I am back again to share my recent motorcycle adventure through South East Asia.
For a very long time, I have been receiving message requests to write short blogs instead of long stories, so I have decided to write small blogs starting with my travel across Thailand.
Number of days in Thailand: 40
Total expense including Motorbike rent, Flight ticket, Visa, food, fuel, stay and beer: 1000 USD/ 60,000 INR
After my Europe trip on a motorcycle, I was thinking to join a job as I was left with little money which was not enough for further travel. But this time, CastrolBiking supported me for my journey across south-east Asia.
I had planned to start my travel across Asia in the month of November, but because of my TEDx talk, it got delayed.
Everything happens for a good reason and I think, the good reason for my delayed trip was to find everything at a much cheaper price. I had no idea about the places to visit in south-east Asia but I knew, with the Little money I had I could travel for a few months in Asia.
Tip to choose Best Time for traveling around Thailand: The information which I got from locals while traveling around Thailand, I feel the best time would be from November till January End, but if you want to find cheap accommodations and could bear the hot weather, Feb to April would be a good time as well to travel in Thailand.
On 12th February 2018, I finally entered Thailand and just outside the airport I found myself a little lost. I wanted to go to Khao San road(The backpacker street) but couldn’t find the bus number S1(direct bus from Airport to Khao San road). Also, the people I met outside airport didn’t speak English(or they didn’t understand my accent) and even google translate didn’t bring much help. I had heard from a traveler friend once “If you are a traveler and found yourself in trouble, follow your heart”. Like most men, I followed my heart which directed me to two beautiful Thai girls. They somehow managed to guide me(That’s what I thought initially) to a place from where I could go to Khao San road. But the place where these two beautiful girls took me, was a big bus stop from where you can get buses to any place in Thailand outside Bangkok but not to the place where I wanted to go.
I had to come back to the airport and this time I didn’t choose to follow my heart instead I asked the bus driver to help me find the place from where I could get Bus S1 which goes to Khao San road from the airport and luckily I found the bus.
Tip for Travelers from India to save some money: If you are planning to visit Thailand from India, don’t bring Indian currency as the exchange rate is very low. It will be better to carry dollars as it has a really good exchange rate(Not only in Thailand but everywhere around SouthEast Asia).
I found a cheap hostel in Khao sab road with breakfast for 4 dollars(It is hard to find a hostel in that price even in India) and just chilled out that day in the hostel with other travelers drinking Local Thai beer (Chang). Next day, I bought a sim card and started my search for the motorcycle. I was planning to buy a motorbike in Thailand but it’s little tricky to buy a motorcycle in Thailand and register it on your name. So, I decided to rent it instead. After a long search and visiting quite a few motorcycle rental shops, I found a place( Emma Motorcycle Rental) where I could rent a motorbike in Bangkok and travel around Thailand(Most of the motorcycle rentals won’t let you take their motorcycle outside Bangkok).
Tip for Insurance while traveling on Motorcycle in Thailand: It is better to have an A1 insurance for your motorcycle while traveling in Thailand, which will cover your medical cost up to 10 million Baht on a motorcycle accident. In case you don’t have this insurance, you might end up paying a lot of money to other people(scam where people intentionally come in front of your motorbike) for repair of their vehicle or their medical bills. Also, for motorcycle travelers who prefer to buy a good Adventurer insurance like I did(World Nomad) before coming to Thailand, I would suggest having A1 insurance is enough, which cost around 40 USD, and it covers you for 1 year.
Tip to buy a sim card in Thailand: Don’t buy the sim card at the Airport because they are almost double the actual price. I would recommend even not to buy from supermarkets or street shops, instead find the nearest AIS store(good mobile network across Thailand) and buy directly from the store.
Initially, I wanted to rent a scooter but my friend Bala, who lives in India and help me with motorcycle repair during my journey, suggested me to rent a good offroad motorcycle. Without a second thought, I rented this beautiful dual sports machine( Kawasaki 150cc).
Before I could start my journey, a lot of travelers started advising me to ride carefully in crazy traffic of Thailand. Not only that, the guy from whom I rented the bike scared me more by telling me some motorcycle accident stories of foreigners in Thailand. But after my travel across South East Asia, I could say these people have not been to India for sure. Thailand traffic is crazy but still not as crazy as Indian Traffic. Traveling around Thailand turned out to be piece of cake for me.
After arranging motorbike and partying for 4 days in Khao San Road, I started my journey towards the north of Thailand with little idea of places to visit. I got some information from motorcycle rental owner to visit North Thailand to get the best experience of cruising in Thailand(North Thailand is also known as bikers paradise). Around 80km north of Bangkok, My first stop on this trip was Ayuttaya which is known for its old temples and historical monuments.
In Ayutthaya, I met a traveler who told me about a beautiful waterfall which was 200km away. Instead of staying in a hostel near the waterfall, I stayed in the national park and camped at a very cheap price. And later I got more information from the visitor center of this national park that it is possible to camp(you can rent a tent also) in most of the national parks of Thailand, and from that day onwards my Motorcycle camping journey started.
Tip for camping in national parks of Thailand: You can rent a tent, sleeping bag, and mattress from the visitor center of the national park which normally cost 250 Baht(7USD) per night for two people. But if you have your own tent, you can save a lot of money as you only need to pay the entrance fees of the national park(vary from 100 baht/3USD to 250 Baht/USD which is only one-time payment and you can stay as long as you want).
Something which will make you fall in love with Thailand at the very first sight is people of Thailand, who always welcome you with a smile. Every place I had visited in Thailand, I was always welcomed with a very big smile.
It was my first time when I was camping alone, as mostly when I had camped in India, I always had a company. But most of the time during this trip, I was the only person to camp. Sometimes, I had the company of local people but they didn’t understand English and the only way to make a friend was to smile(It is hard to resist yourself from smiling after seeing a big welcoming smile of Thai people). After few days of lonely camping at beautiful locations across Thailand, I started feeling as if I was doing Vipassana(A meditation program where you are not allowed to speak or look into eyes of other people).
Do you need International Driving License for riding in Thailand: Yes, you always need an international driving license to ride a motorbike outside of your home country. But a lot of travelers I met in south-east Asia didn’t have any license at all. So, I assume you can ride in Thailand as well without any license but if you are caught by the police, you need to pay a fine of 500 baht. I had heard stories from some travelers that they were fined by the police in Chiang Mai for riding without Driving license.
I started waking up early in the morning to see the sunrise and used to sleep looking at millions of stars at night. But one day, I couldn’t go out from my camp because the place where I had camped was home for 3 bitches, who had recently given birth to 20 puppies. I had to see the sunrise from my camp, as whenever I try to come out, all these puppies started barking and running toward me(I gave them food a night before but they seem to have forgotten my face next morning)
I kept moving towards north through the lonely countryside roads of west Thailand(hoping to see some wild elephants but didn’t find any). I only found the elephants poop on some roads and nothing else.
Tip to navigate through South East Asia: Google map works fine most of the time, but it is not accurate always. It will be better to use the mobile app “Maps.me”. When I entered Thailand, all travelers suggested me this app for navigation, but I didn’t install it until one day when I was riding through a very remote area where I reached the end of a cliff and google map was showing me to go straight.
It was hard to communicate but a smile was enough to make new friends in Thailand. I believe, if you can smile, you can break all barriers between people of different religions or different nations.
Once I was about to run out of fuel as I had only 4-liters fuel tank and I didn’t find any fuel station whole day. I asked some local people and they escorted me to a place which looked like a grocery store. I felt like asking the guy who escorted me “Bhai petrol chahiye, Sarso ka tail Nahi(I need fuel for my motorcycle, not mustard oil)”.But that grocery store was actually a fuel station as well.
If this is not enough to keep you moving, try the local food of Thailand. You will surely fall in love with Thai food and would never want to leave this beautiful country. All big cities of Thailand have night markets, where you can try the authentic local food at a very cheap price. Although, using the chopsticks for first few days would be similar to fighting in the war with hiking sticks.
And if you love to visit the offbeat places, It will be a food paradise for you. Different varieties of food which you could eat at a very cheap price(You could find a place to eat at every 10km even on the highway as well). I still remember I used to get 4kg of pineapples for 10 baht(0.5 USD) while traveling through the small villages of Thailand.
A little up north, I reached Doi Inthanon National park, my first destination of Maehongson Loop, where I met a guy who could understand a little English and he invited me to his place for rice wine and food. I went to his place, where his friends welcomed me with a big smile and lot of local rice wine. I drank a lot that day and we went fishing at night. We didn’t catch any fish but he found some frogs for dinner that night. I still remember that night because I won’t be doing it again in future, I was fully drunk and it was really hard to ride the motorcycle but still, I rode back to my camping location which was 25km kilometers away.
During those lonely camping days, I became little creative to utilize my free time. So I used to spend all day either reading books or fixing my broken things.
North was completely different than central and west of Thailand. And for motorcycle travelers who like curves(On road only, don’t let your heart listen to this word), north is the perfect place to ride. There are more than 1800 loops on the Mae Hong Son loop, so you get a turn on road within 50 meters.
Tip to ride in North Maehongson Loop: Be careful on turns, some drivers in Thailand prefer to ride in the straight line on curvy roads instead of riding on their own lane which could be really risky on blind curves. So better slow down on curves and ride close to left edge of the road.
Mae Hong son is not just the name of a route, it’s actually a beautiful small town that you pass through during your travel on the curvey and most scenic mountain roads in the north of Thailand. Mae Hong son is also the place where I met a completely different tribe(Long neck people ) from Myanmar.
From MaehongSong, after riding through almost 1500 Loops in 500 km, I reached a small town of Pai in Thailand which is a popular destination among travelers. It’s a nice place to make some new friends but I was more happy to meet again the travelers whom I have met in Bangkok during my first 4 days(Travelers looking for the cheapest option for the stay will definitely end up in the same place during their travel in the same country).
Few days in Pai and I started moving further north towards Chiang Rai(Near to Laos) where landscape view was getting better with every mile I covered. Maehongson loop is popular travel route of travelers but further north is still unexplored with more beautiful landscape views.
After spending few days in North, saying goodbye to mountains and pleasant weather of north, I decided to explore the east of Thailand. But as I touched the plain, the weather became very hot. It was unbearable to ride with riding gears in such a hot weather. I had two heat strokes during my journey towards the east, due to which I had to take breaks on highways in the Air-conditioned rooms (In one of the hotel, I was welcomed by a condom and soap in an ashtray which can happen Only in Thailand)
I had an awesome bike which took me on all roads(Highway and offroad) without a single breakdown. But this bike was not comfortable for a long journey. With burning hot weather, I started having tailbone pain as well because of the uncomfortable seat. Every time I used to sit on my bike, I had such a bad pain that I started riding this bike in standing position for almost half of the day. But I made some Jugaad(A workaround), using a neck pillow, to make my sitting more comfortable which helped me a lot.
I found many beautiful places for camping on my way towards the east of Thailand as well, but I couldn’t continue my exploration journey because of hot weather and decided to move towards Bangkok.
On my way back towards Bangkok, I camped in a national park where I was scared a little bit. Normally in the national park, rangers are posted near camping location but in this national park rangers were almost 1.5km away from the camping location which was in the middle of the forest. But drinking beer alone and enjoying the night full of stars was a different experience as well.
And within few days, I reached Pattaya. I had not seen any beach before Pattaya, so I was a little excited in beginning but Pattaya seems to be a popular place for something else. Streets are full of massage parlors. Whenever I went out of my hostel for food or drink, I used to hear voices from all direction saying “Hey Indian, good Massage with extra service”. In the evening, I decided to walk on the beach road and it was surprising to see the entire stretch of 3km road beach road is full of prostitutes. But Pattaya has many things to offer other than sex, streets full of the variety of food options and a good place to learn Mua Thai Boxing as well. The hostel where I stayed was also a training center for Mua Thai boxing where I met a few people who have been doing it for a long time.
Thailand was a land of smile and surprises as well. On my way back to Bangkok, I found few Hindu temples as well where everyone was doing prayers in Hindi but they didn’t know to speak any Hindi.
After reaching Bangkok again, I decided to take some rest and stayed in the less touristy area where I met an Indian traveler, who took me to Sikh temple in Bangkok where you can get Indian food. I always respected the Sikh religion for their culture as they had helped me during my India road trip as well. But now I have more respect for them because after eating noodles for 38 days, I had Indian food in Sikh Temple(Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Bangkok, Thailand).
I returned my bike in Bangkok and took a flight to Hanoi, Vietnam to continue my adventure.
To be continued…