New to Riding a Moped? Why not go on the 100km Samoeng Loop

by Poi on January 3, 2011

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Throughout this trip we have seen many backpackers hiring mopeds and making the most of their freedom by exploring places outside of town, this is something we’ve wanted to do since we arrived in Vietnam.  The problem was neither of us has any experience of riding a one, I didn’t doubt that it would be very easy but my fear was falling off trying to drive away from the rental shop and immediately having the bike taken away and swapped for a hefty bill of damages.

First time in a moped

Poi & Ped

Luckily for us, Christine from Almost Fearless was kind (or stupid?) enough to offer us her moped for a few days as she was leaving for Bali before her months rental was up. This gave me the chance to have a go on the bike without the pressure of lying and telling a shop owner I’d rode before. My first attempt was just outside of the Smith Residence, possibly the slowest ever start on a moped followed by a short loop around the building, nice and easy. I picked up Kirsty for the second loop figuring I might as well get used to having a passenger as soon as possible and off we went. After a couple of loops we headed into town to hit the real traffic, it had to be done sometime so why not in the first ten minutes?

It turns out riding a moped in Thailand is quite easy, it’s not like the UK, if there is space in the road you can use it, just keep up with everyone else and switch between the lanes (I use the term lanes lightly) to get where you want to be. A few people have tried to kill us so far but I guess that is part of the fun?

On the first full day with the bike Kirsty happily signed us up for the 100km Samoeng loop around Chiang Mai, she thought this would be fine but then again she wasn’t the one driving (thank god – I’ve been in a car with her before!)

Thailand on a moped

All day we were surrounded by stunning scenery.

Our company for the day were kind enough to take it slow, especially seeing as two out of the four of us were new to riding bikes and most of the journey mainly consisted of steep uphill and down hill sections. After a short while I was happily flying down the hill trying to keep up with the Got Passport Family who took the fast turns with ease while I expected death at every corner.  By the time we reached the last stretch home we all had to stop and get off the bike to rest our backsides, it had been a long day but a great way to get used to the bike.

A few days on and we had got so used to having the bike we decided to rent it ourselves for another month, at 1,500 baht  (about £30) you can’t complain. I’m driving like a Thai person already after such a short time, squeezing through gaps and flying across lanes. Kirsty thinks I’m getting a bit too big for my boots but it’s just the way people do it here and if you don’t do it that way you’ll be going nowhere fast. I still wear a helmet though which is not so popular here despite it being the law……

Want to check out more pictures from the day? Check out our Facebook Page.

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

GotPassport January 3, 2011 at 10:00 pm

You did great. We had so much fun! When’s the next ride???

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Poi January 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Whenever you want, we’re hooked!

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Doc P January 3, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Looks like a great time, riding moped outside of the hustle of the city. You guys found some nice open spaces to enjoy.

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Poi January 3, 2011 at 10:10 pm

We did indeed, it was gorgeous!

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Chris - The Aussie Nomad January 3, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Sounds like a lot of fun guys. I’d love to have a bike for Europe but its a little more expensive that 30 quid.
Chris – The Aussie Nomad´s last blog post ..Seeing Prague Castle

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Kirsty January 4, 2011 at 9:35 am

He he, I don’t miss Europe prices at all!! It’s probably like 30 quid a day! Plus cars (drivers) hate mopeds in the UK….. I’m sure some Thai’s are born on them!

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Steve January 3, 2011 at 11:51 pm

I thought about riding on a moped when I was in Vietnam too. I was deterred from actually using one though because one place put up a sign of gruesome injuries people have had on them. It was meant to caution people into being more careful riding them. Plus, I met another traveler in China who said he got one and ended up breaking his leg in an accident. I think if you’re careful enough you’ll be fine though.
Steve´s last blog post ..2010 in Review

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Kirsty January 4, 2011 at 9:33 am

Really? I think if I saw those pictures I probably never get on it again!!! We’ve heard of some bad accidents, but as you say as long as you are careful we’ll hopefully be alright!

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Gillian January 4, 2011 at 1:55 am

One of our favorite things to do was to rent a scooter and get out of town. The freedom is amazing and we saw so much more! I can totally relate to the numb backside though…sometimes it felt on fire!! Cheers!
Gillian´s last blog post ..India- If She’s Been Calling You- You Should Go

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Kirsty January 4, 2011 at 9:36 am

This week we’ve been zipping around to lots of different restaurants we couldn’t have got to on foot, as well as taking some trips out of the city! It’s been brilliant, I didn’t realise there’s so much to see here in Chiang Mai! But yes… numb butt syndrome is not fun! 🙁

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Michael @ KTT January 4, 2011 at 8:23 am

Ahh I can identify with this! It is definately fun there’s no doubt!

I jumped straight in when I got to Thailand and rented a moped on the first day of being on Samui. Had a fantastic time seeing the island at my own pace and picking and choosing where to pull up and have a drink. Learning how Thai traffic works and weaving in and out when neccessary.

The danger is there, we all know how often it can happen, but I think alcohol has a big part to play in alot of these accidents… nobody sets out to have a crash after all.
Michael @ KTT´s last blog post ..Innocence in India

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Kirsty January 4, 2011 at 9:43 am

I think we’ll be renting one again when we head to the islands later in the year! It seems to be the perfect mode of transport – I may even ride one by myself…. maybe!

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Bodlagz January 4, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Great post, motorbikes are a great way to get around Thailand, total freedom to go where you want and you definitely see things you would otherwise miss traveling by car or bus. But we must also be aware of the pitfalls and risks we take, read this and make sure you do not take unnecessary risks………http://www.pattayaunlimited.com/2009/08/how-to-hire-motorbike-in-pattaya.html. This information applies throughout Thailand.
Bodlagz´s last blog post ..Pattaya Fireworks Display New Years Eve 2010

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Poi January 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Thanks for your comment and link – sure it will be of help to people

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Lilliane January 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm

It’s a southeast asian thing but i’ve never done it! I’ve always wanted to when i visit small town outside Manila.

I’m also always afraid that it will jerk off without me, throw me off, or burn my leg from the muffler! Even if logically I know it can’t be so hard with bajillion of bikes zooming around.

It’s awesome that u finally got to do it and is now cruising like an expert. One day i’ll do it too.:)
Lilliane´s last blog post ..Let’s Get High!

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Poi January 5, 2011 at 2:09 pm

You should, the extra freedom is great, we’ve seen so many more things with the moped.

We had the same worries as well so you’re not alone.

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Earl January 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm

There’s something about that first ride into town when you know that it’s either now or never! Luckily, the road around the moat in Chiang Mai offers a relatively straightforward circuit to begin on….

Once I get back up there, you’ll probably be speeding away faster that Got Passport!
Earl´s last blog post ..Has Travel Made Me Dumber

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Poi January 5, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I dunno those guys are pretty fast on the tight corners, maybe with a lot of practice.

and yeah the moat looks quite bad when you’re not on a bike but riding round it isn’t that bad at all.

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Kieron January 4, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Looks like the two of you had a blast!

We’ve always been a bit frightened of hiring mopeds, a bit put off by the insane traffic and the even more insane drivers of SE Asia. But we definitely intend to hire them at some point during our RTW, possibly even follow your path and do it in Chiang Mai.

Did you have some bribe money up your sleeve in case the police pulled you over?
Kieron´s last blog post ..We’re taking the 1000-1000 Challenge

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Poi January 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm

No need to worry about that, the police only show up around here when something interesting is going on. Traffic laws are not very enforced around here, at all in fact.

Chiang Mai is a good place to learn, they’ll always be someone here willing to go for a cruise with you as well which is nice when you’re learning.

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Aisleen January 4, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Hey, Congrats on finally unleashing yourselves on the roads! Knew you’d get into it!!

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Poi January 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Thanks Aisleen, we should have started a lot sooner!

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Heather January 5, 2011 at 4:46 am

Ahhhh — looks like SO much fun! I think I’d feel the same — desperately wanting to give it a go but really nervous at the same time. After reading about several people renting bikes to get around, it’s something I’m itching to do.

Poi, glad you’re in the groove and feeling really comfortable now! Kirsty, hang on girl!
Heather´s last blog post ..Heather’s Holiday Hiatus

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Poi January 5, 2011 at 2:14 pm

She hangs on nice and tight, sometimes she see’s something and jumps and it scares the hell out of me, I think we’re about to crash or something!

I look forward to reading about your first time then Heather!

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Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World January 5, 2011 at 4:49 am

Great, another crazy moped drivers on the road! :p Have fun and be safe!
Jill – Jack and Jill Travel The World´s last blog post ..Sometimes Life Throws A Monkey Wrench Into Your plans- But This Time…

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Poi January 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Haha, I think I may be getting a bit too confident. Kirsty reminds me to take it steady though.

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Andi January 5, 2011 at 6:31 am

I love mopeds! I got hooked on them while in Ibiza!!!
Andi´s last blog post ..Happy New Year!!!

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Poi January 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I remember reading your post on riding a moped between the different beaches, I was very jealous but now I’ll have the chance to do it!

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Amanda January 6, 2011 at 3:14 am

Sounds (and looks) like so much fun! I dunno if I could do it, though… I’m pretty sure I’d be terrified!

Love the comment about expecting “death at every corner.” Haha, it made me chuckle!
Amanda´s last blog post ..Looking Ahead- What’s on for 2011

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Poi January 6, 2011 at 10:39 am

It was true, I wanted to keep up with jack for the sake of my manhood but did expect to go flying on one of the corners!

It’s easy once you get use to it though!

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Laura January 6, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Haha, I remember my first ride. Except I told the people I’d never ridden a bike (this is in Dalat, Vietnam), so I had to ride down the street towards a crowded market while they watched. A punk seller jumped out in front of me because he thought it would be funny. And then my friend accidentally drove up on the curb. But other than that, it was fantastic!
Laura´s last blog post ..Ahh- is that Lady Gaga on Koh Tao!

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Poi January 7, 2011 at 11:28 am

Haha wish I had been there to watch that, Dalat isn’t the easiest place to learn either, lots of steep hills and tight turns. Must have been worth it to get out of the city for the views though?

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Camels & Chocolate January 7, 2011 at 12:05 am

When I was in Rarotonga, we were going to rent mopeds…we had to get official Cook Islands licenses, too, which we did, but then we went to do the actual deed, and a tropical storm hit and didn’t abate until we flew out! So needless to say, this is still a travel goal I need to tick off =)
Camels & Chocolate´s last blog post ..The New Year’s That Wasn’t- Part I

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Poi January 7, 2011 at 11:29 am

Unlucky – there is no chance I would ride anywhere in a storm, far to scared of sliding out!

Suprised you needed licenses, no one even knew I had the bike here, not even the person who owned it.

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Laura January 8, 2011 at 8:39 am

This looks like so much fun! I did the moped thing in Mykonos, and I remember wondering if it was humanely possible to have that much fun.

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Poi January 8, 2011 at 11:11 am

It was a lot of fun and still is, we’ve never explored somewere so much!

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Rebecca January 9, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Ha ha, I love that you just jumped straight in the deep end! No spending a few days riding around back roads – let’s get straight into the serious stuff!!

I can’t ride a bike so it’s usually up to my boyfriend when we’re in SE Asia. The one time I did attempt it in Thailand, I nearly rode into a ditch, so that was the end of that. Having said that, I’m keen to give it another go when I’m back in Thailand in April – mostly to prove to my boyfriend that I can do it!
Rebecca´s last blog post ..Photo of the Week- Posing for photos in Japan

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Poi January 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Best way t learn – jump straight in! It helped me a lot I think, it’s easy now.

Kirsty hasn’t tried to ride it yet, I keep asking here but she’s not interested. I’ll make sure she has a go before we give it back though.

P.S I was just reading your blog and I changed tabs to check on ours and saw your comment – how strange!

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Joe January 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I love riding these scooters but haven’t had the guts to ride one here in Bangkok yet!
Joe´s last blog post ..Paypal Woes

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Kirsty January 12, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Yeah I’m not sure if I will have the guts to go round Bangkok… Chiang Mai is busy enough 🙂

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Scott January 24, 2011 at 4:39 am

The country side is so nice up there! I loved riding a scooter up in the North. The roads are good and the scenery is even better.
Scott´s last blog post ..Photo Essay – Exploring the Imperial City in Hue- Vietnam

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Poi January 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm

It’s true – getting on the moped has been one of the best things we’ve done, it’s a gorgeous place just to go for a ride!

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Diane June 17, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Sounds like you two are having a fantastic time. Good to hear your parents have been out and enjoyed themselves with you both.

Keep up the blogs, like to catch up on what you are doing.

We’re heading back to Aus (permanently) in November, so you never know we may see you there if you get that way!

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