The Traveller’s Guide To Renting A Motorcycle in Chiang Mai

rent motorbike chiang mai

Renting a motorcycle in Chiang Mai can be an exhilarating way to get around Chiang Mai and explore the beautiful landscapes and vibrant culture of Northern Thailand. I’ve personally rented motorcycles in Thailand more times than I can count, so I decided to write an article about all of the important things I wish I knew before renting in Thailand. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about renting a motorcycle in Chiang Mai, from choosing the right bike to navigating the ins and outs of licenses, insurance, and more.

Which Bike Should You Choose To Rent in Chiang Mai?

There are 3 basic types of bike you can rent while in Chiang Mai:

  • Automatic (best for beginners)
  • Semi-automatic (cheapest, and best for long journeys)
  • Manual (best for pro riders)



  • 300-500 baht/day ($8-11) Honda 125 click, or Scoopy lower end, Aerox, NCX and 155cc models higher end of price range
  • Great for beginners to get used to the roads
  • Easy to drive and manoeuvre


  • Not as fuel-efficient
  • Easier to slip on wet roads
  • Belt driven, so have to rest for 30mins every 1-2hrs so belt doesn’t slip off
  • More costly to fix at the garage and less parts available

It’s recommended that newer drivers get an Automatic bike when first driving in Thailand. This way you don’t have to worry about gears etc. so you can pay more attention to the roads. Once you have learned the roads, it’s better to upgrade to a semi-automatic. These are much more fuel efficient, easier to control, less-likely to slip on wet roads, and you can take them on longer journeys

Look for bikes such as:

  • Honda Click (cheapest and best)
  • Honda Zoomer (worst, bumpy ride, but ok)
  • Honda Scoopy (pretty awful drive, but cheap and cheerful)
  • Yamaha Nmax (highest CC, smoothest drive, but most expensive)
  • Yamaha Aerox (high CC, smooth drive, more expensive)
  • Yamaha GT 125 (good drive, pretty cheap, most reliable for price)



  • 200-250 baht/day ($5-7) for Yamaha, Suzuki or Honda Wave equivalent
  • Easier to handle round corners and lower chance of slipping on wet roads
  • Chain driven, which means you can drive them consistently without rests
  • Very popular bike choice in Thailand, so very cheap and easy to fix
  • Very fuel-efficient. We got about 150kms/tank (it’s 120-150 baht to refill)
  • No clutch
  • More comfortable than automatic drives


  • Harder to drive, with gear levers and back break located on foot
  • Harder to turn, but easier to handle once you get used to it
  • Harder to find to rent, but there are shops that do (Bikky does)

Great bike if you’re going on a large journey, due to the chain-driven system. This means you don’t have to stop every 2hrs for a 30min break. However, most places don’t rent these because they usually don’t like customers who go on longer journeys as it increases the mileage a lot. You will have to look around a little more. There is a great shop called Bikky that rents them (we personally used this and the cost was 250 baht/day).

Look for motorbike brands:

  • Honda Wave (best)
  • Honda Dream (similar to wave, slight different build)
  • Yamaha Fiin (faster but less reliable)
  • Suzuki Smash (not as good but people still drive)

Video where I drive a Yamaha Fiin 115cc, semi-auto. My friend is driving a Honda Wave 125cc.



  • Much better for long journeys, you get higher CC, and smoother rides
  • Much more comfortable than automatic drives and semi-automatic drives
  • Easier to handle round corners and lower chance of slipping on wet roads
  • Can get fast super bikes as well as off-roaders that will take you more off-beaten path
  • Chain driven, which means you can drive them consistently without rests


  • Much more expensive at 700 baht+/day rental ($17)
  • Harder to drive, with gear levers, and clutch
  • Harder to find and rent, but shops do rent them
  • Harder to turn, but easier to handle once you get used to it
  • Less fuel-efficient due to higher CC engines
  • Harder to fix and more expensive at garages

I would only recommend getting a Manual bike if you are doing some off-road stuff, or you just want a cool, flashy bike to drive around town. Honda Wave or small automatic will be fine for just scooting around the city, but if you want to go on more adventurous drives, you’re going to have a far better time with a manual bike. You can do long drives on semi-auto Honda Waves, but after a while they really hurt to ride for long distances – you won’t have this problem with manuals as they’re generally far more comfortable.

Where Can I Rent Motorbikes in Chiang Mai?

You can find rental shops anywhere in Chiang Mai, but it’s better to head out of the old city, and go to Nimmanhaemin to find a motorbike rental shop. These are much cheaper and usually less of a tourist trap.

To get to these shops, take a Red Songtaew to Nimmanhaemin. It should only cost you 30 baht to get there, and then use Google Maps to find the local shops.

Shops we recommend to use for renting a motorcycle in Chiang Mai are as follows:

  • Bikky (great, cheap service for semi-auto and auto)
  • Mango Bikes Rental (cheap service for semi-auto and auto)
  • C&P Big Bikes (better for off-road and faster, bigger bikes)
  • Zippy Motorbike Rentals
  • TBR Toon’s Rental

Should You Leave Your Passport as a Deposit?

Many rental companies in Chiang Mai will request that you leave your passport as a deposit when renting a motorcycle. While this is a common practice, it’s generally advisable to avoid leaving your passport behind. Instead, opt for providing a cash deposit or a photocopy of your passport. If the rental company insists on holding your actual passport, consider finding an alternative rental provider.

It’s important you don’t leave your passport, because most hotels around Thailand will NOT LET YOU STAY THERE without it. Please pay a deposit instead, or if you’re sneaky, you can order a new passport, say you lost your old one, and the old one will still be in date. Give this one, and you avoid the deposit charge.

Typical Deposit Cost for Renting A Motorcycle in Thailand

The deposit amount for renting a motorcycle in Chiang Mai can vary depending on the rental company and the type of motorcycle you choose. On average, you can expect to pay a deposit ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 Thai Baht (approximately $90 to $150 USD). This deposit is fully refundable upon returning the motorcycle in good condition.

I personally paid 3000 baht per motorcycle at Bikky Motorbike Rentals in Chiang Mai. I was returned the entire amount no problems.

If you have damaged the motorcycle, the company may take the repair costs out of the deposit you left. It’s important to take photos before leaving of all angles of the bike to ensure you don’t get ripped off by your rental shop for a scratch that was already there.

Take Photos Before You Leave With Your Rental

It’s extremely rare for a motorbike rental to check the bike over when you return it (at least in my experience, I’ve never been checked). If it is completely tattered, of course they will check it over and charge you. In some cases you may even be charged for a scratch that was there beforehand. In this case you should take multiple photos before you leave to ensure that you don’t get overcharged for something that wasn’t your fault.

Below I’ve left some photos to show you how you should take images of the bike before leaving.

Check The Motorcycle Before You Leave

Some motorcycle rentals don’t keep their bikes in good shape, so to make sure you’re not given and bad, old motorbike that will give out on you, you need to make sure to check it over.

Here’s a checklist covering everything you should check on your motorbike rental:

  1. Overall Condition
    • Look for any visible damage such as scratches, dents, or rust. Take photos or a video of the motorcycle from all angles to document its condition before you leave.
  2. Tyres
    • Check the tire tread and ensure they are not worn out.
    • Verify that the tires are properly inflated.
  3. Brakes
    • Test both the front and rear brakes to ensure they are responsive and not squeaky.
    • Inspect the brake pads for wear.
  4. Lights and Indicators
    • Test the headlights (high and low beam), tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals.
    • Ensure all lights are functioning properly.
  5. Mirrors
    • Make sure both side mirrors are intact and can be adjusted to provide a clear view.
  6. Horn
    • Test the horn to ensure it works and is loud enough to be heard in traffic.
  7. Engine
    • Start the engine and listen for any unusual noises.
    • Check for smooth idling and responsiveness when you rev the engine.
  8. Fuel Level
    • Verify the fuel level and understand the shop’s policy on fuel. Some rentals may come with a full tank, while others might need refueling soon after renting.
  9. Odometer and Speedometer
    • Ensure the odometer and speedometer are functioning correctly.
  10. Suspension
    • Check the front and rear suspension for smooth operation and stability.
  11. Battery
    • Confirm that the battery is in good condition and check the battery terminals for any corrosion.
  12. Chain and Sprockets
    • Inspect the chain for proper tension and lubrication.
    • Check the sprockets for wear and alignment.
  13. Documentation
    • Ensure you receive the necessary rental agreement and a copy of the bike’s registration papers.
    • Verify that the shop provides you with a contact number in case of emergencies or issues.
  14. Locks and Security
    • Check if the bike comes with a lock or other security device.
    • Understand the shop’s policy on securing the bike when parked.
  15. Helmet and Gear
    • Inspect the provided helmet for cleanliness and good condition.
    • If available, check other gear like gloves or jackets for safety and fit.
  16. Insurance
    • Confirm what type of insurance is included with the rental and what it covers.
    • Consider purchasing additional insurance if necessary.

Riding Without a License

It’s important to note that riding a motorcycle in Chiang Mai without a valid license is illegal. While some rental companies may overlook this requirement, especially for smaller motorbikes like the Honda Wave or Honda Click. If caught riding without a license, you could face hefty fines or even legal consequences.

I will say that I’ve never personally been pulled over in Thailand. If you are going to ride without a license, then dress up like a Thai person. Dress in jeans, a jacket, and put a face mask on etc. This will make you far less likely to be caught.

Harry (CEO of WHTC)

We do not recommend riding without a license, but understand that people are going to do it anyway.

Here are the implications of Riding Without a License:

  • Potential fines ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 Thai Baht (approximately $30 to $300 USD)
  • Risk of legal issues or detainment
  • Invalidation of insurance coverage, leaving you liable for any damages or accidents

If you do have a license, you will need an IDP (international drivers permit). Do not purchase one while you’re here off one of those dodgy websites, these are fake and will still get you a fine if you run into Police. Additionally they will not cover you for any accidents. So make sure you get an IDP before you leave your home country, if you want to ride a motorcycle while you’re here in Thailand.

If you have a residency permit, you can apply for a copy of your license from the Department of Transport. For this you will need a proof of residence, your passport, your licesnse and you’ll have to answer a few questions.

Daily Rental Costs

The daily rental cost for a motorcycle in Chiang Mai can vary based on the type of bike and the rental company. Here’s a general breakdown of the average costs:

Motorcycle TypeDaily Rental Cost
Honda Wave (semi-automatic)150-250 Thai Baht ($4.50-$7.50 USD)
Honda Click (automatic)200-300 Thai Baht ($6-$9 USD)
Manual Transmission700 Thai Baht + ($17 USD+)

It’s worth noting that these prices are subject to change, and rental companies may offer discounts for longer rental periods (e.g., weekly or monthly rates).

Also the higher CC bikes will generally cost more. Something like a 155cc Aerox will set you back 500 baht/day. You can additionally get 350cc automatic bikes which will be upwards of 1000 baht/day. It all depends on what kind of bike you want to get.

The Importance of Insurance

Insurance is crucial when renting a motorcycle in Chiang Mai. Most rental companies will offer insurance as an optional add-on, but it’s highly recommended to purchase it. Without insurance, you could be held liable for any damages or accidents, potentially resulting in significant costs.

Important Note: Insurance policies are typically void if you don’t have a valid motorcycle license. Riding without a license not only puts you at legal risk but also leaves you uninsured in case of an incident.

Insurance Options

When renting a motorcycle in Chiang Mai, you’ll generally have two insurance options:

  1. Rental Company Insurance – Many rental companies offer their own insurance policies, which can be convenient but may come with limitations or higher costs.
  2. Third-Party Insurance – You can also purchase insurance from a third-party provider, which may offer more comprehensive coverage at a potentially lower cost.

It’s essential to carefully review the terms and conditions of any insurance policy, understand the coverage limits, and ensure that it meets your needs.

There are some reports online that you can purchase affordable motorcycle insurance at the bank in Thailand, but this cannot be done by foreigners unless you have an ED Visa, or a residency permit here in Thailand. Either way, get insurance and make sure it’s not void by not having a proper license.

Roadside Assistance and Pickup Services

When exploring the beautiful landscapes of Northern Thailand on a rented motorcycle, breakdowns or flat tires can happen. To avoid being stranded, it’s advisable to rent from a company that offers roadside assistance or pickup services. This can provide peace of mind and ensure that you receive prompt assistance in case of any mechanical issues.

Some rental companies may include roadside assistance as part of their rental package, while others may offer it as an additional fee. Be sure to inquire about these services and their associated costs before renting a motorcycle.

Discounts and Long-Term Rentals

If you plan on renting a motorcycle for an extended period, many rental companies in Chiang Mai offer discounted rates for longer rental periods. Weekly and monthly rates can significantly reduce your overall costs, making long-term rentals a more economical option.

For example, while the daily rate for a Honda Click may be around 200-300 Thai Baht ($6-$9 USD), the weekly rate could be as low as 1,000-1,500 Thai Baht ($30-$45 USD), and the monthly rate could range from 3,500-5,000 Thai Baht ($105-$150 USD).

It’s always a good idea to inquire about long-term rental discounts and compare the rates among different rental companies to find the best deal.

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