Renting a motorcycle in Thailand there are thousands of motorbikes in Thailand, it’s one of the most popular ways to get around especially in places like Pattaya where there is a lot of traffic. A lot of people who come to Pattaya wonder if they can rent a bike and use it to visit. Sure you can but there are a lot of things to consider first. It is also worth noting too that most of the following actually apply anywhere else in the world.
Do you have a Driving License?
Although a rental shop won’t ask you for your driving license, you need one. Police controls are common here and they take a lot of pleasure in finding foreigners who drive without a license. They won’t ask you for an international driving license but you will see later that it is also more or less mandatory. They will also check that you have a valid UK passport & a valid Thai visa to stay in Thailand. Renting a motorcycle in Thailand ensures you have a good helmet & valid insurance.
Do you have a helmet?
Yes, even if you see a lot of people driving without one, helmets are mandatory. The police will fine you if you don’t have a helmet, and this is much more visible than you not having your license. Besides, your brain is at the same time the most precious and the most delicate part of your body, so just think about that. The rental shop will usually give you one, if they don’t, ask for one or change shop.
Are you insured?
Be very careful with your insurance. Even if you have insurance at home there are good chances it won’t cover you abroad. Also, most “travel insurances”, provided by your credit card company, for example, won’t cover medical expenses due to a motorbike accident. If you want to ride a motorbike take out real insurance and read the fine print. Be also aware that insurance won’t cover you (and your passenger) in most of the following cases:
- If you drive without an international driving license (it’s important there to check the power of the engine you rent against your license)
- If you don’t wear a helmet
- If you’re drunk (that one is a classic here)
- If you’re a reckless driver (again, read the fine prints as to what can be considered “reckless driving”)
If you are looking for real travel insurance I recommend you check out Mondial Assistance, they offer a lot of attractive packages. Renting a motorcycle in Thailand beware that the bike you rent is in a roadworthy condition.
Are you used to driving a motorbike?
Better already be a good driver here, this is no place to learn. Even if you have a driving license (and European countries usually allow car drivers to drive motorbikes up to 125cc), if you have never driven a bike before or the last time was years ago then I recommend you train first at home, home is most certainly a safer environment than here. Also remember that when you drive without proper training you don’t just put your life alone at risk. You also endanger your passengers’ life and the life of anyone crossing your way.
What kind of bike to choose?
Here, what we call “scooters” or “mopeds” in Europe go from 100cc up to 150cc, they are called “motorcycles”. However, remember that the limit for someone who only has a car license in Europe is 125cc, which means if you take a more powerful bike you won’t be covered by your insurance. Then, of course, there are “Big Bikes” (and anything beyond 125cc) for which you would need special training and a license in Europe.
Most Thai motorcycles have automatic gear systems (Big Bikes are all manual except for the 500cc scooters like the Yamaha T-MAX) and most rental shops will have only automatics but if you are thinking about renting a manual just think about the fact that you will wear flip-flops most of the time (and actually the lever system is a bit different from what we have in Europe).
Thailand is paradise, everybody must be “sabai sabai”, no?
Not really. Driving here is a dangerous activity. There’s no reason why Thailand has a pretty good and extensive set of traffic laws which is on par with industrialized countries. However, enforcement is lacking, to say the best, and people are reckless. That being said, you’re on your holidays so have fun and be most of all be safe!