Thailand Driving Guide
Thailand is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.
Thailand is a central hub for development that rests at the heart of Southeast Asia. Its surrounding country borders are Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Myanmar. It is also one of the diplomatic member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Unveiling the majestic treasures of this Buddhist nation, your unforgettable exploration of “Muang Thai,” translated as the “Land of the Smiles,” will be your newest favorite journey.
As the impressive advancement in science and technology is evident in this country, indulging in a fashionable voyage style is the most fantastic choice to make. Pulling up extra effort and time to check about the need for applying for an International Driving Permit in Thailand will reward you with countless perks and benefits to enjoy. Your everyday worries on the never-ending hassles will have an end through securing an exclusive permit to drive abroad.
How Can This Guide Help You?
Excellent and wise decisions for comfortable traveling is a must when you craft plans for your trip. To get you on the most recommended track, driving in Thailand through a rental car is a beautiful, attractive option to pick. Hassles will no longer cross on your list. You can freely bid goodbye to queue lines, ticket booths, and terminals. This guide will keep you on track of what you must act on when you go on a road trip.
The Kingdom of Thailand is the primary hub of Southeast Asia, specifically situated in the tropics. It highlights the mesmerizing diversity of ecosystems. From incredible hilly forested sections on the northern area, intriguing fertile rice fields, the broad plateau of the northeast, and tantalizing rugged coasts on the southern peninsula area, this nation has full of marvelous gems. The country has around 67 million inhabitants, according to its 2019 population record.
Thailand comprises an astonishing collection of sacred treasures, divine paradises, and epic landmarks that makes the country a modern nation to visit. To know more about this fantastic land, read further below and see its geographical location on the map, official language, history, governing system, and exciting points about tourism.
Thailand sits on the Indochina peninsula along with fellow ASEAN states, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Its territorial scope also reaches another neighboring nation, Malaysia. Observing the structure of the country, it interestingly forms into an ax shape. It is also around 15 degrees above the Earth’s line, the equator. Bangkok is the capital of this Kingdom.
Thailand has only one official language, and that is Thai. However, the country itself is home to numerous foreign, dialect, and indigenous languages. There are a total of 73 languages in this nation. Fifty-one of those are indigenous. Thai is commonly known as Siamese. Locals speak their mother tongue following the Bangkok region’s dialect. But English is also widely used in the country, specifically in Bangkok.
Despite being the primary site of commercial engagements in different sectors and the central place of numerous languages, trying to blend with Thai speakers through learning the basic phrases can leave a good impression, especially to the residents living outside the capital.
Thailand’s territorial land is 513,120 square kilometers. Observing its structure, it’s evident that the country is more prominent than Spain. If thinking of a U.S state for another comparison, take Wyoming as an example. It’s relatively twice its size. With this, it ranks in the 16th spot on the largest nations in the world.
Before 1939, Thailand is formerly known as “Siam.” It only officially became Thailand in 1949, with a meaning of “Land of Free.” Several kingdom rulings reign in the country, making its iconic culture and history-rich grow deeper. It’s also among the few sovereign states that never experienced colonization and ruling under a different nation. It’s a good blessing to the country as they had the entire period to mold their community’s trademarks.
The education sector in Thailand originates from the Buddhist temples. The Buddhist priests are the first teachers during the ancient period. They primarily focus on sharing the basics in literature and giving a moral training. Over the centuries, King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V) founded a modernized secular system. It’s a stepping stone for launching a printing press to produce Thai language books.
Annually, Thailand welcomes around 25 million visitors. Purposes of travel vary from leisure, extravagance, nature rejuvenation, and finding opportunities. With the fast-moving progress, there is no wonder why the tourism sector is top-notch. The country’s extensive investment in different infrastructures, specifically in improving the means of communication and transportation, makes it a significant advantage over other high-end states.
Prosperity in the nation’s iconic treasures like a past life, legendary marks, religious places, and environment make it a reason to prioritize this country as the next ideal getaway destination. Suppose you are thinking about how you can wander around the country’s majestic hubs. Driving in Thailand as a tourist is a bright theme to try out.
Delving with the political framework in Thailand, the country is under a constitutional monarchy. A monarch acts as the nation’s leader. Thai Government imposes an adaptation of constitutional ruling in 1932. However, Thailand goes over 17 constitutions before landing with the recent one in 2007. Following the proposal’s presentation in the National Assembly, a prime minister will act as the government head with the Council of Ministers.
However, the higher-ups suspends the 2007 constitution in May 2014. It is due to the military coup. The Military Council spearheads the appointment of leaders and members for a 200-single chamber interim legislature. For local administration, centrally appointed officials govern the provinces and districts of Thailand.
International Driver’s Permit FAQs
As a foreign visitor who wants to feel the comfortable excursion style, one of the main requirements is to get exclusive international permission to drive in other countries. It is a must to make things clear and legal. No one wants to end up paying huge fines and charges by not proceeding to the mandated regulations. When driving in Thailand, you need to own an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) from the International Driver’s Association.
As you obtain an IDP, it does not mean that you can completely ignore your home country’s driving license. An IDP is only an official translation of your driving card in a foreign country. It will never replace your original ones. You must keep the IDP and your local license at all times.
Is A Local Driving License Valid in Thailand?
Non-Thai citizens may use their local or foreign driving license in Thailand. Their valid licence in Thailand, as long as it is written in English and has a photo. However, they might get difficulties when availing of a rental car in some rental car companies. It is best if a foreign national holds an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) to book a car online. Make sure that you have ample time to apply for an IDP through the International Driver’s Association.
Is Driving With An Australian License Valid in Thailand?
Based on the Australian Embassy’s diplomatic regulation, obtaining an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is an essential thing to do. Though Aussies can use their valid Australian driving license in Thailand, they cannot rent a car as most car rental agencies ask for an IDP as part of the legal terms and conditions.
Is Driving with A U.K License Valid in Thailand?
In leasing or driving a car in Thailand as a tourist, it is vital to have a Thai driving license or a valid foreign driver’s card with a photograph. U.K nationals holding a valid U.K driving license in Thailand can operate a four-wheel vehicle in the state. However, despite being part of the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, it is still necessary to secure an IDP for easiness and confidence when hitting this country’s highways.
Do I Need An IDP in Cities and Districts of Thailand?
The International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is a necessary documentary requirement of car rental agencies abroad. Despite the benefit of member states to the Geneva and Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, having an IDP is a must, or else they cannot score a vehicle. Driving in Thailand without a driving license or an IDP is illegal. So, do not dare to violate the law. Make sure also that when approaching the capital city, you have an IDP to present.
Foreigners who hold a driving card that is not in English or Thai should secure an IDP for Thailand. Passing the Thailand districts may have lighter policies, but that’s not an excuse not to acquire an IDP. Having a special permit is mandatory. Failure to do so will end up paying a large amount of fine.
Does An IDP Replace A Native Driver’s License?
Having an IDP alone does not suffice the legalities of hitting the highways abroad. An IDP is not a compatible replacement to any foreign driving license in other countries, especially Thailand. If you attempt to drive without the said permit, the Government of Thailand will consider your action-driving without a permit.
Renting A Car in Thailand
Finding the marvelous places in Thailand is best when you hold a steering wheel of a four-wheel car. The convenience is unbeatable. You can easily access Thailand's roads and areas that aren’t usually reached by public transport. You can navigate your way without having trouble with where to turn left or right. Time will never be your enemy anymore. A road trip adventure in this country can bring you a new thrill and excitement.
In Thailand, reserving your preferred vehicle type should be done ahead. There are lots of discounts and lower prices to choose from many options. But, before doing so, you should be at least 21 years of age and a valid holder of a driving license in your home state. If you qualify, start your application process through the International Driver’s Association.
Car Rental Companies
Thailand’s magnificent improvement in businesses makes it an alluring destination for investment. Speaking of driving as a foreigner, you can freely book your desired car from hundreds of rental car companies in the country. Convenience in reserving a vehicle makes it possible by the incredible technological advancement. You can access thousands of websites and see which offers the best deal. Here are the most popular car rental providers online.
- Bizcar Rental
- Chic Car Rent
- North Wheels
- Sawasdee Rent A Car
- Thai Rent A Car
- Voyg Transport Services, Inc.
While searching for the best rental car company online, be vigilant of the scammers and swindlers. Make sure that the site that you are visiting is legitimate and secured. Do not give your personal information if you think the site is suspicious. Be careful when wiring your payments. No one wants to be a victim of fraud.
In reserving a rental vehicle, you need first to possess particular documents that a rental company requires. It is part of the legal agreement that a customer should present valid proof of the capability of driving. To keep you guided, below are the standard documents that you need to acquire when availing of a rental car. Keep in mind that changes are typical, depending on the policy of the agency.
- Valid Foreign Passport
- Foreign Driving License
- International Driver’s Permit (IDP)
- Credit Card or Debit Card
Before finishing or wrapping up your transaction, ask your rental agent’s contact number. It will be useful to you in case you face a sudden road emergency. You know who to tap right away.
In canvassing a car type to grab in Thailand, be sure to search for a reliable source. Ensure that the vehicle can take the desired number of passengers and baggage. Do also match it to the roadways that you will take abroad. If planning to wander around the city, an economy is a great choice. However, when thinking of traversing rural areas, scoring a heavy-duty 4x4 WD is a must.
Car Rental Cost
On average, tourists can book a rental car in Thailand for as low as $14/day. It’s a cheap deal to take compared to other countries. If wondering how the car rental agencies set a cost on their vehicle, the owners generally depend on the statistics of their client’s demands. They need to make sure that they will get back what they invest in their business.
In Thailand, the driving age is 18 years old. Upon reaching that age, the person can prepare for applying for a driving license. Enrolling in any driving school in Thailand that offers courses exclusively about operating a moving vehicle is a perfect start to take. For rental age, a renter should be at least 20 years old. Car rental stores add charges depending on the driver’s age.
Another factor is the maintenance value of a particular car type. There are specific car types that have an expensive cost to retain their parts. As for the scope of the car rental fees, the best selling packages include pick-up service, driving kits, gas mileage, road assistance, and other related driving features. For an estimated price of rental cost in Thailand, refer to the list below.
- Economy - $14/day
- Intermediate - $27/day
- Full-size - $30/day
- Standard - $39
- Minivan - $64/day
Car Insurance Cost
Rental providers usually separate car insurance from their packages. Some of them sell it at a higher price making their customer spend bucks of cash. Getting such insurance is a must in Thailand as much as possible. It can help you cover emergencies on Thailand's roads. However, avoid availing it directly to a car rental agent. Ask your credit card bank or your car agent if you own a car. Inquire if they can extend the coverage of a rental car abroad.
Car Insurance Policy
Despite the exclusion of car insurance in some car rental companies, a few already include insurance in most packages. In Thailand, travelers can choose between the two choices. The Compulsory Third Liability Insurance (CPTL) and Private Insurance. The CPTL is also known as “Por Ror Bor., and it’s a mandatory one for registered vehicles in the country. The said insurance has limited coverage on medical expenses, that’s why many choose to have a private insurance company. Getting this from a private insurance company can cover any car damage due to road accidents.
The Road Rules in Thailand
In taking off the road in any international community, educating yourself about the enforced traffic rules and regulations is an essential step. Remember that you enter the driving world by undergoing a series of tests, especially in Thailand. You should know that disobedience has zero tolerance on the laws of the country. Be wary about the different regulations implemented in every state. In case you don’t know such a thing, understanding its meaning is the key.
Do not attempt to go against any road rules and try driving without a driving licence in Thailand. Severe charges and penalties are waiting for all violators.
Familiarizing with the basic and essential driving policies abroad is an initiative of a foreign driver should practice. Remember that carrying a responsibility to take care of passenger’s lives is no joke. The majority of the road laws in Thailand are similar to other Asian countries. So, it’s not a big deal for an Asian citizen to adapt. However, some may still get you confused. Learning its meaning isn’t a challenging thing to do. It can save you from any involvement in road accidents.
The strict implementation of drink-driving laws in Thailand is serious. The general legal blood-alcohol limit is 0.5 grams per liter of blood. For drivers who have been holders of a driving license for five years, they cannot exceed 0.2 grams unless they want to get their permit seized by the officers.
Speaking of fines and charges for drink-driving in Thailand, they are mostly high and severe. Especially during holiday seasons, the penalty for reckless, intoxicated drivers and driving without a Thailand license is no joke.
Switch Lanes Moderately
Often, you need to switch lanes to reach your destination. In Thailand, moving to another direction must be in deliberate movement. It is to prevent any unexpected motorist affected by the sudden change of lane. Make sure to turn the signal and watch out for any subtle warnings. Subtle signs are known as “hand signals” Thais commonly roll down their window and call out other drivers to alert them for switching lanes.
When self-driving in Thailand, take extra caution when changing lanes. It is to ensure that switching routes will go smoothly. Do not attempt to go to another when there’s no safe way to do it.
Honking is a signal, not a frustrated expression.
Beep sounds mean to call out other drivers to give way for a driver to go ahead first. It’s another ethical manner of seeking permission from fellow drivers to make a leeway. It is common when approaching blind curves and narrow streets. Another instance is arriving at the intersection zone. When a driver honks, you have to make them pass first. Rude honks and owning a particular road will only make you look like an alien.
As soon as you halt over your destination point, look for a designated parking area. Avoid leaving your car at risk. You don’t want to be a victim of a hijack. Be sure that the place you found is safe and has security officers around. Do not leave your valuable things unattended. Carry them at all times.
Be also wary about the No Parking on Even/Old Days” and the “No parking from 7 AM to 9 AM.” Attempting to disobey it will make you receive a ticket for illegal parking. To know when you cannot pull over, if the curbs are in red or white, it’s an off-limit mark for any private vehicles. It’s primarily for taxis.
Be vigilant in Crosswalks.
Thailand Government designates lane for every vehicle type, so there’s no excuse for anyone to use other routes that are not for them. Crosswalks are for people to pass by. If you encounter a pedestrian lane in front of your car, halt first before moving forward. Allow the crossers to reach the other side before getting ahead.
Non-Thais with a foreign license when driving in Thailand should never leave it, especially the IDP. It’s an essential item to possess in case of sudden violation in crosswalks.
Before driving, make sure that you and the car are in an excellent state.
Begin your day with full energy by taking proper breakfast. It is vital to keep your condition fair as you go for a long journey on the road. If you feel a little bit sleepy, take a short nap or drink a hot coffee. Your full focus is a must. Drivers should avoid any kind of disruptions.
Checking the car’s condition is also a significant thing to do before leaving. Knowing the possibility of facing trouble on the highway should also be included in your mind when overseeing the vehicle. The completeness of driving kits, tools, and equipment are mandatory to verify. For travelers with kids, car seat installation is a must. Of course, a foreign license is compulsory when driving in Thailand. You should not forget that one.
Never use any handheld device unless it has a hands-free system.
Eyes should only be on the road. Do not let it go anywhere unless needed. From time to time, monitor your side-view mirrors. It can help you whether there’s a vehicle near you so you can adjust. Refrain from entertaining calls and texts on your Cell phones. If you can not avoid it, ask for a hand-free system installed on your car.
General Standards of Driving
With a few more guidelines to go, you can have a road-tripping galore in Thailand. Try to exercise your brain by looking back on what you have learned from the driving lessons you take. It is a good thing to review your knowledge about handling a moving car on the road. You can easily track the critical points that you might have missed. Below are the standard reminders on what to do on speed limits, seatbelt rules, navigating routes, road marks, and many others.
Before leaving, always check your valuable items in your bag. See if you have your original driving licence and IDP. Losing any of the two can create problems, especially if you are crossing a country border.
A road trip does not end on what you need to drive and how you can book a car abroad. You have to comprehend the basic road rules on the road. Among those policies is the speed limit. Thailand establishes the law to maintain and sustain the smooth sailing flow of traffic. Without it, congestion and road accidents are most likely to happen.
Below are the speed limit marks for foreigners who want to go on driving in Thailand.
- Urban - 50 kp/h
- Rural - 90 kp/h
- Motorway Speed Limit - 120 kp/h
Those who are sitting in the front should automatically wear their seatbelts at all times. If there are rear seatbelts for rear passengers, they can use them. In Thailand, kids under 12 years old must be sitting on a car seat. They should not be allowed to use the front.
Heading for a rich exploration over the thousands of magnificent wonders in Thailand, it is an excellent decision to choose the creative way of traveling. Before going anywhere, there’s a particular route that may seem unfamiliar, which is the roundabout. It’s a circular shape with an arrow directing in a clockwise manner. When encountering one, do not change lanes. Yield when necessary. As much as possible, do not stay beside a giant vehicle.
Also, remember that overtaking is usual in Thailand. It is generally on the right side. Watch out for sudden motorists moving ahead without a signal. Do not assume that all drivers on the highway will follow a gentle overtaking. You should only keep on the safe side at all times.
Traffic Road Signs
Travelers can easily read the markings and signage on the road in Thailand. They won’t have any hard time navigating their way. Most of the traffic signs are the same in the international standards, but there are some that only this country has. Knowing its definition alone won’t suffice. Drivers should also do it in action.
In Thailand, they also have five different road signs. The Warning Signs call for possible hazards along the way. The Mandatory Signs should carry out immediately. For the information signs, they are the most commonly used by the citizens. The Prohibitory Signs signify restriction to do a particular action on the road. Last is the Priority Road Signs that tell who has the right of way on a specific highway section.
Right of Way
Local drivers mainly use the left side lane for driving purposes. For the right of way privilege, according to the Thai Traffic Laws, when two moving vehicles reach a junction spot coming from different ways, the car on the left lane has the right of way. Unless there’s a designation of principle roadway mark, the vehicle on that mark has the right of way.
Obedience on the road is a must. Strictly monitor your fellow driver’s action to avoid getting involved in road rage. Do not also forget to hold your IDP and valid driving license in Thailand.
Legal Driving Age
As stated in the requirements and guidelines on how to get a driving license in Thailand, your legal limit must be at least 18 years old. Generally, you have to join and take courses about operating a car in a driving school in Thailand.
It’s somehow tempting to operate a four-wheel vehicle for any juvenile, and minor individuals as the state’s are wealthy in beautiful paradises. But, for the legalities, qualifying first in the driving age in Thailand is a must. Let someone capable of holding a steering wheel do the thing first instead. Any reckless attempts of driving without a license in Thailand will receive a penalty.
Law on Overtaking
You can only overtake in other foreign countries when there is only a free way to do it. In Thailand, attempting to move ahead from another vehicle without any warning signal will pay large fines up to 1,000 baht. As much as possible, avoid overtaking without a valid reason. Do it with proper manners in case you need so. Negligence and ignorance have no place for exemptions in the road rule.
Do not let your educated mind get brainwashed by reckless people. Be a responsible traveler by following and observing what is right. Never attempt to drive without a driving license in Thailand, as there is a penalty for that violation.
Suppose you ask about driving in Thailand which side of the road, the left lane is. Overtaking vehicles is strongly prohibited if there is no valid reason to go ahead. Learn to respect and be patient while hitting the highways of the country. Do not neglect the legal laws, as there are appropriate sanctions for violators.
Picking Thailand as your next destination country and want to have a highway bound adventure, make sure you know how to get an International Driving License in Thailand. With the International Driver’s Association’s help, you can have yours within the day or even in two hours.
Driving Etiquette in Thailand
Actions matter in every situation. It mirrors one’s emotion and ethics in such circumstances. Displaying professionalism, especially on the foreign highway, is a must. It reflects how well you are as a person. As a responsible traveler, learning how to manage stress and anger is essential. Mixing personal emotion over a particular road scene can end up in the worst scenario. So, it is vital to express proper behavior when driving.
In Thailand, the Thais are quite known for being polite and patient. So, every foreign visitor should follow the excellent example of the locals.
Road emergencies should be part of planning and preparation for every travel. No one is sure enough that everything will go smoothly. It is better to think in advance rather than suffering from regrets because of unexpected road accidents. Every time you will design a trip, put the Emergency Services on the top. Let go first of the rest stops, boutiques, and leisure time. Create first a back-up plan in case the original does not go perfectly.
Now, to help you with what to do when you encounter road trouble, here are the general tips that you can note.
- Safe Zone is Your Topmost Priority to Find.
When you feel something weird going on your dashboard, or you start hearing strange sounds, do not simply ignore it. It can cause a massive problem if you let it slide like nothing is happening on your vehicle. Potential danger and hazardous threats may occur on the road. Search for a safe spot around you. Make sure that you don’t cause too much congestion on the highway. Flash your hazard lights to alert other drivers.
- Take the First-Aid Road Measures to Check Your Vehicle’s Problem.
Same with medical concerns, getting stranded in the middle of a busy road or street because of a car breakdown has an appropriate aid to act on immediately. Once you safely maneuver your car on a safe point, get your reflective jackets and warning triangles. Wear first the jacket before hopping out from the car to place the warning triangles around 50 yards from your vehicle.
- Do Not Permit Any Of Your Passengers To Go Out If Possible.
If you happen to face road trouble in the middle of the highways, then hopping out from the car is only advisable if the surroundings are free from danger. However, if the situation is horrible, risking life will not pay it off. Children and older people should remain inside at all times until professional help comes in the way.
- Dial Your Car Rental Agent’s Number For Immediate Help.
There are two cases in which you can tap your car rental shop’s help. First, when you think you cannot resolve the vehicle’s matter after checking it, you grab your phone, ask your provider if they can assist you. Second, if you are a newbie and you don’t know how to handle things, call your car rental company right away.
- Call For A Local’s Help While Waiting For Professional Assistance to Arrive.
You are fortunate enough to encounter trouble on a busy highway area as there are many traffic constables to call out. Uniformed patrol officers are Thai authorities to hail as they can offer you emergency aid. However, if you are in the middle of nowhere, talking to locals is the best option you can do. Thais are friendly and helpful. They know if someone needs help. Ask them nicely and politely, so they can do the favor.
Passing Thai police points are most likely at the country’s borders in Malaysia and Cambodia. Generally, you need to confirm the travel restrictions and protocols established by the two countries. Expect a random call out from a Thai police officer on Thailand's roads. Make sure to coast your car right away. Observe also the identity of the enforcer to confirm it is a legitimate one. If you have doubts, you can simply ask them about the matter and inform them if you can leave.
If you experience a surprise hailing from a traffic road constable, do not panic. Relax and show them your willingness to cooperate. Allow them to discuss their concern. Upon their request and signal, present your travel papers like your original driving licence, IDP, and foreign passport. If they ask you questions, honestly answer those.
Thailand is famously known as the ‘Land of Smiles.’ It is evident, as locals are friendly, approachable, and thoughtful. The country has one official language, which is Thai. Though English is their second mother tongue, practicing to learn their native one will make you receive a joyous smile from the residents.
When you got a little confused about your navigation map while self-driving in Thailand, you can freely reach a local’s help, take note to speak politely, and slowly to them. Here are the common phrases that you can casually use when you go to this nation.
- Sawadee khrup/ka
- Sorry/Excuse Me
- Khor thoad khrup/ka
- What is your name?
- Kun chuu arai?
- Can you speak English?
- Kun pood paasaa anggrit dai mai
- Can you help?
- Choo-ay dai mai
- * Thank you
- * Khop khun
- * How can I get to (name of the place)?
- * pǒm / chán jà bpai (name of place)
- * I’m lost
- * Long thang
- * Could you tell me how to get (name of a place)?
- * kun pɔɔ jà bɔ̀ɔk dâi mái wâa jà bpai (name of place) yang ngai
- * Go straight
- * dtrong -bpai
- * Across from, opposite
- * dtrong-kâam
- * Beside, next to
- * kâang-kâang
- * On the right-hand side/on the left-hand side
- * (taang) kwǎa mʉʉ/(taang) sáai mʉʉ
- * Airplane
- * Kruang bin
- * Station
- * Sataanii
- * Restaurant
- * Raan aahaan
Foreign drivers will most likely face checkpoints in the borders of Cambodia and Malaysia. At these points, strict compliance with the protocols and regulations is mandatory. The enforcement of country border checkpoints is to monitor and observe the entry of nationals in Thailand. It is also to ensure the complete safety and security of the country. For more detailed information about what to bring, below are the typical documents you need to have.
- Foreign Passport
- Original Local Driver’s License
- International Driver’s Permit (IDP)
- Rental Car Documents
- Travel Itinerary
Exemptions from applying for an International Driver’s Permit will only apply for countries included in the 1949 Geneva and Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. However, they will hardly score a rental car in Thailand, as most rental car agencies require IDP. For confidence in the travel, tourist drivers should possess an IDP. Obtaining one is easy through the International Driver’s Association website.
Avoiding a nightmare on Thailand's roads is the primary goal of every tourist traveling outside their home country. But, of course, assurance of road safety is not a hundred percent guaranteed at all times. It is still better to prepare things ahead if facing an accident, ready to read further to know the essential things to resolve the matter quickly.
What to do in case of accidents?
While in the middle of traversing a particular site, and you happen to have an accident, do not hesitate to call out 1155 to report to Emergency Services. It’s the best action to take for you to know that everything will be under control soon. If there are any injuries, tapping an ambulance and rescue through 1554 is a great decision to make. Never meddle with any unnecessary arguments without any Thai authorities around. Wait for them to arrive before giving statements.
For other circumstances, when you only want to lend a hand to someone who is severely injured, you can directly call an ambulance for rescue. Do also wait for any of Thailand's roads' enforcers present before allowing yourself to signal other drivers to take another way instead. You may also call out the Thai police to handle the situation between the involved parties. Make sure you are keeping a valid driving license in Thailand in case they request it from you.
Driving Conditions in Thailand
Wondering around Thailand’s roads, you may face a little different situation compared to what you used to see in other parts of Southeast Asia. The city highways are in good condition and quality. The country’s transportation infrastructure is incredibly excellent, and it draws plentiful tourists to drive by car in the country. You can even head over to another country through your moving vehicle as it has routes going to Malaysia and Cambodia.
Traffic congestion usually occurs around 6 AM to 9 AM as workers are going to their workplace. In the evening, around 4 PM to 7 PM is when workers head over to their homes. During these times, patience is a virtue. Do not do the same thing as what reports of more drivers driving recklessly does typically. You don’t want to have a bad driving record in Thailand.
Chaotic Thailand's roads traffic and the high volume of road accidents are the major problems of the Thai Government. Generally, these fatalities happen during holiday seasons. The most common reasons for car accidents are drink and wrong driving style in Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok. With this, the Thai government strives to improve and resolve the problem by upgrading roadways and expressways.
Despite the unfortunate huge frequency of accidents, driving in Thailand road safety is continuously developing for better access. Thais are rarely honking on the highways, as they have high respect for one another.
Freedom is what makes a rental car a fascinating way to tour the beauty of Thailand. Though the country has a splendid transportation system, from buses, taxis, trains, and motorcycles, many still opt to have their four-wheel vehicle. Renters and Thais commonly use an economy type of car. It can accommodate four to five occupants. Perfect for a small group.
Passing tolls are frequent when heading to different motorway areas. The establishment of tolls is to make Thailand's roads' users get into a specific place in fewer hours. It’s also aiming to develop the convenience of the public when driving on Thailand’s highways.
Tourist drivers from neighboring states like Malaysia and Cambodia can go to Thailand without taking a flight. They can get inside the country from Malaysia by taking the Jalan Berembang - Kg Gua/Route 480. Be ready to spend almost 20 hours of driving time. If you are heading from Cambodia, it will take you nine hours to reach Thailand via the NR6 route.
As the Thailand Government works on developing and enhancing its traffic situation, foreign tourist drivers can comfortably traverse this nation’s highways. The city's main roads and routes are astonishingly great. Signages and markings won’t be a problem despite the lack of clarity in some areas. You can simply navigate alternative ways on the map. Rush hours are manageable, unlike in other countries.
When you get stuck in heavy traffic, you will seldomly hear honks from other drivers. But, don’t be surprised when you listen to them beeping when passing by a temple. It’s their way of expressing respect and practice their religious rituals. Thais are well-known for being a patient individual. They rarely show anger on Thailand's road, unlike other resident drivers. Foreign nationals can safely drive in Thailand and tolerate good examples from friendly locals.
Alerting through flashing a signal is a frequent exercise of most resident drivers. But, some still do the hand actions instead of switching on their signal lights. Do watch out for those hand warnings as it’s inevitable, especially in rural areas. However, despite a few negligence, Thais are responsible motorists.
You now have an idea about the kind of road condition and situation in Thailand, but you must also learn the speed measurement unit used, night driving road safety, and sudden road shifting.
What speed unit do they use?
The most common velocity measurement units are the KpH and MpH. But, its usage varies from the state’s constitutional policy. Thailand makes use of KpH as the speed unit. A similar case goes the same with other ASEAN member states. Reading the kilometers per hour is manageable to understand for citizens using the said speed limit sign. However, there might be difficulties for residents using the miles per hour. As only a few nations worldwide use it.
Do remember that you have to follow the tips when driving in Thailand. It can prevent you from getting prone to accidents. Another vital factor for foreigners driving in Thailand is the discipline. It’s a key to a safe and smooth traffic flow.
What are some night driving hazards in Thailand?
Dark skies will reduce the visibility of roadways. If you can postpone the plans of driving at night, then do it. When lodging in a countryside hotel, it’s more dangerous to attempt. Heavy-duty trucks and oversize cars typically carry tons of goods that traverse the highway at night as they can’t join the morning rush. Another, animals generally wander around, so a higher possibility of bumping into them is evident.
For emergency cases when you must drive in the dark, make sure to use a proper headlight. Ensure that it has a wide range so that you can see what’s ahead. If you cannot see anything for a distance of 100 meters, do switch on the headlights. Never attempt to drive without turning it on. However, when hitting the road intoxicated, do not risk violating the drink driving laws in Thailand. You will never want to remember it.
How do you merge on the roads of Thailand?
It is not a new thing for a particular road to merge in another one. But, for newbies, watching it out is a must. In Thailand, there are specific sections that are one-way during the day, but in the afternoon. Sudden shift lanes are regular in the country. Road users must be vigilant when approaching one. Do not forget to carry your original driver’s license, IDP, and passport whenever you go out and drive. You don’t want to be a bad driver and leave a negative driving record in Thailand.
Things To Do In Thailand
The abundance in history, culture, and religion make the Land of Smiles the main draw to passionate explorers worldwide. Most foreign visitors likely to level up their adventure life in Thailand. It may be on employment or residency opportunities. Everyone is welcome to grab one if any. There are no limitations in professional work in the country. As long as you have an official offer from any local agency in Thailand, you can secure a work permit and visa.
Non-Thai citizens must secure a work permit and visa. Even those countries that are exempt from Tourist visas should apply with the intention of work. Do note that a work visa alone does not suffice the legalities to work. One should also have a working permit.
Drive as a Tourist
Non-residents of Thailand should secure an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). There are exemptions for applying for the special permit. Countries under the 1949 Geneva and Vienna Convention on Road Traffic can use their native drivers’ licenses in the country. However, they might have difficulties in reserving a rental car. Most rental car companies require their customer to have an IDP when booking.
Getting an IDP is hassle-free through the International Driver’s Association’s assistance. Simply encode your details and upload photos for verification. After two hours, you will receive an online confirmation about your IDP.
Work as a Driver
Any non-immigrant of Thailand who wants to explore the country’s employment industry can freely apply for a working permit and visa. Do note that you should have an official document proving your hire at a local company in Thailand before applying for one. Your employer will be in charge of processing your working documents. If you desire to render driving services in the country, simply look up online for operating roles, especially in Bangkok.
Another vital factor when applying as a driver, you should be at least 18 years old and a valid holder of a driver’s license for a year. You must also consider converting your local card into a Thai driving license.
Work as a Travel Guide
Your fantastic experience in discovering the incredible treasures of Thailand is a worthy thing to share. To do so, you can consider rendering services over a tourism agency in the country. Try to search for travel guide jobs in the brilliant capital of this nation. Bangkok is a popular central hub for business sectors. The opportunities on the mainland are endless.
Aspiring foreign workers should have a working visa first before they qualify for a work permit in Thailand. All non-citizens of the country who has a plan to serve the nation must make time to process documents to work. Read further below about the requirements for applying for a work permit and visa.
Work Visa Requirements
- Original Passport (valid at least six months)
- Thailand Work Visa Application Form
- Passport size photo (white background, neutral face)
- Proof of Financial Support
- Police Clearance Certificate
- Approval Letter signed by the Thailand Ministry of Labour (for employers)
- Visa Fee of 2,000 baht to 5,000 baht (depends on the number of entries)
Work Permit Requirements
- Passport (with photocopies of all pages)
- Thai Work Visa
- Professional Credentials
- Employment Contract (with the full job description)
- Other certificates and licenses
- Latest Curriculum Vitae
- Three Passport pictures
- Proof of Living in Thailand
- Work Permit Fee of 750 baht to 3,000 baht
Apply for Residency
No matter your occupation in Thailand, as long as you want to extend your stay in the country, you may do so. But, you have to undergo a legal process to acquire residency permission. You must have a non-Immigrant visa for at least three years. Also, you should identify what category of resident visa you qualify for applying one. All individuals should head over to a Royal Thai Immigration Office when securing a residence document.
Other essential requirements will vary on what category you qualify. But, for the standard documents that you should bring, read below the details.
- Original Passport
- Copy of Passport’s Bio page
- Copy of Visa (if applicable)
- Work Permit
- Proof of Annual Tax Return
- Passport Photographs
- TM6 Departure Card
- Receipt of Address Notification
- House Book with your name and address
Other Things to Do
Expanding the horizons in leveling up the adventure in Thailand is a brilliant idea to take. Knowing how developed and advanced the country’s economy from the rest of ASEAN countries, it’s more enticing and inviting to render service and live like a local in this Land of Smiles. Learn how to get a driving license in Thailand and the other work roles to search online.
How do you acquire a license in Thailand?
Converting your international driver’s license to a Thai driver’s license can save you from bringing your passport at all times. Before you can exchange for one, you must possess the general requirements you need to have at the Land Transportation Office in Thailand. First-time applicants can have a two-year validity of a temporary Thai driver’s license. After the period, they can renew one for up to five years.
Make sure also that your current driving license card is using the English or Thai alphabet. If not, an IDP is a must. Here are the standard documents you must obtain when exchanging your native driver’s license for a Thai license.
- Medical Certificate
- Work Permit
- Foreign Passport
- Local Driver’s License
- Application Form
What are the procedures in getting a Thai driver’s license?
For those who do not have a driver's license on hand, taking a driving school course is necessary. Passing the driving test, theoretical and practical exam in Thailand is essential. It will show your capabilities and knowledge about coasting, maneuvering, and operating a moving car. The examination is in the English language. You can start the exam after streaming a video talking about the road rules in the country.
You can only pass the driving test in Thailand if you don’t have more than five wrong answers. However, you can take it the following day without watching the video again.
What are some tips on how to pass the driving test in Thailand?
First-time drivers should undergo a series of examinations and practical tests. It is to educate and train them on how to deal with other drivers on the road. This type of training usually takes place in any Thai police center. A proctor will guide you throughout the session and will analyze your skills in driving.
Once you are ready for a practical test, below are the quick driving in Thailand tips. Be sure to read it carefully, as you don’t want to have a failing score on your attempt.
- You should know first which side of the road in Thailand is for driving
- Watch out for subtle signals. Focus your eyes over the other driver’s hand signals
- Switch on signal lights to alert your presence. Do not attempt to honk in frustration. Thais do not use their honks for that
- Give way when reaching crosswalks, pedestrians, and intersections. Never showcase anger. It will only make you like an obnoxious person
- Make use of the driving lane marks as guidelines. Do not tolerate other drivers shifting recklessly
- Compliance with the written guidelines on driving in Thailand safety is vital
What are other work opportunities in Thailand?
Don’t worry when you can’t score a driving job in Thailand. There are other employment doors to venture. Among the top potential professional works to find in the country is teaching a foreign language. You can search up for English as Second Language vacancies in some language schools and organizations. It’s an advantage for a citizen from an English speaking country.
It won’t make a fortune at the start but grabbing full-time work is already fulfilling. The standard salary for an entry-level is ranging from 30,000 baht - 35,000 baht per month. In private sector companies, one can receive a 45,000 baht - 100,000 baht per month. But, the salary grade will depend on the experience.
The Top Destinations in Thailand
The impressive Kingdom of Thailand that gorgeously rests in Southeast Asia’s heartland is best when you explore it by driving a vehicle. The captivating Land of Smiles has a precious gem to offer for every traveler. From intriguing historical landmarks, cultural heritages, stellar vistas, and unspoiled destinations, your road trip holiday getaway will be unforgettable.
A glorious highway bound voyage in the country requires one to have an International Driver’s Permit. Another significant element is a driver should not have any terrible drink driving habits in Thailand. Keep in mind that you should also not forget to bring your real driver’s license and passport.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
For a divine exploration, visiting a sacred shrine in Chiang Mai is a must. The Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a sitting Buddha figure at the mountaintop. Touring around the vicinity of this legendary structure, you will see a staircase towards the temple. There are also numerous sellers engaging the tourists to buy some souvenirs from them. When going to this place, observe the proper clothes to wear. Be sure to cover your shoulders and legs.
Target your visit to this temple from around December to March the following year. Be sure to plan your drive early on weekdays. Avoid heading on weekends as crowds are inevitable. There’s an admission fee of around 30 baht to 50 baht.
- From the Chiang Mai International Airport, continue driving to Tambon Pa Daet.
- Take the Route 1141 before going straight to Boonruangrit Road.
- Make a left turn when approaching Route 1004. Pass through a convenience store on the left.
- Have a sharp right upon arriving at Route 1004/Sriwichai Road.
Things to Do
In fulfilling a native journey in Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, here are the energetic and engaging activities to try.
Hike at Doi Suthep in Pui National Park
Dynamic tourists who can’t get enough with hype adventure, try taking the hike trails around the Doi Suthep. It’s a brilliant idea to make when you are in the place. The starting point is at the Mon Tha Than Waterfall. Be ready to embrace a gentle wind when passing through a lush forest in the park.
Sneak at the International Religion Studies
When you choose to get inside the temple’s premises, do not miss out on witnessing in person the monk’s place and the International Religion Studies. The said spot is around the far-away right side of the temple. Be sure not to create any noise as sometimes monks are having class sessions and ritual exercises.
Visit the Ethnic Village
Chiang Mai houses several tribes, including the Akha, Hmong, and Yao. They primarily reside at the mountain peak of the temple. Taking a visit to their place will make them feel appreciated and loved. Indigenous people will introduce to you their everyday life and will let you learn about their unique culture.
Detour at Doi Pui
For those who can’t endure a hike trip, riding on a bicycle might interest you. While others are eager to go straight ahead at Doi Suthep’s end, you can make a detour at its twin mountain, Doi Pui. Bike trips may lead bikers to a local village, where other ethnic citizens inhabit. It’s an exciting experience to have.
Get Illuminated at Night in Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
If your lodging is a walking distance away from the site, taking a peek at its beauty is a brilliant way to close the day. The Chiang Mai and the temple itself will give tourists a magical moment through its glorious illumination symphony. Its gilded structures glamorously shine in the middle of darkness. It feels like you are under a captivating spell, which you do not want to end.
Giant Swing fantastically stands in the middle of the bustling capital of Thailand, Bangkok. It is a famous 27-meter high teak frame crafted way back in the 1700s and is for the traditional Brahmin ceremonies. The ceremony is a religious event every month of December after the rice harvest season. However, due to the intense lightning that hit the city, it is now only a country’s historical structure.
Exploring the iconic Giant Swing is best when you head on what they call ‘shoulder months.’ From April to May and September to October are the ideal times to check out the site. Less crowds are possible during those months.
- If coming from the Suvarnabhumi Airport, take Route 7 and Si Rat Expressway.
- Hit the Khlong Song Ton Nun Sub-District Bangkok towards Suvarnabhumi Road 2.
- Merge to Route 7 before continuing on the right side to continue on Si Rat Expressway.
- Stay on the left fork lane in Si Rat Expressway. Follow the road markings on Bang Khlo - Dao Khanong.
- Proceed to the two left lanes when exiting on 2-09 to Yommarat.
- Observe the signs towards Lan Luang, then merge to the Phetchaburi Road.
- Drive through Lan Luang Road, Ratchadamnoen Klang Road, and Dinso Road.
- Head straight towards Bamrung Muang Road until Sao Chingcha Sub-District.
Things to Do
Enjoy more of the fantastic wonders surrounding the Giant Swing by checking out any of these inviting activities.
Get inside at the Wat Suthat
Royal temples are quite famous in Thailand. However, there are only a few who can receive an official royal status and class importance. The Wat Suthat is among the few temples that receive a spectacular first-class significance. It is also known as the oldest and most grand temples in Bangkok. After observing the epic Giant Swing, take a sneak peek inside the Wat Suthat. You will see some breathtaking artifacts and fabulous murals around.
Explore the Bamrungchat Satsana Yathai Pharmacy
To delve more into the country’s traditional elements, take a short stroll at a small alley near the Giant Swing. The Bamrungchat Satsana Yathai Pharmacy was a producer of herbal medicines way back 100 years ago. A prominent Thai herbal doctor founded the pharmacy. Wandering inside the place, you can observe the different organic treatments, traditional medicinal tools, and even a documentary video discussing its past stories.
Shop at Trok Mor Morning Market
For authentic and fresh goods, passing by the Trok Mor Morning Market will let you enjoy buying fruits, vegetables, and fish. Since it’s a daytime store, it is only open during the day. The said market place is near the Grand Palace. It also has nearby restaurants and narrow streets to explore.
View At Santichaiprakan Park
It’s a cool way to start the day by inhaling fresh air and enjoying the addictive antidote of Santichaiprakan Park. You may consider beginning your day on this site by joining some locals doing jazzercise, tai chi, and private yoga. It’s a perfect meditation session practice to have while treating yourself to stellar panoramic views of the park.
Tour the Devasathan or Brahmin Temple
The Devasathan or Brahmin Temple is the central hub of Hinduism in the country. It’s a perfect avenue for religious practices and worships. Brahmins annually exercise some royal and prestigious traditional ceremonies of Thailand’s Monarchy. It’s a great experience if you catch them performing live. You can understand more of the sacred and divine culture of the country.
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