Drive along any main road on the island and it won’t be long until you see a modified pick-up truck slightly resembling Bigfoot, the original monster truck, but not on such a grand scale.
Unlike other provinces in Thailand where pick-ups are modified in such ways, the monster trucks in Phuket aren’t modified to enable the drivers to have access to palm oil plantations located in uneven, unpredictable, and often near inaccessible terrain, but purely for fun. The drivers of these modified pick-ups have had them modified to go off-roading, an activity which sees these vehicles driven on unsurfaced roads or tracks, made of materials such as sand, gravel, riverbeds, mud, rocks, and other natural terrain, and an activity which is becoming increasingly popular with a number of locals and expats based here in Phuket.
Phuketindex.com would like to introduce you to Nutthawut Cholchawalit, known as Kho Soon amongst his friends, Kho meaning brother. Khun Soon was born and raised in Phuket, studied Mechanical Engineering at Rajamongkorn University in the northern province of Chiang Mai, and is the owner of the Phuket 4 x 4 Center, the island’s leading 4 x 4 modifiers, and the place responsible for converting a great number of the modified 4 x 4s you see on the roads in Phuket.
Phuket 4 x 4 Center is a world-class vehicle maintenance and restoration operation who combines experienced craftsmen, top quality materials, the latest technology and professional customer service in their mission to be the partner of choice when it comes to getting the most out of your 4×4 vehicle. They offer a wide range of ‘made to order’ products and accessories for all 4 wheel drives that increase the efficiency, comfort and beauty of the vehicle.
From a young age Khun Soon had an interest in mechanical engineering, however, if you can imagine how Phuket was 40 years ago, when Khun Soon was a youngster, you can image why he also had an interest in adventure travel and outdoor life. It was a combination of these interests, and also the off-roading possibilities that led Khun Soon to hit his workshop and modify his first vehicle. In time his passion for 4 x 4 modifications grew, as did Phuket 4 x 4 Center, and today Khun Soon, with his vast years of experience, is the first port of call for any Phuketian, Thai or foreign, looking to modify their 4 x 4 vehicle.
As stated previously, the people in Phuket who’ve had their 4 x 4s modified mostly do so for off-roading experiences, and it’s these people’s love of Thailand’s natural scenery, or possibly their fullness of urban life, that make them so passionate about off-roading. To these people there is nothing better than jumping in their modified 4 x 4s and driving through forests, rivers, muddy bogs, mountainsides and over boulders to get as close to Thailand’s nature as possible. However, there are also those who modify their 4 x 4s to make their vehicles stronger, more reliable, more comfortable, better looking, easier to use and more than often a combination of several of these reasons.
Various levels of modification can be carried out on vehicles depending on the owner’s requirements, these can be from low level to extreme and can cost anywhere between 100,000 THB and 350,000 THB, sometimes even more. Modifications can include anything from simply adding front and rear bull bars, additional spotlights or winches, through to body lifts, raised suspensions, upgrading existing shock absorbers, coils and leaf springs and for more extreme modifications the addition of full roll bars, side rails, side steps and snorkels, used to protect 4 wheel drive engines from the hazards of dust and water commonly encountered in touring and off road adventures.
Khun Soon is not only the founder of the Phuket 4 x 4 Center; he is also the founder of the Phuket 4 x 4 Club, a club which growing numbers of likeminded off-road enthusiasts is keen to join. However, to be able to join it is essential that members appreciate and respect the natural surroundings encountered on off-road adventures, prepare themselves and vehicles for off-road adventures, and most importantly ensure they have the essential items required for any off-road adventure such as first aid kits, food, water, radio communication camping gear and full vehicle rescue equipment in case of breakdowns or other unforeseen issues.
For those interested in modifying their 4 x 4s, or getting involved with Phuket’s off-road scene, there are some basic things Khun Soon says you really need to know. First and foremost, you should ascertain whether you want your 4 x 4 modified purely for efficiency or look, or whether you are modifying the vehicle to enable you to go on off road adventures, there is a big difference between the modification requirements for each purpose. Once you know the reason for your modifications you then need to plan the modifications as per your individual needs and desires.
For those wanting to join the Phuket 4 x 4 Club for an off-road adventure there some important factors which need to be adhered to. The Phuket 4 x 4 Club follows strict rules and regulations with regards to safety and nature and these must be strictly followed by anybody who joins them on their adventures. These include understanding what is possible or impossible on any off-road adventure, respecting the natural environment in which venture, especially with regards to taking with you any refuse you may accumulate during the journey, and most importantly that you, your team and your vehicle are safe at all times.
Khun Soon has now been modifying 4 x 4s at Phuket 4 x 4 Center for almost 40 years and is possibly the most knowledgeable, skilled and experienced person on the island when it comes to vehicle modification. He and his team guarantee you will receive a world class, professional service whatever your requirements, and that you will never be let down.
For more information about Phuket 4 x e Center or Phuket 4 x 4 Club:
64/74 Srisutat-Koh Siray Road, Muang, Phuket 83000 Thailand
Telephone: +66 (0) 76 212649 or +66 (0) 76 218326
Facsimile: +66 (0) 76 224649
Off- Road 4 x 4 Adventures
With numerous dirt roads and some fairly extreme terrain, off-road driving in Phuket and its neighbouring provinces is a little known secret among adventure enthusiasts, young and old. An off-road 4×4 trip is an amazing way to get to see some of the most pristine wilderness and spot some of Thailand’s exotic wildlife. Dirt roads, desert sanded roads, jungle trails, high hill side tracks, waterfalls, streams, wild cattle, and more await you on your adventure!