- Prepare the right documents
Unless you are taking your own bike to Thailand, which can be a fun trip, it is likely that you will be renting one on the spot. To organize yourself and prepare for a smooth process, you will need to have:
- Your passport. It it will maybe happen that you will be asked to leave it at the place where you are renting your bike from.
- An international driving license. This will be useful to the renting shop but also to the police in case you get pulled over. As national licenses are not recognized in other countries than your own, you will need to get it changed to an international one. It can be done easily at your local police prefecture
- Choose the right bike
Ask yourself what use of the bike you will have during your motorcycle touring.
- How many kilometers a day?
- On which type of roads?
- For how much time?
- How many kilometers in total?
These different questions will help you determine which model and type of engine you will need. In Thailand, you will find a range of two-wheels vehicles going from a 108cc Honda Scoopy all the way to a BMW F800GS.
Take also into account if whether you will be alone or accompanied on the motorcycle. If you have a pillion she/he has to be comfortable behind you – as she/he will spend as much time on the bike as you will! Look out for comfortable seats, preferably two separate ones rather than a single-construction one.
Be careful! Before handing out any money to the renting shop, ask about your insurance. Who is covered? The bike? Yourself? If there’s none and something happens, you will have to pay for damages and repairs. Also, check the entire engine before driving off (brakes, lights, tyre threads…). You can easily take pictures with your phone, which can act as proof in case of disagreement with the shop.
3 Get a helmet
Despite what you may be able to observe in the streets, wearing a helmet is compulsory. It is the case for the pilot, and the passenger too! You are likely to get pulled over and pay a fine if you are not respecting the law. A responsible motorcycle biker would never drive without any helmet! Think about safety first.
4 Inform yourself on the local way of riding
Whichever country you are from, it is likely that the way of driving in Thailand is different. If it’s one of your first motorcycle tours in Thailand, big chances are that you will need time to adapt to the local way. Be reassured, Thailand has road rules and are most of the time well respected! But you may find yourself in unknown situations in big cities such as Bangkok or Chiang Mai.
- Be consistent and predictable
- Drive in a defensive kind of way and be constantly vigilant
- Drive to the road
- Be polite, do not encounter in “road rage”. Remember that you are an ambassador of your country.
- Larger vehicles are dominant on smaller ones – it is the other way around than in occidental countries.
If you are new to motorcycle tours in Thailand and uncertain about how to manage it, you will find scooter lanes on most major roads of the country on which you can go. This space had a minimal interference from other traffic. But if you use it don’t take it as an excuse to go faster! The perfect speed to go to on this lane is of 35-40 kilometers an hour.
Before heading off to the beautiful roads of Thailand, make sure you have checked it is the right season to do so! North Thailand’s best season to ride is from November to January. In February and March, expect some smoke in many areas as it is the time during which farmers undertake their burn-style of agriculture there. Highest peaks of hotness come in April, and monsoon is during June to October. Needless to say that motorcycling rides during this time are not the best option!