How to Rent a Motorcycle in Thailand

This guide is packed with info on how to rent a motorcycle in Thailand. It’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world and you’ll love exploring it on two wheels. Here’s everything you need to know…

How to Buy and Sell a Motorcycle in Southeast Asia

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How to Rent a Motorcycle in Thailand

Why rent a motorcycle in Thailand

You’ll love travelling in Thailand, it’s almost a right of passage. And the best, most liberating and authentic way to get around and explore any country is on a motorcycle – especially in Southeast Asia.  

Thailand is an incredibly beautiful country and one of the easiest places in the world to travel. It’s set-up for tourism, so easy to get around and English is widely spoken.  So, you won’t have any trouble finding a rental and getting around. It’s actually quite straight forward, but we put this guide together for anyone who is considering travelling there, but isn’t quite sure what to expect.

Rent, buy or take your own motorcycle in Thailand

You’ve got four options for riding a motorcycle in Thailand. You can rent a bike, join an organised tour, buy a bike or take your own foreign plated motorcycle into the country.

Buying a bike as a foreigner in Thailand is completely doable, but quite a lot more involved than renting one. We have a dedicated guide that explains in detail how to buy a motorcycle in Thailand, so we won’t repeat that information again here. Check it out below.

READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Motorcycle in Southeast Asia

Joining an organised motorcycle tour is a brilliant way of travelling around a country. An expert guide will take care of absolutely everything including plotting out your route (already knowing the best roads), booking hotels in advance, sights, places to eat, sorting insurance, luggage, back up, riding with you and so on. If you’re interested in a tour, check out our recommended companies.

READ MORE: Thailand Rental and Tour Companies  

Renting a bike is the easiest way to travel in Thailand. There’s no commitment to owning the bike, you don’t have to worry about selling it after, you’re free to ride where you like at your own pace and you don’t have to deal with the mountain of paperwork involved with taking your own in.

Taking your own motorcycle into Thailand is not easy. This is more suited to those who are on round the world trips or immigrating to Thailand and want to import their own motorcycle.

If you are on a big trip and want to take your own bike, you’ll find out how we did it in our Thailand guides. Check out the below article to make a start. And if you want to import a bike, then contact our recommended Thailand shipping companies.

READ MORE: Motorcycle Travel Guide: Thailand

Motorcycle traveller Thailand White Temple

Paperwork for renting a motorcycle in Thailand

To rent a motorcycle in Thailand you will need your passport, visa, driver’s licence, IDP, motorcycle insurance and personal travel insurance. 

Passport and visa

First up, you need to be legally allowed to enter and stay in Thailand. That means you need a current passport and valid visa or to be visa-exempt. Check what your country’s requirements are before you travel and make sure you do not overstay your visa in Thailand.  

Driver’s licence

You must have a valid driver’s licence to ride a motorcycle in Thailand. And the licence must be valid for the capacity of motorcycle you wish to rent. If your licence from your home country only allows you to ride a 125cc, don’t rent a 1000cc bike. Firstly, it’s incredibly unsafe and secondly, your travel insurance won’t be valid for it. Think about it, it’s not worth the risk.

International Driver’s Permit

There’s a lot of conflicting reports on International Driver’s Permits (aka IDP or IDL). Legally and officially, you do need a IDP to ride in Thailand. Note, there are two IDP conventions (1968 and 1949) and it’s the ’68 you need to ride in Thailand so bear that in mind when getting a licence in your home country.

Getting an IDP is incredibly easy and cheap. You simply visit the issuing office in your home country. In the UK it’s the Post Office. Just take your passport, driver’s licence and a passport photograph and pay them £5 and it’s done there and then on the spot.

However, not everyone wants to or is able to get one. So, you can probably get away without one as most rental companies won’t ask for one. But, that doesn’t mean you should ride without one as if the police stop you you’re getting fined. Expect to pay around 500-2,000THB dependent on the officer. You may even have your bike ceased.

Motorcycle insurance

Make sure you get insurance for your motorcycle and know exactly what is covered. Some companies may include a basic insurance, some may not include any at all and some might offer decent insurance for an extra premium. It’s worth it for peace of mind. There will typically be an excess and then damages and thefts should be covered by the insurer.

Check if you are third-party only, covered to carry pillions, must your bike be locked at night, garaged etc. Check everything and make sure you are happy with the cover you have opted for.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is the single most important thing when travelling. Don’t skimp on it and never travel without it. It’s one of those things you don’t think you need until you really need it. We’re guilty of that ourselves, although we always travelled with it, insurance was just an afterthought – until Alissa broke her leg in Nepal and the hospital bill was £20,000. Lucky we had excellent insurance and now we’re very particular about it.

Know that travel insurance and motorcycle insurance are two different things. Your motorcycle insurance covers the bike, your travel insurance is personal – for you – and must be bought separately and usually before you leave on your trip.

Make sure your travel insurance covers you to ride a rental motorcycle in Thailand. It will need to also cover you to ride the capacity of bike you want to rent too as most insurance policies are up to 125cc. There will be other stipulations on there too, like checking how long of a trip you can take on a motorcycle and the types of roads you’re allowed on.

READ MORE: The Motorcycle Travel Insurance Guide

Mad or Nomad Thailand Motorcycle Trip

Your rental motorcycle

Before paying your money, taking the keys and heading out to explore Thailand there are a few checks and points to consider first. 

Check your rental bike

When renting any motorcycle – regardless of where in the world you’re riding – always thoroughly check your bike before signing and taking it away.

Check the oil level, chain, sprockets and tyre wear. Are there big crash marks or scratches? Check the bike starts okay, accelerates smoothly and that the brakes and clutch work.

Get a feel for the bike and go with your gut. If you think something might be off with the bike, refuse it and ask to try another. Or try a few until you find one you like.

Take a video of your rental bike. We do this all the time, whether we’re renting a car or a bike. A video (and a bunch of pics) is the best way to prove any damage on the vehicle was already there before you took it. Make sure you do a walk around video zooming in on any scuffs, dents and scratches before you leave the rental office. They then can’t deny it and try and charge you for it upon your return.

Get a contract

Get a signed rental contract before you leave. Some companies won’t provide a contract. But in touristy places this is a must. Make sure you read it thoroughly and understand it. Get a copy of the contract, or if they can’t provide one take a photo of every page.

Some companies may want to keep your passport as collateral. A lot of places try this – not just in Thailand. We never leave our passports but many people do. Ultimately, it’s your call, you can try leaving a photocopy but if they only accept the original and you are prepared to do that, then just remember that even if you return the bike and there is a problem, a rental company cannot legally keep your passport.

Choosing your rental motorcycle in Thailand

As mentioned in the paperwork section above, don’t go for a bike you’re not legally licenced to ride in your home country. You won’t be insured on it and learning to ride a bigger bike in a foreign country is not a good idea. Consider what you really need, where you’re heading in Thailand and what motorcycle suits your needs.

READ MORE: Adventure Motorcycles

Road safety in Thailand

Unfortunately, Thailand is a dangerous country to ride a motorcycle. Be very aware of other road users, their speed, overtakers, drivers merging into your lane without warning, sudden breaking etc. And it’s not just the other drivers, kids, dogs, chickens, buffalos – anyone or anything can run into the street and roads can often have gravel and sand in the middle of a bend.

Always keep your wits about you and never ride out of your comfort zone. Riding a capacity and style of motorcycle you are used to will make all of this a lot easier.

Riding gear for Thailand

We have a detailed section on the right type of motorcycle riding gear for Thailand in our Motorcycle Travel Guide: Thailand article. You’ll find a lot more info in there, but in summary, lightweight breathable and mesh riding gear works best for Thailand. Carry a cheap waterproof throwover in case it gets hot and consider wearing a full face or flip front helmet.

Never ride in shorts and flip flops. It might look cool and you’ll see a lot of foreigners riding like that. But you’ll also see a lot of foreigners with gravel rash and that is nasty. Fore more info on riding gear, check out our gear guides.

READ MORE: Riding Gear Guides

Where to rent a motorcycle in Thailand

It depends what you want from your motorcycle trip and travels. If you’re after a small bike to cruise around the beaches, then you’ll be in the south. But if you’re renting a bike for an adventure, want to go off-road or ride over epic mountains then it has to be the north. The north of Thailand is the absolute best place to ride and one of our favourite routes there is the legendary Mae Hong Son Loop. You’ll find more guides on this in the Thailand pages.

READ MORE: Thailand Guides

Northern Thailand Motorcycle ride

When to rent a motorcycle in Thailand

Thailand’s busiest months are December and January, which makes them expensive months to fly in.

November, December, January, February: Winter months, cool, dry and the best time to visit.

March, April (hot), May, June: Hot season and less rain. It’s also the time of year that people light thousands of illegal fires in the north. The entire north is engulfed in smoke and smog and the pollution levels are extremely bad.

July, August, September, October: Monsoon season. Take care of slippery asphalt and pack waterproofs.

The best motorcycle rental companies in Thailand

For our selection of the very best rental and tour companies in Thailand, check out the below page. These business know their stuff and have been renting bikes and organising tours in Thailand for a long time. They’re amongst the best in the country.

READ MORE: Recommended Thailand Rental and Tour Companies

Read more on motorcycle travel in Thailand

Thanks for checking out the How to Rent a Motorcycle in Thailand guide. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on motorcycle travel in Thailand that we recommend you read next. 

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Are you planning on renting a motorcycle in Thailand? Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Let us know in the comments below. 

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