Self Drive in Thailand – Is It a Good Idea?

When you are exploring Thailand, a self-drive holiday might seem like a great idea. You can rent a car and take the opportunity to explore the country at your own pace – driving to many of the off the beaten track destinations at your leisure. It is a cheap way to explore the many rural areas and meet the everyday Thai people.

However, a self-drive holiday in Thailand is not as easy as it sounds. Drivers in Thailand play loose with the rules of the road, traffic jams are common (especially in Bangkok) and driving can often be stressful.

1-medium_7144528881Consider the Dangers of Driving in Thailand

Driving can be somewhat stressful and dangerous in Thailand, especially if you have very little experience with it and are used to orderly, polite Western roads. Are you prepared to cope with a confusing snarl of taxis, cars and heavily loaded motorbikes at every intersection? You will need to be a skilled driver and you should always have your wits about you at all times.

Remember – there are many motorcycles on the road, some which are carrying large and unstable loads or are being driven by children as young as 12. Make sure that you are always vigilant and aware of the motorbikes.

But Also Use Your Common Sense

Driving in Thailand is not as bad as you think, as long as you are using your common sense. Drive defensively, pay attention and adjust your behaviour to the road and the weather conditions. Once you are out of Bangkok, the rural roads will be a lot quieter and you should have very little trouble driving between destinations.

If you are a confident driver, consider the option of a self-drive holiday because it will allow you to see so much more of the country.

Legal Matters You Should Know

Before being legally allowed to drive in Thailand, you will need to obtain an International Driving Permit. This can usually be obtained from your local Automobile Association for a small fee. This permit is recognised internationally, so that you will be able to drive anywhere in the world. If you are ever pulled over by the Thai Police for any reason, you should always have this permit on you to show them.

Also, it is very important to obtain travel insurance when you are planning a self-drive holiday in Thailand. If you are involved in an accident (as long as you haven’t contravened the terms of the insurance) you will be covered.

Keep in mind that some vendors will hire a motorcycle out to you, whether or not you have the correct permit or not. However, if you crash without a permit – your insurance will be void and you will also be punished by law.

Tips for Driving in Thailand

Here are some tips to keep in mind that will help you when driving in Thailand:

  • Keep in mind that people often try to overtake on bends, so stay aware.
  • Be careful of drunk drivers, especially during major festivals such as Songkran.
  • If you can rent a car with Sat-Nav, this will be advantageous so that you won’t get lost in the confusing streets.

Have you ever driven in Thailand? Would you like to? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 

photo credit: oldandsolo via photopin cc

photo credit: ol’pete via photopin cc


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