PLEASE NOTE: We’re not recommending that you need to journey a motorcycle or motorbike in Thailand however, if you happen to do, the following tips will assist…
Getting round on a motorcycle or motorbike in Thailand is simple sufficient and, particularly in busy visitors, will get you to your vacation spot quicker while the vehicles and vans are plodding alongside within the visitors. There shall be loads of individuals who say the primary tip about driving a motorcycle in Thailand is “DON’T”. However while many expats swear by no means to step right into a 110cc step-thru scooter, they’re additionally lacking out on a complete slice of life in southeast Asia.
However we do acknowledge that driving a motorcycle in Thailand will also be very harmful. Nonetheless, if you happen to stick with the frequent sense fundamentals – journey inside the pace limits, put on a motorcycle helmet, obey the visitors guidelines and don’t drink and drive – it stays a superbly dependable technique to get round.
There shall be weekly horror tales of foreigners having bike accidents or getting caught in hospitals with no insurance coverage. It occurs however, statistically, it’s uncommon. And, if you happen to heed all the next recommendation, you can be principally protected.
Ensure you have the right license and insurance coverage earlier than you go anyplace close to a motorcycle or motorbike in Thailand!!
1. Put on acceptable garments
Two phrases. Gravel. Rash.
While you’ll see vacationers driving round on their rented motorbikes of their swimming shorts and singlet, you’re going to be a lot safer with a couple of garments on. Falling off a motorcycle with out something protecting your knees or elbows goes to be painful sufficient – having at the least some cloth between you and the street goes to cut back the painful grazes a bit. Lengthy pants and an extended shirt are begin. Additionally they assist preserve the solar off you.
All the time put on sneakers for a similar cause. And a motorcycle helmet as nicely – it’s the legislation and it’ll save your life if you happen to fall off and hit the street together with your head. The flimsy plastic ‘lid’ kind helmets price round 200 baht and can get you thru the checkpoints however spending a bit extra on a greater helmet will present further safety.
You’ll see the locals driving round with their jackets on the flawed method – they are saying it retains their garments clear from the street muck and fumes.
2. Maintain your motorcycle in good situation
As hardy and dependable as fashionable Thai motorbikes are, they may run higher and for longer if you happen to sustain the service schedule and alter the oil often – say each 3 months. You’ll marvel how they will manufacture these 110-125cc step-thrus for little greater than USD$1,200 model new, however they do and those floating across the roads of Thailand are nearly all made within the land of smiles.
Aside from altering the engine oil control the tyre strain, Thai roads will put on down your tyre tread rapidly. Your brakes may also want checking though, like the remainder of the components of those bikes, the brakes appear to final eternally.
To assist with sustaining your bikes, small motorcycle and motorbike restore locations are sprinkled alongside each foremost street in cities throughout the nation. They’re as ubiquitous as comfort shops. They usually’re uniforms low-cost, fast, and may have many components on the shelf. If not they’ll name somebody and the half will magically seem inside 5 minutes.
Everytime you’re getting your oil modified get the service particular person to examine the brakes, and tyres and ensure nuts and bolts are all tight – they shake unfastened generally. After which there are the lights at the back and front. Indicators is probably not used a lot by the locals however YOU ought to. Be sure they’re all working.
In any other case, there’s little to go flawed with these mighty machines. Even the brand new electrical ones are tremendous dependable and low-cost to run.
3. Ensure you have a correct license
Your automotive license in your house nation isn’t authorized in Thailand to journey a motorcycle or motorbike. Your Worldwide Drivers License for vehicles issued in your house nation isn’t going to chop it both. Legally, the one doc that may fulfill the Thai authorized system, formally, is a Thai motorbike license. It doesn’t matter a lot till a state of affairs arises the place you’re in an accident and the legislation comes crashing down on you.
For those who dwell in Thailand you merely should get a correct motorcycle driver’s license if you wish to journey a motorcycle right here.
For vacationers, the native bike rent outlets will gladly lease you a motorcycle, normally by merely displaying your passport and giving them a deposit. Some will even inform you that their ‘insurance coverage’ will cowl you within the occasion of an accident – that’s simply not going to occur. YOU are answerable for your well being if you happen to get onto a motorcycle in Thailand. Test YOUR state of affairs and YOUR well being and journey insurance coverage.
And while we’re speaking a couple of Thai Bike License, we’re speaking in regards to the ones you get from the Land Transport Workplace, not Khao San street for 500 baht!
(Right here’s some data about getting a motorcycle license in Bangkok, the identical applies on the Land Transport Workplaces in most Thai cities).
We expect you’re insane getting on a motorcycle abroad with out the right documentation, which leads us to #4…
4. Test your journey and medical insurance
Each week The Thaiger hears from vacationers caught in a Thai hospital with mounting hospital payments and an insurance coverage firm that gained’t pay out as a result of they didn’t have a correct driver’s license. Or no insurance coverage in any respect. And even you probably have journey or medical insurance, examine the tremendous print as a result of some insurance coverage contracts preclude driving on motorbikes in Thailand.
In 10 years of driving on Thai roads, I’ve had one fall. It winded me badly and I obtained abrasions on my ankle and knee. However individuals ran to my help and helped me up. I didn’t must go to the hospital however I used to be grateful, mendacity in the course of the street gasping for breath, that I knew I had good medical insurance and a correct license.
(The tremendous print in your insurance coverage, completely different international locations’ licences, and the policeman that exhibits up at your accident will all play an element in how your accident will play out. The ONLY certain method you’ll be able to show your authorized capability to drive on a Thai street is with a Thai motorcycle license)
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5. Driving is completely different in Thailand
Lots of the guidelines are the identical in international locations that additionally drive on the left-hand aspect of the street. However you’ll want to drive like a Thai and concentrate on the completely different rhythms. It’s completely different.
Aside from the lunatics that drive too quick, drink-drive, or ghost journey (driving in opposition to the move of visitors on the flawed aspect of the street), there’s only a completely different angle to driving. We are saying it’s a bit like swimming with a college of fish – if you happen to simply flow and preserve within the stream of visitors you’ll do nicely.
The western angle of driving defensively will go in opposition to the grain of Thai visitors motion the place ‘private driving area’ isn’t honoured and folks will minimize in entrance of you as simply part of day by day driving habits. It’s not flawed, it’s completely different and also you’re finest to study the nuances of Thai visitors move earlier than you throw your self into the center of a busy Thai street.
Surprisingly, you’ll hardly ever hear a motorcycle horn. In contrast to close by Vietnam, Thais use their horns (and all bikes have them) hardly ever.
6. Inexperienced lights imply GO. Pink lights additionally imply GO generally.
You’ll see what we imply. Don’t even take into consideration attempting it. It would both get you fined or lifeless. Suffice to say, a couple of ‘enthusiastic’ Thai motorcyclists gained’t wait till the inexperienced mild. Even the purple mild gained’t cease a few of them from going straight by way of the intersection.
Many infections may have a countdown earlier than the inexperienced mild and by the point it will get beneath 5 seconds, the entrance row of bikes will already be getting on with their journey.
7. Have a apply
For those who’re new to driving a motorcycle or new to driving a motorcycle in Thailand don’t throw your self right into a busy stretch of street instantly. Attempt one thing a bit of calmer and slower to get a really feel of the refined variations in Thai visitors motion. You’re sharing the street with vans, vehicles, buses, and passenger vans.
Discover an empty patch of street to get snug with the behaviour of your motorcycle first.
You’re meant to remain on the left hand aspect and also you’d be nicely suggested to take action, regardless of the behaviour of some Thai motorcycle drivers that need to combine it with the bigger vehicles and vans. Get some confidence together with your motorcycle and the way in which it handles, and transfer in and round visitors on a quiet street earlier than you sort out the primary roads.
8. Beware pot holes
The roads round Thailand have improved prior to now decade however you’ll nonetheless discover pot holes in locations there wasn’t one the day earlier than. In order for you a extremely good cause for giving loads of distance between you and the automotive in entrance, it’s to see the pot gap earlier than you find yourself IN it.
While automotive tyres may glide over these gaping holes within the street, your motorcycle is prone to come to an abrupt halt, with you persevering with over the entrance of the handlebars – one thing to do with Newton’s first legislation of movement. At a minimal, you’ll study why they name the suspension SHOCK absorbers.
9. For those who’re undecided, don’t
By no means ridden a motorcycle? Didn’t journey a motorcycle in your personal nation? Effectively, there are already two good causes to not strive it to your first time in Thailand on a busy street.
It may be a little bit of a problem for even skilled motorcycle drivers, nicely a special expertise anyway. There are many different methods to get round Thailand, together with motorcycle taxi drivers (‘win’ drivers) who will expertly drive you to the place you need to go for a really low worth. Particularly in bigger inhabitants areas, they’re an indispensable a part of the Thai visitors eco-system. There are actually additionally loads of ride-hailing companies for bikes and vehicles, together with Seize and Bolt (there are others).
10. Police will typically arbitrate on the spot at an accident
In case you are within the flawed and broken somebody or another person’s bike you’re most likely going to need to pay up. Now, there’s the ‘official’ technique to type issues out in these instances and the ‘unofficial’.
The policemen will get to the scene quickly sufficient and, typically determine, on the spot, who was at fault. They’ll typically negotiate how a lot needs to be paid as nicely. The city fable is that Thai police all the time aspect with the locals – that’s not the case though, if you’re certainly within the flawed then you definately’re IN THE WRONG!
In case you are involved that you simply’re being rolled by the locals in finding out a easy motorcycle accident then name the Vacationer Police or your consulate instantly. DON’T comply with pay any cash to ANYONE till you’ve spoken to at the least the Vacationer Police.
Moving into an argument with the native police won’t ever be a good suggestion. Demanding that you simply converse to the police chief, your lawyer, and so forth, may also normally find yourself within the state of affairs ending up badly.
Be affected person and don’t lose your cool. Simply politely undergo the motions and, in nearly all instances, it’s going to price you numerous lower than dragging the state of affairs out and ending up in a Thai court docket.
You might be abroad, you’re a visitor and so they do issues otherwise – finish of the sentence.
PHOTO: John Everingham
Regardless of all the pieces else, getting round Thailand on a motorcycle or motorbike provides you with a novel perspective. It may be protected, low-cost, dependable, and handy. After studying all this you’re in a a lot better state of affairs to sort out your motorbike expertise in Thailand.