Tips for renting a motorbike in Thailand

People looking to hire or lease a motorbike or scooter in Chiang Rai will find there are plenty of places to choose from.  Since Thailand is regarded as one of the most dangerous places in the world to ride a motorbike we do not recommend it but if you must let us help you with that.

I estimate you would reduce your chances of becoming an accident statistic by about 85% by knowing and following a few simple rules about riding a motorbike in Thailand and maybe 20-25% by hiring the right motorcycle.  Thai people drive differently, that is just a fact and you must adapt your driving style to fit in and be aware of how to ride a motor bike or scooter while you are here.

Tips for renting a Motorbike.

At each shop the price and quality of motorbikes and scooters will differ as will the standard of maintenance.

Do not assume just because it is a motorbike rental business that the staff will have your safety as a concern.  Do the safety checks further down, and walk away if nothing suitable is available.  You life is at stake, so make a careful decision.

Avoid places that do not speak English.  You may feel great about your skills at miming, but you will know nothing about the insurance (if there is any) conditions nor will you be able to get help if/when you break down.

Cost, Insurance and Security Deposit.

Security Deposit
You will need to either pay a deposit or leave passport.  Deposits range between 3000-5000 baht. It is now illegal to be without your passport so it is highly recommended that you leave a cash deposit.

Cost of Renting
Motor bike rent shops normally charge for 24 hours when you are renting for the day.  The cost will vary from shop to shop and based on whether the bike is old or new, and whether it is an automatic or a manual. Some shops offer a discount for a weekly rental and most do for a monthly rental.

  • Automatic motorbike – (120 baht – 250 baht / day, 2500 baht – 3500 baht a month)
  • Semi-automatic motorbike – (120 baht – 250 baht / day, 2500 baht – 3000 baht a month)
  • Old Bikes – 500 baht less per month than a new scooter.

Some shops offer damage insurance for 20-200 baht and it is always worth paying this extra fee. But most insurance for renting a motorcycle or scooter will require you to pay for repairs, or in the case of a write off, purchase the bike and then claim the insurance after you return home.  Ask what the procedure for claiming insurance is before you rent the bike.

Get the insurance but make sure it is full coverage and does not require you to pay in advance and then claim back later.

Get the name and number or business card of the company in case of breakdown.

Hot Tip – Use Retire In Thailand 
If you want to rent a motorbike, talk to us first and we will take you to a reputable shop.

Safety Inspection

Before you rent the motor bike, make sure you thoroughly check it.  Usually, the company will usually go over the bike with you and identify any dents, scratches and damage it might already have.  Pay attention and take photos while this check is done as the contract you sign will say that you hired the bike in prime condition. If it comes back with any additional marks you will be charged and companies make a lot of extra income this way.

Here are things you should check for.

  • Inspect the motor bike for existing damage and take photo’s on your phone
  • Sit on the motor bike and bounce up and down – make sure the suspension is working.
  • Ensure the mirrors adjust and you can see behind you.
  • Check for size comfort you don’t want your knees sticking out
  • Test the brakes
  • Check acceleration because you may need to get out of the way of some moron quickly
  • Choose Thick tires
  • Get as good a helmet as you can afford, or bring your own and wear it.

Breakdown and Repairs

Sometimes it happens, you might have a small accident or get a flat tire, especially on thin tires.  If we helped you get the bike and it breaks down completely don’t worry, we will have the number of the place you hired it and we will help you.

You can usually get a tire inflated for free or repaired for 100-150 baht.  If you do any minor damage such as break a turn signal or bulb, and have the time it is worth going to a shop and fixing it yourself.  If you do not have 100% insurance coverage with no co-payment insurance, you can be sure the price the rental shop thinks it will cost to repair is more than you will pay yourself.  This may be a poor example but I was having lunch with a client who knocked his $1.00 cup off the table and the restaurant charged him $6.00.

If you lose the helmet provided by the motor bike rent shop buy a new one for a few hundred baht otherwise the shop will probably charge you 1000 baht to replace it.

Riding a scooter can be the most dangerous part of your trip. Make sure you learn how to ride a motorbike in Thailand.

If you are planning on coming to Chiang Rai, we are only too happy to assist you with renting a bike.