Rent a motorbike

How To Rent A Motorbike In Chiang Mai: New Guide To Motorbike Rental [2024]

|

Chiang Mai is fast becoming one of the favourite travel destinations for all backpackers visiting Thailand. With surrounding cities just a few hours away it can be tempting to hop onto a motorbike for the first time and hit the roads.

Renting a motorbike in Chiang Mai is a fairly straightforward process, enter one of the many shops on the side of the road, follow the procedures and you’re ready to go. But not all motorbike rentals in Chiang Mai are reliable and here I will provide you with some reliable options when you want to rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai. 

This guide will include:

  • Why you should rent a motorbike
  • What types of bikes are available for rental
  • How to rent a motorbike 
  • What are the best motorbike rental companies
  • Where are the best places to get around Chiang Mai

With all these variables taken into consideration, you will know how to rent a motorbike in Thailand.

Why Rent A Motorbike In Chiang Mai

When deciding whether to rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai you need to understand what a bike offers you.

ALERT – only rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai when you are 100% confident in your abilities. Road incidents can occur at any time, make sure to get some practice down a quiet side ally first.

Freedom and Flexibility: Renting a motorcycle provides freedom to explore Chiang Mai and its surrounding areas at your own pace. Unlike relying on public transportation schedules, having your own transportation allows you to create your itinerary and travel on your own terms.

Cost-Effective: Motorcycle rentals in Chiang Mai are relatively affordable, especially when compared to other forms of transportation or guided tours. For budget-conscious backpackers, this option offers great value for money, allowing you to allocate your funds to other travel experiences.

Exploring Off-the-Beaten-Path: Chiang Mai’s true charm lies in its hidden gems. With a motorcycle, you can venture into remote villages, explore lush countryside, and visit lesser-known temples and attractions that are often inaccessible by public transport. This provides a more authentic and immersive travel experience.

Time Efficiency: A scooter in Chiang Mai allows you to cover more ground in less time. You can visit multiple attractions daily, maximising your travel experience and making the most of your limited time in the city.

What Type Of Bikes Are Available For Rental Chiang Mai

There are two main types of motorbikes available for travellers in Chiangmai:

  1. Scooter – the most popular choice among travellers and backpackers.
    • They are easy to handle, fuel-efficient, and perfect for navigating the city streets and nearby attractions. Scooters typically have automatic transmissions, making them user-friendly, even for those without extensive motorcycle riding experience. 
    • Please do not take this for granted though. If you have never ridden a bike before DO NOT start on the busy streets of the old city otherwise, you’ll end up in the side of a car like my friend Rob!
  2. Semi-Automatic Motorcycles – These bikes do not require manual clutch operation but allow you to shift gears manually. They provide a middle ground between fully automatic scooters and manual motorcycles, offering a bit more control over gear shifting.
    • These bikes can be cheaper than other traditional bikes and are relatively easy to learn, with the push of a pedal with your foot you are able to switch gears
    • These can be particularly handy on steep roads where the lesser-powered Scooters struggle to make it up the hill. A trip to Pai or Doi Suthep comes to mind

It is also possible to get fully manual and off-road bikes however these are less common in Chiang Mai and will cost you a pretty penny. Motorbike rental shops in Chiang Mai can be found on every street, so it is worth researching to see what motorbike is available to you. Motorbike hire in Thailand is an easy process but it’s important to get it right.

How To Rent A Motorbike In Chiang Mai

So you have decided to rent a motorbike, but what do you do now…

Firstly you want to find a motorbike rental company that is reputable.

Then make a list of 4/5 motorbike rental companies in Chiang Mai you feel happy renting from.

This means if the first shop does not have a bike of your choosing you can move on to the next one and try again.

What Are The Best Motorbike Rental Shops

When selecting the best Chiang Mai motorbike rental shop a slender criteria is taken into account to find the best bikes for you:

  • Price of the motorbike
  • Quality of bike (to make sure you get a reliable motorbike)
  • Quality of staff (English speaking)
  • Reviews

With this being taken into account my number one rental company is:

1. Happy Days Shop

With a nearly 5-star rating on TripAdvisor, Happy Days Shop offers excellent services when in Chiang Mai.

Located on the outskirts of the Old City they produce quality scooters at affordable prices in a range of powers from usually 125cc to 150cc. 

This is the shop I used when I was in Chiang Mai.

Unfortunately on my trip, I was involved in a motorbike accident just outside the shop and the shop workers were excellent in dealing with the situation. 

When I return to Chiang Mai I will certainly use this company again to rent a motorbike and tackle new challenges like the Mae Hong Son Loop and Doi Inthanon.

2. Mango Bikes Rental 

Probably the cheapest rates in Chiang Mai, you are able to acquire a bike for between 150 to 500 baht depending on the time of season and period of time you rent a motorbike for. The longer the term, the cheaper the deal!

Mango is a well-known bike rental shop and due to this they can sellout their bikes very quickly. They’re not just cheap, their bikes are smooth and reliable guaranteed for comfortable riding in Chiang Mai. 

3. Vanessa’s MotorBike Rental 

Just like the two before at affordable prices with a standard daily cost of approximately 250 baht per day, Vanessa’s Rental Shop is also one of my favourite shops Motorbike shops in Chiang Mai.

Vanessa takes great care of the bikes but more importantly, I had some friends rent through her and they left excellent reviews. 

4. Bamboo Bikes Chiang Mai

Probably the most well-known and actually the one all taxi drivers in Chiang Mai recommended to us, is Bamboo. with over 700 Google reviews holding an almost 5-star rating Bamboo truly offers a good customer experience. 

From what I’ve been told prices can start from as low as 99 baht per day an absolute bargain!

With the English-speaking staff and good motorbikes, Bamboo is definitely a shop you should check out.

5. AYA Service: One-Way Rental To Pai And Leave The Bike

If you want to leave your bike in Pai and make the journey one-way then AYA Service is for you.

AYA Service allows you to make the couple of hours journey across Northern Thailand’s beautiful landscapes one way, so you are able to see some of the little gems Thailand has to offer.

They do not hold the most amazing reputation however they are one of the only services that allow for a drop-off in Pai with no return. 

Offering car rentals as well as motorbikes, prices range from 140 – 1500 baht with an additional 100 baht charge per backpack for them to transfer your luggage. 

As with all of the bike rental shops check the bike before you leave but take extra care for this journey.

Found Your Chiang Mai Scooter Rental Company…Now What?

Now you know some reputable motorbike rental companies go into the shop and discuss your options with one of the shop workers. Once you exchange some basic details on the type of bike you would like you’ll be told whether it is possible to rent over the time period you would like. 

To rent a motorbike there are some essentials you will need:

  • A valid passport – some rental companies will either want to hold your passport, take a copy or take a cash deposit of 1000-5000 Thai baht as collateral in case you cause damages to the bike etc. 
  • An International Driver License – This is required to drive bikes in Thailand and without it, you may be fined. The rental company may not ask to see evidence of your international driving permit before renting the bike to you but if you are caught on the road without this permit you can expect to pay a fine ranging from 200-400 baht.
  • Travel Insurance – Make sure you have bike cover and third-party cover. My friend Rob found out the hard way what no cover can do to your bank balance…

All rentals include a helmet for the roads but sizes vary, so before leaving the shop make sure to check all helmet sizes to get one which fits. Being caught on the road without a helmet will also lead to a fine so make sure you wear one at all times.

Now you have the best scooter for your needs, it’s time to hit the road. If this is your first time on a scooter you’ll need to practice a bit down some quiet side roads to practice getting used to the power and how you stop/start. Driving around the city of Chiang Mai is a wild experience so you need to be fully prepared for the inevitable traffic. 

Where Are The Best Places To Visit In Chiang Mai

Now that you have some experience under your belt it is time to explore the city of Chiang Mai, the outside of Chaing Mai and maybe go further afield of Northern Thailand. 

What are some of the best places to visit near Chiang Mai and its city:

  • Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep – Visit the remarkable temple at the top of a mountain of stairs and take in the beauty of the temple amongst the unbelievable viewpoints perfect for a sunset. 
  • Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls – An incredible place to visit. Being able to walk up a waterfall because the rocks allow your feet to stick to them… obviously right haha. This can be done by yourself or part of a tour visiting an elephant conservation too!
  • Mae Hong Son Loop – Imagine cruising on your bike through breathtaking mountains, discovering hidden waterfalls, and chatting with Thai people in local villages. You’ll taste amazing food, make new friends, and experience Thailand in a way that’s impossible from a bus or a train. If you’re looking to do the Ha Giang Loop in Vietnam this is a nice route to prepare you.
  • Jungle Flight Longest Single Zipline – Tackle the longest zipline in Chiang Mai over 1000 metres long! A great activity to get the adrenaline pumping and take in some breathtaking views as you fly through the air. 
  • Grand Canyon Water Park – If you’re looking for a bit of fun the water park is the place for you. Slides, activities and if you dare a 10m+ diving area. 

Outside of Chiang Mai:

  • Wat Rong Khun [White Temple] – For a spiritually rich experience visit the white temple in Chiang Rai. This iconic temple in Chiang Rai stands out for its stunning, intricate white architecture that symbolizes purity and the path to enlightenment in Buddhist beliefs.
  • Visit Pai – Like Chiang Rai, a fairly long drive to a neighbouring destination but Pai has so much to offer from Doi Inthanon (the highest mountain in Thailand) to tipsy tubing (boozing on a rubber dingy with hundreds of backpackers, Pai has a bit of something for all travellers.

When all is done and you’re ready to leave Chiang Mai behind, return the bike in the same condition you found it to ensure you get your deposit back.

Final Thoughts

Renting a motorbike is a relatively straightforward process now you know how to do it.

My top pick for bike rentals is the Happy Days Shop so get yourself on the roads and explore Chiang Mai on two wheels.

So now you know WHY you should rent a motorbike, HOW to rent a motorbike, and WHERE to go with your motorbike.

All there is left to do is turn up to the shop and RENT A MOTORBIKE.