Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by mark123, Jan 24, 2006.

  1. Hi guys,
    I am going to be touring North Thailand for a couple of weeks in February and have a few questions. I have Daves book, the B&B map and have read most everything on this site. My foremost concern in finding a bike to rent, is that it be reliable and from a trustworthy source. Size is not important.

    Would it be possible to tour the North on a Honda Wave? Or is a Wave too small? Is it really necessary to surrender ones passport to rent a bike? From what I understand, it is necessary to show ones passport to check into a hotel or to exchange money, is this true? Does anyone want to recommend a rental business? Should I reserve a bike or will there be plenty of good horses to make a selection from? Any suggestions on where to go?

    Thank you for any advice, I am really looking forward to this trip.

  2. 1. Read the GT site and the New User section for info about rental shops and bike availability.

    2. Always realize that most rental bikes gets beat to shit, and most are maintained by Thai mechanics. Test it around town before leaving on a trip.

    3. For touring on a step-thru, read "Colin's Honda Wave Tour" for inspiration.

    4. Most places will want your passport. Carry a copy and a receipt showing that the shop has your passport.

    5. Passports are usually required for travelers checks - not cash exchanges. An ATM card from your home bank is usefull for getting cash.


    "The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not and never persist in trying to set people right."
  3. On the passport issue - Use your computer and scan the ID page of your passport and then reduce the print size to read 75%. Use photo paper not plain paper although plain white paper may suffice. Have this "product" you now made laminated. I have about six of these and they form nice ID cards. Also I have rented bikes outside of Chiang Mai on these cards keeping my original passport with me. It is not illegal to do this copying of your passport and the State Dept encourages you to do it also in the event you do happen to misplace or lose your actual passport.

    Last year I rented a big bike in Pattaya for 1,000 baht deposit and they kept my "ID Card Passport" as security. While I was on the road I got thinking.....I could run off with this bike for a year or more if they didn't catch me. The bike had no plate either which is common with rental shops.

    -When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It.
  4. I made some copies of my passport information page (B&W, color copies are illegal in my country)and had them laminated. I'll see how that flies. Should I insist that my rental bike have tags? Are the rules different for the small step thru bikes or do they need tags too?
    I am getting on a flight to Bangkok tomorrow....
  5. Mark

    Small bikes are made in Thailand. Rentals will probably have number plates. This will include bikes up to 200cc.

    Larger bikes were imported as parts, and will probably not have number plates.

    Make sure the bike has an insurance sticker.

    All these topics have been posted many times. Do a search and find out the details.


    "The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not and never persist in trying to set people right."
  6. Hey Mark 123 - I did the same thing and had a lot of the same questions. Here is what I learned and did.

    There are a few rental places and the bikes vary. I rented a Honda Phantom (200cc) from Mr. Mechanic because it seemed like the best deal. The bike was OK, it had 7,000KM on it and I put 3,000KM more on it in about 3 weeks. It's light, easy to ride, cheap on gas, and the best thing is that most shops there can fix it and have parts. It was also the rentals that had plates on them since they are made there. I rented mine in November 2005 for 450 baht a day for 3 week term. I had to chat a little with this sensuous yet shrewd lady named Gung (that means shrimp) but she trusted me I guess. My read on this woman is that she gets whatever she wants. I also bought the insurance (that made my rental price go from 400 to 450 a day)

    The Phantom is OK, it has a rack on the back and is fairly comfortable to ride for a few hours then your ass starts to hurt. Ride it for 7-9 hours and your ass goes numb and your balls start to sting. Use that as a guide for comfort. It's not an off-road bike at all but it will make is safely through the bad spots. It will cruise about 90KMh max if you don't want to melt the engine and red line at about 120KMh, but if you spend a lot of time in the mountains like I did that's plenty fast. I estimate I was only able to average about 60KMh with stops to eat, the hills, construction, etc.

    The Mr. Mechanic agreement states they will refund any repairs you have to have made to the bike that you don't cause up to 5,000 baht. I had to have the rear brake pads replaced in Mae Sa Long on day 3 of my trip but it only cost me 150 baht parts AND labor at the Yamaha place there. Really cheap about $3 US!!! Well, Mr. Mechanic gave me back the money anyway, just like they promised, just save the receipt. I was very pleased with the service there.

    I have a nice Nolan helmet at home but I left it here and bought new helmets just for the trip after I got there. Bobs told me about it. You can get a decent full face helmet there for 900-1200 baht. That way you don't worry about carrying around in your luggage or losing your $200 good one. I gave mine to BobS when I left cuz he kinda has a big farang head for Thai helmets and this one seemed to fit him OK. (LOL, Hey Bob! sa-bai dee? ;) I hope life is treating you well!)There is a MC shop that sells helmets about 5 min walk east from Mr. Mechanic. They can point you there.

    I didn’t give my passport to anyone. Gung at Mr. Mechanic wanted it, but then we agreed that I would pay cash for the entire 3 weeks rental in advance without surrendering my passport and she went for it. I left them a COPY of my passport and an imprint of my credit card that I drew a line through and wrote ----0----- and "for security purposes only" in the amount spot. Try and charge that! They took it. And when I returned the bike in good condition they gave me back all the original copies just like we had worked out. Other people were there whining because they had to leave their passport, but I paid cash and money speaks the same language all over there world, no translation required!

    If you try and reserve a bike now how will you know if it's a good one? They have their own standard as to what's good and bad, and it may not match your own. You won't get to pick one out that way and if they reserve you a crappy one you will be disappointed. I used to sell cars and people would call on the phone and ask me how much they could get for their car as a trade-in! I would tell them I don't know... why don't you back it up to the phone and step on the gas a few times for me... Use the first day over there to overcome the jet lag and shop around for the bike you want, etc. You probably won't want to ride right after you land anyway.

    There are ATMs in every town that will give you as good an exchange rate as the banks. That's what I did. I went to several ATMs at various locations and took out 10,000 baht at a whack. Money goes far depending on what you are doing for a hotel or etc. If you have a debit card with Plus, Cirrus, etc. they are all over.

    Where to go - for sure I liked Mae Sa Long loop, Doi Puhka loop, Doi Inthanon and I was surprised how nice the Samoeng loop was being so close to Chiang Mai. In 3 weeks I went from Chiang Mai to Mae Sa long, then to the GT, down to Chiang Khong to Nan, Doi Puhka loop then over to Phayao, down to Phrae, to Theon, back up to Chiang Mai then I rode from Chiang Mai south to Mae Sariang up to Mae Hong Song and back to Chiang Mai from the north. The parts that suck are the super highway but other than that is was all really beautiful country.

    I hit about 7 police and military road blocks but as soon as they saw me being a farang with all this gear on and the plates I guess I had tourist written all over me and they would wave me through.

    No one that I can tell even made an attempt to steal the bike. Every place I stayed went out of their way to let me park it in a safe location at the hotel or whatever.

    Hope that helps. Trust the map and the book. If anything there are more places to stay and restaurants then in the book now. I started looking for a place around 4 or 5 pm. No sense to ride at night cuz it's not safe plus you will miss all the sights going by. Ask to see the room first to decide. Go right to the bathroom and check it. If any part is nasty the bathroom will give it away. Get a prescription of Cipro to have in case you start to get real sick. I bought a soft-sided suitcase at the night bazaar before I left and did all the souvenier shopping at the end.

  7. Bloody hell Rusty I could not have said all of that any better myself. You're not rusty at all, but sharp!

    Keep The Power On
  8. Thank zou Russ for the long detailed response. It comes at an opportune time, I am presentlz in Bangkok leaving for CM Tuesdaz. I am amayed how manz people speak english here, it reallz is an easz place for travel. I will visit Gung first, she sounds interesting.[;)] I will trz and get the same deal zou got, a Phantom or a Wave will do fine. I brought one of mz old ragged helmets to wear.

    I hear what zou are sazing about )their standards might not be like mine) I was a dealership mechanic for 8 zears and I can see them offering me a bike that I would have serious reservations riding far from home. But, I will pick the best horse I can find, the bottom line is enjoz mz time here, itàs a lot better riding weather than back home right now.

    Sorrz for such a butchered up looking post, something is funnz with the kezboard....

  9. Hint, the Z key should be first letter on the bottom row, not underneath the 6/7 keys... I used to love swapping the keys on the kepboards of workmates and watch them try to figure it out... I am much more mature now (maybe)...

    Thanks for your post Rusty... answered a lot of my questions as well..

  10. Hey
    Dwoo, he may be able to type ok, mabee he's a special rider[:D]
    Regards Scott
  11. Hi Rusty

    I'll second what others have said, great info.

    The wife and I will be doing something similar end of 2006.

    With regards the helmet-thing, I'm also not keen to bring my helmet from here, a new Nolan N102 and was thinking about buying one locally.

    You mention a shop just down from Mr.Mech. Do you by any chance know if they have large (59-60cm) helmets readily available?

    I know this can be an issue with anything like this made for the local Thai market (been to Thailand 5 times previously) and didn't want to get there and not be able to find a helmet that fits or one that is so tight my lips turn blue and my eyes pop out [:0].

    Failing that I'll just bring my HJC, it's just that it IS a bit of a pain lugging lots of bike gear around if you can avoid it.

  12. Hi Tracy

    I don't know what the CM size translates to, but I wear an HJC XL helmet, and here is what I have found locally.

    Index and Nippon are local helmet brands that do make decent quality helmets large enough for me to wear. Cost is in the 800 baht range. These are the brands that Rusty bought and used.

    The shop that Rusty is refering to does have some Nolan helmets as well. Nolan stopped distributing here about 4 years ago, and this guy bought out the entire stock. He still has some of the R27 and R37 models available in sizes up to XXL. Cost is 1500 baht. The XXL fits my head.

    Obviously, there is no guarantee what he will have later in the year. But the helmets are too big for the Thais to buy, and most tourists are content with the cheap plastic ones. The shop is on Chang Moi Road, near the intersection of Chiang Moi Soi 2.


    "The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not and never persist in trying to set people right."
  13. Yup, what Bob says is correct.
  14. Thanks Bob and Rusty :)

    So even if the Nolan's aren't available I shouldn't have any problems with getting a Index or Nippon to fit my 59cm head then? my HJC is a Large by the way. Ta
  15. WOW! just used the calculator to work out what those Nolans cost($55NZ)... if there are any left might just snag a couple of those. Good to take home for spare helmets.

    Thanks again guys
  16. I just returned the Honda 125 Dream that I rented and I thought I would post how it went seeing as you guys were nice enough to give me some advice. I rented from "Bob" at "Smile" (pronounced sah-my) the Honda dealer on Racthadamnoen, she is somehow related to the folks over at Mr Mechanic. I told her I was going to go to Mae Hong Song and Chiang Rai so I needed a good bike. She gave me a near new (1400km) 125 dream for 150 baht per day, plus another 50 baht for insurance. The insurance pays most of the cost of just about anything that could happen, if the bike is a total loss i.e. wrecked or stolen, maximum I would pay is 10000 baht. The bike had no tags or insurance sticker, she explained that with a new bike you have 90 days before they are required. She asked me IF I could leave my passport, I said that could leave her a copy of passport (the laminated copy that Stan suggested making) pay the entire rental period in advance, and also let her make imprint of my PayPal Debit card which I signed, there was only about $100 usd in the account. I got a good vibe off of Bob, she isn't out to rip anyone off.

    I put 1200 km on the bike in 10 days, two trips to Pai, 3 or 4 times on the Samoeng route, and a lot of Chiang Mai city riding. I am riding a bus to Chiang Rai tomorrow to visit relatives, they have a bike waiting for me there. I still have a XL helmet to give away (its pretty ragged) but it would have to be picked up in the Chiang Rai area.

    This was my first trip to Thailand and I was surprised at how easy travel is here! Compared to Latin America this is a walk in the park. English is widely understood due to the fact that the country is overrun with tourists. The other thing that suprised me was how ridiculously cheap everything is! For example, I had to visit Chiang Mai Ram hospital two days ago due to a food poisoning bout. The doctor (educated in the USA) diagnosed me gave me two injections and three meds to take home, total bill $1000baht! I guess you guys that are living here aren't even bothering with medical insurance.

    If I return next year, I think I will tour on a bicycle, I also would make a point to go riding with the Pai Enduro Club, great bunch of guys, and they got bikes and gear.

    Thanks for your help

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