SE Asia MotorBikes – Blessing or a Curse?

How to avoid the motorbike rental scam.

Motorbike rentals mean you use your passport as Collateral until you return the bike “unharmed”. Read my tip at the end for a clever trick around this.

Why it’s a blessing


Would you believe me if I told you that I rented a Motorbike for a $1 a day?

That’s right! cheaper than calling collect…  However, there is a hidden scam within the motorbike rentals that a few simple steps (and general common sense) can prevent.


My Experience: Koh Phangan

There is a place on the island of Koh Phangan (located off the coast of southeast Thailand) called Coral Bungalows. Coral offers $1 daily motorbikes rentals as long as you stay at their hotel.

The bikes are not run down either, below is a picture of my stallion. It handled well and thankfully had enough power to carry me through an inclined dirt trail on my way to bottle beach.

Why it’s a curse

Don’t be like this guy.


Scammers are praying that you will leave a dent or mark, even if you don’t they will point out something that was there already and claims you did it. Let me preface this by saying this not what I would consider the “norm” however it has happened to people I know.

If you do damage the bike… like this.

…You can expect is a bill like this



How to prevent the Motorbike scam from happening to you?

STEP 1 – Take PICTURES… a lot of them

Have your friend use their phone to get additional light. Make a Sports Illustrated production out of it.

STEP 2 – Make sure they Notice you are taking many pictures

It shows 3 things

  1. You are thorough
  2. You have proof to counter claims
  3. You are cautious and perhaps aware of this type of misconduct

I can’t tell you which one really works but this is what I do and I never have an argument. I also didn’t damage my ride so I had nothing to hide. The pictures you take can’t be used against in theory if they remain on your phone though 😉

BONUS POINTS – Get picture with person at front desk

You’ll want this as a back up if you are working with someone else who wasn’t there when you initially rented your bike.

Ty’s TIP- After you rent DONT LEAVE JUST YET

Grab the business card of whatever place you are rented from. This will be worth its weight in gold if you get lost or get separated from your group and need a “point of reference” for directions from people nearby. At the very least it can serve as a rendezvous point.

Ty’s Trick- Bring an expired drivers license with you to use in lieu of your passport. This won’t always works but it’s worth asking if they will take it. I like to prevent handing out my passport as much as possible.

Author: Trek with Tech

Tech + Biz

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