Phuket-GO have received several messages in recent days about the number of foreigners being targeted by police for fines, usually in late morning checkpoints on busy west coast roads. And the fine appears to have increased too.
Whilst in the past the checks were mostly about wearing a bike helmet, lately, according to our sources, the checks are for legal motorbike licenses, which most foreigners don’t have. The fines are now, routinely, 1000 baht. In the past tourists going through checkpoints without a helmet or the correct license could usually expect an on-the-spot fine of 500 baht. Oh well, inflation…
These payments are all required in cash only. Exactly what happens to all the cash collected at these pre-lunch checkpoints is not clear.
To legally rent and ride a motorbike in Thailand you MUST have a Thai motorbike driving license, not a car driving license or a foreign car driving license. If you have a foreign motorbike license AND a current International Driving Permit you will be legal.
Apart from being the law, it also pertains to your insurance liability if you have an accident. Insurance will not cover you if you don’t have the proper license. If you have a bad accident, and end up in hospital, your insurance will not cover your hospital expenses.
Still, many foreigners hire motorbikes everyday, and the local rental shops happily rent them out – going price now is around 5000 baht per month, up from 2000 – 2,500 per month in the years before Covid. Again, inflation…
So, if you want to rent a motorcycle in Thailand…
• Make sure you have a Thai motorbike license or a foreign motorbike license and International Driving Permit.
• NEVER leave your passport with the rental shop as a guarantee, and never let your passport out of your site when they want to make a copy.
• If the shop offers insurance, check the details. Apart from costing you additional money, it’s probably not worth the paper it’s printed on.
• Take plenty of photos of the motorbike, from all angles, before you drive it out of the shop, and make sure the renter sees you taking the photos. There are many scams when damage on a motorbike, perhaps out of sight, will be blamed on YOU and your hire. Of course you end up paying inflated repair fees.
• If you’ve never driven a motorbike in your home country DON’T ride one for the first time in Thailand.
• Don’t get into an argument with Thai police. You will lose, and potentially end up in a whole lot more trouble. If you’ve been drinking and driving as well you’re in a whole new world of trouble and should contact your consulate, embassy or tourist police immediately.