9 Must-Dos When Renting a Scooter

So you have made it to SE Asia, perhaps you’ve seen the big sites and cities. Now, it’s time to get of the beaten track.  Renting a scooter in SE Asia couldn’t be easier!  As you have already noticed the locals use scooters to get around everywhere.  You can see small villages, eat amazing local food, and most importantly get away from tourist mayhem.  The scooter will give you freedom to make your own plan and at your own pace you can drive the numerous scooter loops.  Although it’s easy and cheap to rent a scooter, there are a few rules that you need to know:

1)  Take a Picture

It sounds simple, but missing this simple step can cost you a hassle at best and lots of money at worst. Taking a detailed picture with your phone or camera documents any scuffs or damage before you rent the scooter.  So when you bring it back you ensure that you will not be taken advantage of.  Show the picture to the proprietor so that she or he knows you are documenting it ahead of time, this avoids any weird business from the get go.  Encourage them to take pictures too so everyone has an honest record.

Take a Detailed Scooter Picture

Take a Detailed Scooter Picture

 

2) Get Insurance

This is your #2 protection from getting taken advantage of. Not to mention if you have accident you have little or no financial liability. Make sure that you read the fine print, like literally, read it! Different companies will have various coverage plans. Some only cover the scooter in the city that you rent it from, others will pick you up  if you break down in another province with a concierge service. Some places like Laos may not have insurance, in this case negotiate the price of any damages ahead of time. The cost of repair can be very cheap in places where no insurance is available. Make sure you discuss this with the rental company ahead of time.

Besides getting insurance on the scooter, consider getting travel insurance that specifically covers scooter accidents.  Not many do so read the fine print here as well!

Get Insurance and You'll be Covered

Get Insurance and You’ll be Covered

 

3) Negotiate Your Deposit

Deposit can vary wildly. Our team has seen prices as high as the cost of the scooter and as low as nothing at all, there’s always room for negotiation. One thing you keep in mind is never give your passport as a deposit. We cannot stress this enough.  Most countries require everyone to carry identification, for you that means a passport. If you get stopped by the police without yours, it could make for an terrible situation. Also, if you get hurt you should go to Thailand or Europe for treatment. Instead get a state issued ID before you leave home. Give that and some cash for a deposit.

Good Negotiation and All are Happy

Good Negotiation and All are Happy

 

4) Get an International Driving Permit

All countries require that you have one if you drive a scooter. In practice most travelers who don’t get one may have no issues. If you have an accident you could be in trouble without one. Same if you get pulled over. You can get an international driver’s license at your local AAA for $15. You need to have your driver’s license in addition to have the international one be valid. Stay smart, and ahead of the game.

Stay Out of Trouble with an International License

Get an International Driving Permit

 

5) Start in a Rural Area

If you have no or little experience this is especially a good idea. Traffic in SE Asia is a bit more hectic than at home. Try to cross the street in Bangkok and you will get a good feel for it. That said most drivers are very attentive. They’re used to scooters buzzing around, tuk-tuks trying to go faster than the speed of light, and bigger cars having the right of way. If you start driving in a small town, or island like Koh Lanta, Thailand, it will be easier. You want to get a feel for SE Asian driving with a wide margin of error at the start.

Rural Areas Are the Best Practice

Rural Areas Are the Best Practice

 

6) Get a Helmet

Although most people in SE Asia won’t wear one, and will do daredevil antics that defy the laws of physics. You will be best served by having one. The hospitals are typically not to Western standards, and outside of Thailand’s cities many doctors won’t speak English. A Truly Traveled Travelbassador has seen an accident with the driver not wearing a helmet. An ride to the hospital in the back of a pickup was necessary.  Tourist get hurt without helmets every day. We like our heads, we assume you love yours. Stay safe, stay smart.

Wearing a Helmet is a GOOD idea

Wearing a Helmet is a GOOD idea

 

7) Partner Up

When scootin’ around SE Asia it’s best to have a partner. It’s way more fun and safer! You can even travel in a scooter gang. Having other people around makes things easier. If you get a flat tire you won’t be stranded. Same thing if you break down. You can also team up with a riding in the back. This technique is for advanced riders only, do not learn how to ride a scooter like this! Being on the back of a scooter is the best sightseeing you will do. Grab a camera and snap or video away!

Scootin' in a Group, Max Fun and Safety

Scootin’ in a Group, Max Fun and Safety

 

8) Check Your Tank

When you get your scooter the tank will be nearly empty. This is normal. Many proprietors make extra money by siphoning most of the fuel left in the tank. Honestly, it makes sense as many people in SE Asia make way less money than we do. So ask where the nearest gas station is. You will have enough gas to get to the nearest gas station.

Gas Station , First Stop to Fill Up

Gas Station , First Stop to Fill Up

 

9) Drive Safely

This may be super obvious but it needs to said.  SE Asia has a high rate of accidents but you can avoid these easily.  Pay attention. Yes, in Thailand they drive on the left so take your time and stay focused.  Stay on the side of the road and don’t go too fast.  Chances are you won’t have protective clothing, don’t go over 60 Km/h.  Drive during the day.  You will be able to see everything, sometimes scooter lights aren’t great.  Take short trips.  Even when doing a longer tour, take frequent rest breaks.  This will keep you refreshed.

Drive Safe and Get of the Beaten Path

Drive Safe and Get of the Beaten Path

 

OK.  So now you have the quickest steps to stay safe and have fun in SE Asia. This is the single best way to get off the beaten path in SE Asia.  You won’t regret it!  It may be the best part of your trip.  As always let the Truly Traveled Team know if you have any tips in the comments below.  Safe Travels!

Top 5 Places to Rock Climb in Southeast Asia

Tonsai, Birthplace of Deep Water Solo, Southeast Asia

Headed to Southeast Asia to beat the winter temps?  We have arranged the top 5 places that you can't miss.  Whatever type of warm weather climbing you're looking for we got you covered.  Enjoy your climbing vacation.  You're about to go the some of … [Continue reading]

Thai Beaches Are Getting Trashed – Should You Bother Going?

Trash at Tonsai Beach

If you’re reading this you have probably heard about the amazing and affordable beach life that Thailand has to offer. Blonde sand so fine that it almost feels like golden dust.  Gorgeous sunsets, cheap food and drinks.   The good life. However, … [Continue reading]

Ultimate Guide to Making International Calls When Traveling Abroad (Part 1)

guy-using-smartphone-on-beach

You may be wondering "How do I use my phone (in the traditional "phone" sense) while abroad?"  Well ... the good news is that are some legit low-cost options out there.  No matter which path you end up going down, getting everything set up and tested … [Continue reading]

5 Cheapest Cities in Western Europe

Porto Portugal Great Top Travel Destination

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or are just getting started, Europe has some awesome travel destinations for just about anyone. If you want a great experience and don’t want to break the bank then definitely consider these top 5 cities in Western … [Continue reading]

A Day Trip to Tiwi, Oman

Palm Trees in Oman Oasis

Three years after my first trip to India, I decided I had to return. Even if I was foregoing an opportunity to see something new, it was worth it to return to India. I would leave in January … and maybe visit another country along the way. Looking … [Continue reading]

Getting the Most From AirAsia in 9 Steps

Air Asia Logo

The world’s top rated budget airline, year after year now, is AirAsia. This Malaysia-based budget carrier has brought dirt-cheap fares to nearly every corner of Southeast Asia. Simply put flying from one country to another in this region is cheaper … [Continue reading]

5 Killer Scams That May Ruin Your Asia Trip

Foreign Currency Exchange by Street Vendors

In this guest article by James Prior of Asia Scams and Asia Sight See you’ll learn about how to avoid getting screwed over while traveling around Asia.  James has spent the better part of the last 10 years traveling around all corners of Asia and … [Continue reading]

House Sitting: The Ultimate Long-Term Budget Travel Hack

House in the Czech Republic

In this guest article by house sitter extraordinaire James Cave we dive into the fundamentals of house sitting as powerful budget travel hack.  Thanks for putting this together James. Unless you’re travelling in South East Asia, where you can … [Continue reading]

Getting the Most From Your Ryanair Experience

Ryan Air Plan for Budget Travel

Considering taking a cheap Ryanair flight? Here is what you need to make your Ryanair flight more comfortable. Contrary to what some might tell you, it absolutely is possible to have an insanely cheap AND enjoyable Ryanair flight. After flying … [Continue reading]