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Thailand - practical info

Travelling alone or with a companion?

The reign of Thailand as one of the most interesting places in South Eastern Asia is certainly longstanding. With its luxuriant landscape, temperate climate and manageable humidity, it is a perfect destination for travel throughout the year.
The people are tolerant and friendly and consider tourists a resource worth protecting. To the eyes of a tourist, this land is extremely intriguing as traditional appears to comfortably co-exist with modern; skyscrapers mingling with temples as visitors travel seamlessly from the hustle-bustle of town roads to unspoilt mountain paths.
Thailand can be included as part of a broader motorcycle expedition, such as GIVI “Explore”, or it can be a destination in its own right for a trip lasting several weeks. After all, the size of the territory covered by Thailand is twice the size of Italy and it is nearly as large as France. Its total length is almost 1900Km, with the land mass being narrow in the South and broad in the North, resembling the head of an elephant.
The territory is extremely diverse, shifting from the high mountains of the North to the tropical islands of the South and it is home to a number of different ecosystems. Located in the five main regions, Thailand has 102 National Parks and 122 reservoirs.

THE CENTRAL LOWLANDS – a very fertile area, with 22 counties and the capital city of Bangkok. With ancient settlements and towns, dazzling markets and plantations.
THE NORTH – mountain ranges, ethnic tribes, waterfalls, paths and sophisticated temples.
THE NORTHEAST- a less economically developed region. Large highlands, friendly dwellers, ancient temples, interesting local food and architecture.
THE EAST – characterised by short mountain chains punctuated by valleys and rivers. Pattaya is located in the east and all well-known islands can be easily reached from here.
THE SOUTH – between the Gulf of Thailand and Andamane Sea, it is the paradise of tropical landscape lovers. White beaches, colourful fishermen’s boats, islands…
If you do not have a great deal of time available, renting a motorcycle locally might be the easiest solution.
Take a flight to the ultimate eastern metropolis of Bangkok and from there head north to witness the Giant Buddhas of Sukhothai and the Giraffe Women, adorned with brass rings around their necks. Alternatively, choose one of the aforementioned regions, all of which are full of charm. If you are not looking for a wild adventure, a trip can be easily planned with the help of a local guide.

Personal and motorcycle documents

Passport: To be granted access into Thailand, a passport must be valid for six months following the date of arrival into the Country. It must also have two free pages to accommodate Visa stamps. Tourists must keep their passport with them at all times by law.
Visa: no visa is necessary for tourists staying 45 days or less.
From 1 November 2022, Thailand has extended the digital “e-Visa” system for entering the country to include Italy. To obtain a visa, you must register with the online platform https://thaievisa.go.th. You must make the application at least 15 days prior to your expected date of arrival in Thailand. It is also possible to obtain a tourist visa for multiple entries valid for 6 months, allowing a stay of up to 60 days in Thailand per entry, which can be extended for another 30 days. This “multiple entry” tourist visa costs 5,000 Thai Baht (around €130). If you are interested, you can apply for one from any Thai Embassy, Consulate or Honorary Consulate.
Holders of a temporary passport with at least 6 months’ residual validity can request the visa at the border, but we recommend asking the Thai Embassy in your country to confirm whether or not this option is available for your specific circumstances.
If you are entering Thailand from a neighbouring state through a land crossing point, it is good practice to make sure that the Thai authorities at the border mark your passport with an entry stamp. There are no formalities to follow when bringing currencies into the country, providing the sums involved are not... excessive.
International driving permits are recognised in Thailand, whether pursuant to the 1949 Geneva Convention model (valid for 1 year and usable in the 101 countries that adhere to the Convention) or to the 1968 Vienna Convention model (valid for 3 years and usable in the 84 countries that adhere to the Convention).
No foreign insurance policies are recognised.
If entering Thailand with a private vehicle, it is necessary to obtain a temporary insurance policy at the Border, after a local travel agency has requested the permission of the Thai Vehicle Registration Authority. It is possible that the permit could take up to 30 days to be granted.
For more information contact your Embassy (for Italian Citizens, the Italian Embassy is based in Bangkok https://ambbangkok.esteri.it/ambasciata_bangkok/it/)

Mobility

Thailand drives on the left and overtake on the right and motorcycle riders are required to wear a helmet. If stopped by the police for an alcohol (breathalyser) test, the permitted level of alcohol is 0.05%. If opting to hire a motorcycle locally, it is important to be vigilant when it comes to selecting a local motorcycle rental company, as we are still receiving reports of untrustworthy companies operating fleets of motorcycles that are unchecked and therefore unsafe for the road.
Regardless of whether a visitor is driving a private or rented vehicle, driving anywhere can be dangerous. In recent years, a large number of car crashes have been recorded and these have been mainly due to drivers’ inability to drive on the left and the general chaos that exists on the streets. When driving, never make assumptions. The third lane is not designed for overtaking: its use is at the discretion of other drivers / riders. It is important to always respect distances and speed limits.
The roads are of average quality. The main roads are excellent asphalt roads with secondary roads in not such good condition. In remote areas, the roads are generally surfaced with gravel. It is strongly recommended to purchase a liability insurance policy, with adequate coverage.

Safety

Currently, Thailand is relatively safe. Following the 2015 terrorist attacks, safety checks in the capital city and other sensitive locations, including tourist spots, have been increased by the local authorities. There is no restriction on movement throughout the country, but it is advisable to be more cautious in the southern provinces (where the majority of the Muslim population resides) of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani as well as Jana, Nathawee, Thepha and Sabayoi (in Songkhla Province) and Satun. Caution is also recommended in the north, close to the borders with Laos and Myanmar, and in the east at the border with Cambodia.
For added security when travelling alone, always provide precise travel information regarding routes and estimated daily arrival times to a third party.
Avoid areas where protests and public gatherings are due to take place, as well as the city outskirts after sunset. While in Bangkok, be vigilant for pickpockets as the heavy traffic enables opportunist thieves to operate from motorcycles.
Credit card cloning has also been reported in Thailand so it is important to be cautious when using credit cards for payment.

Useful information

Country Code: TH
Capital City: BANGKOK
Population: 68.800.000 people
Surface: 514.000 Square Kilometres
Time zone: 6 hours ahead of Italy (+five in summer time)
Languages: Thai and English (in the capital and other touristic areas).
Religion: Majority Therevada Buddhist (Christian and Muslim minorities).
Currency: the Baht. As of March 2023, 37.10 Baht is the equivalent of €1, and 34.26 Baht is worth US$1. All main credit cards are accepted.
Power Grid: 220V. 50Hz.Some sockets are a combination of A and E sizes and can accommodate both plugs.
Phone service: Thailand Country dialling code is +66. The country has 4  mobile telephone services, 3G and 4G internet roaming. Reception is good  even outside urban areas.
Emergency Services: 191
Road Safety Phone line: 02 9395770
Tourist Police: 1155
Tourism Authority of Thailand – E-mail: center@tat.or.th – web: https://www.tourismthailand.org/home
The Royal Automobile Association of Thailand (RAAT) – 151 Ratchadapisek Road, Jatujak – Bangkok 10900 –
Tel. +66 2 9395770/1/2/3 – e-mail: raat_thailand@hotmail.com – web: https://www.raat.or.th/

Useful information for italian motorcycle tourists

National Organisation for Tourism in Thailand – 68 Barberini Street- 00187 Roma Tel. 06 42014422/0642014426 –
E-mail: info@turismothailandese.it Website: www.tourismthailand.org/
Italian Embassy of BANGKOK – CRC Tower, All Seasons Place – 40th floor  (27th Floor Chancellery) – 87 Wireless Road – Lumphini, Pathumwan –  Bangkok 10330 – tel. (0)2 250 4970 switchboard –  E-mail: ambasciata.bangkok@esteri.it
https://ambbangkok.esteri.it/ambasciata_bangkok/it/
Honorary Consulate in PHUKET – Hon. Counsellor Dr. Francesco PENSATO – 2/514 Chaofa West Rd. - Moo 3 T. - Vichit - 83000 Phuket - Thailand – Tel: +66 (0) 76 263923 – Mob: +66 (0)88 7612637 – email address: consolare.phuket@gmail.com
Honorary Consulate of CHIANG MAI – Cons.On. Dr. Vichit LEELAMANIT – 19 Soi 9 Sirimungkalajarn Road
Suthep, Muang District – Chiangmai 50200 – Tel: +66 (0) 53-212925 – Mob: +66 (0) 81-8825252 – E-mail: chiangmai.onorario@esteri.it

Healthcare service

Hospital standards are good with those in private clinics being  outstanding. Hospital care is chargeable and the cost of treatment in a  clinic can be quite expensive. Prior to travelling, it is advisable to  purchase insurance that will cover medical expenses and the potential  repatriation of the policy holder, if necessary.
Known Illnesses: In the first quarter of 2016, there were  dozens of cases of the “Zika Virus” contagion. Zika is a viral illness  caused by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which is also responsible for the  spread of “Dengue” and “Chikungunya”.
On 19 June 2015, the first case of MERS was identified in Thailand. The  Health authorities subsequently created a regimented heath protocol to  monitor travellers flying into Thailand from areas at risk.
AIDS has spread noticeably and there have been a number of outbreaks of  tropical illnesses (e.g. Malaria and Japanese Encephalitis). Dengue  Fever is still present, as it is in all areas of South Eastern Asia.  Dengue Fever mostly affects the northern territory. In southern  Thailand, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases  of Chikungunya Fever.
If you begin to develop unusual symptoms whilst in Thailand, do not  hesitate in calling a doctor. It is essential to adopt all the  precautions necessary to avoid insect bites during your stay. It is  important to be cautious when consuming eggs and poultry meat and check  that all meat is always thoroughly cooked. Vaccination against yellow fever is mandatory for all travellers over the age of one year arriving from countries where there is a risk of transmission, or who have spent more than 12 hours passing through such countries before arriving in Thailand.
The COVID-19 situation: As of 6 January last, no vaccine certificate or negative Covid test is required to enter the country.
Travellers who plan to go from Thailand to a country where a negative test is required for entry must have medical insurance.

Motorbike equipment

From a motorcycling point of view, Thailand is an easy location for two-wheel travel. There are no deserts to navigate and routes generally run alongside villages. Riders can travel across Thailand using any kind of motorcycle or even a scooter. In the drier season, luggage can be light but during the monsoon period, it is essential to add a full rainproof suit to your supply of technical clothing. You may be tempted to take a jet helmet, but it is advisable to opt for a modular helmet which can convert to an open face helmet.
There is no specific motorcycle touring tips in Thailand for those riders travelling to the border with their motorcycle or having their vehicle shipped to Thailand via sea or air.
If opting to hire a motorcycle locally, you should consider taking a comfortable backpack or soft bag that can be mounted to the back of the motorcycle using either straps and/or elasticated belts. It is also advisable to carry a number of accessories that might become necessary, particularly if travelling alone ie a First Aid kit, puncture repair kit, USB cables, smartphone holder, lock with steel cable to secure the helmet and bags during short stops.
You could possibly hire most of these items locally, but costs may be high, so it is often easier to bring your own from home. Be inspired by GIVI ideas for street motorbikes, maxi enduros, enduros and scooters.

Fuel

In Thailand, a litre of petrol costs 43.54 Baht (average price calculated from December 2022 to March 2023), equal to approximately US$1.276 and €1.176. The fuel  available is unleaded. All main routes are equipped with service  stations but in remote / isolated areas, fuel is sold in small roadside  kiosks.

When to travel

Thailand is subject to tropical monsoon weather, which consists of a  specific rainy season. There are mainly two seasons: a moist summer  season, (May to October) and a dry winter season (November to April).  When planning a motorcycle trip, it is advisable to avoid travelling  between July and October as this is the period typically characterised  by heavy rains and flooding.
The north and north eastern areas of the country are generally cooler  than the capital and receive less rainfall than the rest of the country.  The most intense rains fall in the south.
It is advisable to travel to Thailand between November and February when  the average temperature is around 25 degrees centrigrade.
If travelling outside this period, it is advisable to regularly check  the weather news and forecast on the local information channels eg www.tmd.go.th/en/

Motorbike rentals and tour operators

The internet is full of tour operators and rental companies located in  Thailand, below you will find details of a few we have selected.

BBE Bangkok bike rentals

Rental Company set up in Bangkok in 2009, offering motorcycle rental and guided tours.
It has interesting rental fees, for example, hiring a Honda CB500X for one week during the high season (1 October to 31 March) costs 10,000 Baht. They also hire helmets, clothing, GPS systems and... GIVI bags.
Contact details:
Address: 79/37 Soi Phumichit, Rama 4 Phra Khanong, Klong Toei, 10110, Bangkok – Phone: (+66) 0850550247– Hours: Monday to Friday, 10:00 - 18:00; Saturday and Sunday, 11:00 - 16:00; email address: info@bsrbikeshop.com 

Rentalmotorbike

Offices in Bangkok with a variety of models available. Prices start from €36.37 per day for a Honda CB300 R and go up to €184.05 for a Ducati Supersport. It’s a worldwide organisation with a very sophisticated motorcycle rental platform, similar to the one used by the main car rental companies and with the same degree of safety.
They offer the added advantage of a multilingual service. Large parking area for motorcycles and scooters.
Contacts: www.rentalmotorbike.com - phone. +44 203 769 00 23

BBRB big bike rental Bangkok

Another rental company based in the capital city. Its motorcycle parking area includes Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha. Accessories are also available for hire.
One example of the rental fees: a Honda CB500X costs 1,440 Baht per day for a week. Interesting route information can be found on their website, each of which has been tested by members of staff and then recommended to their clients. If you are interested in one of the company’s guided tours, BBRB Big Bike Rental has connections with a number of tour operators specialising in motorcycle guided tours.
Contact details:
address: 938, Dan Samrong 60, Sukhumvit Rd. 113, Bangkok 10270 - Opening hours: Monday - Sunday: 08:00 - 18:00 - Phone +66 92 27 41 123 – email address: info@bigbikerentalbangkok.com - www.bigbikerentalbangkok.com

RIDERLY

A rental company that operates worldwide. Simply enter your destination and dates on the website and the programme will allow you to view and compare thousands of motorcycles and scooters from over 600 local providers. The site also has interesting tips for travelling and touring as well as guides to renting.
Contact details:
address: 2 Eastbourne Terrace London W2 6LG, England - Phone (United Kingdom): +44 1304 807 963 - email address: support@riderly.com