Renting a bike in Thailand
Renting a bike in Thailand makes your staying in Thailand much easier, but, along with that, may make it significantly more difficult. Fortunately, the second thing happens much less often than the first thing. You can find bike rental offices everywhere and although you can go to any of them, but if you know someone who can recommend you a place to rent a bike, it is better to follow their advice. First, it can be cheaper, second – all renters are different. It is better to find a place where they do not ask you to leave your passport as a deposit, and take just a photocopy.
Price to rent a motorcycle in Thailand
The price depends on how well you can bargain. On average, a regular scooter is about $5 a day or $90 per month (Honda Scoopy, Honda Click, etc.) If you rent it for more than a month, the price will be lower, you just need to say right away that you will rent it for a long time, but you will pay monthly.
Renting Honda PCX in Thailand is $150-200 a month, depending on the vehicle configuration. The rent of a good motorcycle starts at $20 a day.
If you come to stay in Thailand for more than half a year, it is easier to buy a second hand bike and then sell it. To do it, you need to get permit in the immigration office and look for for-sale signs at forums, or in local working shops or stores.
Bike Theft in Thailand
Theft does not happen as often here as, for example, in Vietnam, but it is possible. I forgot the key in the bike a couple of times in Samui and understood it only when I returned an hour or two later to the bike with the keys still in the keyhole. However, it is better not to make such experiments, of course 🙂 In Pattaya, I always try to be very attentive.
Driving Licence in Thailand
To drive in Thailand, you need international driving licence of the required category. If you don’t have it, you can still drive in most places, but in the case of an accident, the law won’t be on your side.
It is rather easy and inexpensive to get a driving licence in Thailand.
Thai driving licence is valid in Thailand and some neighbouring countries (Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Philippines) for one year, after which you can repeatedly get a driving licence, for five years already, and you can exchange it for an international driving licence (you cannot exchange your one year licence for the international one). The five year driving licence will require more than just a stamp in the passport for temporary staying or a tourist visa will not be sufficient for that, like initially. You will have to have some non-tourist visa (student, work visa, etc.)
The fine for driving without a driving licence is about 400 baht. You should also remember that in the event of an accident, the insurance for the car is not valid if the driver has no driving licence. As for insurance for a bike, one can say it does not exist at all. In the case of an accident, the bike driver (especially if he is a farang) covers both his/her loss and the loss of other accident participants in most cases. If you scrape a little bit some car that belongs to Thai people, be ready that they will ask for reimbursement.
If you do not touch anyone, but your bike is badly damaged, it’s better not to hurry and not tell the bike owner about it. Just repair it first in a Thai repair shop inexpensively. Even big damage is repaired here at a rather low cost. Some owners may ask for a compensation that exceeds the cost of the bike.
Traffic Rules and Specifics of Driving in Thailand
I will tell you about the traffic rules and specifics of Thai traffic simultaneously. Because they are intermingled and inextricably entwined: official rules and what exists in reality.
Traffic rules in Thailand are observed much less often than, for example, in Europe. Driving without a driving licence or a helmet (though they get fines most often for that), drunk-driving (if you have unlimited wealth to pay later to those injured), wrong way driving, crossing the double solid line, etc. are sort of a norm for the Thai. Here are some other peculiarities of driving in Thailand:
- The main peculiarity of riding a bike in Thailand: an absolute majority of drivers fall down at least once after they start driving there. Be attentive, it is better to fall at a low speed than to fall down so that you can’t think about any speed at all.
- During the movement, the main thing is not to carry out any abrupt manoeuvres, you can stop in the middle of the road and think, where you want to turn, no one will beep a word to you, the main thing is to stop smoothly. You should do everything smoothly on the whole, as there is a swarm of cars and scooters around you.
- If you are driving beyond the lane for bikes (the left side of the road is separated with a special line, and bikes can ride only there), it is not guaranteed that you do not see in front of you an overtaking car that crosses into the oncoming lane. It happens very unexpectedly, and you should look ahead very attentively.
- The quicker you are driving, the less chances you have to stop when you see that some farangs, while crossing the street in front of you, look out of habit not to the right but to the left.
- An on-coming car blinks at you, you should let it pass. Whoever blinks first, goes first. Of course, if there are no priority signs.
- If the car ahead has a blinking right turn light, it does not mean it will turn to the right. They can change their mind and turn to another side.
- Blinking of two turning lights in turn (or of emergency lights) means something like “sorry” or “you should slow down here”.
- At an intersection, you can turn left against the red lights if there are no restrictive signs, while letting the cars on the right pass.
- The one who is driving around a traffic circle has the right of way. Like in most countries.
- The main roads always have priority over the minor roads.
- The white line across the road means you have to stop and let pass the transport moving along the road you are going to cross.
- If you are riding in the left extreme lane, it is not guaranteed that no one will overtake you by the roadside on the left. → In general, Thais are very spry and can appear out of thin air from any side. Just be very attentive when driving.
Causes of Road Accidents in Thailand
- Drunk foreign drivers (that is us) is the main reason of most terrible car accidents in Thailand.
- Sand and water on the roads — if you break hard on such a surface, the breaks can be blocked and, most likely, you will fall down. Don’t break hard when you are on sand; it is better to break using the rear break. Or just slow down without using the break and pass such places slowly.
- They can cut you off at any moment. It is especially annoying when, while you are riding a bike, a car passes past you and abruptly stops in front of you. It is probably the most frequent cause of road accidents for my friends.
- Doors. When you are overtaking a parked car, it does not necessarily mean that its door does not abruptly open wide. Just the Thai decided to go out, and he did. It’s a common cause for accidents in Thailand. So, it is better to keep some distance to parked cars.
- Steep descents on the islands: you should be careful, you should make sure the breaks do not overheat and fail to operate.
- Oncoming lanes. Here, you are riding a bike and see that someone from the oncoming lane is overtaking and driving head-on into you. Sometimes it happens so unexpectedly that you can barely escape such rowdiness. Now I am always ready subconsciously for such manoeuvres.
- Dogs that run out to the road. But that refers, first of all, to small islands (Samui, Pangan, Koh Chiang, etc.)
Car accidents in Thailand are sometimes terrible. Especially in Pattaya on the Sukhumvit road, where the traffic is rather quick, and farangs like to ride sport bikes. At the moment when you are driving a sport bike in full splendor and with all speed along a town street, chances are small someone will look at you. They will look if you turn into a flat cake under the wheels of a trailer truck. Frankly speaking, I don’t want to describe the awful car accidents I head of when I was in Pattaya… Just be careful.
Fines for violating traffic rules in Thailand
The average fines in Thailand are 300 to 500 baht. The fines can be imposed for the following violations (the amounts are approximately similar):
Wrong way driving.
Driving without a helmet.
Driving without a driving licence.
Red light running.
Turning where it is forbidden.
Hindrance to traffic by illegal parking.
Absence of insurance.