I only have an European car drivers licence and I'm wondering if it is possible to rent/buy a motorcycle somewhere in South-East Asia and ride it. Is it allowed in some countries in that area? Or are there countries where it's not checked at all if you have a licence?

Highly related to this question, but now I'm looking for answers about South-East Asia.

  • 2
    In my experience, and that is just my experience, they don't check for a licence. That doesn't mean they don't ask for a licence, but I rented motorcycles in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia without anyone asking me for any kind of licence. I have no idea what would happen if you are stopped or something happens and you don't have a licence, so I would strongly suggest getting a license
    – JordanBelf
    May 7, 2013 at 0:17
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    If you don't have a valid license, you're likely to invalidate any insurance (travel insurance and hire insurance), which could make any accident you have immensely expensive..
    – Gagravarr
    May 7, 2013 at 9:52
  • There may be some rules to differentiate motorbikes from scooters based on engine capacity. I'm sure I've heard you can drive scooters without a licence in some countries. All the tourists crash their rental scooters in Thailand though so it might not be a great idea for your safety. Aug 16, 2013 at 9:08
  • Thank you for the addition, I'll look into it. Great generalisation as well. Aug 16, 2013 at 9:38
  • @BartArondson you might want to post one question per country if you want to find out the answer to this question... I doubt anyone has enough knowledge to cover such topic on so many countries. Pretty good question though.
    – Adrien Be
    Jun 23, 2015 at 15:14

2 Answers 2


You have alternatives in most countries. In Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, I've found it useful to rent mopeds with <100cc engines. While they are regulated, and while I have a license, very often, I don't get asked for it.

Three big advantages over motorbikes: a. you're most comfortable driving them at 20-30 km/h (most of them max out at about 50) - this means you get better time to adapt to the hellish urban traffic, are at lesser risk of serious injury and consciously keep away from the fast roads.

b. it's small - that hellish urban traffic is also snailish at times - and a smaller lighter moped allows you better control. It's also better in dealing with roads on resort shores and islands - where the roads may be rudimentary.

c. it's cheap - in highly compact traffic, without stopping distances, drivers rely on predictable behavior... behavior that might be counterintuitive to tourist riders. The odd scratch or dent does happen, and when it does, it's easier on the wallet.

The main limitation is that it isn't a motorbike - it has limited range and efficiency. If you're looking to emulate Che Guevara or Ewan McGregor, you're better off with the best hog (and some handling experience)

  • I'm unsure this answers the question of Are there any countries in South-East Asia that don't require a motorcycle licence to ride one?.
    – JoErNanO
    Apr 15, 2015 at 13:04
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    @JoErNanO well he's sort of providing an alternative to needing a motorcycle license in countries in SE Asia, although yeah, the OP does seem to want to ride one.
    – Mark Mayo
    Apr 15, 2015 at 13:42

No there is not. All countries in South-East Asia require licenses to drive a motorcycle, and even more so to rent one. That even goes for more remote locations like Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

I want to add that there are countries like India where driving yourself is a REALLY bad idea. If you are in the countryside and have an accident where you injure someone or damage something valuable (a holy cow for example), there is a risk that a mob from a local village attempts to kill you. Literally. Expats in India are generally not allowed and are forced to have a driver. So please check for each country if it's smart do drive by yourself.

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    Hahaha! Couldn't help but laugh about the idea of being run after by a bunch of Indians after crashing into a holy cow. Not sure how much I'd laugh if it'd actually happened!!! :/
    – Adrien Be
    Jun 23, 2015 at 15:10

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