An Idiots Guide to Hiring a Scooter in Asia

You’ve just arrived in Phuket and you’re ready for your long overdue holiday.

So, how do you get around? You could chump it like so many stooge tourists and hire tuk-tuks, or you can hire a motorbike. Well, a scooter – but everyone calls them motorbikes here. Way cooler.

You’ve never ridden a motorised bike, but you used to smash around on a pushy when you were a kid. And like they say, it’s just like getting back on the bike…

Tip 1: Don’t document anything. Why stress the details if your hirer doesn’t?

When you hire your bike, the relaxed attitudes of those letting you take their Honda Click seem so refreshing compared to, say, Herz. No paperwork, no worries! No license check, hardly even a conversation. To keep relaxed on your holiday, you don’t want to sweat the small stuff. So, just remember, none of this stuff matters:

  • Do the tires have traction?
  • Do your indicators & lights work?
  • Are the breaks in order?
  • Are there scuff marks all over the bike?
  • How much petrol is in the tank?
  • Does the speedometer work? Hell, who cares, actually!

Tip 2: Personal Safety. Why worry when you’re riding slow?

As per the stress-less vibes of tip 1, you don’t want to bother the rental kid by asking questions like “Can I please have a helmet?”.
Firstly, the locals don’t wear them – the last thing you want to do is stand out, right?
Second, you’re gonna be going so slow and steady, nothing’s gonna happen. Leave your worry-vibes at home – you’re on holiday. And all that advice from back home for motorbikes – like wearing leather jackets, kevlar jeans? Goodness knows it’s too hot for that in the tropical climates. So relax, and wear your favourite beachwear, or even less. You’ll be jumping in the water soon enough.

Tip 3: When You Hire, Hit The Main Road.

The last thing you want to do is ride slow. First up, it’s the hardest thing to do. Balancing, worrying about scuffing up your flip-flops / thongs / jandels when you lose your balance – if you’re even wearing anything. So when you take it out of the hire joint, regardless of your experience, there’s no better way to learn than by jumping in the deep end. And that means hitting the main road. You’re on holiday for a good time, not a long time – so get moving! What’s the worse that can go wrong?

Smacking in to a car ain’t ideal

Tip 4: Indicate. Constantly.

You’re used to driving a car and indicating you’re about to turn. You hit the corner, and then it automagically turns off. Sweet. On your new sexy scooter (or banged-up), none of that happens; indicate left, ride off and you’ve long forgotten about that silent signal. And who cares? You’ll be turning soon enough – get lucky, you might even turn left again.

Inbetween Kata and heading towards Karon

Tip 5: Have Fun and Ride Like You Stole It!

When you’re on the road, wind sweeping through your hair, remember you’re on holiday and you’re meant to be having fun. So don’t drive like some Sunday daisy – let the throttle rip. Just remember, the faster you go, the less time you’ve got to make a mistake. Simple as that. The last thing you want is some slow taxi riding up your rear – so get on the front foot. You know speed humps are for chumps, right? Equally, you’ve got wheels, so you might as well take it anywhere and everywhere – even those places that seem pretty 4×4 wheel drive exclusive. Just hit the tracks!

Don’t worry about those massive cracks in the dirt road

Closing thoughts

You hear all sorts of horror stories about motorbikes, especially in Asia. “Did you know Phuket has more fatalities on motorbikes than anywhere else in the world” whatnot – that’s just the naysayers wanting to stop you from having a good time. Insurance stating they wont cover you – that’s just corporate gobbledygook for “we’re just trying to save a buck”. So, go with the flow and just do what you need to fit in and live like a local.

No one wears helmets

By Steve, February 27, 2017


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