For most travelers one of the first things they do, if they arrive in Thailand for any occasion, is rent a motorcycle. Cheap, and easily accessible, they are an effective way to get around and start to see the sights of the country. Many shops offer motorbikes for hire, for little more than a couple of dollars a day. However, there are several extremely important things you should think about before you choose to rent a motorbike in Thailand.
1. Maybe you have driven in Thailand before? For many individuals this really is the first time in driving in an Asian country, such as Thailand. They’re unused to the trail rules, and a lot of people drive as they’d at home. They’re unaware that dangers lurk around every corner. In Thailand it is not uncommon to have traffic weaving in and out, or not to stop at traffic lights or junctions. It is normal to have traffic approach you on the incorrect side of the trail, sometimes with no lights on. Undertaking (overtaking on the best hand side) while illegal in the UK, is common in Thailand. And, unfortunately, drink driving is a common occurrence in the country and accounts for a sizable proportion the high death toll on the road.
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2. How experienced are you on a motorbike? Many people are novice motorcyclists, and some have not ridden before at all. This makes you doubly vulnerable, not just because you do not know how to handle a cycle, but also because you’re not familiar with driving in Thai traffic either. It pays to do a short motorcycle proficiency course when you leave home, just so you know the basics. It would not assist you to if you hit a patch of sand on the highway (a common reason behind a lot of motorbike accidents in Thailand), as is driving too quickly, but it’ll enable you to be more confident and to ride to the conditions of the road.
3. Is the motorbike roadworthy? Many of the motorbike rentals aren’t in a roadworthy condition when they are hired out. Unfortunately there is little regard for maintenance, and if something goes wrong you could take serious trouble. Always perform a full check of the car you’re about to hire, before agreeing to rent it. Look carefully at the treat on the tires and check if the bike has enough oil in it. If the bike does incur any damage as you have it, you will soon be liable, and you will probably have to pay for an inflated rate for almost any repairs.
4. How good is the helmet? Unfortunately the helmet law is not enforced in Thailand, and so most people don’t wear protective helmets when they are driving their bikes. Rental companies will often hand you a low priced, thin, plastic helmet that will do nothing in case of an accident. Remember, your face is extremely fragile, and you can incur serious brain injuries in an accident, even at slow speeds. If you should be renting a cycle, spend money on buying your own personal helmet. Ensure it is DOT compliant, and done up tightly enough that in case of an accident it will not slip off. Lots of people die in bike accidents that might be prevented with the best protective headgear.
5. Have you been insured? Lots of people take out holiday insurance, but few realize that lots of companies don’t insure you if you’re in a motorbike accident. Read the small print and make sure that you’re covered if you intend to rent a motorcycle as hospital bills could be expensive!
Don’t ruin your holiday having an unnecessary motorbike accident. A lot of people end up in hospital consequently of hiring bikes in Thailand, and many wish they had just hired a taxi instead. If you should be not used to driving a cycle, don’t attempt to discover ways to drive in Thailand, learn at home.