After reading so much horror stories online and seeing so many people walking as mummified cripples around Thailand, I would almost assume that renting a bike is a straight line to the hospital, or worse, your flowery grave. Wouldn’t it be that we rented scooters multiple times now, even in crazy Vietnam, and everything went perfectly fine. I don’t see myself as a very skilled driver but maybe the level of caution and confidence I drive with kept us from any trouble.
After getting the hang of it we became addicts of all the gained freedom, the wind through our hair (although we mostly did wear our helmets!) and the excitement driving a bike gives.
So definitely rent a scooter if you have driven before, just watch your surroundings. Don’t do any crazy stuff and you can fully enjoy freedom wherever you are. Rent a bicycle if you prefer to stay close or can’t drive a motorcycle, but do get some kind of transportation, we definitely loved the extended range and new possibilities without having to be dependent on (expensive) taxis. This was especially the case on the Thai islands!
By saying all of this I don’t want to minimize the risk or possible damage. And definitely not saying that those that were in an accident before are crazy and unskilled drivers. Accidents can happen without you having a role in the story. So be cautious and take care. Go with the flow (especially in Vietnam) and enjoy the ride!
Research online where to rent cheap but with an ok quality and trustworthiness. See for yourself if you’d like an automatic or manual bike. We conquered every hill we met, although sometimes not as quick as we wished for!
So far we rented a scooter (mostly around 110cc, automatic) in:
– Chiang Mai
– Tam Coc (Ninh Bình) to Cuc Phuong (Vietnam)
– Koh Phangan
– Koh Tao
We found scooters in Northern Laos being too expensive so we moved around on our soles and public transport. In Thailand and Vietnam we mostly found scooters for just a couple of bucks/euros a day. With the gas being pretty cheap as well (compared to the Netherlands) it’s a wonderful, fun, independent and cheap way to travel around.
Enjoy! And feel free to share your wonderful biking stories :) Btw.; I use scooter/motorbike/bike as words for a 100cc+ bike. Back home we call the 30-50cc-bikes scooters, but those are hard to find in SE Asia.