Motorcycles are the only practical way to move quickly and easily around downtown Bangkok during business hours. For less than $2000 USD you can purchase a brand new Japanese bike and have the freedom and convenience of having your own wheels. Owning a motorcycle is a quantum leap in personal mobility, freedom, and streamlines everyday life.
An automobile, even with a driver, is no substitute.
An automobile, even with a driver, means hours spent sitting in heavy traffic not getting where you want to go.
Some Expats will claim that combining buses, the subway, and motorcycle taxis is a practical solution but having lived with and without a personal bike, I beg to differ.
Unlike most major urban areas in the U.S., you can park your motorcycle anywhere and ignore most traffic rules with impunity. There are a few gotchas and sometimes you get caught in a police roadblock and have to fork over 400 THB whether you’ve done anything wrong or not, but on a motorcycle you can make illegal U-turns, drive the wrong way down one way streets, ride on the sidewalk, and, usually, park on the sidewalk or on the curb with impunity.
Bangkok motorcycling is a heady mind expanding experience for those used to the heavily regulated and large fines in the US world of traffic cops, radar guns, red light cameras, parking police, and expensive mandatory insurance.
Recently no motorcycle parking signs have appeared in certain areas of Bangkok and now the police are starting to ticket.
You have to go to the local police station and pay a fine.
After the fine is paid, the station calls the nearest police box and a policeman comes by and unlocks the bike.
The fine in Silom is 200 THB (about $6 USD). When a farang shows up to pay his fine, the Silom station tries to charge the farang 400 THB. If you tell them, in badly pronounced Thai, that you know the fine is 200 THB, they accept the 200 THB even from farang.
The special price for foreigner’s is part of Abashits campaign to revive the tourist industry.
Its a bit of a downer to think that the wild west anything goes world of motoring is slowly being transformed into the no fun driving environment in the USA.