The Dos and Don’ts of renting a motorbike in Chiang Mai

Dos and Don'ts of renting a motorbike in Chiang Mai
Dos and Don’ts of renting a motorbike in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is one of the most interesting and charming cities in Asia and to experience it on the road will only broaden and enhance the experience. But their are some recommendations which you should invariably follow in order to ensure a safe and pleasant ride.

DOS

Do check your motorbike carefully before renting it

I recommend starting it and making sure it runs smoothly. Also photograph all scratches and visible defects. Also make sure they are all duly noted by the shop keeper.

Do wear a helmet, and a good one at that

Thailand is plagued by a huge number of road accidents and Chiang Mai is no exception. The motorbike shop will usually give you a little flimsy helmet, but a few more baht will get you a full face helmet. Enough said.

Do pay constant attention

Driving in Thailand is at times very unpredictable. Thais don’t signal their intentions as frequently as people from Europe, North America, Australia or Japan do. Driving can therefore be challenging. Car drivers will also sometime consider motor cyclists and cyclists as inferior on the road simply because they have much smaller vehicles, and won’t hesitate to cut you off.

Do get a regional map
The region surrounding Chiang Mai is beautiful. There are several interesting and charming spots just 30 or 40 minutes outside the city such as the San Kampheang hot spring. Or simply riding around the country side and eating with local farmers can be quite fun.

Do lock your motorbike

Chiang Mai is a very safe city but motorbike theft is relatively high. Try to bring your motorbike within the gates of your guesthouse or hotel and lock it. Also note that motorbikes can easily disappear from monitored parking lots at shopping malls.

DON’TS

Don’t drink and drive

Let’s face it : alcohol in Thailand is very cheap, and it’s extremely easy to loose awareness. Because of this, the roads in Chiang Mai at night are full of drivers who have had a little too much to drink, thus, making the road generally much more dangerous than during the daytime. An important recommendation would be to simply go out by foot ; Chiang Mai is a fairly small city and several drinking spots within walking distance of all guesthouse areas.

Don’t drive too quickly

Relax, you’re on holiday.

Don’t get upset

You will get cut off; this is just a fact. In fact, you will cut off 2 or 3 times per hour of riding. This is how drivers are in Thailand. Let it go.

Don’t leave any purse or bag in the front basket

This is an easy target. Although rare, this kind of theft does happen.

It’s biking time Mr. Griffin

Bangkok traffic. The best and quickest way to get around? That’s right: a bicycle

 

Times are changing and some of the old guard just can’t take it. Furthermore, in this day and age of social media revolution and of instant viral communication, you better watch what you say, as well as to how.

The uproar caused by an article (see the article below) written by founder and chairman of the Addison Lee taxi company in the UK, John Griffin, in the April issue of AddLib magazine is not surprising for most individuals who live in 2012 and not in 1962. Fifty years ago, a litre of petrol cost only pennies; we never gave much thought about environmental issues; people drove without a seatbelt-one hand on the wheel-a cigarette in the other one-and a beer between their legs. This was the time of the Griffins. It was their road no matter what.

The short article written by John Griffin, the founder and chairman of the Addison Lee taxi company in London, in the April 2012 issue of AddLib magazine.

 

What ultimately disturbs me in Mr. Griffin’s article is not the content… It’s the tone. It has entitlement written all over it. Don’t get me wrong; I believe cyclists should be held responsible when breaking the law and should do all the proper moves in order to protect themselves such as wearing a helmet. Where Griffin’s words turn sour, or rather venomous, is in the very last sentence: “You want to join our gang, get trained and pay up”. Excuse me? “gang”? Do you mean to say that roads are controlled by you and your cronies? Aren’t you aware that roads belong to everybody…? And the term “pay up” is in reference to what exactly? Pay for roads? Guess what Mr. Griffin…? Everyone in the UK already pays taxes for that. As Kaya Burgess writes in The Times:road tax was abolished in 1937. Car drivers pay Vehicle Excise Duty, which is linked to emissions and therefore not applicable to cyclists”. Furthermore, cycling create zero pollutants… That’s right: one big fat bike wheel my friend.

Seriously now, the popularity of biking is growing by leaps and bounds! And this, all over the world. Everywhere I go, bike shops are buzzing with activity… In Thailand, teen boys are choosing fixies over the traditional motorbikes. In Paris, the Bixi system is now completely integrated in the urban fabrik of the city. America is seeing a huge increase in bike races. In my home cities of Ottawa and Montreal, biking is no longer a trend… It’s a frenzy!

Mr. Griffin, you and your “gang” are loosing this battle… This is the time of biking.