Could tourists renting motorcycles in Thailand be a thing of the past?

There may soon be legislation forcing tourists to hold a valid motorcycle driving license in order to operate a motorbike on Thailand's roads.

Thailand scooter moped

A recent report has surfaced from the which hints that Thailand may crackdown on tourists renting motorcycles without a valid licence. 

Thailand’s Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob and his deputy have begun discussing and reviewing motorcyclist safety on Thailand’s roads. If the new ruling - which requires tourists to hold a valid motorcycle driving licence to rent a motorcycle - comes into effect in January, this could spell the end for many tourists, who could previously rent a motorcycle under 200cc with little or no driving or riding documentation required.

The potential ruling comes after the passing of 17-year-old Anthony Ryan, from the UK, who lost his life after colliding with an oncoming vehicle on a rented moped in adverse weather conditions. Such a ruling could’ve saved the life of this young man if implemented earlier. Many other tourists are involved in accidents, with Thailand having the second highest road traffic fatality rate in the world, according to the WHO

Currently, all tourists must do to rent a motorcycle in Thailand is to provide a valid passport and travel insurance policy. And the use of a crash helmet seems somewhat ambiguous - even though it’s a requirement by Thai law. There are also claims that those without a driving licence could hire a bike in the country, so long as they were willing to pay a little more.

Even though the current Thai Transport Minister is renowned for making tough and unpopular decisions in favour of safety, we have some questions over the enforceability of this potential new law - and don’t get us wrong, we’re all for increased motorcycle safety.  

Currently, a UK driver's licence alone is not a valid driving document in Thailand. To be within the law, tourists require an international driving permit (IDP), as well as a valid licence to operate a vehicle in Thailand. However, It’s no secret that many motorcycle rental companies do not adhere to these rules, and we ask will it just be business as usual? 

This trip advisor guide (although not official) explains the current laws way better than I do.  

Under the new law

A CBT will not do, nor will a UK drivers licence. To be within the law and covered by your insurance company, you'll need a full bike licence and an IDP. And it’s always best to check with your travel insurance company to make sure what you can and can’t ride. You don’t want any surprises if the sh*t hits the fan. 

So, to all holiday goers and veteran global travellers. What do you think about this potentially tougher law in Thailand: 

Will it be effective at reducing motorcycle accidents involving tourists? Or will it not? 

Let us know in the comments below.