A Guide to Overseas Travel

How Do I Rent a Scooter or Motorbike in Thailand?

Rent Scooter Motorbike Thailand

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If you are visiting Thailand, you want to be able to get around, especially in some of the bigger cities.  Renting a car sounds like a good idea when driving between cities.  But city traffic is congested.  Perhaps a scooter sounds like a possibility.  

How do I rent a scooter or motorbike in Thailand? You need an international driver’s license and a motorcycle license to rent a scooter or motorbike in Thailand.  You will need to fill out some paperwork and give them a deposit. Bring your passport and cash, as they rarely accept credit cards.  Also, you need to know how to find a reputable rental shop.  

You should have a great experience if you are prepared to deal with the bike shops and the roads in Thailand.

You can also check out our article about transport in Thailand here.

How Do I Rent a Scooter or Motorbike in Thailand?

To rent a scooter or motorbike in Thailand, you need to make sure that you have everything you need before going through the process. There are shops all over the place, and you should do the appropriate research before renting a bike. You should check online reviews of the shop, to make sure that other people have had good experiences with it.

What You Need to Have

You need both a standard motorbike license and an international license that was issued in your home country. Alternatively, you can get a driver’s license in Thailand. However, you need to make sure that it is for the class of vehicle you are renting.

Many shops will ask you to surrender your passport.  If this sounds like something you don’t want to do (and we recommend you don’t), you have several options:

  • An old passport
  • A copy of your passport
  • Rent one from your hotel

There are numerous scenarios where you would want to keep your passport.  Here is just one:  you go to return your motorbike, the shop is closed for the day, and your plane takes off that night.   

Typically, shops are not going to accept credit cards so that you will want cash.  The shop will also ask for contact information, such as your phone number or address, during your stay in Thailand.

Can I Rent a Bike Without a License?

It is common for people to rent motorbikes in Thailand without a license, but it is illegal. Even if you are renting a scooter under 50cc, you will still need a license.  Even though people do it, consider these two things:

  • Accidents.  If you get into an accident, you will need to show your license.  Before you think there’s no chance that could happen to you, Thailand’s streets are considered some of the most dangerous in the world.
  • Reputable store.  A store that is willing to break the law should raise your scam antennas.  We are not saying that every motorbike rental willing to rent without asking for a license is crooked, but if they are willing to let you break the law, well then….

You want to have travel insurance to protect you should you be involved in an accident.

The Process and What to Expect

It is easy to rent a motorbike in Thailand. There are shops all over the place, and the rental is cheap. Typically, you can expect to pay between 150 and 300 baht per day of use. One baht is equal to about $0.03 in American dollars so that most people would find this very affordable.

After checking the reviews, you should contact the shop to make sure that they have bikes available. It might be a better idea in some cases to go directly to the shop so that you can see the bikes. Typically, getting one of the newer models is a good idea since they are generally in better condition and safer to ride.

As a part of the rental process, you will usually have to fill out a short form and sign a document that indicates that you understand the rental rules. You also need to provide them with payment upfront. Usually, you will need to give them some sort of deposit, either your passport or cash. (https://abrokenbackpack.com/2019/11/09/renting-scooter-thailand).

Watching Out for Scams

The most common scam is to rent you a damaged bike, and when you return it, charge you for damage you did not cause. 

One smart idea is to give the bike a once-over when you first rent it. You want to make sure that you are renting one that does not have any prior damage for which you could potentially be held accountable. If there is damage that you find tolerable, make sure to note it on the bike rental contract, so that you have it documented that you are not the one who caused it.

Better yet—a picture is worth a thousand words.  Take one, or several, before you get on.  That way, you have proof that those scratches on the side were there before you got on.

Another thing that can happen is repairs will be more expensive than you would think they should be.  This isn’t a scam as much to make more money from you. 

If you are not sure if a shop is reputable, go with your gut. Since there are plenty of places to rent a scooter, leave if you think something isn’t right. 

Traveler Tip:  If you feel you need to call for help, call for the tourist police instead of the regular police.  Sometimes the threat of calling the tourist police is enough to get a shop owner to back down.

Driving Tips in Thailand

You may think that if you know how to drive, you will be fine driving in Thailand. However, this isn’t necessarily the case.

In fact, Thailand is number one in the world for road fatalities per capita. Road safety is extremely poor. Therefore, if you don’t have a lot of experience with a scooter or motorbike, you should take scooter lessons before you venture out onto the road with one.

You may see other people breaking the rules of the road in Thailand, but this does not mean that you should do the same. If anything, it means that you should be careful to follow the rules, so that you minimize the risk of involving yourself in any road accidents.

Following the Rules

First and foremost, you should make sure that you never drive a motorbike or scooter without a license. Many people do it, but this doesn’t mean you should. If you get stopped by the police, you will usually be able to get away after paying a bribe (they will call it a fine, of course).

Also, if you end up in an accident and call your travel insurance company, you won’t be covered if you were driving illegally.

Make sure that you follow any posted speed limits. These are more rarely enforced in Thailand than in most first world countries, but in some cases, following speed limits can prevent accidents and injuries.

You also need to make sure to wear a helmet whenever you are driving and not to drive while under the influence of any substance.

The most important driving tip is what you do before you even get to Thailand.  Practice driving one before you travel there.  The last thing you want to do is try to learn how to drive a scooter and navigating the roads in Thailand.

Safety Considerations

You should do everything you can to protect your safety when you are writing a scooter or motorbike in Thailand. Drivers don’t generally follow the same rules that are commonplace in other countries. For example, people tend to turn without using signals.

The roads are also not paved, so you generally don’t have a smooth surface when you are driving. Also, many stray animals could jump out in front of you at any time.

You must wear a helmet whenever you are on your motorbike. Glasses or visors are also important to protect your eyes from flying objects, such as pebbles from unpaved roads, or flying bugs.  You should be able to get these at the place where you rent the bike.

We recommend wearing protective clothing, which includes long pants, closed-toed shoes, and a sturdy jacket. Yes, Thailand is hot and humid; however, your skin will thank you.  You should also wear gloves since you will likely put your hands out to protect yourself if you happen to fall on your bike.

Also, avoid riding at night unless you absolutely must. You must be able to concentrate on the road, so you should also avoid drinking or doing drugs when you know you will be driving.

Final Thoughts

Driving on a scooter or motorbike in Thailand can be an experience. It can enable you to explore this great country and learn to drive in much less hospitable conditions than what’s familiar to you. It’s also relatively inexpensive.

However, there are many safety considerations that you should consider before you make the investment. You need to put safety first and make sure that you can handle driving a bike around Thailand before going out onto the road. Overall, if you are prepared and take measures to protect your safety, it should be a very pleasant experience.

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