Renting a motorbike anywhere in Thailand can be a bit of a gamble and unless you are a very good and experienced rider we would strongly advise against it. Loose sand, rutted muddy tracks, drunk drivers and some different road practices can make life a little more problematic than you would imagine.
In Thailand we drive on the left, much the same as the UK but if you are riding on a motorbike and want to turn right across the stream of oncoming traffic, then you must pull over to the left and wait. Waiting in the middle, as you would do in the UK is extremely dangerous. Helmets are the law too, even though you will see many Thais driving without one, don’t risk it yourself, anything from a small fine to a lot of hassle could be the result – never mind the head injuries!
Motorbikes do look cheaper than taxis but damaged bikes and heads and limbs cost a lot in money, stress, bandages and pain in the end. If you are unsure – pop in – we have a range of scars to show you - really!
There’s a great taxi driver that we use, called Bung, we are happy to introduce you and organise your taxis. Bung is fair, reliable and speaks great English too. If you must hire a bike then I would advise you to use him too – for all the same reasons – if you damage something then you will pay what it costs not a random number picked out of the air with lots of zeros added to the end of it! He can be found just a few minutes directly up the hill from Master Divers on both the left and right hand side.
Many bike hire companies all over Thailand get a bad reputation for making up damages to the bike and charging too much for repairs – this is most people’s complaint. As there is no insurance on these bikes – you are asked to leave your passport as insurance. This means you must pay or else you won’t get your passport back. So here are some tips to keep everyone smiling....
If you are on Koh Tao, then you already have a recommendation of where to go but if you’re somewhere else then get a recommendation too – it’s better than randomly choosing and hoping for the best.
Firstly, look over your bike carefully, note any damages with the hirer and take photographs and be seen to be taking photographs too. Make sure you understand how much each thing will cost. Then most importantly GO CAREFULLY.If you do have an accident then hopefully it’s only minor, get yourself to a clinic or pharmacy, treat your wounds and then go and change your clothes. Look clean and undamaged when taking the bike back. Be polite, smile and be honest. Getting mad will not get you anywhere and shouting is so counter-productive that it’s ridiculous.
Accept your situation, you knew you would have to pay for damage so it’s hardly anyone else’s fault. Take it on the chin. Breathe deeply. If you have the correct attitude not only should the price be fairer but you should find that you’ll be able to do a bit of bartering too. If you didn’t harm the bike but they say you did then you have a problem.You will end up paying something regardless. Once again, smiling, remaining calm and polite and negotiating will be your only way forward. Lose it and you have most certainly lost it!
Walking away and reporting your passport lost or stolen could simply cause you more problems if the bike owner has reported you to the police and calling the police yourself will still result in you paying.
If you have an accident that puts you into hospital – then the bike is going to be the least of you worries – but believe me – the cost will not be waived just because you were hospitalised! I know of bike owners that have visited injured riders in hospital.