We have been doing motorcycle expeditions in Thailand for many years. From North to North East to South Thailand – it’s a wonderful destination for superbike riding. In fact, the best in Asia. Each year, more and more people are choosing to participate in motorcycle rides in Thailand. Unfortunately, this also means that there is an increased risk of accident when riding on a rented bike. Sometimes accidents are unavoidable, however, the following tips can be useful for decreasing the likelihood of one occurring.
When considering renting a bike:
- In Thailand, you ride on the left hand side of the road, which may be different to your home country. If you are European, for example, it sure is.
- Realise that riding in Thailand is most likely going to be very different to riding in your home country – you’ll have to contend with not so great road conditions, inadequate road signs and even bad traffic. There are also lots of Chinese vehicles travelling on the road, which have a bad reputation for driving.
- Truthfully ask yourself whether your riding skill is suitable for riding in Thailand before making a final decision.
Before renting a motorcycle:
- In Thailand, it is a legal requirement for all motorcycles to have insurance but this only covers Third Party and a maximum of 15.000 baht for the rider. It is recommended that you upgrade to full coverage.
- Check your own travel insurance that you took for yourself. Make sure the company covers you for riding a motorcycle. Keep in mind that any scooters more than 100cc are considered motorbikes in Thailand.
- Are you licensed to ride a motorbike? In Thailand, you must hold a Thai license, an International Drivers Permit or a Motorbike Drivers License from your home country – and it should be readable in English. Some insurance is only valid with an International Drivers License.
- Check that everything on the bike is in working order. Do the headlights, rear lights, break lights and signal lights work? What about the horn? The front and rear brakes?
- Determine what kind of fuel the bike takes – be sure of this. There have been instances of people putting diesel in bikes.
- Check for any damage to the bike, including small scratches. Be sure that you take photos and report the damage to the rental company before leaving. Otherwise, when you return it you will be held liable. And this, at times, is quite a put off. So a deliberate video of the bike from all angles taken and shared with the provider could really help.
- Take the bike on a small test-drive so that you can learn how it breaks, handles on the road, alignment, turning radius and so on.
Wearing protective gear:
- While riding a superbike do wear a helmet, riding jacket and riding shoes at all times and ensure that everything has been firmly strapped on. You can generally pick up a good helmet in Thailand for around 1.000 baht. We always advise that riders get their own riding gear.
- Always wear actual shoes, not thongs (or flip-flops).
- Wear at least long pants and a long sleeved shirt at all times, not shorts or singlets. It’s best to wear a good jacket specifically designed for riding – these can be picked up cheap in Thailand.
When riding in Thailand:
- Avoid riding in the dark. Not only is riding in the dark detrimental to your eyesight, there is a larger number of intoxicated drivers on the road at night (increasing the likelihood of an accident).
- Be careful at intersections. It is not unusual for drivers to run red lights or to start driving before the light has turned green.
- Be careful at u-turns. Other drivers may not see you, may not stop or slow down for you, or may even be driving against the traffic.
- Be aware that literally everyone uses the roads in Thailand – cars, trucks, motorcycles, scooters, people, dogs, chickens, cows, Tuk-Tuks, etc.
- Be aware that road maintenance and safety is sometimes lacking. The road could look fine at first but suddenly give way to huge potholes or gravel that could be dangerous.
If you are planning to try your hand at motorcycle riding in Thailand, it’s important that you are well prepared. Pay attention to your riding, slow down in villages and cities, never drink and drive, and don’t overtake unless you have a full view of the road ahead. Your safety should be paramount. Thailand motorcycle rides are real fun, but you have to take care of the points mentioned above.