Would You Ride a Motorbike In Thailand?

A thought that often crosses my mind is whether I should buy a motorbike in Thailand. For about 15,000-20,000 baht, I can get myself a pretty good automatic scooter and feel like I’m above and better than other Thailand expats in every single way who don’t have their own means of transportation. I took a look at insurance costs which are minimal and license aren’t hard to get either.

But here’s the thing, I am a few minutes walking distance from the BTS (semi-brag), my gym is  20 minutes (40 baht bike taxi away and Big C just a 30 baht motorcycle taxi away, although I order most my food online from Tesco.

Getting taxis and motorcycles each day does add up but lots of motorcycle taxi drivers in Bangkok are pretty reckless, jumping in and out of traffic, and pretty much giving 0 fucks.Seems they just want to get from A to B ASAP with 0 regards to traffic etiquette.

I even see some drivers drinking Samson while on the job near my condo which is always reassuring.

Why I’ve never bought a motorbike in Bangkok

The main reason I have never bought a motorbike in Bangkok is because I’m a pussy. I know how to drive on the roads because I rented on in Indonesia which has much busier traffic than Bangkok. But it’s not me I’m worried about, it’s everyone else.

So many people drive recklessly on the street and don’t care too much for others. What’s more, if I decide to drive at night there’s a higher likelihood that drivers are drunk which make things worse.

motorbike in Thailand

I actually knew someone who died a few years ago in Phuket as a direct result of driving a motorbike, and I have another friend who crashed because of pot holes in the road had some semi-serious injures.

It seems not a week goes by where you don’t hear about some dying because of a crash on the road. If I do get hit, although I’m covered in mass amounts of lean muscle I don’t fancy my chances, nor do I expect the other person in the accident to help.

Another reason why I’m hesitant is because my insurance does not cover motorcycle use, if I get hit I’m footing the bill. And I’m not selling enough ebooks to pay for such luxuries just yet.

Just the other day I saw a minivan crash into a motorbike on Sukhimvit road, the car stopped and waited for the cyclist to stand up, when he did, the car just drove off. Another example of 0 fucks given.

Asides from the convenience of having your own set of wheels, are there any other advantages to riding a bike in Thailand? I used to ride a bicycle in Bangkok which was great fun and I was thinking about buying another. However, they cost 10,000 + for a good one and for a few thousand baht more I can buy something with a motor.

A few of my friends ride bikes and they love them, they say they hate getting taxis or the BTS. I don’t mind the BTS because as someone with a slight feet fetish, it’s a great place to see toes and ankles. Do any of you own motorbikes in Thailand? Should I get one or not?

22 thoughts on “Would You Ride a Motorbike In Thailand?

  1. MatKong
    8 July, 2015 at 10:53 am

    In a city like Bkk you have a good public transportation system with BTS/MRT and cheap taxis everywhere. If you consider the chaotic traffic and the risk of accident as you mention, i don’t think it’s a good idea to get one. If you were living in a smaller city like Chiang Mai, Phuket or like me in Vietnam where public transportation is not an option, then i would say yes go ahead it’s useful. But for Bkk you just don’t need it nor it does worth it, more a hassle than anything else IMHO.

    1. 8 July, 2015 at 11:10 am

      Nice points Mat, this is the reason I’ve not got one, but it’s been really hot lately and I thought that having a bike could be a cool idea.

  2. Pussy Illuminati
    8 July, 2015 at 11:11 am

    I had a motorbike in China for three years. Also crazy traffic over there. Although I was a foreign university student in a Chinese university at that time and had a legal drivers license. So with the university having my back I was not worried about accidents and possibly paying for damage caused. But if i would go to south east Asia again on my own without any local contacts I would not risk it. If u are involved in an accident even if it’s not your fault they can try to blame you and you’ would have to pay. So it’s not that you can count on your superior driving skills, even if it wasn’t you who caused the accident the locals might want you to pay, or at least they will try, major hassle no thanks. I Stick to bicycle lol.

    1. 8 July, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      Good point, there’s always that. It’s almost happened to a mate of mine where they blamed it on him when they actually hit him from behind.

  3. Keith
    8 July, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    No…..F$&!?king Way!

  4. Pedro
    8 July, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Public transportation in bkk sucks. The bts is for peasants, Taxis never go where you wanna go or try to rip you off and motorbike Taxis drive like maniacs

    Personally I drive a bike everywhere in Thailand even koh samui with the highest fatality rate in e country. I don’t like bkk but if I lived there I would probably get a bike too.

    It gives you a lot of freedom and is just part of the whole sea experience to me. I love to hop my last on my bike and just drive around

    1. 8 July, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      I love the BTS, it’s great to get to Siam in a jiffy. From Thong Lo, you will have a tough time getting to Siam or areas near there without the BTS.

  5. Pat
    9 July, 2015 at 12:54 am

    In Bangkok? No way.

    Ten years back I’d rent a scooter in Pattaya for a week, at 100b a day with 1000 deposit (and passport copy) it was a steal. They had a few full face/head helmets. Would I do that there now? No f**king way. Local gangs of youths are targeting farangs & in many cases the police do f**k all. I used to stay way out of town on the ‘dark side’ (the area on the other side of Sukhumvit) and much of the journey involved a few miles of remote roads.
    I did fret if I saw a group of layabouts on bikes on the way back but I was never the victim of crime (thank God)

    I’ve seen a lot of uncensored graphic pics of the many accidents around there and in most cases the bodies were crushed, decapitated or smashed up, with not a helmet in sight. I’m not saying those toy helmets would make any difference but it shows the zero safety and attitude of Thai drivers.

    If I get a taxi in Bangkok and they immedietely speed of with me holding on, I’ll tell them to go slowly. This was fine usually, but some of those bike taxis have drunk or speeding drivers.

    When I lived in Ratchayotin I had two regular drivers. One was quite old with countless amulets around his neck. He had a nice new bike, huge it was, and he went along slowly as he’d probably spent thousands on it. The other guy was in his 20s, and was well known in the area, so he couldn’t reallky speed along as he had to say hello to many different people!

    Not so much in Bangkok, but in some places many expats extend their penises by getting a large bike to slowly prowl along, desperate to be noticed. Although I’m pretty sure they haven’t got the balls to ride in Bangkok!

    Ride a bicycle in Bangkok? Not in a million years!

    1. 9 July, 2015 at 3:25 am

      Think my site need Pat’s Corner! Well said as always Pat!

  6. Pat
    9 July, 2015 at 12:57 am

    When I said drunk or speeding drivers I met speeding as in amphetamines!!

  7. 10 July, 2015 at 11:39 am

    I ride everywhere in Asia but Bangkok. Not that I’m scared but I don’t feel it’s necessary. Trains and taxis can get you anywhere but yes there’s nothing like exploring the city on your own bike!

    I think riding your own bike is safer then taking the motorbike taxis. The guys outside my old building were damn near homicidal. I think they were playing a game of “scare the farang” they drove like such pricks.

  8. Andrew
    10 July, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Simple answer: no.
    No way.

    People talk about Thailand being dangerous for muggings, attacks, rapes etc but by far the most dangerous thing here is the roads.
    I’m extra careful here just walking around. I refuse to even take motorbike taxis as I find them too dangerous. I’m pretty sure living in Thailand your life expectancy drops.

    A fun thing to do though is find a bar/coffee shop near a busy intersection and just watch the chaos unfold in front of you.

  9. Pat
    10 July, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    One thing many generalise is that the drivers themselves are all drug abusing alcoholic wife beating rapist pornographers, I’ve heard many newbies state this, saying they’d read about the warnings (probably from that wankfest bible lonely planet) or heard stories from ‘someone who’s lived here for years’

    While many are probably not attending confession or running marathons for charity, my own experiences have been good, stumbling out at 4am asking where I could buy beer, could they get me any weed or finding an address with vague directions, I have never felt threatened or in danger. (it’s that gut feeling you get when things aren’t quite kosher – I was brought up in a shit part of London)

    I had a heat./booze induced seizure 10 years ago in Pattaya while just metres away from the atm. I keeled over in my shorts, flipflops and vest, my pockets spilling my phone, wallet and atm card.

    When I came round I feared the worst, as Pattaya isn’t exactly Thailands equivalent of Kensington or Chelsea. But three moto taxi guys stood over me, speaking softly to me (ooh yeah) as an Aussie doctor (on holiday) checked me over. As I stood up the taxi guys handed me my wallet, phone and atm card.

    One had flagged down a passing songthaew to run me to a hospital (he wasn’t gonna charge me either) and as a crowd had gathered and my senses returned, I stood up all macho-esque and almost fell down due to the head rush.

    I withdrew an extra 1000b and handed it to them and they refused, saying something along the lines of ”farangs should have a positive impression of our Kingdom” Instead I managed to get them to sit and each have a plate of khao man gai nearby. They were more grateful of that!

    1. 10 July, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      Interesting story. I very rarely hear positive stories about motorcycle taxi drivers in Thailand, but I guess we tend to ignore the good things and focus on the bad. While I don’t question their personality and qualities, I do object to how some of them drive 😀 .

    2. Pat
      25 September, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      You sounds like full of shit

  10. Danny
    14 July, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    If you have a decent amount of riding experience, then hell yes get a bike. I have one and it increases my quality of life dramatically. There’s nothing like the freedom to drive to your favorite restaurant, bar or noodle stand whenever you feel like it. And having a bike saves me a ridiculous amount of time and money.

    Very few of the people who moan about crazy Thai drivers have actually driven a bike in BKK themselves, and don’t really know what they are talking about. I have driven all over Asia, and compared to say China or India, drivers in BKK are very decent. Although they don’t follow traffic rules, most have good spatial awareness, are used to sharing the roads with motorbikes, and know how to wait their turn. In 2 years of driving in BKK I’ve never really felt at risk, whereas driving in Shanghai felt like a near death experience.

    1. 15 July, 2015 at 3:41 am

      Hey Danny, where do you live? How close are you to the BTS/MRT?

      Nice comment.

  11. Pickle
    15 July, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    I took my first motorbike ride last week.

    It was great actually. I’ve never been on a bike before, always quite wary – However being caught on the horn I had no choice.

    Took the advice I had read and asked for the spare helmet.

    Started off going the wrong way down the road, nipping through rush hour traffic. It was a quick ride, but the same in a taxi would have taken 3 times as long.

    It was fun I have to say. Probably not sensible, but I’d consider it again when it’s busy on the roads as that means they can’t get up enough speed for it to be too risky.

  12. Scandibro
    16 July, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I had a motorbike and it was very useful for getting to spots in the city far away, like a sports complex which would take me 30 mins in Skytrain and then 10 min moto, instead of driving directly.

    It’s also great for popping down to the nearest 7-11 if you are lazy and forget something. Depending on your bike you might get some street cred as well, not if you have a beat up scooter tho.

    Driving in heavy traffic is not dangerous, it’s the open roads like highways and the like which are death traps, fucking hated having to change lanes with pickup trucks racing by. You can avoid most big roads by going sois and then also explore more hidden gems in the city.

    If I’m over next time, I’ll be renting a proper bike and maybe buy a good, old fashioned bicycle for the soi runs.

  13. FPee
    17 July, 2015 at 6:57 am

    Nice article. I have been in doubts for quite a while but bought a bike last week, been driving everyday and I must say it is quite nice. I live 2 minutes from the BTS, and my office is 2 minutes from the BTS as well – So no real need to start driving, though it is nice to have the freedom to go wherever you want not being depended on others. In regards of saving time: Going up and down Sukhumvit, the BTS is faster, going through traffic is fun, but it is a lot of stopping, going, zigzagging etc. Going to more remote places is obviously much faster. Been driving to Hua Mak yesterday from Thong Lor taking all big highways and it was pretty scare, it was dark and I have never been on those roads (Rama 9 and such) – Very scared of potholes. In general I feel people are used to sharing traffic with bikes so they know what’s going on around them, driving at night makes things worse.

    1. 17 July, 2015 at 7:28 am

      Thanks for that FPee, sounds scary as f*** from reading your comment.

      1. FPee
        18 July, 2015 at 4:50 pm

        Haha yeah, it is quite dangerous honestly.

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