Travelers looking to hire or lease a motorcycle in Thailand will find an abundance of places to choose from. Most of the resorts, backpackers hostels and monthly accommodation places either have their own bikes or with a quick phone call can have one delivered. While Thailand is regarded as one of the most dangerous places to ride a motorbike in the world, hiring a motorcycle or scooter is without doubt one of the best ways to get out and have the adventures worthy of telling to your kids and grandchildren.
It is difficult to put an accurate number on this, but I would say your can reduce your chances of becoming an accident statistic around 65% by knowing and following a few simple rules about how to ride a motorbike in Thailand., and maybe 20-25% by hiring the right motorcycle. Thai people drive differently, there is no getting around it, you should also adapt your driving style and be aware of how to ride a scooter while you are here.
How to hire or lease a motorcycle in Thailand
Almost every village, town, city, island or accommodation type in Thailand will offer the facility to hire a scooter, as will travel agencies and even street stores. At each of these places the price and quality of motorbike will be different as will the standard of care on maintenance between leasing them. If you are at a major hotel or resort you can have a higher level of confidence in the quality of the motorbike. Many smaller resorts run by westerners will also have a higher interest in providing safer bikes for their customers. The Thai attitude of ‘Mai Ben Rai” (no problem, no worries, forget about it) often also extends to the attitude of the staff working at the business (including the mechanics).
If you decide (or are required to) walk around and search for a motorcycle hire shop, you will need to take a little extra care. Do not assume just because it is a motorbike leasing business that the staff have your safety at all in concern. Preform the safety checks listed further down, and do not be afraid of walking away if nothing is available. You life is at stake, and while it might be easy to give into temptation and rent a motorbike because it is getting hot – This should be a thought out and careful decision.
Try to avoid places that do not speak English. Sure you may feel fantastic at your gallant efforts at miming and hiring, but you know nothing about the insurance conditions or will be able to get help when you break down. The bottom line is, if someone starts a business hiring motorbikes and does not appreciate the language of their customers – what else is lacking?
You will need to pay in advance and leave either your passport for a deposit or between 3000-5000 baht with a copy of your passport. It is now illegal to be without your passport so it is highly recommended that you leave the cash deposit.
Cost of Renting a Motorbike in Thailand
The company will usually charges per 24 hours when you are renting for the day. The cost will vary depending on where you are in Thailand, whether the bike is older or new, and an automatic or a manual. Some places will offer a discount for a weekly lease, most will for a monthly hire term. Although many smaller Thai owned places do not understand the concept of bulk buying as we do in the west and will (especially in peak seasons insist on a daily rate for however many days you hire.
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)
Off-road motorbike – (600-1000 baht / day, 6000 baht – 10,000 baht a month)
Older Bikes – 500 baht less per month than a newer scooter.
Some places will offer you damage insurance for a 20-200 baht (depending on how long you hire), and it is always worth paying the extra minimal fee. But be aware, most insurance for leasing your motorcycle will require you to pay for the repairs, or in the case of worse damage purchase the bike and then claim the insurance when you return home. Ask what the procedure is if you need to claim insurance before you rent the bike.
Many people who hire on a daily basis are forced to pay for a bike and then leave the country before the insurance can be sorted out – leaving a 35,000-60,000 baht extra expense. 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.
Chiang Mai Buddy Advantage
If you are hiring your motorbike from any of the selection on offer at Chiang Mai Buddy, we have arranged a 1000 baht security deposit with a copy of your Passport.
There are three types of scooters available for hire at most motorbike rental places in Thailand.
1) Automatic (with no gears)
2) Semi Automatic (with 5 gears but no clutch.)
3) Manual (5 gears with Clutch)
The automatic is the easiest bike to ride for beginners, yet with a little effort most people can master the semi-automatic in less than a day which offers the rider much more control especially riding mountainous, windy roads.
Typically bikes will range from 110cc, 115cc and 125cc with the newer bikes having fuel injection (125i). Obviously the larger engine provides more power and comes at a higher rental cost. If you weight 80kg or more, or if you are planning on traveling around the countryside (or mountains up north) get the bigger cc rating.
Older vs New
A new bike is one that is less than 2-3 years old. Typically an older bike will be about 500 baht a month less to rent (but the same daily rate). Generally a newer bike will have more power and much better fuel efficienty. If you your hiring for the day this is not so much of an issue, over the savings in gas that you will incur over a month. But and this is a BIG BUT, this is a safety issue. The newer bikes will have better brakes, tires (usually thicker), more power (for escaping hazards) and save you gas over the longer term more tan the extra rental price. Ask yourself here Is my life worth paying 500 baht a month for? Or in the case of a daily rental you are paying the same anyway.
Chiang Mai Buddy Advantage
If you are hiring your motorbike from any of the selection on offer at Chiang Mai Buddy, each bike is a Automatic 125cc (usually fuel injected) and new. Each bike is well maintained and optimized for the westerner. While there are choices for leasing a motorcycle available in Thailand – there is no choice with us. We feel so strongly about these issues, we wont allow our customers to make a substandard choice.
Before you set off, make sure you give a thorough check of the motorbike. The company will usually go over the bike and make a list of any dents, scratches and damage it might already have which you will be asked to witness. Pay attention when this is done as the contracts you are about to sign says that you hired the bike in prime condition. If it comes back with any additional marks you will be charged for this and be careful some companies make alot of extra income this way.
Here are things you should check for.
1) Inspect the bike for existing damage and take photo’s on your phone
2) Sit on the bike and bounce up and down – make sure the suspension is working
3) See if the mirrors adjust and you can see behind you. Thai drivers hardly ever use their mirrors – but you do!
4) Ride the bike and check for size comfort (your knees should not be forced to stick out)
5) Ride the bike and test the brakes (some bikes have rear and front, some combined – know what you have)
6) Check the acceleration – sometimes you will need to get out of the way of some idiot quickly
7) Opt for bikes with thicker tires – thin tires and gravel will be your No one reason for an accident
8) Helmet – Get as good as you can and wear it. Seriously wear it – I know some people don’t but think of your mother!
Sometimes it happens, you might have a small accident or get a flat tire (especially on the thinner tires). If our bike breaks down completely don’t worry, you have the number of the place you hired it (lets hope you choose a place that speaks English). This is Thailand there are small one man motorcycle repair shops all over the place (I know never where you actually break down though).
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 repair shop and getting it fixed yourself. If you do not have total coverage with no payment insurance, you can be assured the price the rental place thinks it will cost to repair is more tan you will pay yourself.
If you lose your helmet you can get a new one for a few hundred baht – don’t let the company you hired from tell you they are 1000 to replace.
Riding a scooter is likely to be not only a necessary but also a highly enjoyable part of your stay in Thailand. It can also be the most dangerous part of your trip. Make sure you learn how to ride a motorbike in Thailand – find out the differences and types of hazards you are likely to face here.
If you are planning on coming to Chiang Mai, we are only too happy to provide you with a rental bike. This service is free when you purchase our arrival package or we can arrange it for you in store or via our online concierge service for 200 baht