Automatic 110cc and 125cc motorcycle rentals are capable of carrying two people are the easiest to jump on and ride away with if you don’t have riding experience. A valid international driver’s licence isn’t required to rent, but you may have to leave your passport, or at least a copy and maybe 1000-5000 baht. While the petrol/gas tank may be full on pick-up, it is not uncommon for shops to deliver a bike with just enough fuel to go make it to a service station.
Motorcycle rentals cost about 200+ baht/day for a Honda Wave 125, the shop will give you a rental agreement, one or two helmets and a security chain. Newer bikes are much safer to rent.
Before you get on the bike check for scratches and damage. It’s commen to take photos and videos with your smart phone.
Get a quick lesson on starting, filling with fuel, opening the seat area and brakes and braking.
Go for a short ride, check braking (both front and back brakes) and lights and indicators. If you don’t feel comfortable or happy, give the bike back.
Both rider and passenger are required by law to wear helmets when riding motor bikes, you will get pulled over if you are not wearing one, and it is the #1 cause of accidental death in Thailand.
If you ride a motorcycle in Thailand you are very likely to have an accident. It happens to everyone at some point. Whether or not you survive with your life will depend greatly on following the suggestions and guidelines detailed below. I would go as far as stating … Make them your Rules!
Be aware of everything around you. Always, always, ALWAYS look around everywhere when you ride, look for other cars and motorbikes, in front, beside and behind AND look at the road surface as a little dirt will help you off your bike very quickly if you brake. Riding motorbikes in the rain brings along a whole range of other problems, but you might never have to worry about the rain, thankfully.
A common mistake people make is that Asians are bad drivers. They are not. They manage to survive in a chaotic traffic system with more hazards than a reality TV show. One of the biggest hazards you will find driving on Thai roads is that almost no one will look for oncoming traffic before pulling out of a street, turning a corner or changing lanes.
Drive slowly. Always drive at a speed where you have complete control and can stop quickly and safely. The ability to ride in and out between cars is easy here. The motorcycle gives you much more opportunity to bypass the congestion of cars in traffic. In fact doing this will become second nature to you. Just always be aware as you are riding between cars, chances are someone else will pull out in front of you as they move into the space between cars. And they will not be looking for you coming! No one in Thailand is in a hurry. You do not need to be either.
Tuktuks and Songtaows: These will stop anywhere suddenly to pick up passengers. If you see a Tuktuk ahead of you that is empty expect it to stop suddenly or slow every time it passes people on the side of the road. The same is true for the two row trucks which are often the reason cars are driving in the middle of the road or traffic comes to a stop is because of these vehicles.
IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, even in accidents, just keep calm, do not get angry, this is very disrespectful. “Jai yen yen” keeping calm is the most important rule in Thailand.
The best motorcycle rentals shop in Chiang Mai
If you are needing to get or renew your license, the best resource is my friend’s PDF – Getting a Thai Drivers License (and Renewing)
Buying a new car or motorbike?
I have some basic resources to help you transfer the vehicle into your name – Vehicle Transfer Procedures