If you’ve read my other post about our Southeast Asia Itinerary, then you’ll know that we like to hire a scooter almost every place we go. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a lot easier to do than most people think. Glen lived in Bangkok and rode a scooter there, and we also live in one of Asia’s largest cities, Ho Chi Minh, where we also have a scooter. I am always more than happy to jump on the back because I trust him completely and he’s a very confident driver, and I am also happy to drive when we are at the coast and around islands! I was terrified to try at first and still drive pretty slow but it’s much easier to pick up than you think and there are so many reasons why you should!
1. Freedom To Go Anywhere
The main reason we hire a scooter in almost every place we can (skip to the bottom to see all the places we’ve hired a scooter before) is the freedom it gives you! You decide when you go and you decide when you leave and the best part? You can go anywhere you want! We love being able to be our own tour guides, I navigate, Glen drives and we go where pleases us, we stop when we want and if we get lost, there are always locals around to guide us home!
2. find cheaper food
This is a huge plus for us being on a tight budget. In places like Canggu in Bali, we found it so pricey in the main town so it was worth the few pounds to hire a bike and ride out of town to find more traditional places to eat, where the local prices come with it!
3. There are very few road rules
(Sorry mum) There are literally very few rules for the roads in most of SE Asia. Ride the wrong way up a one way street? It’s okay cause you have a bike. Ride on the pavement? It’s okay cause you have a bike. Obviously, we do our best to stick to the rules we learnt when driving a car at home and we are very cautious drivers but it takes the pressure off when you know if you do something that would be illegal driving at home, chances are that no one would bat an eyelid here.
4. authorities are corrupt
Everywhere in Asia is corrupt. Even with an international driving permit (which we don’t have but that’s another story), if you get pulled by the police they will find some way to give you a fine. Even if you are wearing a helmet (which you always should), have a international license, are driving the speed limit and not doing anything illegal – they will find a way. Most of the time, it’s just a way to top up their wage and the whole system of pulling over foreigners, is just to get backhanders. We’ve been lucky enough to only be pulled over once in Chiang Mai, Glen has been pulled over many times before we met but it has always gone the same way. They waved us over, we obliged, he told us to present our license which we didn’t have, so he told us we would have to go to the police station or pay a 1,500 baht fine (around £42). I’d been briefed by Glen on what to do in these situations so I stayed quiet on the back of the bike and just ‘looked shocked’. Glen then went into the speech he had done before and what every other blog will tell you to do – ‘we don’t have the time, we can’t come to the station, can we just pay you now some way?’. Then you begin to bargain (very politely), this is why it’s always good that the driver of the bike only carries a small amount of cash with them or at least only a small amount in their wallet and the rest hidden. Eventually we paid a 500 baht fine (don’t expect a receipt) and off we went and made a note to avoid that road again! This is the same situation in almost every SE Asian country, just don’t carry too much dosh or they will see it when you open your wallet and want it all!
4. more local culture
With having a bike, you have the freedom to explore more places which in turn gives you the freedom to see more of the local life around where you are rather than just the touristy parts. We love being able to go to a restaurant where there is no English on the menu and have a guess at what the pictures are and hope for the best when it arrives. Usually, all the locals are so friendly and happy to see you that they want to help.
5. take pictures anywhere!
Driving in a taxi to various attractions you will see so many photo opportunities, but stopping the taxi would either result in a bigger fee or the driver just won’t want to at all. With a bike, you can stop any place you want which is great for us being photo freaks! If we have a bike, it will probably take us double the time to reach anywhere as we are constantly stopping to take photos.
6. It’s very cheap
It will usually cost you no more than £5 and sometimes as low at £2, depending on where you are. It will vary with where you are so make sure you have a quick search to see what people usually pay or ask around at a few places until you get a cheaper one. I’m sorry I can’t give you exact prices for every place but we hired bikes in so many places, it’s impossible to remember. Thailand will always be on the slighter higher side as so many people hire bikes there!
finally, all the places we hired a bike…
Nusa Lembongan, Bali
Labuan Bajo (Komodo), Flores
Ho Chi Minh City
Obviously, there’s a lot lot bear in mind before hiring a bike anywhere and almost every country is different with what they want off you. In Thailand, they almost always want a passport to keep and will do a full inspection but in Indonesia, we were just given the keys and off we went! It varies everywhere, I’ll make sure to do a blog post on everything you need to know when hiring a bike and link it to this one! And if in the mean time you need some travel inspiration, read my blog posts on our Southeast Asia Itinerary, Bangkok & Chiang Mai – more to come!
Stay tuned & thanks for reading!