Easy Riding: The Ultimate Motorcycle Tours

Thailand: Two-Wheeling through Southeast Asia
  |  Gorp.com

Mention Thailand, and most people think of Buddhist temples, the flesh parlors of Bangkok, or the uncharted sea kayak routes. However, Thailand is one of the best budget motorcycling destinations in the world. The food is great, the beaches are world class, you can find clean rooms for under $15 a night, and last but not least, you can rent a late model, 125cc dual-purpose bike for less than $10 per day.

All international flights to Thailand arrive in Bangkok. Thailand's capital city is noisy, hectic, and crowded, but spend a day or two just to see if the city lives up to its worldly reputation. From Bangkok, head south to sample heavenly beaches, or head north to visit scenic valleys and remote highlands. The weather may help you decide.
The far north, near Chiang Mai, is cool even in the summertime. Book a cheap flight to Chiang Mai Thai Airways. In the center of Chiang Mai, you'll find a host of motorcycle rental agencies, all bidding for your business. You can rent a newish 50cc commuter bike for about $5 per day, or a 125cc dual-purpose bike for $8 to $10. For motorcycle rentals in Chiang Mai contact 65 Motorcycle (65 Moonmuang Rd., 01166.53.213315).

Southern Thailand has suffered an explosion of tourism in the past decade, but it is still a cheaper, friendlier, and more interesting version of Hawaii. The main tourist center is Phuket (pronounced poo-ket), and there you can find lodgings ranging from $8-a-night bungalows to luxury hotels. Most of Phuket's tourist resorts are located along the west coast. Here you will find more motorcycle rental operations. Prices tend to be a little higher than Chiang Mai, but you can still get a good trailbike for about $12 a day. For about twice that, you can also rent some fairly exotic machinery, but a small dual-purpose bike is really the ideal mount for the often rough local roads.

In Phuket, you can easily venture to a dozen different beaches, all with warm, crystal clear water. The preferred activity is sitting at beachside restaurants, eating giant Siamese shrimp and quaffing fruit shakes enlivened with Thai whiskey, then bedding down at a beach resort, and then rising, get back on the bike to find another slice of Southeastern beach-side paradise.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 21 Aug 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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