Motorcycle taxi's in Bangkok are a quick, easy and dangerous way to get around the crammed Big Mango. Recently I've found myself having to get to several places within a few hours, and rather than sit in traffic in my own car or a taxi, I've opted for the motorcycle, simply because they can bypass all the queues of traffic. They do have pitfalls though, the main one obviously being the danger of being so exposed in such heavy traffic. There are a few things you can do though to up your chances of arriving with all limbs intact.
Some tips for taking a motorcycle taxi in BKK
1. Give the driver a good once over.... If he's noticeably wobbly / red eyed / off his head, probably best to find another driver. Also, from personal experience I've found the younger ones to be a little more 'gun-ho', and the older ones generally poodle and take less risks (go for the more senior riders).
2. Make sure all belongings are tucked away safely / deeply in pockets, and with nothing hanging loose. Put rucksacks over both shoulders. If your glasses have a tendancy to come off, put them in a pocket or bag.
3. If you know you're going on a motorcycle, try to remember to wear shoes instead of sandals. I've heard a couple of horror stories where people have lost toes when they've come off bikes.
4. Don't be afraid to get cosy with the driver. He / She will be going through some very small gaps when getting through the traffic..... Better to not worry about personal space and cuddle up / tuck your knees in nice and tight, rather than lose a knee / ankle / leg etc
5. Wear a helmet. If they don't have one for you then find another driver. Before you go anywhere, make sure you take the time to fit it properly, cos it will likely be useless if you come off and it's unstrapped.
6. Remember this isn't for the faint hearted - If you think you're going to shift around / jolt your body / scream when the bus is veering towards you, take a normal cab.. Sudden movements or signs of fear will only freak the driver, increasing your chances of a quick exit. Stay still.
7. Agree a price before you leave.
8. Make sure you know how to get back to where you want to go if unfamiliar with Bangkok. Take a picture of the street sign / hotel etc.
Finally, don't be an idiot and wave camera's etc around when on the back, that is completely dumb.