Moving to Thailand - Need some advice

Discussion in 'Asia Pacific' started by Rorider, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. Rorider

    Rorider Been here awhile

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    Hey guys, so in September I'm moving to Thailand for a couple of years. No, i'm not retiring there or anything, I'm only in my early 30s, but I've decided it's time to spend more time traveling.

    I'm planning to buy a motorcycle as soon as I get there and travel around Thailand and Asia with my gf as a passenger. Before I do that I need some advice on what would be the best bike for my adventures based on what's available in Thailand.
    Also, where could I find more info about route planning in that part of the world, etc?
    Much appreciated! :)
    #1
  2. Aj Mick

    Aj Mick Been here awhile

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    Honda has about 70% of the market in Thailand, and is dominant in nearby countries. For a decent service network, it is hard to look past the brand. They have recently started establishing a "Big Wing" network to look after the 500cc plus end of the market. If prestige matters, various other brands have a presence.

    A friend has several bikes ranging from a 125i Honda Wave to a Harley. He reckons his favourite bike for Thai roads is his BMW F650. None the less most times I see him out and about locally he is on the 125 step-thru. Such practical little machines comprise 95% of the market here, which approaches 2 million a year.

    Thai roads are not really the environment to unleash the potential of big bikes. The 250 to 650 range is probably best suited to Thai highways. For two up riding the likes of the new Honda 500 range would probably be good.

    Their 250s (CBR & CRF) seem to have been well received, but would be better suited to solo riding than carrying a pillion for the long haul. Why not consider getting a pair, one for you and one for the girlfriend?

    Route planing..... from my point of view, why bother?

    When I have been touring, in various countries, I just take each day as it comes. Look at a map, decide where I want to go. Maybe I get there, maybe not; it depends on what I find interesting along the way. In Thailand there is hotel accommodation everywhere. In Europe I used to travel with a tent.
    #2
  3. Rorider

    Rorider Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the info. I have a 2006 Honda CB600 now so I'm pretty familiar with their bikes. I've been trying to convince my gf to ride at least a scooter for a couple of years. Hope she'll do it finally in Thai. Yeah, 250 for riding solo wouldn't be too bad. Cheers.
    #3
  4. phoenixdoglover

    phoenixdoglover Where to next?

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    If you re thinking of buying a bike once you get to Thailand, be advised that there are 2 distinct tiers for the pricing:

    1) Bikes with displacement 250cc or below - prices are similar to what you will find in other places

    2) Bikes with displacement above 250cc - prices are double what you will find elsewhere :huh

    The reason for this is that almost all big bikes in Thailand are imported, and the country imposes a huge import tax.

    There are a few exceptions. I think the Kawasaki Versys is assembled and sold in Thailand at a price that is about 20% higher than the US.

    Yes, a huge market in scooters and small bikes. The Honda CRF250L is a nice option, and the price is about 152,000 Thai Baht, ($5, 500 US). A cute little scoot only available in a few places now, and Thailand is one of them, is the Honda ZoomerX - a 110cc upgraded version of the Ruckus - I saw some on the road in Bangkok a couple weeks ago and I like the look.

    As for where to go, the main advice is to get off the main highways and just explore. But I would head for Chiang Mai/Chiang Rail area first (The Golden Triangle). See www.gt-rider.com for some trip reports and other info in their forums.
    #4
  5. Rorider

    Rorider Been here awhile

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    Thanks a lot for the info. That's exactly what I was looking for. I really like the CRF250L, seems like the perfect bike. I'll probably get it as soon as I arrive in Thai, hopefully for a bit cheaper.
    #5
  6. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

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    Things made in Thailand - normal prices.

    Things imported to Thailand - massive taxes/very expensive.

    You can look at some of the motorcycle prices right here. Want to hit the track on your GSXR1000 in Thailand? That will run you $28,000 for the bike, and the 2nd hand market sucks. :cry

    Kawasaki does make some bikes in Thailand so they are more reasonably priced. I spent a lot of time riding Kawasaki ER-6n in Thailand and I thought it was a pretty good choice for the road conditions.

    I second the recommendations of going to the Golden Triangle as a motorcycle trip. This is the best riding area in Thailand. It is very Thai-newbie friendly, making it a good place to start getting used to Thai roads and road rules. Much less traffic, more open. Easy to navigate. Curvy. Good scenery... This is basically as good as riding gets in Thailand. The only thing I would add is to explore all the way down to Mae Sot/Tat. It's good all the way to that point.

    As far as safety/etc: what is sketchy and dangerous at 60mph is often mundane and boring at 40mph. So one easy way to avoid "close calls" and sketchy situations is simply to slow down. It works 100% if you slow down enough.
    #6
  7. bikerfish

    bikerfish flyfishandride

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    wonder what a triumph bonnie would run, they are made near bankok.
    #7
  8. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

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    There may be some pieces of Triumph made in Thailand, but the final product is put together elsewhere (UK?), right?

    You can get an idea of Triumph prices in Thailand here.

    Just $24,000 for Bonneville, $26,000 for Thruxton.

    But why go cheap? You should just go for Triumph Tiger Explorer XC. Only $46,000 in Thailand. :D

    (This is a lesson in how cheap developing countries usually are. haha)
    #8
  9. blemley

    blemley Sir noob

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    The Multistrada is now assembled here in Thailand. The price for this bike has just dropped 33% from what it was one month ago. I now have one on order. Ducati also assembles the Diavel, a couple of monsters and rumors (I'm not sure) about the motards but they might be soon. The net is small here but growing.

    I wanted to import my 06 Uly (and 1125R) but I kept getting conflicting reports on the methods and stories that I might not ever get proper paperwork for it once I paid over 60% of its value just to get a bike that is out of production over here.

    If a big bike is made here, it is only double what the cost in the US is. If it is an import, say like a KTM it will be triple the price with import duties. The import duties go up as the engine size increases. This not any different than cars or many other things here. Although cars prices get really stupid on a sliding scale above 1.6 liters. ( it should be a part of you budget planning)! To live here is cheap if you live like a Thai person. To live like a foreigner you will pay more. Basically anything with a wire in it will cost more. Food (Thai food) is so cheap you wonder how much it costs them to walk over and hand you the check.

    If you are going to have a work permit here and you are going to want a bike soon. It will best to plan to pay 30% down payment if you are going to finance the bike. Just a thought. Some are less maybe 20% but it depends on the time you buy it. So many Thai buy cars at bike a the two big auto shows they have here in Bangkok every year. They will come down from Chiang Mai just to buy during the show.

    It seems true above where was written buy the guy in oman about mopeds. Everyone here has one. They are so useful when it comes to going to the local market. It is like carrying a cell phone. Everyone has one.... Except me :-) though I am thinking about it. But you will of course not be able to tour on a moped or go to the next town.

    Note: Rain Gear When you arrive in September it will be the month with most rainfall here in Bangkok.

    Start learning a little Thai. Useful phrases like "where is a gas station would be good. Or to recognize signs that say motorcycle parking " ที่จอดรถจักรยานยนต์" as motorcycle parking is alway separate from cars in parking lots.

    My multistrada s will be assembled at the end of next month. To get one right this minute will be a six month wait for the Pikes Peak version. Imports take Four months or longer. I took me 4 months to get an espresso machine (The first Rocket R58 in Thailand ) from the Distributor.

    Good luck to you "Choke Dee Krap" "โชคดีครับ"
    Hope to see you when you get here!

    หมี
    #9
  10. Rorider

    Rorider Been here awhile

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    Also, would be good to know what do you guys wear when riding? I know it's hot and humid and I was wondering what gear should get.
    #10
  11. Rorider

    Rorider Been here awhile

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    How can you remember this ที่จอดรถจักรยานยนต์ ? :) It will take me a while for sure.
    #11
  12. Aj Mick

    Aj Mick Been here awhile

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    Shorty helmet, T-shirt and shorts, and sturdy sandals, like a third the people in Phuket. Another half go for flip flops and no helmet. Most of the remainder wear a dress, with or without a helmet.

    If I am touring, as I have done on my 1997 Honda 100cc scoot, I'll pull on trousers and a jacket.

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=843199

    I suggest you decide what you want gear you want once you get here. There is a reasonable range available now; that was not the case a few years ago. It is better to buy stuff appropriate to your needs in Thailand than bring things that you find you don't need.

    Phuket Big Bike Week is on now. Many of those guys roll up ATGATT, but waste no time in adopting the local dress code once they arrive.

    Sure we have an appalling rate of fatalities on the road, but I reckon that would be at least halved if people stayed sober and wore a helmet (the three people I knew who died on the motorcycles here were drunk, sans helmet). A bit of attention, awareness and anticipation would go a long way to sorting the rest. I have survived at least 150,000 km on Thai roads with neither an accident nor a ticket.
    #12
  13. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

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    You only feel the sun and heat when you're standing around. When you're moving, it's not a problem unless you're very sensitive.

    Also, you will get used to the oppressive heat with time. Usually, when I fly into Bangkok I sweat like a pig for ~2 weeks no matter what I do. I can be just slowly walking down the street in the shade and I'm still sweating. But with time, you get used to it and it's not as big of a deal.

    So perforated gear will do, and it's exactly like the rest of the world: on short trips, it's a PIA to put it on, and on long trips, it's no problem. It really depends on the value you put on your own skin. Motorbike accidents are - by far - the biggest source of injuries and fatalities for foreigners.

    As blemley mentions, there are more and more bikes made in Thailand and the options are getting better and better very quickly. It might be worth looking around what may be coming out soon. Things are moving very fast in the right direction.
    #13
  14. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

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    For two up touring in Thailand you will likely want a larger bike, 650 or bigger. There are lots of big highways, mountains and having the power to pass quickly is optimal. I find the big R1100GS I have to be about perfect for touring Thailand.
    There are quite of few Africa twins which show up on the market, occasionally big BMW's turn up or naked large bike like the XJR1300 can be found in the $5000-12000 price range.
    It all depends on your budget.

    If you don't have much money a simple lightly used Honda Wave 125 will do the job for almost no money. You can find clean used ones for $800 and they barely use any fuel. It's what most Thai people use so it's easy and cheap to maintain.

    Kawasaki also has a solid presence in Thailand and are priced the same as in the USA. The versys would be a decent two up machine. The low hp 250 enduros like the Honda crf250 just aren't much more power than a basic scooter. If the budget's tight the Honda scooter is the way to go.

    For navigation buy a Garmin Nuvi in Bangkok from ESRI loaded with the Thailand navigator, brilliant software!

    Shopping for a bike; google the Thailand forums and the Baht and sold classified, Also The phuket gazette had a good classified section.
    Phuket is a good place to shop for a bike, as there is high turnover rate and generally the bikes aren't beat to shit like up in Chiang Mai or Bangkok.
    That time I looked there were a couple of nice Africa twins and a XJR1300 out there on the market. JUST MAKE SURE THE PAPERWORK IS CORRECT AND TRANSFER THE TITLE WITH THE OWNER AT THE MOTOR VEHICLE DEPT. There are some dodgy tittles on some of the used bikes so you need to be careful there.

    For riding gear most mesh will be good, good boots, helmet gloves and in really hot weather I use a evaporating cooling vest and a camelback.
    #14
  15. blemley

    blemley Sir noob

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    Yes, it is difficult. Even if you read Thai a little it is difficult to understand "Here Stop Vehicle Bicycle Motorized " :ear

    I have also have a little experience with bike paperwork here in Thailand. I looked at few used bikes in the adds here in Thailand and all that I looked had some excuse about the title / paperwork / Green book. I heard, "Get Later" a lot. Time to walk.

    So I made my purchase at the motor show like my proper Thai gal suggested where I found out about the MTS 1200 S pricing. (There were having a great financing deal on the standard model. My deal with the MTS 1200 S at the show was 2 years maintenance to 15k along with the Pikes Peak screen, other carbon bits, and the full termi system.

    How do you get your girlfriend to let you do maintenance in the conditioned living room? I grew up in Florida (one word: lovebugs) and my body still pumps out water like a 300 lb man from Bar Harbor. So I just accept being wet if I am outside. However as mentioned above once you are moving it is not that bad. Not like Arizona were it is so hot that the faster you ride, the hotter you get. Like riding in front of my gal's hair dryer. That being said, the hot month here in Bangkok is April. Temperatures will now plummet a whole 5°f from now until Feb.

    Funny story I have heard from several Thai's here is that it will be safe to buy big bike with a high seat height. As most thieves here could not steal with the seat height being so tall.

    The other story is the reasons why Thai's don't buy many big bikes here. The reasons being Lane Splitting and Cost VS income. (average income >$9k/yr) Lane splitting is not a thought for me as I'm just physically to large and fat to lane split like they do. Some of them squeeze through just tight spaces at speed it reminds one of cockroach sliding under a door.

    Question: If an entire family of four can fit on a moped, how many can fit on a MTS 1200 S? LOL
    #15
  16. Rorider

    Rorider Been here awhile

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    So, I made to Thailand and so far until I got more used to riding on the "wrong" side of the road I rented a Honda Click 125 scooter, which is a pretty smooth machine and much faster than other 125 cc scooters I'm used to in Canada.

    But now its time to get serious and buy a CRF 250L and start discovering this wonderful country and its neighbours.
    I have a quick question for you. How easy difficult is it to cross into Burma with a my bike?

    Danke in advance.
    #16
  17. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    Burma used to be 99.99% closed for foreign vehicles...or to be exact, you could cross from the northernmost Thai crossing, and ride for a few kms to a checkpoint. But lately some groups have been allowed into Burma, however it involves an approved guide, and paying significant money as well. If guided tours are your thing, then yes, nowadays it is more possible than it used to be.
    #17
  18. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

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    Taking your own motor vehicle into Burma is virtually impossible and not worth the headaches involved. Even for a foreigner to tour on a bicycle around the county is problematic as you're only allowed to stay in state approved accommodations.
    Burma sadly is still a very messed up country.
    I'd love to see it open up in my lifetime, I want to ride overland from Thailand to India someday. But I don't think it will happen anytime soon.
    There's plenty to see in Thailand and the other much more friendly surrounding countries; Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos.
    There is even a trick to ride a Thai bike into Southern Vietnam. There a report about it on rideasia.com forum and the Teakdoor.com forum. Google it up if you're inclined.
    #18
  19. leewildwater

    leewildwater rrrrRide Man rrrrRide

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    I am sure you will enjoy your time in Thailand.

    One of the best trips ever, motorcycle or not, was renting a xr250 in Chang Mia and exploring N. Thailand 2 up with my wife. LOTS O FUN
    #19
  20. CO/WV

    CO/WV Been here awhile

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    My advice for you is to ditch your girlfriend now. Seriously man...... It most likely won't work out for you 2 anyway. Just the simple facts..... Most relationships don't last.
    Go to Thailand single and you WILL have a better couple years.
    Thai woman are quite possibility the worlds most beautiful woman. East Africans are a close second.
    I went there for 21 days for my honeymoon. It was a painful 21 days.
    #20