The best way to explore Thailand is by motor scooter. We’re sharing all the top tips for renting a scooter in Thailand!
Thailand is a beautiful country with a lot of tourist spots. If you want to explore all the beauty this country has to offer, renting a scooter is the best way to do it. It’s affordable, convenient, and it gives you the freedom to go wherever you want to go. However, before you rent a scooter, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
We’ve visited Thailand 5 times now and rent a scooter whenever we can! It’s one of our favorite places to ride a scooter and explore the beautiful country! We have definitely learned the best tips and tricks for you to know about renting a scooter, staying safe on a scooter, and ensuring you don’t pay too much!
We’ll cover the best tips for renting a scooter in Thailand, scooter Thailand price, Thailand scooter license, and more!
This post is all about the best tips for renting a scooter in Thailand!
Renting a Scooter in Thailand:
1. Find a Good Rental Location
Finding a good rental location is essential to renting a reliable scooter. You can find rental locations near popular tourist destinations, or you can ask your hotel receptionist for recommendations. It’s always a good idea to read reviews online before choosing a rental location to ensure that you’re getting a reliable scooter. When you arrive at the rental location, make sure to inspect the scooter thoroughly before renting it. Check the brakes, lights, and tires to ensure that they’re in good condition. We have rented so many bikes where the headlights don’t work. It’s better to find out at the shop than in the middle of the drive right as the sunsets…
We usually search for “scooter,” “motorbike,” or “bike rental” on Google Maps and choose a place that not only has good reviews but a lot of reviews!
Our favorite rental spot in Chiang Mai: Happy Days Shop
Our favorite rental spot in Phuket: Rawai Scooter & Motorbike Rental Wanderlust
2. Ride with a Local
If you’re not comfortable riding a motor scooter on your own, you can still experience the beauty of Thailand on a scooter tour. Many local companies offer guided tours where you ride on the back of a local’s bike. This way, you can still enjoy the scenery and explore the country without worrying about your own driving skills. Plus, you’ll get a unique perspective from a local guide who can show you hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path locations. Just be sure to do your research and choose a reputable company with good reviews. You can also book a Grab ride on the back of a scooter taxi (like Uber ride share but Thai style!).
Top activities in phuket
3. Book in Advance
If you are planning on renting a motorbike in a popular tourist area, especially during high-season (November – April), you will want to ensure you will be able to get a scooter. A lot of places will sell out or at least have limited availability (ie only the more expensive options are left). You can find the rental location you are interested in and message their phone number on WhatsApp to get started. Some more experienced rental locations (note: also likely more expensive) will have online booking portals on their websites as well.
4. Questions to ask before booking
We always message the rental company ahead of time to ensure there is availability and to have all the right information before getting the bike. These are the standard questions we ask when renting a scooter in Thailand:
- Do you have any 150cc automatic scooters available for these dates?
- How much is the daily rate?
- Can you do a cash deposit? If so, how much?
- We need 2 helmets, is that included?
- Do you offer delivery service to our hotel or Airbnb? Does that cost extra?
- We will be using our bike to drive 2 people to [city] and [destination], will the 150cc be good for that trip?
We have never had any mileage limitations with renting, but be sure to read over the rental contract to ensure that is the case. And our fuel policy is usually to return it at the same level it is when you rent it. Sometimes that is full (nice places) and sometimes that is completely empty… Again, just clarify this before leaving the lot.
5. Negotiate the Deposit
Typically, the rental company will ask for your passport as a deposit. However, we never leave our passport as a deposit as it can be risky and don’t recommend it. Instead, negotiate a price for the deposit and leave around $50 USD in cash or a backup driver’s license. This way, you can ensure that you’ll get your deposit back and your passport stays safe. You can do all this ahead of time via WhatsApp. That way you don’t waste time showing up to a rental location that won’t accept anything but a passport, which some don’t.
6. Typical Prices
Typically, you can expect to pay around $7 USD per day for renting a scooter in Thailand, depending on the length of rental. The longer you rent, the lower the daily price. However, prices may vary depending on the location and type of scooter you rent. The lower the cc (ie 125cc) the cheaper it will be as well, Just remember to run your plans by the shop owner to ensure the bike you are renting will be able to do the job.
7. Take Photos
Once you rent the bike, be sure to take photos of the bike before leaving. We always take a photo of the gas gauge so we know how much to fill up before returning it. This usually has the current milage on the bike and can show you how many kilometers you drove on your trip. We take photos of the front and back of the bike so we can easily identify which bike is ours in the seas of bikes at the beach or malls. It’s also a good idea to take a photo of any major damages to prove that it didn’t happen while you rented the bike. We have never had any issues with returning a bike and having claims that we damaged it, but you never know!
8. Get Travel Insurance
When renting a scooter in Thailand, it’s important to protect yourself in case of any accidents or injuries. That’s why we recommend getting travel insurance, specifically with SafetyWing. Their Nomad Insurance plan includes coverage for motorcycle and scooter accidents, as well as medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation. This coverage can give you peace of mind while exploring the beautiful country of Thailand on a scooter. Plus, SafetyWing’s affordable rates make it easy to stay protected without breaking the bank.
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9. What Bike Should I Rent?
When choosing a scooter to rent, it’s essential to consider your experience level and the type of roads you’ll be driving on. Automatic scooters are easier to ride and more beginner-friendly, while manual scooters definitely require more experience. It’s also recommended to rent a scooter with at least 150cc to ensure that it can handle the hills and windy roads in Thailand. As a note, we have gotten away with a 125cc but always feel a bit more comfortable on a 150cc+. You should also choose a scooter with enough storage space for your belongings. If you are riding with two people, make sure there are pegs and a seat available for the second rider. If you do have a choice of brand, we tend to choose a Honda when possible, they are just a more reliable brand and we’ve never had any issues with well-maintained Hondas.
If you are renting a bike in a rural area or from a local hotel or shop, you may get a pretty banged-up bike and not really have an option for a better bike. Just ensure the essentials work and I wouldn’t recommend riding it out of cell-service range or on too remote of paths in case it does break down.
10. Do I Need a License?
Technically, you do need a license to rent and ride a scooter in Thailand. However, it’s quite common for tourists to rent without a license. The rental company will likely not ask for one, but you may encounter trouble at police checkpoints (which are common in tourist areas). If you’re caught without an international driver’s permit with the motorcycle box checked, you’ll be required to pay a fine of around 1000 baht (around $20 USD). It’s recommended to get an international driver’s permit with a motorcycle license before traveling to Thailand to avoid any trouble. This will also ensure you have some experience on a bike and know more about what to look for when renting a bike. The police can and will also pull you over for not wearing a helmet, wearing only a bathing suit, and speeding.
How to Get an International Driver's Permit in the US
To obtain an international driver’s permit in the US, you need to visit your local AAA office. You’ll need to bring your passport, two passport photos, and a valid US driver’s license. The cost of an international driver’s permit is around $20 USD, and it’s valid for one year.
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11. Laws and Safety Tips
It’s essential to note that Thailand has different laws when it comes to riding motorbikes. Lane splitting, driving on the left side of the road, and the fact there is no limit to the number of people on a bike are just a few examples. To ensure a safe riding experience, it’s recommended to always wear a helmet, be extra careful after rainfall, and pay attention to other drivers on the road. Additionally, it’s important to note that Thai people don’t beep their horns as much as people in other countries, so don’t assume that honking means the same thing as it does back home. The police can and will also pull you over for not wearing a helmet, wearing only a bathing suit, and speeding.
Are you covered for your next trip? Whether you’re planning a quick weekend getaway or a long-term adventure, SafetyWing has you covered. From medical emergencies to lost luggage, they’ll take care of it all. Plus, they even offer emergency response and natural disaster coverage – pretty cool, huh?