Except from Libya, Thailand is the second most deadly country in the world for number of road accident deaths. A large share of causalities originate from motorcycle accidents. During my three week trip through Thailand's beautiful nature, I rented a motorbike on the following tourist destinations in Thailand:
- Koh Tao
- Koh Phangan
- Koh Lanta
and managed to survive without a injury (fingers crossed, because I haven't left yet).
During my journey in Thailand, I spoke with an hostel manager who told me about his employee who died a couple of months earlier in an motorbike accident. The next day in the same hostel, when I crossed the road to the motorbike rental shop, the British owner told me that he just picked up a destroyed bike from an earlier accident in the day. The driver was hospitalized with broken legs and wounds.
When I stayed in Koh Lanta, my bungalow neighbors, two swiss girls had an motorbike accident because they lost control of their bike because of wheel ruts and pot holes. The driver suffered a deep cut on her leg and needed seven stiches. The medical bill wasn't the problem, the shock must have been deep. It was the beginning of their one year journey around the world. I don't think they will rent a new scooter that quickly.
When traveling with ferries, you see lots of tourists. It is very common to see tourists with bandages on their legs and arms. They are so called island tattoes
But if Thailand is so freaking dangerous for motorcyclists, why even expose yourself to the risk?
Well, there are a couple of good reasons why it is a alluring idea to drive a scooter in Thailand.
- You are flexible and you can visit any amazing beach, restaurant or view point on any island.
- Driving a motorbike is a hugely liberating feeling. It's thoroughly enjoyable to cruise through steep island roads on Ko Tao or to visit the non-touristy northern part of Koh Lanta Noi.
- Practical reasons: You won't need to pay for transport. Tuk-tuks are very expensive and you often get ripped off by the local taxi men.
- Renting a motorbike is very cheap. Prices are as low as 150 baht per day (4 dollars).
What follows are five crucial tips how to survive riding a motorbike in Thailand.
- Wear a fucking helmet
Statistics speak a clear language. When you drive long enough on Thailand's roads, you will be involved in an accident. It goes without a saying, if you do not wear a helmet, your probability to die or to suffer from a serious injury is much higher compared to wearing a proper helmet.
I saw so many tourist that did not wear a helmet. It's a fucking mystery to me why. I didn't study so many years in university to get my head crushed on a Thai road. Furthermore, wearing an (open face) helmet is not even a discomfort.
Always wear a fucking helmet. Even better, chose a proper helmet. There are different types of helmets. So if you have a choice, always go for the full face helmet. In most cases, the motorbike rental places will only offer open face helmets, which offer reduced protection. However, each helmet is better than no one.
- Ride predictable
This does not mean that you should drive slow. Sometimes it's best to drive in a predictable, conformist fashion.
In my experience, most Thai motorcyclists do not drive very fast. They usually ride not faster than 40 km/h and at the very edge of the road.
- When you are a beginner, do not take one bike for two people.
This might be counter intuitive.
- Be aware of sand and dirt in curves and pot holes on roads