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Top 10 tips for riding a motorbike in Thailand

Tim Newton

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Top 10 tips for riding a motorbike in Thailand | The Thaiger

Motorbikes and scooters are the most popular mode of transport in Thailand, and most of south east asia. The 110cc step-thru is ubiquitous. Most just go and go and go – they’re astonishly reliable. Whilst you’re meant to change the oil once a month we suspect most don’t get their oil changed once a year, or ever.

Getting around on a motorbike is easy enough and, especially in busy traffic, will get you to your destination faster whilst the cars and trucks are plodding along in the traffic.

But riding a motorbike in Thailand can also be very dangerous but if you stick to the common sense basics – ride within the speed limits, wear a bike helmet, obey the traffic rules and don’t drink and drive – it remains a perfectly reliable way to get around. It will be cheaper and you’ll see more.

But here’s our Top Ten tips to make your journey on the motorbike safer and more comfortable.

PLEASE NOTE: We’re not recommending that you should ride a motorbike but, if you do, these tips will help…

1. Wear appropriate clothes

Whilst you’ll see idiot tourists riding around on their rented motorbikes in their swimming shorts, and that’s all, you’re going to be much safer with a few clothes on. Falling off a motorbike without anything covering your knees or elbows is going to be painful enough – having at least some fabric between you and the road is going to reduce the painful grazes a bit. Long pants and a long shirt are a good start. Always wear shoes for the same reason. And a motorbike helmet as well – it’s the law and it could save your life. The flimsy plastic ‘lid’ type helmets cost around 200 baht and will get you through the checkpoints but spending a bit more on a better helmet will provide additional protection in the unlikely situation your head comes in contact with the road. You’ll see the locals riding around with their jackets on the wrong way – they say it keep their clothes clean from the road muck and fumes.

Top 10 tips for riding a motorbike in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

2. Keep your bike in good condition

It goes without saying. But as hardy and reliable as the modern motorbikes are, they will run better and for longer if you keep up the service schedule and change the oil around once a month. You will wonder how they can produce these 110-125cc step-thrus for little more than USD$1,000 brand new, but they do and the ones floating around the roads of Thailand are almost all made in the land of smiles.

Apart from changing the engine oil keep an eye on the tyres as the road surfaces in much of Thailand, plus the heat and humidity, will wear down your tread quickly. Good tread and keeping your tyres at the prescribed pressure are your best bet for maintaining control at all times. Your brakes will also need checking although, like the rest of the part of these bikes, the brakes seem to last forever. Whenever you’re getting your oil changed get the service man to check the brakes, tyres and make sure nuts and bolts are all tight – they shake loose sometimes.  And then there’s the lights at the front and back which are your best way to inform other driver’s what you’re doing in the traffic. Indicators may not be used much by the locals but you should.

Top 10 tips for riding a motorbike in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

3. Make sure you have a proper license

Your car license in your home country isn’t legal in Thailand to ride a motorbike. Your International Drivers License for cars issued in your home country isn’t going to cut it either. Legally, the only document that will satisfy the Thai legal system, officially, is a Thai motorcycle license. It doesn’t matter much until a situation arises where you’re in an accident and the law comes crashing down on you. If you live in Thailand you simply must get a proper motorbike drivers license of you want to ride a motorbike here. For tourists, the local bike hire shops will gladly rent you a bike, usually by simply showing your passport and giving them a deposit. Some will even tell you that their ‘insurance’ will cover you in the event of an accident – that’s just not going to happen. YOU are responsible for your own health if you get onto a motorbike in Thailand. Check YOUR situation and YOUR health and travel insurance.

And whilst we’re talking about a Thai Motorbike License, we’re talking about the ones you get from the Land Transport Office, not Khao San road for 500 baht!

(Here’s some info about getting a motorbike license in Bangkok, the same applies at the Land Transport Offices in most Thai cities).

We think you’re insane getting on a motorbike in a foreign country without the correct documentation, which leads us to #4…

Top 10 tips for riding a motorbike in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

4. Check your travel and health insurance

Every week The Thaiger hears from tourists stuck in a Thai hospital with mounting hospital bills and an insurance company that won’t pay out because they didn’t have a proper drivers license. Or no insurance at all. And even if you have travel or health insurance, check the fine print because some insurance contracts preclude driving on motorbikes in Thailand.

In six years driving on Thai roads I’ve had one fall. It winded me badly and I got abrasions on my ankle and knee. But people ran to my assistance and helped me up. I didn’t need to go to hospital but I was grateful, lying in the middle of the road gasping for breath, that I knew I had good health insurance and a proper license.

(The fine print on your insurance, different country’s licences and the policeman that shows up at your accident will all play a part on how your accident will play out. The ONLY sure way you can prove your legal ability to drive on a Thai road is with a Thai motorbike license)

Top 10 tips for riding a motorbike in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

5. Driving is different in Thailand

Many of the rules are the same as countries that also drive on the right hand side of the road. But you need to add ‘Thainess’ into the traffic mix. It is different. Apart from the lunatics that drive too fast, drink-drive or ghost ride (driving against the flow of traffic on the side of the road), there’s just the different attitude to driving. We say it’s a bit like swimming with a school of fish – if you just go-with-the-flow and keep in the stream of traffic you’ll do well. The western attitude of driving defensively will go against the grain of Thai traffic movement where ‘personal driving space’ isn’t really honoured and people will cut in front of you as just a part of daily driving habits. It’s not wrong, it’s different and you’re best to learn the subtleties of Thai traffic flow before you immerse yourself in the middle.

Top 10 tips for riding a motorbike in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

6. Green lights mean GO. Red lights also mean GO, sometimes.

You’ll see what we mean. Don’t even think about trying it. It will either get you fined or dead.

Top 10 tips for riding a motorbike in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

7. Have a practice

If you’re either new to driving a motorbike or new to driving a motorbike in Thailand don’t thrust yourself into a busy stretch of road immediately. Try something a little calmer and slower to get a feel of the subtle differences in Thai traffic movement. You’re sharing the road with trucks, cars, buses and passenger vans. You’re meant to stay on the left hand side and you’d be well advised to do so, despite the behaviour of some Thai motorbike drivers that want to mix it with the ‘big boys’. Get some confidence with your motorbike and way it handles, and moving in and around traffic on a quiet road before you tackle the main roads.

Top 10 tips for riding a motorbike in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

8. There’s pot holes, then there’s POT HOLES

The roads around Thailand have really improved in the past decade but you’ll still find pot holes in places there wasn’t one the day before. If you want a really good reason for giving plenty of distance between you and the car in front, it’s to see the pot hole before you end up IN it. Whilst car tyres might glide over these holes in the road, your motorbike is likely to come to an abrupt halt, with you continuing over the front of the handlebars – something to do with Newton’s first law of motion.

Top 10 tips for riding a motorbike in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

9. If you’re not sure, don’t

Never ridden a motorbike? Didn’t ride a motorbike in your own country? There’s two good reasons not to try it for your first time in Thailand.

It can be a bit of a challenge for even experienced motorbike drivers, well different anyway. There’s plenty of other ways to get around and if you want THAT selfie for your Facebook page there’s thousands of bikes parked by the side of the road where you can get a photo. Just because your friends did it when they travelled to Thailand doesn’t mean you have to.

Top 10 tips for riding a motorbike in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

10. Police will often arbitrate on the spot at an accident

If you are in the wrong and damaged someone or someone else’s bike you’re probably going to have to pay up. Now, there’s the ‘official’ way to sort things out in these case and the ‘unofficial’.

The policemen will get to the scene soon enough and, often, decide there and then who was at fault. They’ll often negotiate how much should be paid as well. The urban myth is that Thai police always side with the the locals – that’s not the case although, if you are indeed in the wrong then you’re IN THE WRONG!

If you are concerned that you’re being rolled by the locals in sorting out a simple motorbike accident then call the Tourist Police or your consulate immediately. DON’T agree to pay any money to anyone until you’ve spoken to at least the Tourist Police. Getting into an argument with the local police will almost certainly guarantee you’ll come off second best. Demanding that you speak to the police chief, etc, will also usually end up in the situation not going well in your favour. Be patient and don’t lose your cool. You are in a foreign country, you’re a guest and they do things differently – end of sentence.

Top 10 tips for riding a motorbike in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: John Everingham

Bottomline about riding a motorbike in Thailand is that, if you 1) wear a motorbike helmet 2) never drink and drive 3) wear appropriate clothing 4) have a Thai motorbike license and 5) be aware of the traffic around you and concentrate at all times… you’ll probably have few problems and be able to enjoy Thailand the way the locals do, au natural, with the wind through your hair and the insects up your nose.


Looking to jettison some items before jetsetting away or chartering a yacht? Look no further than Thaiger Classifieds where you can find and post items, work, property and more for free.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,200 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 360 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and now produces digital media for The Thaiger - Website, Radio, TV, Instagram and Facebook.

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Chiang Rai

Mu Pa 13 have 22 film offers awaiting appro

The Thaiger

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Mu Pa 13 have 22 film offers awaiting appro | The Thaiger

Looks like we’re going to see many screen adaptions of the ‘Miracle at Tham Luang’ (and whatever other titles they come up with).

22 movie, documentary and book project and ideas, about the Tham Luang cave rescue and life of the 13 young men, have been proposed by both local and foreign studios to the Creative Media Committee. This was confirmed by the Culture Minister Veera Rojpojanarat today.

In addition, there are 27 TV show programs for the boys and their coach from Thai and foreign TV stations still being considered by the committee.

Thai PBS is reporting that producers are invited to apply for the rights to shoot movies, documentaries or animation films of the dramatic rescue mission, the life of the rescuers and the boys trapped in the cave complex for two weeks during the period between November 15-30.

Minister Veera says foreign producers will have to seek approval from the Ministry of Sports and Tourism whereas the Thai producers must contact the Culture Ministry for approval.

Of the 22 proposed projects, ten are movie projects with five each proposed by Thai and foreign producers and ten documentary projects with the remaining two being book projects.

The minister said the committee agreed that there was no need for the rights to be given to just one producer or studio and all of them would be treated equally.

Studios can start their production based on the information which is already available publicly, but for in-depth information about the private life of the boys, consent from the boys and their parents is needed and also with the approval of the committee which will consider the benefits to be offered to the boys, said Mr Veera.

He stressed that any commercial deals involving the team must be approved by the committee and must have the consent of the boys and their parents.

Mu Pa 13 have 22 film offers awaiting appro | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Nation Multimedia

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Thai Life

‘Overwhelming support’ for decriminalising marijuana for R&D

The Thaiger

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‘Overwhelming support’ for decriminalising marijuana for R&D | The Thaiger

“An overwhelming number of people are voicing support for decriminalising the use of marijuana for research and development, and for medical purpose.”

This from Somchai Sawaengkarn, a member of the National Legislative Assembly, citing results of an opinion survey conducted between October 1-15.

Of the 16,431 people who voiced their opinions on the issue, 16,264 voted in support of the bid to amend the narcotics law to make it legally possible for marijuana to be used for medical research in the hope that medicines can be developed from the addictive drug for the treatment of certain diseases.

Somchai said over 290,000 had logged into the NLA’s webpage to take a look at the bill to amend the current narcotics law.

The NLA will conduct another public hearing during October to gauge public opinion about the topic and the results of the survey.

Earlier, Justice Minister Prajin Jantong cautioned that decriminalisation should not be rushed, noting that there are many strains of marijuana and each has different medicinal qualities.

He said that the patients must give their consent if they were to be given medicines extracted from marijuana and that measures must be put in place to prevent abuse of the drug if it was to be decriminalised.

The minister said several countries had conducted research on marijuana for medical purpose, but they could not produce medicines from the plants because of patent problems. In the case of Thailand, he said it was necessary for the country to conduct its own research and to develop medicines by itself.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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SE Asia

Blissful Break packages @ Mövenpick Hotel & Convention Centre KLIA

The Thaiger

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Blissful Break packages @ Mövenpick Hotel & Convention Centre KLIA | The Thaiger

Just an hour or so away, with hundreds of flights a day into KL, here’s something a bit different for a weekend ‘out of town’ or a business break, in style.

Mövenpick Hotel & Convention Centre KLIA is a new architectural icon which opened this year near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. They’ve now unveiled a new package that allows local residents in KL and the Klang Valley to leave the stress of the city behind and unwind in comfort and style.

Malaysian nationals and regional visitors are invited to enjoy a blissful break at this exquisite resort-style hotel for just 288+ Ringit per night (2,258 baht). This rate is applicable for Superior King or Superior Twin rooms and includes breakfast for up to four guests, making it ideal for family or small group getaways.

The Blissful Break package also includes complimentary parking for up to two cars, free Wi-Fi throughout the entire stay, unlimited use of the hotel’s swimming pools and fitness facilities, plus a 20 percent discount at the hotel’s restaurants.

On the day of departure, guests can make their stay last even longer with the option of a late 3pm check-out. They can also use the package to celebrate a special family occasion, such as a birthday or wedding anniversary; a special gift will be provided if the guest inform the hotel at least 24 hours prior to arrival.

“Mövenpick Hotel & Convention Centre KLIA is perfectly suited to the meet the needs of today’s ‘bleisure’ (combined business and leisure) travellers. We are seeing more people who enjoy short getaways outside the city, or those who like to have their families with them while travelling for business. With our resort-style ambience, extensive amenities and highly accessible location, Mövenpick Hotel & Convention Centre KLIA is the ideal place to spend a few days relaxing with your nearest and dearest,” commented Hairul Maharis, the hotel’s General Manager.

Nestled among 6.9 hectares of landscaped gardens, reflective pools and streams, and with upscale facilities including a spa, fitness centres, swimming pools, a tennis court and a children’s playground, Mövenpick Hotel & Convention Centre KLIA is a blissful oasis for all ages.

Blissful Break packages @ Mövenpick Hotel & Convention Centre KLIA | News by The Thaiger

The hotel is already a leading culinary destination with authentic local cuisine and global gourmet delights served at Temasya, the 24 hour all-day dining restaurant, while Bara and Redup serve a selection of Middle Eastern delicacies, including freshly-fired kebabs. Beranda is ideal for guests seeking light bites and Malay specialties like satay, laksa and rojak, while Sira is a “grab n’ go” lounge which serves Mövenpick ice cream, sandwiches, pastries and regional sweet treats, plus traditional teas and coffees.

Guests who want to indulge in a spot of retail therapy can head to the nearby Mitsui Outlet Park, which features a wealth of Asian and international brands at factory outlet prices. Guests can discover designer fashions, popular high street brands, top sporting goods, shoes, accessories, luggage and a wide range of other products in a village-style atmosphere.

This exquisite ambience, combined with a perfect location within easy reach of Kuala Lumpur and the bustling satellite cities of Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam and Subang Jaya, makes this spectacular new hotel the perfect destination for a unique break.

The Blissful Break offer at Mövenpick Hotel & Convention Centre KLIA is valid for bookings and stays taken between 22 October and 31 December 2018. For more information and reservations, click HERE.

Blissful Break packages @ Mövenpick Hotel & Convention Centre KLIA | News by The Thaiger

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