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Finance and money forum

Motorbike vs Public Transport

Posted by PeterW on 2/12/2011 at 09:39

Hi All.

I've read in some forum posts that having a motorbike can help you save some serious money from not paying for bus / train tickets, its also a lot faster and its easier to get off the beaten track so to speak. I am going to take my CBT before I go so I will be insured riding a bike to 125cc. This will cost £100. Apparently you need to have a bike registered in vietnam and ownership papers for border crossings so if its worth it I'll just fly from Kuala Lumpur to Hanoi instead of south Thailand and make my way around Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and China by bike from there. An international drivers licence costs about £5 from the AA and I don't think a Vietnamese drivers licence will be that expensive with a 3 month visa added on. Factoring the £100 CBT, $350 on a bike and licences and fees would it be worth it? Can anyone tell me the price for a litre of pertol in any of the above countries?

#1 PeterW has been a member since 29/8/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by CrankyCarrot on 8/12/2011 at 10:24

A litre of petrol in Thailand is currently about 34 baht / $1.20 US/Aus

I think thats about 75 pence or something.

I would go for a scooter over public transport in somewhere like Phuket every time - insurance or no insurance.

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Posted by MADMAC on 8/12/2011 at 10:44

I can't speak about Vietnam, but as far as Thailand goes, a bike beats the bus any day of the week and twice on Sunday. First of all, you move at your pace, not the buses. Secondly, you see something you like, you can just stop. Thirdly, once you arrive at your destination, you have wheels. Buses suck! Bikes are cool. Try to get something in the 250--600 CC range though. The little bikes kind of blow.

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Posted by busylizzy on 8/12/2011 at 13:58

I think it's a great idea if you've got the motorbike skills and confidence to do so. Just be sure to read the fineprint of your insurance policy (which you will have, right?!) to clearly understand what it will and will not cover. My policy stated that I had to hire from a 'licensed' rental company (what does that mean in Asia exactly?) and obey local road rules (which for starters, means being licensed in the country you are travelling in). Be sure to understand the risks that you are taking if you DON'T comply to your insurance requirements - there is no point whinging later!

And wear a helmet!

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Posted by travellingsarah on 9/12/2011 at 00:45 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

I'd second the cautionary note from busylizzy (particularly given the situation my brother-in-law and family are in after his accident - coma, £80,000 costs etc.) but also want to point out that it is not easy to get a Vietnamese driving license. I hardly know anyone's who's got one because, with all the will in the world, it takes time, patience and a Vietnamese friend. As you'll have a UK bike license you will probably just have to get that converted but it requires a lot of documentation and might not be feasible to get done in the time you have. Also I'm not sure if a CBT counts as it's a certificate not a license. If you do decide to do it let me know how you get on - I'd be really interested to know as maybe it's got easier.

All that said, it's a great way to see the country and petrol here costs around 20,000VND (US$1/65p) per litre.

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Posted by CrankyCarrot on 9/12/2011 at 02:14

@Madmac - always with the scooter-bashing.

My 120cc Honda Click does the job just fine - you don't need some obnoxious, noisy beast to get from A-B.

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Posted by MADMAC on 9/12/2011 at 03:36

Cranky,
If you don't like noise, go with the Honda CBR! It has a great muffler, it's quieter than most scooters.

The smaller bikes are painfully slow on the highway, far less stable with lousy tires (they're almost bicycle tires), and the saddles are not very comfortable after an hour or so on the road. My first bike here was a Honda Wave, and I just can't ride it now. The gear system is crap - you have to play a little game with the shifter to get into neutral and each gear change is jerky because it has no clutch. The saddle is really uncomfortable. And it tops out at about 100 kmh, and even if it could go faster I wouldn't want to as it's pretty unstable over 80 kmh. The only upside is cost, so if you can afford to get a real bike, get one.

On top of all that, you look like a dork riding one.

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Posted by travellingsarah on 9/12/2011 at 03:50 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

50cc Honda Supercub all the way. Well, maybe not all the way to HCMC.

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Posted by MADMAC on 9/12/2011 at 06:38

Sarah
That is the most hideous little thing on two wheels I have ever seen. My wife would divorce me if I pulled up riding something like that.

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Posted by busylizzy on 9/12/2011 at 13:35

Don't forget that many people on this forum who hire motorbikes in SEA are relatively inexperienced or motorbike virgins. Recommending a large bike that is bigger than they can possibly handle is irresponsible in my view. Besides, we are travellers, not in a hurry to go anywhere anyhow. I think the bike I hired in Laos was 110cc or 120cc. I LIKED the fact that I had one that wasn't going to get me into too much trouble.

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Posted by MADMAC on 9/12/2011 at 20:38

Liz
I used to think that way too. I didn't start riding until I came to SEA. I remember when I first moved here I had a Honda Wave. I had been here about three months, hanging out at the local expat bar, and there was an English guy there with a Honda Phantom. I was admiring his bike and he said "They're OK, but they're too small". "Too small? The thing looks huge too me." Well, a month latter he was getting ready to go back to England and was selling it at a steal price of 65,000 baht. It had 3,000 km on the odometer and two years warranty left and looked new. I told him I was afraid of it, it looked too big and too difficult to ride. I had never ridden a bike with a clutch. He told me he'd give me lessons. I went to his house, and the clutch works the same as it does in a car, just with your hand instead of your foot. It was a two minute lesson. I drove up and down his street. That was easy. I took it out to the main road and around the block. That was easy. And what I discovered was that the Phantom handled MUCH better, was MUCH more stable than the Wave, and MUCH easier to ride and control. I thought it would be the other way around - that small would be easier for a beginner and safer. But that wasn't true. My son came here and learned to drive the Phantom in two minutes, and he'd never been on a bike before. He's been driving it for two plus years now. It's counter-intuitive, I know. But the only caveat is that you already can drive a car with a clutch. If you can, then a bike in the 200-250 range is easier to handle and safer to ride. The reason for that is because it's more stable on the road because it's heavier. And they almost always have a larger tires, giving you better traction. And with a clutch you can take the bike out of gear anytime you want or need to. Now they have more power, and give you more speed, so you obviously can't race around like a mad man - that would be less safe. But for any responsible person, a larger bike (within reason - I'm not talking 1,400 cc monsters here) is easier to ride.

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Posted by busylizzy on 9/12/2011 at 21:06

Not having actually driven a motorbike bigger than 120cc (and even then, only for a week!), I will have to give you the benefit of the doubt on that one, MM.

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Posted by MADMAC on 10/12/2011 at 02:18

And for men, let's not leave out the dork factor. Men look ridiculous sitting on a Honda wave and even worse on a ladies scooter, like a Fino. Image counts! So guys, pony up the extra cash. Worth it from both a fun and cool factor standpoint.

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Posted by CrankyCarrot on 10/12/2011 at 03:20

I've seen Thai police riding around on Finos. I think one time it was a pink one.

You don't look like as much of a dork when EVERYBODY else is driving the same basic bike around out on the roads. At least 90% of 'em.

It's just transport - it's not a fashion statement. And what about keeping those big heavy bikes propped up when you're stationary or trying to back out of a tight parking space? Surely that's more trouble than manipulating a lighter model ...especially for the ladies like poor BizzyLizzy?

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Posted by sayadian on 10/12/2011 at 03:39

FYI.
for some reason Cambodia doesn't recognise your international driving licence although it is supposed to give you 3 months.If you want to stay in Cambodia awhile you can get a local licence through any of the motorbike hire shops, cost $33 and you'll need 4 photos your home licence and a copy of your passport.You'll be issued with a temporary licence after a few days.This might be of interest to those who want to hire a bike for awhile in Sihanoukville, as here in Phnom Penh not having a licence will probably set you back around $5 to bribe the cops as opposed to around $50 in sihanoukville.Since I bought a bike it's more or less paid for itself in 2 months since the two of us no longer have to use motodops and for destinations within 3 hours we use the bike.Gas is around $1.25 a litre here. The only drawback I can see is if you are doing long distances everyday you never really get a break in concentration because there are so many idiots on the road who obviously don't know their left hand from their right.

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