Having rented a slightly off-center condominium in Chiang Mai, we decided to rent a scooter for one month in order to be 100% autonomous.
A little guide of things to know.
Let’s start with a question very important.
Can I rent a scooter without a motorcycle license?
We will break the question down into two parts:
- Can I rent a scooter without a motorcycle license? The answer is yes.
- Am I allowed to drive a scooter without a motorcycle license? The answer is no.
Many say that you can rent a scooter in Thailand with a simple car license.
Affirming this is incomplete, it is false and it is dangerous.
Very concretely, no rental company is going to ask you for a permit before renting you a scooter, it isn’t their job. So you can rent one in 10 minutes without any problem.
But you aren’t allowed to ride with it! In Thailand, a motorcycle license is mandatory.
You can override but :
- In case of a police check, and there are many of them in Chiang Mai, you will have to pay a fine.
- Worse, in case of an accident, you will not be covered by your insurance.
If the first point isn’t very serious, the second is much more impacting, especially since in Thailand, as often in Asia, drivers are madmen who do not respect any rules.
Road accidents in Thailand are a scourge and foreigners who aren’t used to driving a scooter, let alone in these conditions, are particularly at risk.
Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon to see strangers begging their friends and family for money because they have had a scooter accident that isn’t covered by their insurance.
In other words, renting a scooter in Thailand without a motorcycle license is possible but it is dangerous and at your own risk.
We take this risk, we try to be especially careful on the road when driving at low speed.
It’s up to you to take responsibility if you do the same.
Don’t be reckless: wear a helmet! Knowing the number of accidents in Thailand, it is completely crazy to see uninsured foreigners riding without helmets!
If you are staying for several months, it is highly recommended that you take your motorcycle license on site. It is apparently fast and easy, even if you don’t speak Thai.
Where to rent a scooter in Chiang Mai?
There are many scooter rentals in Chiang Mai.
We have chosen Mango Bikes Rent for several reasons:
- It is very well rated on Google and Tripadvisor
- Scooters are in good condition
- It isn’t necessary to leave your passport as a deposit
We went on site unexpectedly but it is possible to book in advance by email or Facebook, you will have more choices.
How much does it cost to rent a scooter in Chiang Mai?
Mango Bikes Rent rates vary depending on the model of scooter you choose and the length of rental.
- For one day rental: from 150 to 250 baht
- For a one week rental : from 900 to 1 300 baht
- For a one month rental: from 2,000 to 3,200 baht
Not having booked in advance, our choice was limited and we opted for the most recent and most expensive model. So we pay 3,200 baht for one month (about 80 €).
What documents are required?
What’s nice in Asia is that a lot of complicated things in Europe are very simple here.
For the rental of the scooter, we needed :
- Our passport (Mango Bikes makes a copy of it while most renters will keep it as a deposit)
- 1 000 bahts cash deposit
And that’s it!
We paid immediately the totality of the rent, in cash, cards aren’t accepted.
You sign the contract and in 10 minutes, you leave with your scooter.
Is there insurance when renting the scooter?
There is no insurance on the scooter itself. If you get it stolen or break it, you must repair it or in the worst case, pay it back in full.
In our case, the amount to be reimbursed is 35,000 baht.
In the Mango Bikes contract, we benefit from a medical coverage in case of accident of 30 000 bahts per person (about 750 €).
I don’t know the price of emergency services in Thailand, it may be enough for a light accident but for heavy care and even worse, if there is a need for repatriation, it will clearly be insufficient.
Again, if you rent without a license, your insurance will not cover you in the event of an accident, so be careful!
How does the scooter inventory take place?
It is very simple, there is no inventory of fixtures.
As you will have to pay in case of damage, I encourage you to check the condition of the scooter before you leave with it, possibly take a series of pictures.
Check that the lights are working, the brakes are OK, the turn signals are working and the tires are properly inflated.
What happens in the event of a police check?
Police checks are very frequent in Chiang Mai, the authorities understood that there was money to be made with tourists.
Concretely, the police block a road and stop 100% of the scooters to control them. If you’re on the highway it’s unstoppable, you’re not going to have fun turning back.
Mango Bikes had explained to us that in case of a police check without having an international motorcycle license, we were exposed to a fine of 500 baht and that we would then receive a receipt that “authorized” us to remain in violation for 3 days.
We had therefore calculated that “at worst”, we would have 10 fines to pay for a period of 30 days.
The reality is a little more complex.
We have been checked once so far. We showed our international driver’s license (car only) hoping it would pass.
Obviously, it didn’t go through 😀
The policeman then showed us a document indicating that the fine is 1,000 baht.
He then left us two options:
- “I keep your passport, you go to the police station to pay the fine of 1,000 baht and you come back”. In this case you have the “3-day receipt”.
- “You pay immediately 600 baht and you are allowed to leave”. In this case, you do not have the “3-day receipt”.
We chose the second option by giving only 500 baht.
The advantages of this option are :
- It’s cheaper
- It’s much faster
The disadvantages are :
- If you don’t have the receipt, you can take back a fine 30 minutes later.
- You are participating in and encouraging a system of corruption.
It’s up to you to make your choice.
In 10 days, we have only had one fine for the moment while playing a little bit of cat and mouse because the police is very often on the highway next to us.
In any case, don’t be the arrogant French. You are wrong, the law is against you and if you read the beginning of the article, you are perfectly aware of it 😉
Note: we were arrested a 2nd time and this time, while handing out 500baths in cash, the policeman told us that he had taken note of our license plate and that we were safe for 3 days. Voila voilou.
It’s great to ride a scooter in Thailand, enjoy it! But be careful!