Motor Cycling through Thailand, advice please

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by tonykiwi, Jun 1, 2008.

  1. am planning my next trip to Thailand and am wondering whether a motor cycle would be a cool idea for transport. My plan would be to start and finish at Bkk but I like the idea of travelling North East through Issan, into Laos, down through Laos into Cambodia and back to Bkk. I plan maybe one month for this.

    My questions concern the motor cycling aspect of it and would appreciate any guidance or advice. I guess a motor cycle reasonable able to take long distances wold be good but not a large bike. I ride here in NZ and the style I like are the off road styles which I anticipate would be better in rural areas. Maybe 250-400cc maximum.

    Ok, what I need to know at present can be categorised as follows.

    Is a bike hire in Bkk possible and if so any advice on where to go.

    If not possible, I wondered about an outright purchase with a commitment from the dealer to rebuy at the end of the month (reflecting a return on the fact that I have used the bike to the seller.) Is it likely that anyone would go for this option? If so is it likely that their commitment could be trusted?

    What do I need to legally ride a bike in Thailand in respect of licenses or tests

    Any advice on crossing the borders on a bike?

    Am I being stupid and unrealistic to consider this in the first place as a means of transport?

    Thanks in anticipation

  2. Tony,

    I think your idea ia a bit of a non-starter. Bike availability in BKK is not the same as NZ - you would need time to find a decent bike and then get the paperwork changed into your name. Budget at least a week for this.

    Your best bet would be to trawl through this forum (using the search function if necessary) and then rent bikes locally. There are heaps of knowledgable people here and loads of info on all 3 countries you plan to visit. Bike rents in N. Thai, Laos and Cambodia are relatively straight forward - budget about 700B/day.

    For legalities, an international driving licence, passport and cash will get you through everything :wink:

    Look us up if/when you come to CNX.

    Cheers & have a good trip!

  3. Many thanks for your replies on this subject. As you can see i am very naive in this area so I do appreciate your help.

    I guess the initial reticence to hire came about by my wanting to do the route in a circle. For instance, if I started in Northern laos and ended up in the South, I imagined I would have to find a way to get the bike back to the North. Hiring does seem the way to go for me so maybe then change in itinerary would be more in order using maybe three of four centres for a period of time.

    The comment about physical fitness is also very relevant and appreciated. Whilst I am a fairly fit 52 year old, I am certainly not used to riding bikes over this sort of country day after day so I should give that some thought. the idea that is starting to gell is to consider bikes for only parts of the trip and do the hireage thing. My ideal holiday is doing what I want, when I want so the idea of the motor cycle for independance really does appeal.

    I will certainly be on a tourist visa, NZ resident for 20 years but travelling on UK passport as I was always too lazy to get a NZ one.

    Thanks heaps for your ideas here. I will certainly keep you informed

  4. Hi there Tony
    I hope not to burst your bubble.
    Sounds like a great idea, and i know all about wanting to get away from nz weather at this time of year. After several trips riding around Northern Thailand I have been planning a similar trip myself, Someone will hopefully correct me if im wrong, its not quite so easy to travel across the boarders you mentioned on a hire bike, for one most of the bikes do not even have Number Plates and will not be allowed into the country you mentioned.
    I would recommend as a first timer spend a couple of weeks on a hire bike in Northern thailand the traffic not as bad as down Bangkok way and the roads are fantastic, return the hire bike and travel on by other means.
    If you enjoy the experience look at returning with your own New Zealand registered bike and carnet de passage (gets you out of NZ next winter as well) and then you will be able to cross boarders, As a Thai resident you can purchase a bike with all the correct paperwork (these are normally limited to 250cc) there must be other ways and means to get a bigger bike and all the paperwork(thai girlfreinds name etc) but from the posts ive read its not fast, easy or cheap.
    hope this is some help
  5. ^^^ What he said ^^^

    In a month, you would only just have scratched the surface of Northern Thailand... trying to cover more ground, just so that you get more stamps in your passport isn't ideal...

    Northern Thailand is the place to ride, or ride to the border, pay a guesthouse to leave your bike there, cross into Laos, and do a loop, and then pick up your bike and ride back to Chiang Mai...

    Here is a thread about the only place I have found to hire bikes in BKK... if you have a reason to leave from there... but I would suggest you base yourself in Chiang Mai this trip, and if you enjoy it enough to do something even more adventurous next time, go for it... ... t3780.html

    Ok, what I need to know at present can be categorised as follows.

    Is a bike hire in Bkk possible and if so any advice on where to go.

    Possible yes, but not as easy as Chiang Mai...

    If not possible, I wondered about an outright purchase with a commitment from the dealer to rebuy at the end of the month (reflecting a return on the fact that I have used the bike to the seller.) Is it likely that anyone would go for this option? If so is it likely that their commitment could be trusted?

    Way more trouble than it is worth for a 1 month stay...

    What do I need to legally ride a bike in Thailand in respect of licenses or tests

    You need the money to pay for the rent... Legally you need an International Driving Permit (IDP) (from your local motoring organisation) but will probably never have to show it... it might save you a small (or large) fine, and you would need to check if your travel insurance requires you to have one)... you will probably have to leave your passport as the deposit on the bike, which might create a bit of a hassle if you want to cross the border (without the bike)... no tests...

    Any advice on crossing the borders on a bike?

    See above... very hard unless you own the bike, or the shop owner is willing to complete the paperwork to let you take it out... easier to just hop across the border and get another bike...

    Am I being stupid and unrealistic to consider this in the first place as a means of transport?

    Nah mate, bikes are great... The best way to get around, because all of the scammers, thieves and @rseholes you meet as a tourist are around the bus stations and train stations...

  6. Hi .... if you cross the south from Malaysia to Had Yai , than Thung Son and Suratthani ( 600 km south of Bangkok ) , give me a call or PM. I can help you in this area , if you need . Suratt is a gateway to the deep south and Malaysia..... 500 km to the Thai - Mal. border. Mobil 089 65 25 722.

    Take care and have a look to all hinks and tips from the senior members.
  7. Legally you need an International Driving Permit (IDP)
    You get these from AA in NZ all you need is around 20 bucks, a passport photo show your drivers lience takes about 5 minitues
    Never had to show mine in thailand.

    The normal thing to do when hiring a bike in Thailand is to leave your passport as a deposit, seems a strange thing to depart with a first but have hired several times and had returned fine every time.

    Think again about riding in Bangkok, People do but as a newbee its a big mega city, bikes not allowed on the motorways and the roads in the area not exactly a good ride, Stay a few days use the cabs and tuk tuks, catch a plane to Chaing Mai and start your ride from there, you wont miss much
  8. To avoid to deposit the actually passport, which is not recommended in case of trouble. The basic rules for tourist to show the PP at present, if the official want to see it. Recommend... I do give them my old , unvalid, ID card , or my former , unvalid passport, or university ID.. Most of time , it works. Deal with them hard, if they dont want it. Or change the dealer. Also if your deposit at your actually Hotel adress in the same town, with request. Deposit your passport at the GH , or Hotel its more safety than deposit at the rent shop. You know Thailand is the land of the best copies. Not only DVD etc.etc. You dont know what they are doing in the meantime with your passport. AVOID to deposit your PP. Its a big problem for you, if they lost it. What you can do in this way ??? Smile.

    Drive carefully.
  9. Eddy,

    As a rent shop owner, I can say that we insist on the original passport, as do most other shops in CNX. Think about it - we are letting a complete stranger take a bike with a value of 60 - 80,000 baht, we need some kind of security to at least raise the likelyhood that they will return with the bike and the ONLY document that fits the bill is a current valid passport with the customer's Thai visa and IM card stapled into it. You can try and "deal with me hard" but the bottom line is no passport = no rental.

    Incidentally, in 4 years we have never failed to return a customer's passport.


  10. Thanks for your comment. Full agree from your point of view. My comment was maybe not correct for the serious dealer , like you. I had some bad expierence with rent-shop in HH, Phuket and Samui , longer times ago. They did asked for some money of repair cost,nothing damaged, for overtimes etc.etc. One shop was closed at the time in need to go back to the airport ,flight back to Germany,and could not get my unvalid ID card. .Part time staff could not find it. Boss was not available etc.etc. That was in Phuket , some years ago. Thats my point of view to write the comment. I agree with higher deposit amount or something other for safety of the bikes for the rental shop. But original passport to Thai rental shop... hm ???????? :roll:
    Wish you good business with correct and honest people.

    Regards Ed. , Suratthani
  11. HI again

    still working on this. In relation to the passport thing and handing it to the dealer, I have no major problem with that if i am happy with the dealer. However, if we do this how do we then comply with the rule I understood as having your passport with you at all times to produce to Police if required. Is a photocopy sufficient?

    I am hoping to get underway in February, doing more riding here in NZ now and am starting to accept the idea of staying in Thailand and making the most of the North.


  12. A photocopy of the passport and any other documents relating to the bike, will be accepted 99% of the time and is what most bike riders living here carry, I have never been asked for mine, but maybe because I have a Thai Drivers license and that seems to work as ID nearly everywhere, including booking into hotels.
    However if you do hand over your passport to hire a bike, then you cannot cross any borders, as immigration will definately not accept photocopies.
  13. Keep the shinney said up, research the forum. Unless you have ridden Thailand before there is plenty to keep you busy in country without all the hazzles.

    Does sound like a cool trip though
  14. HI Guys, me again,

    I have probably decided to stick with Northern Thailand as I anticipate the border crossings with a bike would pose problems. I may travel across to laos for a few days by bus and see what happens there but primarily I will stick to Northern Thailand.

    Ok, a couple of areas I would like advice on. In previous trips i have done the train, bus and taxi thing, arranging accomodation through an internet booking firm at hotels, maybe a couple of days in advance. On this trip I would like to be more flexible and just see where I end up each day. Whilst I may plan the route, I don't want to time it down to each day as I may like somewhere and want to stay on.

    From your own experiences, is it going to be a safe bet that I can get accomodation fairly easily on a given day. I am not over fussy as to where I stay however do like a minimum of air con and own shower and room. Also, as I will be hiring my bike do most of these places allow parking there, and if so, is it secure and safe. Do I need extra safety precautions for the bike?

    Thanks, your advice and comments are appreciated

  15. Apart from Thai holiday weekends and events like bike weeks,there is almost always accomodation of the type you describe available and many riders do not book ahead. All accomodation will allow parking, as Thailand is a lot less restrictive in that sense, but some accomodation will mean parking on the road outside, others have covered secure parking.
    Theft of larger capacity motorcycles is very rare in the areas you are thinking of travelling in and Thailand is generally safe, but of course if your bike does have some sort of visible lock, it will be even more secure.

    You will find a number of accomodation recommendations on this site, both in trip reports and in the sections specifically headed, recommended GT rider spots. There is also lots of good advice in the New Users section.
    Do post when you decide when and where you are going and I am sure you will get one or two riders happy to meet up along the way, or even join part of the ride, if that suits you
  16. If it's the north you going to eb in, get map from David got everything you will need on it.

    If get down Issan way give John or I a yell lots of guy down here who will give yuo hand if you need it. Stick with the GTrider postings and yuo will meet friends on the trip.
  17. Hi Guys

    as I'm back we are heading to road soon also,,,like Ray said stick in GT riders and there is always helping hand...

    Im hailing from Ubon
    also i think john and Ray and David has extensive phone number catalog for most of the guys....
  18. Welcome home, I have a few numbers but mostly e-mail addresses.
  19. Tony,

    I'm a bit tardy but all the guys are correct. I live in BKK and I will say with some certanty that after 1 hour in BKK traffic you would be fed up and not much further out of BKK. :lol:

    Go to Chiang Mai rent a bike, go to the Kafe where I have never been :oops: and pick the guys' brains. For instance how to tell Gow Nung from Gow Nung E20. What the sign looks like for PTT where you DONT go for petrol as they peddle all the rubbish stuff. Etc, etc.. How much to give policemen? How to avoid gving to Policemen. I don't know but someone might. :roll: Well actually I have started riding with the "Highway Code" Thai traffic regs book visible under the map cover of my tank bag. When they start talking I shrug and start to take the book out.
  20. "Well actually I have started riding with the "Highway Code" Thai traffic regs book visible under the map cover of my tank bag. When they start talking I shrug and start to take the book out."

    That's BRILLIANT! Where did you get this wonderful document?
  21. Good idea Mike.

    Tony, if/when you come to Chiang Mai you can pick them up from the driver licencing centre on the Hang Dong Rd for 50B. I got one about 2 months ago for Rhodie.


  22. Thanks Gents

    After all the reading and replies from the forum I have decided that I'll follow your advices and stick to Thailand. I have to go to Bkk for dental work for a couple of days then anticipate making my way to Chiang Mai. From there I'll hire a bike and I'll be in touch with you Pikey, closer to the time. I like the look of the whole North and Issan region. Maybe take a bus across to Laos for a few days and see a bit of the country but primarily stick to Northern Thailand.

    This site is a mine of informaiton for sure and I look forward to meeting some of you in the time ahead.


  23. I am just a bit confused on the motor cycle insurance situation for hired bikes.

    I can arrange good travel insurance for medical costs and such like but I imagine that I would need to arrange comprehensive cover for the hire bike.

    On one area of this site it says that the passport is taken because there will be no insurance on the bike. Is this a fact? I have checked through the forum and can not find whether hire bikes can be insured.

    I guess I am using New Zealand logic and legalities and would be really worried in case someone stole it whilst I was responsible for its safe return.

    Is insurance available for the hire bike?
  24. I couldnt agree more with Bush Pilot. The freedom of choices with an ESRI GPS map is endless. The smallest ways are there and even if not , does it really matter? Intuitive exploring as is cannot be done with a paper map. ( Although I carry David maps for a rough idea) The smallest "gas station" or rather oil barrel in Isaan will come up if you zoom down to 150 m or so. And it takes you to some place to sleep. It may happen that the hotel is no longer there. ESRI is primarily a map provider, not a hotel guide. But so what - you click on the next hotel and off you go.
    Much more fun than having every km planned. You see more by turning off unexpectedly.
    And it makes riding in the mountains much saver. Again when you zoom down to say 250 m you see how the road , the next curve evolving, no surprises if the road takes an say 150 degree turn. The cursor will tell you with an accuracy of 10 m where your bike is at any moment in time plus you see what is ahead of you. When zoomed down to 250 m the whole screen will cover, on my Garmin 276c the next 1-2 km.

    In Chiang Mai I found it less helpful. Too slow to react simply because buildings interrupt satellite reception. I was going around and around and around trying to give the GPS time to find Jonadda. It was too late the turn the corner, the one way roads kept me going for ever. Very funny again.

    On my trip up North I was lead by my GPS on many tiny sand ways making me believe that no other farang biker ever was there before.
    At least I wanted to believe this :)
    Solitude which only off road bikers experience.

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