Self-Driving in Thailand

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What is the first thing that came to my mind when writing this topic? TRAFFIC JAMS! Then again, that happen mostly in the main cities (including Bangkok). The rest of Thailand is almost jam-free as cars may not necessary be the main mode of transport.

To give you a sense of how safe it is to drive in Thailand, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released its Global Road Safety report 2015, and named Thailand as the nation with the second highest rate of road traffic deaths – some 36.2 deaths per 100,000 people every year!

self drive in thailand death toll worldwide 2015

Driving Conditions
In Thailand, people drive on the left side of the road, similar to driving in Singapore. Thailand’s road system is divided into highways and expressways. Highways connect every part of Thailand and usually have four-lanes. Expressways are toll-payable roads (similar to Malaysia’s Touch ‘N’ Go System) and are usually elevated. This system of expressways however is mainly concentrated around Bangkok.

When driving in Thailand’s larger cities in general, it is wise to avoid the left lane as it is generally used for loading and parking. Do leave some room between you and the car in front of you when stopping at an intersection; motorcyclists tends to squeeze and weave through at the expense of your bumpers!

Generally speaking, the roads are pretty good and easy to drive on. Driving through main cities (including Bangkok) can be more challenging because of traffic, and some of the link roads with very narrow lanes (called sois) were created before cars were a common transport.

What license you need to self-drive in Thailand
According to the Authorities, if you are visiting Thailand as a tourist and you want to rent a car for just a few days, you just need to carry the driving permit you obtained in your home country in order to start driving. However, this only applies to country who has an existing treaty with the Thai Government.

If there is no treaty in place (which is highly unlikely), you may consider applying for an International Driving Permit (IDP) in your home country before traveling to Thailand. Basically, it is a translation in English of your original driving license, so if your national driving license is not in English, it can save some hassle with the local police if you can produce an IDP.

Renting a vehicle for Self-drive
You may need to provide a copy of your passport as form of guarantee so make sure you have a copy on hand if you decide to rent any vehicle.

Motorbike – If you know how to and have a valid license to ride one, this is one cheap mode of transport. It typically cost less than THB300 per day, better discount if you rent it for longer periods. The rental bikes should be insured with the basic insurance but make sure you check with your personal travel insurance whether you are covered or not, and exactly how, if you rent a motorbike.

Car / Mini-Van – The cost of renting a car varies depending on the location in Thailand and the car rental company. The major factor that will affect the rental cost is make and size of the car you want to rent. The cost ranges from THB700 per day for 4 seaters to THB5000 per day for a luxury mini-vans. Again, discounts are available for extended periods of rental. As you may have realised, engaging De Freesia Transport Services is much more affordable as they also provide the driver who is English-speaking and you don’t have to worry about getting lost!

Finding your way around Thailand
You should be able to bundle a GPS together with the vehicle you rented. Try to navigate using the main roads from Point A to B, best used together with a physical map. Some tried successfully using Google Maps but make sure you keep your eyes on the road as you may not be as familiar as the locals streaming pass your vehicle.

Even if you are driving in Bangkok where road signs are common, I would not place my bets on them if you know what i mean.

self drive thailand confusing_sign1
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Article contributed by Calvin Ng, Fitness Trainer and Online Business Coach