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Driving Guide Thailand

Driving in ThailandDriving within Thailand is not for the fainthearted and should be embarked on with care and attention. It is best to research all aspects of the regulations beforehand and be aware of the driving laws and the problematic aspects you could come into contact with.

Bangkok and Town driving

The roads within Bangkok and busy areas have become infamous for their unsafe and dangerous ways. The layout can be unclear to UK drivers so you need to be aware of some things:

  • There can be traffic jams in which driving laws can go out of the window. Make sure you keep your calm and try to drive outside busy times.
  • Make sure you have a clear layout of the city and know the route to your destination well. The roads can be complicated and do not use the Roman alphabet so prepare beforehand.
  • Be aware of motorbikes at all time, the great number of them and the driver’s ages ranging between teenagers to pensioners means that you should be prepared to encounter all types of driving.

Legalities

  • It has now become a legal requirement for front passengers and drivers to wear their seat belts. However it is advisable for all people within the car to wear them due to the dangerous aspects of the road.
  • The law enforcement in Thailand can be somewhat lax. Outside towns it is practically non-existent so you must remember to be extra vigilant when driving.
  • The speed limit outside of town is 90 km/h (55mph) except when signed. Police speed traps can be quite common on the major routes so always stick to the limit.
  • Whilst it is illegal to drink and drive within Thailand, it is not as rigorously enforced by the police. Try not to drive during the night time as there are many drunk drivers during this time which make the roads unsafe.

When renting a vehicle:

Make sure that you do not rent from a side street as these can be uninsured. There are Avis and Budget (the two big companies) alongside plenty of companies close to tourist areas. Insurance has to be “Class 1” and you must have a copy of the insurance certificate (often in the glove box). Thai police may do spot checks where you must produce this certificate alongside your driver’s license and your passport.

Long Distance Driving

Most of the roads have now been updated to Western standards with good surfaces to drive on. However make sure you’re vigilant as the drive can be stressful due to the great variety of vehicles taking to the roads at different speeds.

If you come to a border where there are several military points, you will likely need to show your passport. Do not be alarmed, they are there to monitor illegal immigrants and drugs.

If you see a red sign with black writing, stop! It is likely there is no road surface ahead and the signs are will not be in English.