Chances are that if you’re coming to Thailand, you will be renting a motorbike at some point. Even those who are completely against the idea end up on one after arriving and for good reason. Motorbikes can be rented in nearly all the major tourist spots, are cheap and one of the best and most exciting ways to get around. However, like anything else, there are some serious considerations to think about.
Driving Here is Not the Same as In the West
The vehicle brands may be the same and there may be traffic lights, but everything else is different. You can expect to see children bouncing around in the cars, 15 people in the back of a truck and a family of 5 on a motorbike. Traffic laws are written, but very rarely actually enforced. One of the big problems I have seen tourists encounter is that they often try to drive as if they were back home. If you do this, you may be setting yourself up for disaster; it just won’t work, no matter how much you think it will.
I’m not saying to drive like a local either, but rather to find some kind of balance between the two. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen tourists come close to an accident because they are trying to implement the driving rules of the west; all in all a bad idea.
Philosophy That Could Save Your Life
Because I tend to stick close to where I train, I very rarely drive. I usually grab a taxi, walk or jog to where it is that I have to be. This fits well with my overall agenda, and with my disdain for sharing the road with people who have no clue that I’m on it! Much like Afghanistan, where I spent 4 years running security convoys for a major U.S. Corporation – local drivers in Thailand really have no concept of mirrors, or looking both ways before making a turn or changing lanes.
To Avoid or Not to Avoid
Driving is fun; I’m not going to tell you to avoid renting a bike in Thailand, but I will tell you to be careful. If you have never driven one before, take your bike to a road with very little traffic and practice. Of course, go slow, especially in the beginning, and wear a helmet.
If you’re ready to cruise the roads of Thailand, watch out for part 2 of this post, which breaks down the initial renting process and gives you some advice on how to overcome a common situation which happens during driving.
Speak Your Mind!
Please share your own advice for driving in Thailand