Beginners Guide To Renting Scooters On Holiday In Thailand


How to have an awesome holiday

if you are going on holiday to Thailand or the Philippines, renting a scooter is essential in my opinion. If you are anything like me, when abroad you like to make the most of it. Renting a scooter or motorbike and exploring lets you really see what the place you are visiting has to offer.

When I first started holidaying, I didn’t do this, but as soon as I started, my holidays got approximately 100% more enjoyable. This article is for the people that want to ride a motorbike / scooter but are beginners so want a bit of advice on how to do it right and not end up in the hospital!

I know it’s fun. But what about the danger?

The first thing you have to get over when considering doing this is fear. The vast majority of people out there won’t rent a scooter when abroad because they’re scared. This means most people stay at the hotel, go on organized trips with a load of other sheep to the same old spots and basically don’t have as good a time as they could.

I say forget this and get on a bike! You can then plan your own destinations and see the real side of the country rather than the same tired old tourist hotspots. Ok, there is some risk when it comes to riding around, but everything in life carries a risk and if you don’t take any risks, then you will never have any fun. As with most things, as long as you take your time and are prepared then you’ll be fine.

For the couples out there, you don’t need to get a couple of bikes if one of you is worried about riding, get a motorbike / scooter between you and have one of you ride pillion. Generally this tends to be the man riding with the woman on the back, but there is nothing wrong with that, in fact it is fun in itself as you can easily talk to each other and the one riding doesn’t have to worry about their other half falling off so can relax!

The first thing you need to think about is what sort of motorbike or scooter you are going to rent. For the people out there that hold motorcycle licences, this is usually easy, the biggest bike they can get! If you aren’t an experienced rider though, you’re probably going to want to start small. This can be with a 50cc, although personally I usually rent a 125cc. A 50cc Scooter will max out at about 30mph if you’re lucky, struggles to carry two people and won’t go up hills easily. A 125cc gives you that bit more power, lets you cruise at 50-60mph and as long as you remember the throttle goes both ways, you’ll be fine.

Most countries will require a driving licence before riding, but not all. Of course if you have a driving licence then you’re going to be at an advantage compared to non drivers anyway as you will (hopefully!) have some road sense.

Find out about local driving habits and laws

It’s obviously a good idea to see which side of the road the locals are driving on.. Although it looks a bit strange at first if it is the opposite side to the one you’re used to, then it doesn’t take long to acclimatise. In the UK, we drive on the left, I have been to Turkey a couple of times where they drive on the right and the only places that I had to think about it a little were the first few times I approached traffic islands. However as you basically just do what the rest of the traffic is doing, then it doesn’t take you long to get used to driving on the other side.

How do scooters work then?

Scooters / mopeds are basically the same thing, but mopeds refer specifically to under 50cc versions. From now on I’ll refer to scooters, but I’m covering both. Most rental companies provide twist and go scooters, which are extremely easy to ride. The brakes work the same way as a normal bike, so the right is the front and the left is the back brake. You simply twist the throttle to go. Most of these will top out at about 100-110kph (60-70mph), although you really know you’re doing it by the time you get to that speed as they’re usually revving their hearts out. I find that I and the bike are more comfortable doing 60-70kph, which tends to be a bit more relaxing anyway when on holiday as I like to soak in the surroundings.

I have also been given geared scooters on hols before, clutchless but with gears. These are a bit faster so are more fun to ride, there isn’t a clutch to worry about, but you do have to change gears with your left foot. It’s very easy to do this though, there is usually an indicator on the instrument panel to show you what gear you’re in, you can scoot up and down through the gears of which there are normally four in the same way you would in a car, or if you’re lazy just leave it in fourth gear and ride around. It will be slower pulling off, but it will still do the job.

To start your scooter you need to insert the key, turn it and in most cases hold the left brake lever while pushing the electronic starter on the right. This will normally be shown to you by the scooter man, but it’s always nice to have a bit of knowledge beforehand so you don’t look like a complete beginner..

A major part of controlling your scooter properly is braking. The last thing you want to do is lock the front wheel, so never grab or snatch the front brake, instead squeeze it gently. Brake evenly with both brakes but if the road has loose gravel, then be very careful with the front brake as if your front wheel locks up then it’s not good so in some cases you may be better not to use it. Of course the front brake does the majority of the braking so if the road surface is loose, ride slowly to avoid having to brake much, or slipsliding away.

A lot of countries I’ve ridden scooters around, which include Thailand, Phillipines, Spain, India, Antigua, Turkey etc are ok about you not wearing a helmet. Well, the advice is normally that you should wear one but when you start riding then no one else on the road ever seems to wear one. This is personal choice, I never used to wear a helmet, but as I get a bit older I have started to feel a little bit more sensible and the last holiday I went on I wore the helmet the whole time. It is a nice feeling to go without though, just try not to headbutt the kerb if you fall off..

What about falling off?

My advice here is simple. Don’t fall off. I have never fallen off, or come close because I have two simple rules.

The first involves being careful around corners. I have seen people fall off their scooters / motorbikes by not doing this, some of which were supposedly experienced riders. The best bet is to take care all the time. You can still have fun exploring and sometimes riding quickly if you’re in the mood, just whatever you don’t try and push the limits round corners if you’re not used to riding as falling off and spending your holiday either in the hospital, or more likely with a dressing over an injury has never looked like much fun.

The second rule I employ is to be very aware of other road users and give them plenty of space at all times. In foreign countries sometimes the road rules are a bit different, just make sure you’re aware of this before you start. I always give other vehicles plenty of room and never take anything for granted. If you ride cautiously around other road users, you ride safe and still have an awesome time. I have ridden fast down country lanes in the middle of the night, but even then I did it safely and didn’t fall off as I rode fast when there were no other vehicles around.


I have found in all countries I’ve been in, even if I can’t speak the lingo, that pulling up to the pump, saying hello (hopefully in the local language) and asking for ‘full’ while gesticulating wildly always works.

Don’t run out ideally, although I did do this in Thailand. Thankfully a couple of local boys came up, I showed them I had no fuel by tapping the gauge and gesticulating and they scooted off, fetched me some and filled the bike up for me, I gave them some money, handshakes and high fives and I was on my way again.

How to plan and travel around away from sheep

I always buy a travel guide for the country I’m in and read that while at my hotel/hostel/whatever to plan the next days trip. I have found that most people that go on holiday don’t buy a guide book and stay by the pool while often moaning about how boring the place is. I have seen some awesome places by simply reading up about what is around the area and jumping on the bike to go there.

Most places that don’t have tours are usually quiet. I remember when I was in Thailand with my friend we rode to a place called Crystal Lagoon. It is one of the most awesome and beautiful places I’ve ever been. It’s not on any tours and we had a brilliant day with practically no one else around there other than a few locals. I recommend finding any waterfalls in your guide book that don’t have tours visiting them and try and get around to those, that’s one of my favourite holiday pastimes along with visiting anywhere locally that sounds good. I’ve visited abandoned cities before that were deserted because tourists either didn’t know about them, or.. in fact the only reason they were abandoned is because most people don’t bother to read up on the place they’re visiting so miss out on amazing stuff that is often only a motorbike / scooter ride away.

I’ve also had some of my best meals by riding past restaurants that are only frequented by locals and calling in for some food. In my experience they’re usually grateful that a foreigner wants to try them and they usually pull out the stops to try and impress you. Not always of course, but it has happened a lot in my experience.

I’ll summarise by saying, to those who haven’t thought of renting a motorbike / scooter on holiday, or maybe have thought about it and have just discounted it as being too dangerous etc, then give it a go! Take your time and go out and explore. It can be really awesome and as long as you don’t go crazy, then you will be absolutely fine. Happy riding and make sure you take some photos of the awesome stuff you see that most people don’t.

September 30, 2013 |

Cha Am, Thailand – Travel info 2013


Cha Am

Situated on the Gulf of Thailand about 200 km south of the Thai capital, Bangkok, Cha Am is a pleasantly uncrowded fishing town and seaside resort in Cha Am district, Petchaburi Province.

Its peaceful atmosphere and relatively close proximity to Bangkok is one reason for its popularity among Thais, who often visit for a weekend or longer if they have time. The lack of a vibrant nightlife probably also accounts for it being overlooked by most foreign tourists who head for the better known island resorts, such as those on Koh Samui, and Phuket, etc.

Cha Am is definitely a daytime kind of place. There are a few night spots such as the string of bars in Soi Bus Stop, but they’re decidedly tame when compared to similar areas that you would find in Pattaya or in Bangkok’s red light districts of Patpong and Soi Cowboy. Most close around 1 am or midnight.

Getting there

You can get to Cha Am by bus from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal (Sai tai). The distance is around 200 km and takes around 3 hours. Buses leave for Hua Hin via Cha Am every hour throughout the day. The cost is 155 baht (July 2013). At the drop-off point, motorcycle taxis can take you and your luggage (within reason) to a seafront guest house or hotel for 50 baht. Motorcycle taxis are plentiful throughout the area and are a good way to get around. Standard taxis are also available.

There is a limited train service from Hualamphong station to Cha Am. To the south, the neighbouring seaside town of Hua Hin has more train services from Bangkok, but only two of those (9:20 am and 3:35 pm) stop at Cha Am around 4 hours later.

Taxis are the fastest and most convenient way to get to Cha Am but will cost around 2000-2500 baht from Bangkok.

Travelling to Cha Am from the south of Thailand (or even further south from Malaysia) is more conveniently arranged by travelling to the neighbouring seaside town of Hua Hin which has better transport links than Cha Am. You can then take a minibus, taxi or public bus to Cha Am which lies a further 16 miles (25 km) to the north


Accommodation is plentiful in Cha Am, ranging from guest houses to plush ‘sea view’ hotels. Perfect House guest house, in Soi Bus Stop about 3 mins walk from the seafront is a typical example of a clean, friendly and well-run guest house. Expect to pay around 600 baht per night for a double room with aircon, fridge, cable TV and Wifi.



The beach is clean and not crowded. There are some watersport activities but not enough to spoil the calm atmosphere.


Bicycle rental shops are common on the sea front and you can hire a bike for 20 baht per hour. You can also hire tandems and even doubletandems, if that’s the right phrase, for around 100 baht per hour. Bicycles are a great way to get around the seafront and further afield.


Cha Am is noted for its high quality golf courses, which are among the best in Thailand. Expertly designed and set among attractive natural surroundings, these courses attract golfers far and wide. Zoom in to the map below to see their locations


There are a few interesting Buddhist temples in and around Cha Am, such as Wat Nerun Chararam with its six-armed, Buddha prominently situated in the temple grounds, or the impressively old Wat Cha Amlocated further west, with its reclining Buddha set in a cave.

Cha Am Harbour

This is an interesting and a very photogenic area with lots of fishing boat activity going on. It lies to the north of the beachfront Rd and you can see the harbor jutting out to the sea from anywhere on the beach. It’s a pleasant bicycle ride of about 15 – 20 minutes to get there.


Pharmacies are a common and medical aid can be received at various clinics around town as well as at Cha Am Hospital in the north of Cha Am. This is a fairly small hospital in Khlong Thian Rd. If you require hospital treatment, assuming it’s not an emergency, you might instead consider heading to the seaside town of Hua Hin, 16 miles (25 km) to the south, which is better served with larger and more extensively equipped hospitals.

Legal aid is available at the Foreigner’s Legal Aid Centre (and police station)on the seafront road (Ruangjit), situated between the north and south beachfronts.

September 23, 2013 |

How to Avoid Bed Bugs When You Travel


Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

Its probably at the top of any traveler’s list of nightmare scenarios – staying in a hotel room with bed bugs. Unfortunately, its quite common, even at 4 and 5 star properties around the world.

As adults, the idea of bed bugs crawling under the sheets is even more horrifying than our childhood fears of monsters under the bed. These critters are real – and they are not going away!

So how can you avoid bed bugs? What can you do to treat a bed bug bite? What are the signs that there are bed bugs in your room?

Having just returned from a trip where I encountered the pests first hand, I’ve got some tips for you…. If you dare!

What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny insect parasites that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals – including humans. Adult bed bugs are about 1/4 inch long, small (yet visible to the naked eye) and wingless. They range in color from white to tan to deep brown. After feeding, they may appear to have a dark black center within their body. But the average person may find it difficult to find the pests simply by looking. They hide in cracks and crevices and avoid coming out in sunlight.

We don’t know them by their scientific name, Cimex lectularius (Cimicidae), but rather as “bed bugs” because they make their homes in our living spaces, burrowing into bed mattresses, sofas, and pillows. As a traveler, you are likely to encounter bed bugs in hotel rooms, cruise ships, hostels and other shelters.

Just what you want on your vacation, right?

Bed Bugs – YUCK!

September 16, 2013 |

Rental Property In Chiang Mai Thailand


Renting In Chiang Mai
The cost of rental property in Chiang Mai is very affordable compared to the rest of the country. Many houses and apartments available to rent will come complete with furniture, and all amenities, ready to move in immediately. Most property owners or rental agencies will require a security deposit equal to 2 months rent, as well as a copy of your passport or ID card. Short term rentals are sometimes available, however most houses will have a minimum 1 year contract. Many guesthouses and hotels will also offer monthly rates for those who would like to have an extended stay.

There are plenty of rental houses located in and around the city of Chiang Mai, for as low as 200USD per month for a small basic 1 or 2 bedroom house. A newer 2 – 4 bedroom house may cost as much as 500USD per month. Houses located a little farther from the downtown area will be a little cheaper, in areas like Hang Dong, Doi Saket and Maejo. One thing to consider when renting a house in Chiang Mai is that the air quality is much better once you drive 10-15 minutes out of the downtown area. 

There are plenty of Condos and Apartments in the downtown area of Chiang Mai, that may be more suitable for people that do not have a car or a motorbike. A nice 1 bedroom apartment in a newer building will usually cost about 300USD per month fully furnished. There are more luxurious 2-3 bedroom apartments that may cost 500-1000USD per month. Many buildings will have a swimming pool and exercise facilities as well as many other amenities. 

Gated Communities
Many people in Thailand prefer to live in gated communities, for an extra sense of security as well as a more private and quiet lifestyle. Houses in a gated community will normally cost a little more, but for a minimal amount of money you are ensured your peace and quiet. Most gated communities will also have a clubhouse with a swimming pool and exercise facilities. The streets in a gated community are normally safe for children to play, with no traffic to worry about. One of Thailand’s most popular gated communities is “Land & House”, and this company has several gated communities in Chiang Mai. Houses in these gated communities will cost anywhere from 300-500USD per month, and perhaps 1000USD monthly or more for what most people would consider a mansion.

September 4, 2013 |
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