The Travellers Guide To Renting A Motorcycle in Thailand

renting a motorcycle in thailand

So, you’re looking to rent a motorcyle in Thailand? After travelling all over from the South, North, North East and Central Thailand on rented motorcycles, I know a thing or two on how to rent them, the best places to look, what to check before renting, and general tips on Police, safety etc. during your ride throughout Thailand. In this article, I’m going to share my 8 months of knowledge (and counting) travelling in Thailand mostly using rented motorcycles.

Choosing the Right Motorcycle

If you’re travelling a long distance, you should choose your motorcycle rental carefully.

Putting it shortly, if you want a cheap, long-distance bike that’s easy to ride, by far the best choice is the Honda Wave 125, or Honda Win. The Honda Wave is semi-auto, so is much more recommended for people who don’t have too much experience with manual bikes. Honda Win is a manual bike, so it’s recommended for people with greater riding skill.

Automatics are fine for short distances and getting around the town you have rented your motorcycle in, but any further, I would advise against choosing an automatic for long distances.

Do not choose an automatic for long distances! Due to the belt-driven system, you will have to rest it every 2-4hrs on the road for 30 minutes so that the belt doesn’t slip off. This depends on the quality of the bike too, but if you’re going cheap, you’ll have to rest the bike. Additionally repairs are more expensive and if you’re going to rural areas, it’s harder to find parts.

With a semi-automatic, it’s chain-driven, so you can ride it for as long as you like without having to rest it. I would still recommend resting the bike at certain intervals (just in-case), but I’ve been on 5hr+ stints and it’s been fine.

If you’re going longer-distance, try to find a rental where you can get a bag mount extension, so you can strap your bags on the back and have a bigger part of the seat for your journey (trust me you’ll thank me later).

Thailand offers a variety of motorcycles for rent, each catering to different levels of experience and types of journeys. Here’s a breakdown of the options:



  • Ideal for beginners
  • Easy to drive and maneuver
  • Rental Cost: 300-500 Baht/day ($8-11 USD)


  • Less fuel-efficient
  • Easier to slip on wet roads
  • Requires frequent rests to avoid belt issues

Recommended Models:

  • Honda Click (125, small engine, but good ride)
  • Yamaha Nmax (155, bigger engine, much smoother ride and bigger seat)
  • Yamaha Aerox (same as Nmax, just different model)



  • 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)

Recommended Models:

  • Honda Wave
  • Honda Dream
  • Yamaha Fiin

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



  • Best for long journeys
  • More comfortable and powerful
  • Rental Cost: 700 Baht+/day ($17+ USD)


  • Harder to drive
  • Less fuel-efficient
  • Harder to find and rent, but shops do rent them
  • Harder to turn, but easier to handle once you get used to it
  • Harder to fix and more expensive at garages

I have personally never rented manual before, but there is a much wider range of more comfortable options. You have off-roaders, super-bikes and much higher CC engines. If you’re going on long journeys, you should consider getting a manual bike for a much smoother, more enjoyable experience. Riding a Honda Wave or Win really hurts your ass after a while and they’re pretty slow (especially uphill).

Where to Rent a Motorcycle in Thailand

Motorcycle rental shops are widespread across Thailand, particularly in popular tourist destinations like Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. It’s often better to avoid tourist traps in central locations and look for shops in slightly less touristy areas. That doesn’t mean avoid tourist locations to rent (it’s actually better to rent in the hotspots due to more availability), just tourist hotspots where they will charge your more such as Sukhumvit, Old City Chiang Mai etc.

Where you rent, depends on where you want to go. If you want a more off-road experience, the North-East, and Northern parts of Thailand are fantastic to travel. I’d also suggest the Deep South, but there are some dangers there to be aware of before going. However, Deep South Thailand is 100% the most off-beaten path place you can you.

What Do To When Renting

Passport as a Deposit

Many rental companies will request your passport as a deposit. You should avoid leaving your passport and instead offer a cash deposit or a photocopy. Hotels require your passport for check-in, so keeping it with you is essential.

Typical Deposit Cost: 3,000 to 5,000 Baht ($90-$150 USD)

It’s far better to pay this than lose your passport, and end up stranded in a country. I have personally left my passport as a deposit in other countries, but now I tend to avoid it. All times my passport was returned, but it caused a lot of issues with hotel bookings. Luckily I had a photo on my laptop, or none of the hotels would have accepted me to stay. The reason for this is they need to see your Visa, because people over-stay and criminals run away to SEA.

Pre-Rental Checklist

Before you leave the rental shop, you should check the bike over (especially if you’re going on a long journey). Before leaving, things like brakes, wheel alignment, speedometer, fuel gauge, etc. should be checked. It’s also important to ask about oil change frequency. If you’re riding most bikes it should be changed every 500-750km travelled, so keep an eye on your mile gauge.

You should also take photos before you leave the rental in case the owner charges you for scratches that were previously there (this is pretty rare). I usually take pictures and return the bike, and the owner doesn’t even bother to check it over, as long as it doesn’t look battered. If you have scratched it, wash it before returning it so it looks clean.

Most of the time they’ll never bother to check if it looks clean and hasn’t been used much.

Here’s a quick pre-rental checklist for motorbike rentals in Thailand:

  1. Check for visible damage and take photos.
  2. Ensure proper inflation and tread condition on tyres
  3. Test both front and rear brakes.
  4. Verify all lights and indicators are functioning.
  5. Ensure mirrors are intact and adjustable.
  6. Test the horn to see if it works & is loud.
  7. Listen for unusual noises and check responsiveness.
  8. Check the fuel level and the fuel gauge + that it works
  9. Ensure the speedometer and odometer work correctly.
  10. Check the suspension.
  11. Check the battery for good condition and no corrosion.
  12. Check for proper tension and lubrication of the chain
  13. Get the rental agreement and bike’s registration papers.
  14. Ensure the bike comes with a locking system and it works. Check the hexagonal part of the key (at the end) isn’t worn (you need it to open the keyhole)
  15. Make sure your helmet fits and is in good condition
  16. Understand the insurance coverage (if you have no license you’re not covered)

Examples of photos to take before renting a motorbike in Thailand:

International Driving Permit (IDP)

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is required to legally ride a motorcycle in Thailand. You should get an IDP before leaving your home country, as obtaining one locally, or through unofficial means can lead to fines and legal issues. In the UK it costs £5 at your local Post Office. In The US you can get one using the AAA (American Automobile Association), which costs between $20 & $25.

Don’t fall for those online services that say they can provide you an IDP online. These do not work and Thai Police are very well trained, so they know what to look for. You will be fined if you have this IDP.

Riding Without a License

It’s important to note that riding a motorcycle in Thailand without a valid license is illegal and you will be fined if caught. Most rental companies may overlook this requirement, especially for smaller motorbike rental shops. I know a lot of foreigners will ignore this, so this is why I have written this section for you to at least be educated before so you know what you’re getting into.

If you crash, you are not covered by ANY health insurance. Medical care is a lot of money abroad, so if you do not have the money to cover your medical costs. You are also completely liable for the other person’s medical care and damage costs too. You will not be allowed to leave the country until you pay this bill.

If you cause a traffic accident in Thailand that results in injuries or damages to a third party, you can potentially be held liable for their medical expenses and other damages.

Thailand has a “fault-based” system when it comes to traffic accidents. This means that the party found to be at-fault or negligent in causing the accident is financially responsible for compensating the victims. If you are a foreigner, it’s very likely that even if the other person was in the wrong, they will take the Thai’s side (especially if you have no license, seeing as you are already in the wrong for driving with no license).

Specifically, under Thai law, the at-fault driver can be required to pay for:

  1. Medical expenses: This includes the cost of emergency treatment, hospitalization, ongoing medical care, rehabilitation etc. for any injuries caused to third parties.
  2. Property damages: The at-fault party is liable for repair or replacement costs for any vehicles or property damaged in the accident.
  3. Loss of income: If the victim missed work due to injuries, the liable party may have to compensate for lost wages.
  4. Disability/disfigurement: Compensation may be owed if the victim suffered a permanent disability or disfigurement.
  5. Pain and suffering: Thai courts can award additional damages for the physical and emotional trauma caused.

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 AT ALL, but understand that people are probably going to do it anyway. Do it at your own risk.

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

Additionally, 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.

Taking Your Own Motorcycle To Thailand

Here are the typical steps to import your own motorcycle into Thailand:

  1. Obtain Import Permit You’ll need to apply for an import permit from the Thai Customs Department. This requires submitting documents like your passport, vehicle registration, and details about the motorcycle.
  2. Pay Import Duties and Taxes Be prepared to pay import duties which are calculated based on the motorcycle’s CIF (cost, insurance, freight) value. The effective import duty rate is usually around 30-50%. You’ll also need to pay VAT (value-added tax) of 7%.
  3. Provide Legal Documents You’ll need the original vehicle registration/title, sales invoice showing the purchase price, and approval letter from the country the motorcycle is imported from.
  4. Meet Vehicle Requirements The motorcycle must meet Thai emissions and safety standards. You may need to modify the motorcycle before import to comply.
  5. Arrange Shipping Once you have the permits, you can arrange shipping of the motorcycle to Thailand through an international freight forwarder.
  6. Clear Customs Upon arrival, you or a customs broker will need to clear the motorcycle through Thai customs by submitting all required documents and paying any remaining duties/taxes.

A few additional tips:

  • Check that your motorcycle model is approved for import first
  • Expect the entire import process to take 1-2 months minimum
  • Factor in all shipping costs on top of duties/taxes
  • Consider hiring a customs broker to handle the paperwork

You can take your own motorcycle to Thailand, but it’s pretty difficult to transport and you have to pay import duties, alongside some documents that are required. In this case, it’s far easier to just rent a motorcycle when you get here, but if you’re on a longer, multi-country trip, it’s possible.

Insurance Options

When renting a motorcycle in Thailand, you’ll typically have two main insurance options:

  1. Rental Company Insurance: Many rental companies offer their own insurance policies, which can be convenient. However, these policies may come with limitations or higher costs, so it’s important to review the coverage details carefully.
  2. Third-Party Insurance: Alternatively, you can purchase insurance from a third-party provider. This option may offer more comprehensive coverage at a potentially lower cost compared to the rental company’s insurance.

Regardless of which insurance route you choose, it’s crucial to thoroughly understand the terms and conditions, coverage limits, and ensure that the policy meets your needs. Some reports suggest that foreigners may be able to purchase affordable motorcycle insurance from banks in Thailand, but this option is generally available only to those with an Education (ED) Visa or a residency permit.

Roadside Assistance and Pickup Services When exploring the beautiful landscapes of Northern Thailand on a rented motorcycle, unexpected breakdowns or flat tyres can occur. To avoid being stranded, it’s advisable to rent from a company that offers roadside assistance or pickup services. These services 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 the availability of these services and their associated costs before renting a motorcycle.

Remember, it’s essential to have proper insurance and a valid license to operate a motorcycle in Thailand legally. Failing to meet these requirements could invalidate your insurance coverage and potentially lead to legal issues.

Daily Rental Costs

Motorcycle TypeDaily Rental Cost
Honda Wave (semi-automatic)150-250 Baht ($4.50-$7.50 USD)
Honda Click (automatic)200-300 Baht ($6-$9 USD)
125cc+ (automatic)500-1000 baht ($13-$27 USD)
Manual Transmission700 Baht + ($17 USD+)

Roadside Assistance and Pickup Services

When exploring Thailand on a rented motorcycle, breakdowns or flat tires can occur. 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 help in case of any mechanical issues.

Services Offered

Many rental companies include roadside assistance as part of their rental package, while others may offer it for an additional fee. Common services include:

  • Flat Tire Assistance: Help with repairing or replacing a flat tire.
  • Towing Services: Transportation of the motorcycle to the nearest repair shop.
  • Fuel Delivery: If you run out of fuel, some services will deliver a small amount to get you to the nearest station.
  • Battery Jump-Start: Assistance if the motorcycle battery dies.

Discounts on Long-Term Rentals

If you plan on renting a motorcycle for an extended period, many rental companies in Thailand 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.

Examples of Discounts

  • Weekly Rentals: Renting a motorcycle for a week can often save you up to 20% compared to the daily rate.
  • Monthly Rentals: Monthly rates can provide even more significant savings, sometimes up to 40% off the daily rate.

Pro Tip: Always negotiate for better rates, especially if renting during the off-peak season or if you’re a repeat customer.

Renting a Motorcycle in Different Thai Cities



  • Availability: A wide range of bikes available for rent.
  • Infrastructure: Well-maintained roads and numerous rental shops.
  • Scenic Routes: Explore the city’s landmarks and outskirts.


  • Traffic: Heavy and chaotic traffic can be challenging for beginners.
  • Pollution: Air quality can be poor, especially during peak hours.

Popular Rental Shops:

  • Mr. Mechanic: Offers a variety of bikes and has multiple locations.
  • Bangkok Bike Rental: Known for well-maintained bikes and good service.



  • Scenic Views: Beautiful coastal roads and scenic routes.
  • Tourist-Friendly: Many rental shops catering to tourists.
  • Variety: From scooters to high-end bikes, there’s a wide selection.


  • Tourist Prices: Higher rental rates compared to other cities.
  • Traffic: Can be heavy, especially in popular areas like Patong Beach.

Popular Rental Shops:

  • Phuket Motorbike Rental: Offers a wide range of bikes and good customer service.
  • Patong Motorbike Rental: Conveniently located near popular beaches.



  • Accessibility: Easy to find rental shops throughout the city.
  • Scenic Routes: Explore nearby islands and countryside.
  • Competitive Prices: Generally cheaper than Phuket and Bangkok.


  • Traffic: Busy and sometimes chaotic traffic.
  • Safety: Be cautious, especially in busy tourist areas.

Popular Rental Shops:

  • Pattaya Bike Rental: Known for competitive prices and good service.
  • Renty Pattaya: Offers a variety of bikes and flexible rental terms.

Chiang Mai


  • Scenic Landscapes: Ideal for exploring Northern Thailand’s natural beauty.
  • Tranquil Roads: Less traffic compared to bigger cities.
  • Cultural Routes: Visit temples, hot springs, and tribal villages.


  • Availability: Fewer rental shops compared to Chiang Mai.
  • Service: Limited options for roadside assistance.

Popular Rental Shops:

  • Bikky Motorcycle rental: Good selection of bikes and friendly service.
  • Mr. Mechanic Chiang Rai: Reliable bikes and reasonable prices.

Exploring Thailand by Motorcycle (Good Routes)

Once you’ve rented or imported your motorcycle, Thailand offers countless routes and destinations to explore.

Here are some top recommendations:

Northern Thailand

Mae Hong Son Loop:

  • Route: Chiang Mai – Mae Sariang – Mae Hong Son – Pai – Chiang Mai
  • Highlights: Mountain views, waterfalls, hill tribe villages.
  • Distance: Approximately 600 km

Golden Triangle:

  • Route: Chiang Rai – Mae Sai – Golden Triangle – Chiang Saen – Chiang Rai
  • Highlights: Scenic landscapes, historical sites, river views.
  • Distance: Approximately 190 km

Southern Thailand

Phang Nga Bay:

  • Route: Phuket – Phang Nga – Krabi
  • Highlights: Limestone cliffs, beautiful islands, national parks.
  • Distance: Approximately 150 km

Samui Loop:

  • Route: Surat Thani – Koh Samui – Koh Phangan – Koh Tao
  • Highlights: Beaches, marine life, vibrant nightlife.
  • Distance: Variable based on island hopping.

Deep South Thailand:

It’s pretty dangerous here so I wouldn’t recommend everyone go, but it is incredibly beautiful and unlike anywhere else in Thailand with an 80%+ muslim population in the three provinces and an incredibly interesting history. Read more about that here.

Central Thailand

Kanchanaburi Loop:

  • Route: Bangkok – Kanchanaburi – Erawan Falls – Hellfire Pass – Bangkok
  • Highlights: Waterfalls, historical sites, national parks.
  • Distance: Approximately 400 km

Pattaya to Hua Hin Coastal Ride:

  • Route: Pattaya – Rayong – Bang Saphan – Hua Hin
  • Highlights: Coastal views, beaches, seafood.
  • Distance: Approximately 280 km

When To Rent A Motorcyle in Thailand

The best season to ride in Thailand is cold season, between November and February (it’s not cold at all 20°C – 30°C). Rainy season is not a good idea, you will get completely drenched, the rain is absolutely relentless. Hot season is pretty unbearable (especially if you’re going to wear full gear), at 30°C – 40°C/day.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *