Driving a Motorcycle Yourself
If you like to freely roam around by yourself, and are a skilled motorcyclist, you might want to consider renting a motorcycle. The daily rental cost is less (as is outright purchase, compared to a car), and you can beat the traffic like other motorcyclists by driving down the lanes between cars. The main disadvantages are the risks of serious injury on a motorcycle and exposure to the pollution (especially during rush hour). As regards injury, it only takes once, and many people don't get a second chance in life. There are many poorly skilled drivers, as well as carelessly aggressive drivers, and some motorcyclists say that you have to drive defensively as if there are drivers lurking to sneakily knock you off.
Motorcycle rentals are most common in beach areas, and sometimes available in various other tourist areas such as the mountains of the northwest, but in Bangkok aren't so common. Not many foreigners rent a motorcycle in Bangkok. You will usually be asked to give them your passport as collateral.
In Bangkok, I rented mine from a repair shop near the corner of Petchburi Rd. and soi Nana Nua, on the south (two-lane) side of Petchburi, within 50 meters of the corner. However, once he had only one available and it had terrible gears. Always take the motorcycle for a spin before you negotiate a price and start a transaction.
Wearing a helmet is mandatory by the law. Also make sure that the motorcycle's registration is current and displayed.
After I was here for a few months, I rented a motorcycle to explore certain regions of town on my own, including countless nooks and crannies. This came after just going around on MicroBus rides from end to end, klong boat rides, etc. Renting a car for driving within Bangkok was out of the question due to traffic and the scope of my interests, and the motorcycle was great except for the pollution from time to time. (Back then, there weren't many expressways like now.)
From various sources of information and the bus and klong/walking routes, I kind've mapped out the territory in my mind, then went and explored the nicest regions by motorcycle. Lots of really nice, ecclectic places. One last day, put a decent and lightweight girl on the back for translations and stopped at numerous apartment buildings to get prices and see the rooms. (Precious few farangs know Bangkok like I do.)
Now when I drive, I accomodate the motorcycles, e.g., at a red light, I see the best motorcycle lane and move over, and occasionally leave space in front of my car for them to cross over. When changing lanes, I never do anything quickly, always a blinker (which is often ignored), never make quick decisions, but really look around for motorcycles.
Some of the motorcyclists are really reckless and have a remaining halflife on the order of months. And driving is like a video game with "gotchas", but if you "lose" once, it could cost you dearly.
I bought a motorcycle for getting around my housing village in Bangkok. It's better than getting into a hot car. It's also a nice breath of fresh air.
I also bought one for getting around the province, at my in-laws. There, I wear sunscreen and other sun protection apparel.
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