorbike drinking from a bottle of strong liquor or beer. I’ve seen guys so drunk, when they stopped at the traffic light, they fell, because they were so drunk, they forgot to take the foot down. I’ve seen the more than once. While this sounds funny, you can imagine how dangerous that is.
5. Don’t drink and drive. Leave your motorbike and take a taxi. You think you can handle but you can’t. I know many experienced drivers who couldn’t. It’s not worth it. You are on vacation. Take it easy. If you really want adventure make a dive course and dive with barracudas, whalesharks or go for a deep dive. Everything is better than losing a leg or your life.
6. Drive slowly. These scooters are light and fast. If you’re not careful you will speed up without realizing. Driving fast is especially a problem when you must emergency brake. Don’t forget you are on an island. Especially after rain there can be sand on the roads. Ever tried to brake on sand? Scary! If you brake a bit harder with your front brake, the front wheel will wash out on you, you will slide and fall. To avoid that you should slow down on sandy roads and in case you have to brake, use your rear brake.
7. Use all your senses.
I. Visual sense. Look ahead at the road and the side roads. Focus on the traffic. If there is some point of interest, stop and watch.
Remember to check the angle of your back mirrors. Most mirrors these days should cover a very wide angle to avoid blind spots. I am old fashioned I still look over my shoulder a lot.
II. Acoustical sense. Listen to engine sounds in your back. You might be preoccupied by a situation in front of you. Your hearing might warn you of a vehicle approaching you or being next to you. In traffic, it’s all about doing the right decisions in a split second. The extra information of sound might help to the right decision.
III. Sixth sense. How many times did this safe my life? This strange gut feeling that this guy might do something unexpected any moment. Slow down, keep a safe distance, be careful and be prepared.
Stay alert and stay safe.
Let me know what you think about my safety tips. If you have something to add, please comment.
Every good advise can help to safe lives.