Buying, financing, and maintaining a motorbike in Thailand can be a very simple process for foreigners, even given the complexities of Thai regulations. However, it is not always as simple as it sounds at the dealer. There is a lot more involved than just them.
The big deal for foreigners is that the paperwork for the motorbike purchase is linked to certain ID and visa requirements. It can be quite a run around to finally ride that new beautiful thing home. But, the reward of going through all that is fantastic.
Thailand is a motorbike wonderland. There are far more motorbikes than cars. And they can get you around anywhere, even cruising to the far-away provinces. So, I will share with you my experience with buying a motorbike in Thailand. I hope it helps you enjoy Thailand on two wheels.
Motorbike shops in Thailand are everywhere. They all have their deals plastered all over the place. The best advice on price is to do a bit of homework first by looking up the bike you want online.
My Farang (Western) friends all had a particular favorite dealer, so for me, it was easy. But, you can always just choose where you like, or you think has the best price and go from there. What we were told at the dealer is that the first step is to make a deposit. Create a “pre-contract” that establishes the purchase.
From there the fun begins, for it is necessary to go to the notorious Thai immigration office. The pre-contract requires a dedicated registration certificate to become a full contract. Essentially, a proof of your address in Thailand. Also, your visa type now comes into play. Technically, you are supposed to be on a long-stay visa. But, you are also allowed to get one if you have at least 30 days left on a 60-day extension.
However, Thailand is Thailand.
So, it is not unheard of that you can get a resident cert even with a 30-day tourist visa. It is also very Thai that any of this might change at any moment. For instance, it is only just now a new requirement to have a driver’s license to buy a motorbike.
What happened to me was a bit more of a headache. Another new thing is that the motorbike must also be registered to the province of your home address. I had a heck of a time and a lot of cruising between Bangkok and Pattaya to do this.
My bike had been registered in BKK for years, but the new rule meant I had to go do it all over again in Pattaya.
Once again, for Farangs, it is a matter of much more paperwork than Thais to get your motorbike financed. And a visa point comes into play again too because you will need a signed copy of your Work Permit.
A business visa is almost the same thing and will also satisfy the requirement. Additionally, you will need some sort of proof of income, 6 months of bank statements, and an employment statement.
As a tip for filling out the paperwork, be careful about the address lines. Make sure the dealership address goes on everything because all the paperwork gets returned to the dealer. Don’t put in your home address.
I had a majority of my friends send me to a particularly good dealer, so I had a good, well-organized buying experience. But during the shopping process, I did get pointed to a couple of other places that were “operating in the gray”.
The big draw here is the price, but the big problems come up at renewal time for the license plate. And after you have put down your money for a registered motorbike, dealers may well encounter problems “beyond their control”.
Normally, what happens is, they will either ask for more money or there will be delays in supplying the registration. These guys often provide a recycled book with the motorbike having power plant & frame numbers re-stamped to match up with an old book.
Therefore, I can tell you, always check and get a new green book, and never pay in full in advance.
Almost always you will be asked if you want to purchase a maintenance plan from the dealer. Sometimes this isn’t a bad idea, the important part, in fine print, is that you must hit the mileage points.
Even if you are doing the maintenance yourself or from your favorite shop, it is still a good idea to stay on the recommended service targets. Normally a motorbike gets service at these intervals:
Chain Tension adjustment should be constantly monitored. This is somewhat subjective- ask the dealer what is a tolerable amount of slack before you go away onboard the new motorbike.
This is a thing you can easily control with two bolts at the back of the chain suspension. A normally good chain will last up to 30,000 Km, but keeping it nice and tight all that time is the main thing.
All these things are what you need to do for long-term ownership and enjoyment of the favorite way to travel in Thailand. As you may have noticed, the paperwork is the most important thing to maintaining the integrity of owning your motorbike yourself. With the security of knowing all is in order, you can get down to the business of getting around all over the country.
And if you ever have to leave for whatever reason, you can be assured of coming back to your two-wheeled friend and picking back up right where you left off without any issues.
After all, it’s not the destination. It’s the ride!
So, until next time... Rumble on!
Hi, I'm Big Bear. I love to hit the road with the motorbike for the long haul. Join my adventure in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
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