Riding a Motorcycle Taxi Safely
In most Thai cities and towns many of the locals travel by motorcycle taxi. All over Hua Hin at the end of small streets and on the corners of intersections you will see groups of Thai men (and a few women) congregated.
They will be wearing a plastic vest (usually orange) with a number on it. These are the Thai motorcycle taxi drivers and they can take you to most places, much quicker than most other forms of transportation due to their ability to weave in and out of traffic. If you are in a car you can wait at a red light while motorcycle taxis have long since gone as they weave in and out of cars to get to the front of the line. When the light changed to green, they were the first away. Many people use motorcycle taxis because of the speed but to do it right (and safely!) you have to know a few rules.
1. Wear a Helmet or BYO!
Even though motorcycle taxi drivers probably have the best safety record of any motorcyclists on the road, it’s very unusual to see a driver without a helmet. However they don’t often have spare helmets; if they do and offer it to you, take it and wear it. If you are a frequent user, you may want to find a regular driver that does. Why not take your own helmet? If you are heading for a restaurant, bar or office, it won’t be hard to find a safe place to keep it.
2. Hold Onto The Bar at The Back.
It’s not particularly acceptable to hold onto the motorcycle taxi driver when riding behind him on a motorcycle taxi. It’s more polite to hold onto the small bar at the back of the bike seat and not hold the driver around the waist. Even when riding side saddle, most Thai women still hold onto the bar at the back of the bike and not to the motorcycle driver.
3. Make Sure You Look Ahead.
Make sure you are constantly aware of what is going on ahead of you. It is much safer to be able to predict an upcoming collision or accident and brace yourself accordingly, than it is to be suddenly catapulted off the bike because you weren’t paying attention to what is happening on the road ahead of you.
4. Keep Your Knees and Elbows In.
All the motorcycle taxi drivers weave in and out of traffic, and they often come very close to the cars they are going past. If you don’t pay attention and don’t keep your knees and elbows tucked into your body, you are likely to get them whacked against a car you are passing. Even if the car is stationary and you are not, a hard knock against it could lead to a broken knee or elbow, or even knock you off the bike. So tuck in any protruding limb. This also goes for any bags or parcels you are carrying. Make sure you hold them close to your body so they’re not in danger of being knocked off when you pass a car.
5. Ask The Driver To Slow Down.
It’s completely acceptable to ask a driver to slow down “Bpai Chaa Chaa”, and most of them will. There is no point taking a white-knuckled ride, when a quick request will make them slow down and give you a safer ride.
6. Sit Astride the Motorbike
In Thailand, you will see many Thai women riding motorcycle taxis and many of them will be sitting side saddle. While this is a cute and elegant way to travel on a motorbike, especially when you’re in a skirt, it is also one of the most dangerous. If the motorcycle has to maneuver suddenly you are likely to fall off the side of the bike and into the street. Every year, thousands of Thai women are hurt or killed by falling off motorbikes. If you’re not used to it and don’t know what you’re doing, it can be very dangerous. Dress in a way to keep your modest intact while sitting astride the bike. With these few tips, you too can enjoy taking motorcycle taxis around town. And don’t forget; in Thai call them “motosi”. If you need one just ask, “Moto-si, yu tee nigh?