Buying a New Motorcycle in Thailand
Anyone who has been to Thailand for any length of time soon learns the typically [perceived] easy tasks turn out to be difficult and typically difficult tasks tend to be easier. This principle very much applies to buying a new motorcycle in Thailand. I went into this process, after going to every Honda dealership in Khon Kaen, of which there are about 20. After visiting nearly 20 different Honda shops and asking questions, I gathered enough information to believe that I now knew the required documentation/process of buying a brand new bike. I mean after all it is a brand new bike, how difficult could it possibly be…..?
The Hunt for a Honda Forza in Thailand
I should mention that prior to even settling on buying a new bike, I rented and tested the bikes I had been eyeing to see how I liked them. This is important to note because when buying a new motorbike in Thailand, you can forget about a trial/test drive. With many days of renting several bikes behind me, I was set on the Honda Forza 300cc.
Buying a “big bike,” meaning anything over 150cc, in Khon Kaen is much more of a challenge than say Bangkok or Chiang Mai where big bikes are more prevalent. After visiting eight or so Honda dealers and not finding one which carried the Honda Forza, I rapidly became discouraged. I guess this was to be expected as I could only find ONE in stock in Chiang Mai (a tremendously larger city than Khon Kaen). Of the eight or so shops that I visited, I was told no way, not in Khon Kaen will you find a Honda Forza by all eight. Being skeptical, or stubborn by others opinion, I did not give up hope on the hunt for the Forza. Two discouraged days, and 19 dealerships later, I struck gold. I found not only one but TWO Honda Forzas at a gigantic Honda dealership which I have driven past no less that 200 times. How I did not see or think to go into this shop is still beyond me, but besides the point because I found the elusive Forza. Wouldn’t you believe, the price was cheaper than any quote I got from Chiang Mai dealership, which were more than willing to order it for me. Of the dealers in Chiang Mai, prices ranged from 161,000-169,000 baht. This beauty here in Khon Kaen rang the register at a cool 160,500 baht.
I was sold.
Buying a New Motorcycle in Thailand
I sat down with the manager to discuss the proper documentation as well as tried to haggle the price down a wee bit more. He wasn’t having any of that and informed me that there is a 3% surcharge to use a credit card, Ouch.
Here comes the part that should be super easy, but turned into a horrific nightmare: Housing Registration
In order to purchase a new motorcycle as a foreigner in Thailand, you must present a Housing Certificate. This is a document obtained from the local Immigration office which states nothing more than you live where you say you live. Easy enough, assuming your landlord has rented to a foreigner before and completely understands the necessity and simplicity of this document. Unfortunately, this was not the case for me.
In the midst of me asking my landlord for a copy of his housing registration to take to immigration he had a meltdown. Long story short, he did not understand why I would need HIS housing registration. My explanation of Immigration needing it was not cutting it for him. I wish I had video of his meltdown in the condo office because I have never seen a Thai be so angry. The poor woman whom has done all the translation for us up until this point took a verbal lashing. In hindsight I semi-see what his issue was, but the extent of his reaction was a bit much, even for me. After I stood in a tiny office with my landlord and two other bystanders for 30 minutes of screaming I am able to convince him to at least call Immigration and ask for himself. He obliges. Ahhh Ha! The crazy foreigner is in fact NOT trying to pull a fast one and is simply trying to buy a motorcycle. Although my landlord put up quite a bit of resistance, I was able to pry that document away from him and head off to Immigration. It was a piece of cake once at Immigration, just make sure to have all your ducks in a row (this was my second trip that day).
By this point it was too late to go back to the Honda dealer and try to wrap up all the loose ends of buying a motorcycle. Also, I was trying to wait for a transfer of funds from back home to Thailand to avoid that 3% surcharge. During the three day downtime of waiting for the transfer, I located that 20th Honda dealer. The Forza purchasing situation improves!
The last Honda dealership I found, located on a side of town that I rarely travel, had one black Forza. Much to my surprise, this Forza was only 160,000 baht and ZERO surcharge to use a credit card. Cha-Ching! I can see the sky miles racking up now.
The motorcycle funny business wasn’t over yet. After no less than 25 phone calls to the “manager,” the paperwork was underway. We sat there for 30-45 minutes and the woman processing the paperwork says “Ok, we go to Condo.” I thought to myself, great, paperwork is done, I’m hitting the streets with some new wheels. Wrong again. What the woman meant was, we needed to get in her car to go to the managers condo to close the deal. Clearly, it made no sense to this dealership for the manager to come to the dealership, rather we should come to her. Dumb foreigner!
A few signatures here, a few more there, and a few more EVERYWHERE, swipe the card and we were finally done. Here’s where the already sweet price deal gets even sweeter. Of the two other Honda dealers that had a Forza in stock (one in Chiang Mai and one in KK) both were going to throw in a free helmet. I guess this is a good gesture for spending so much money. I went ahead and assumed we weren’t getting a helmet because we were at rock bottom price on the motorcycle. Another erroneous Thai assumption. Not only did we get one helmet, we got two! Bonus.
Like I said, some of the easiest of tasks in Thailand can turn into multiple day events. Remember to just smile and keep on truckin’ Heres some shots of the snazzy new Forza. Follow our Honda Forza adventures over on our Trails and Tales page!