A sobering fact: Thailand has the highest hospitalisation and death rate for Aussie visitors, and from July 2014 to July 2015, 109 Aussies were killed  and over 150 hospitalised due to sickness or injury.

Indeed, out of the 300,000 motorcycle fatalities around the world each year, the death rate is highest in developing countries. And unfortunately for Aussies – who love travelling to the Land of Smiles – Thailand is one of the worst places on the planet for road fatalities.

But spend any amount of time in the Land of Smiles, especially in tourist hotspots such as Phuket and Chiang Mai, and you’d be hard pressed to see this sobering fact reflected in the number of Aussies riding motorbikes and scooters through that chaotic streets of Thailand. Instead of just a few brave Aussies negotiating the Thai traffic, you’ll see hundreds of Australians riding mopeds, throwing caution to the wind.

And I cannot talk. I have often been one of these careless riders, and I’ve rented scooters in Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and India – and luckily survived to live another day.

But I did so illegally, and if I was ever involved in an accident, my travel insurance would never have paid out…

This is what you need to know if you plan on riding a motorbike (or scooter) in Thailand.


1. You need a motorcycle license to ride a moped


Source:  adventureinyou.com

Contrary to what you may have thought, a standard Australian car license does not permit you to ride any kind of two-wheel motorised bike in Thailand – not even a moped. You’ll need a current Australian motorcycle licence or Thai motorcycle license to legally ride a bike in Thailand.

This was something Donna Weldon, a 53-year-old nurse from Australian learned recently, after colliding with a truck whilst riding a moped in Thailand. Even though Ms Weldon had travel insurance, her claim for reimbursement of significant medical expenses (over $50,000) was rejected due to her failing to posses the required license.

Thousands of Aussies ride motorbikes or mopeds in Thailand each year, and hardly any have the required motorcycle license that protects them if they are involved in a crash and need to make a claim with their travel insurance company.

It‘s pretty straightforward: no valid license means you‘re riding illegally and you‘re not covered.


2. You also need an International Driving Permit


Source: embracingadventure.com

If you plan on driving any kind of vehicle in Thailand, you’re going to need an International Driving Permit (IDP) obtainable from RACV before you leave. These cost $39 and are valid for a year.

Just to be clear: if you are going to ride a moped in Thailand, you need an IDP and an Australian motorcycle license to ride legally.


3. Don’t drink and drive


Source: point-blue.com

Again, this one is fairly obvious. If you’re involved in a collision and have any alcohol in your bloodstream, odds are you’re not going to be covered – even if you possess a motorbike license and a IDP.

The same rules we have in Australia apply when in Thailand guys: if you drink and drive, you’re a bloody idiot!

I know how tempting it can be to hire a scooter in Thailand. At around only $5 a day, it’s ridiculously cheap and convenient.

But just remember that you’re taking your life and your financial future into your own hands if you ride without the required licenses. Your travel insurance provider won’t cover you if you’re involved in a crash, leaving you with hefty out-of-pocket expenses that you may never be able to pay…

Have you ever been involved in a motorbike incident in Thailand?