Where is the best vacation destination for riding a moped?
October 7, 2019 1:01 PM   Subscribe

What is the best vacation destination for someone who likes to ride a moped as a way to explore?

I've been enjoying the Revel rental scooters offered in Brooklyn and have gotten pretty good at riding in traffic.

Next month I'll have a few free weeks before starting a new job and would like to take a vacation somewhere where riding a moped all day to explore is an easy option without it being ultra risky.

There are obvious places like Vietnam which in my mind sounded a bit chaotic... But I do like a more exotic vacation if possible.

Vietnam, Bali, Morocco... Any places you've been where mopeds have been the main form of transportation? Would love an electric instead of gas-powered if possible.
posted by critzer to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not that exotic, but Bermuda has no car rentals, only scooter rentals.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:11 PM on October 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Last year I was in Langkawi, Malaysia and there were more motorbikes than cars, though there were some cars. But I rented a motorbike for a day and was able to tool around the island fairly easily.

Motorbikes were huge in Vietnam and Thailand, though I agree that in the main cities, riding them seemed chaotic if you were not used to riding in such a populated area. (The traffic patterns in Hanoi in particular were amazing, but I wouldn't personally feel comfortable biking there).
posted by Caz721 at 1:20 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Many of the Greek islands offer scooter rentals. They’re infamous for resulting in accidents, because people don’t wear adequate protection in the heat and don’t know how to corner on winding roads, but if you wear something appropriate and can corner, it’s a way to see some very isolated and beautiful spots. You could island-hop and spend a couple of days with a scooter on each.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 1:21 PM on October 7, 2019

I rented a scooter in Tuscany and it was amazing.
posted by bdc34 at 1:25 PM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I bought a cheap scooter when I lived on the Big Island of Hawaii. This was 20 years ago (yikes!), so YMMV today, but it was SO FUN!
posted by nosila at 1:42 PM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I had a wonderful time exploring the Playa Giron/Playa Larga areas of Cuba on a scooter. I've also scootered around many places in Asia (Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan), but my top recommendation goes to Cuba because there aren't actually that many other people on the road - most people can't afford their own vehicle and those that can would have a very hard time replacing it and thus, are extremely careful drivers. Cuba also doesn't have hordes of inexperienced, often intoxicated backpackers/tourists on the roads like you'll find in the more traveled parts of Asia and Latin America. I love traveling by scooter but keep in mind that ANYONE with cash can get behind the wheel in many developing countries - even if they have a dozen DUIs in their home country.

The parts of Cuba I've been to (western Cuba) had decent quality roads and it's a safe country overall with solid medical care available if you get into an accident. There have been fuel shortages recently so keep an eye on that if your trip is coming up soon.

Having lived in Morocco for few months, it would be low on my list for a scooter trip. Reckless drivers, some very bad roads, and as a foreigner, you have to really watch out for scammers in any kind of business dealing like renting a scooter.
posted by horizons at 3:02 PM on October 7, 2019

I forgot all about Sri Lanka and Myanmar in my previous comment! Beautiful scenery and both locals and tourists are a little more chill on the roads than other parts of South or South-east Asia. Also it's not tough to find English speakers if you run into trouble, and solid roads in much of both countries.
posted by horizons at 3:12 PM on October 7, 2019

Git yerself to Goa! It's easy and fun to put around; people will ask for rides and why not give them? Hitchhiking on scooters is very much a thing there. You'll meet interesting people and see unexpected things around every corner.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:53 PM on October 7, 2019

Yeah avoid a scooter in Morocco at all costs, that's just asking for trouble.

Seconding the islands in Greece - most of them have scooter rental outfits a stone's throw from where the tourist ships / ferries dock. I particularly enjoyed motoring around Rhodes.

Scooters are also great on the islands in Thailand, particularly on the less touristed (and thus much more enjoyable) islands on the east side of the gulf.

My particularly far-flung recommendation is Mauritius - you can do the whole island safely on a scooter.


You are going to struggle to find electric anywhere but in the US, in my experience. You should try getting practice on a gas-powered one before hitting the streets in earnest. They operate differently enough that you should know how and why.

Annnnd, this touches on a particular nerve for me as a life long motorcyclist that lives in a US metro that is overrun by electric scooters ridden by people flaunting the state's laws on motorcycles. You really, REALLY do not understand the grave danger you are putting both yourself and other riders in by heading out on the road without a proper license for 2-wheeling and the requisite training that comes with it. Has your app explained to you about counter-steering in a turn? Hard breaking in an emergency without flipping the bike? The difference between the crappy helmet the apps rent you and an actually DOT compliant one? What to do if you catch a flat tire at speed? Why you don't pull between 2 cars to access a lane to split without checking back down that lane? There are a hundred other things you should be thinking about that signing up for an app just doesn't require. For your own sake you should really invest in the training and proper licensing - if you hit a pedestrian while riding I can guarantee the lawsuit won't be brought against the app company.

2 years ago I broke my leg pretty badly in a skateboarding accident. My doctor told me about a patient with almost the exact same break as mine, but he got his in Thailand in a scooter accident. The difference between the two of us? I was operated on same day and got to keep my foot. Ride safe!
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:02 PM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am just back from Crete - so would echo those who have suggested Greek islands and add a note for this one in particular: the place is full of great back roads, beaches, small villages and so on. The safety warnings noted above apply too: rental outlets are widespread and costs are modest. The shear number of tourists riding about on scooters (and quad bikes) can give the impression that that the activity is low risk: who needs to wear anything other than a pair of shorts and sandals when tackling a mountain pass full of switchbacks in the blazing sun? Here is a page about some of the challenges about driving in Crete - I'd recommend searching for similar for wherever you decide to go.
posted by rongorongo at 12:42 AM on October 8, 2019

posted by danceswithlight at 1:07 AM on October 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I would sat this -- not Bali! Unless you are okay with every single car and motorbike honking at you. It's a culturally thing, I guess. It had my nerves frazzled to death within a half-hour. (I love Bali for many things, but not this).

Vietnam would be really beautiful, esp. the northern mountains, and the countryside driving is actually very clam with minimal traffic. Avoid riding in the big cities--just take a train or bus somewhere smaller and rent there. Laos (generally remote and exotic feeling, no big cities or traffic at all) and parts of Thailand (north for mountains, southern peninsula for beaches) are also good for this.

These are moped cultures and people are used to them on the roads. I don't think electric bikes are a thing yet in Southeast Asia though. Scenery and food are great, people are welcoming, and finding places to stay isn't hard.
posted by mkuhnell at 7:46 AM on October 8, 2019

Electric scooters are a thing in Taiwan. In fact, if you don’t have an international or motorcycle driver’s license, that’s the only kind you can rent (at some shops...some shops don’t seem to check). Taiwan is incredibly beautiful, but it is a bit harder to get up into the mountains on a (weaker) e-scooter. Scooting in the city is stressful but less so than in Cambodia or Vietnam. Scooting in the countryside is tops.
posted by Penny Magellan at 4:54 AM on October 9, 2019

Not exotic, but there are gazillions of scooters in Barcelona. Lovely city.

I'm currently in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, and there are also mostly scooters. Very hectic, though, and no helmets. I wouldn't recommend it from a safety pov.
posted by dobbs at 4:57 AM on October 9, 2019

To a pedestrian Vietnamese cities seem like chaos for riding in, but because everybody else is also on a scoot, I found it totally fine once I actually joined the flow of traffic. As mentioned upthread, it is spectacularly beautiful in the northern mountains. This was me 10 years ago.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:23 PM on October 9, 2019

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