I know the above picture doesn’t have anything to do with the subject, but I liked the picture.


Do I Need A License To Ride A Motorbike In Thailand?

Here at “Life in Chiang Mai” we have lost count on how many times I am asked this question. The funny thing is, I find it such an unnecessary question. Come on now; let’s use some common sense here. Ask yourself this; do you have to have a license in your country to drive a motorbike? Of course you do, so why would it be any different in Thailand. I think one of the reasons why foreigners get confused, is because of all of the different YouTube videos out there. I watched a few of them on this subject and each one said things a little different.

In Thailand they use word motorbike, whereas in some countries they might use the word scooter. The word motorcycle is usually used for the more powerful bikes, but in some places they refer to them as motorbikes, too. But when it comes to the license, there is only one for all of the above.

This post is about the foreigner that is in Thailand and does not have a Thai Motorbike License.

Here are the rules for foreigners visiting or living in Thailand.


You need a license

Which consist of two things, your country’s local motorcycle license and an International Driver’s license with a stamp in it saying you can drive a motorcycle too. In your country you have to have the proper driver’s license/motorcycle license to be able to obtain the International Drivers License. Now the business that you are renting the motorbike from, they don’t care if you have a license or not.

Only the Thai Police care.


You have to wear a helmet

Just like in your country, you must wear a helmet when operating a motorbike. It’s for your own safety, so why not wear one?


You have to have insurance

 Just like in your country, as you can’t drive without some type of insurance. All of the “creditable” motorbike rental businesses either have it included in their rental price or they offer it on the side.

Here are a couple of other things you should know.


NEVER give them your passport to hold

When you go to a Motorbike Rental business. All they need is a copy of your passport and a deposit for damages. Always remember, Thai Law says a foreigner must have their passport on them at all times. If a place says they have to have your passport, then say no and go to a “creditable” place.


Do I need to know how to ride a motorbike?

Riding a motorbike is fairly easy to learn, that’s for sure. I would say to answer this question properly; it all depends on where you plan on riding it? Riding in rural areas or in town. Riding in a rural area is a lot safer, whereas riding in town is a lot more dangerous. The reason for this is, Thai’s do not drive or ride the same way you do in your country. I have been here for years and sometimes it still looks like the Wild West out there. Motorbike accidents are at the top of the list for foreigners.


Now, that I have informed you of the rules of the land let me explain some things to you. Thailand is a very relaxed country when it comes to enforcing some of their laws. One minute you can ride your bike without a helmet and never have an issue, then the next minute you will be pulled over and fined.


Most of the time you will never have an issue. But if you do get pulled over by the Thai police, the only thing that will happen is they will issue you a ticket and a fine. You pay the fine, either on the spot or at their Police Station. Once paid you can go on your way. I notice some You Tubers call it a scam by the police when they are fined for not wearing a helmet. How can breaking the law and being fined a scam? I guess they do it to up their subscribers for their channel with a click bait title.

The main thing I want to leave you with, is if you do rent a motorbike, please be safe out there. Keep your eyes wide open and watch in ALL directions, as you never know what might be coming your way. Don’t assume you know what the other person is going to do, because you don’t. You don’t want to mess your vacation up by having an accident. Be safe and have an awesome time…