One of the popular activities for tourists visiting the southern resort island of Phuket is to ride a motorcycle admiring the beautiful landscape. But the leisure pastime of unlicensed foreign motorcyclists sometimes scares local residents, with many accidents occurring.
This Canadian motorcyclist is showing her motorcycle license when asked by police. She is one of the rare licensed motorcyclists on Phuket island.
Riding a motorcycle is one of the top activities on Phuket for foreign tourists and expatriates. With many motorcycle rental shops, they can easily rent a motorcycle without having a license, as this is not strictly monitored by the authorities.
However, more than 500 motorcycle accidents were reported at Phuket's Katoo? district police station in 2007. Surprisingly, more than half of the accidents involved unlicensed foreign motorcyclists.
'About 60% of motorcycle accidents are from unlicensed foreign motorcyclists. But there are still a great number of unlicensed foreign motorcyclists that we can't check the exact number. We can count only when the accidents occur,' said Pol. Col. Kritsak Songmoonnak, Superintendent, Katoo Police Station.
Local residents also express their concern over the riding of some foreign motorcyclists, as their reckless riding damages the image of one of the world's top destinations. Some of the riders don't know Thai traffic rules. Many like to ride fast and adventurous, frightening local people and other foreign tourists seeking for a peaceful holiday.
'They always ride fast and crosscut other cars. I'm so scared I will crash one day,' said a local resident.
The Land Transportation Department on Phuket insists tourists and expatriates can ride motorcycles in the kingdom only when they possess a international motorcycle license or a Thai motorcycle license issued by the department.
They can get this by simply handing in their identification documents, work permit or an address guaranteed by the Thai Immigration Office. Then it's the written and practical tests.
Then application process is done in a day. With the motorcycle license in hand, the rider can enjoy a happy ride around in Phuket and anywhere in Thailand.