Six Reasons To Rent A Scooter Whilst Travelling

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!

Driving in Lombok – I should probably be looking at the road!

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!

We drive ourselves around Kanchanaburi and to Erawan Waterfalls!

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!

A bike was necessary in Phuket as it was rather expensive for us backpackers so we drove out of town to the local places to eat!

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.

In Langkawi, before we went off to explore its many beautiful beaches

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!

FREEDOM! (This isn’t Chiang Mai but the Breakfast Club air punch seemed appropriate)

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.

Exploring further parts of Phu Quoc Island recently!

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.

Atop of Gunung Raya, Langkawi Island. The drive to the top took an hour, was so quiet and so many monkeys on the way! 100% worth it!

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!

Glen clearly nervous at the equally nervous me!

finally, all the places we hired a bike…

Thailand

Koh Tao
Koh Samui
Koh Phangan
Koh Lanta
Phuket
Chiang Mai
Kanchanburi

indonesia

Nusa Lembongan, Bali
Canggu, Bali
Ubud, Bali
Amed, Bali
Senggigi, Lombok
Kuta, Lombok
Labuan Bajo (Komodo), Flores

malaysia

Langkawi Island

vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City
Phu Quoc

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!

Grace xoxo