James Sutton

Travelled to 9 countries / regions

Written 10 briefs
Go to Thailand pretty much every December



Asia > Thailand > Chiang Mai > Useful Info
Updated on Oct 04, 2018 Useful Info

How to rent scooters in Chiang Mai & safety info you should know

  • Scooters are everywhere in Chiang Mai. Both locals and farangs (that's the slang for westerners in Thailand) can be seen riding them pretty much every part of the city I've been to
  • It's in my view the most flexible way to get around CM, even if you're just visiting for 2-3 days
  • BUT, know that motorcycle accidents are the single biggest cause of serious and minor injuries to foreigners in Thailand. Personally I know someone who broke the collar bone, and someone else who lost a thumb going up Doi Suthep (the big mountain in CM)
  • The roads are pretty bad in places, and traffic can be hard to get used to if you've never been to Asia before. So accidents happen pretty regularly
  • So rent scooters at your own risk, and it's a big risk
  • Thailand has the 2nd worst road accident rates in the whole world. Check this BBC article - Some crazy stats from this article:User submitted photo of Chiang Mai

Here's some useful info to know:

  • Costs:
  • Average about 250 baht per day (converts to ~$10 per day), this includes basic insurance.
  • This is the pricing for a standard 125cc scooter, which is powerful enough for almost all practical uses you'll have. Most tourists rent 125cc
  • License:
  • Legally speaking in Thailand you need a motorcycle license from your home country, as well as an International Driving Permit (aka IDP. You can get it very quickly from your local AAA/CAA and all you need to do is pay a ~$25 fee. It's usually good for 1 year)
  • In practice almost every vendor ignores this rule from what I've seen and will rent to you even if you don't have the license and/or IDP
  • Know the risks of not having a motorcycle license + IDP:
  1. If you get into an accident, your insurance covers nothing
  2. In Chiang Mai cops set up very regular check points all over the city. I know so many farangs who got caught pretty frequently. The common practice among farangs is to bribe the cop once you get caught. The going rate for bribe is 500-1000 baht
  • Where to find rental places:
  • Everywhere. Just walk around old city, Thapae Gate area, or Nimmanhaemin area where tourists congregate and you'll see lots of rental shops
  • Mango Bikes Rental is the one that's probably most popular amongst westerners
  • Other tips:
  • If you're caught and gave the 500-1000 baht "fine", make sure to get the ticket from the cop. This ticket will prevent you from being ticketed again within 3 days (so if you're caught again within 3 days you just show them this ticket and they'll let you go. This is based on the experience of all foreigners I've talked to recently in CM)
  • Thais drive on the left side of the road