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Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Driving in Thailand

Driving in Thailand for the first time can kill you, unless you prepare yourself with our travel tips. The accident statistics in Thailand are frightening: about 20,000 death Thai drivers due to road accidents. Only if you are a confident driver and you are aware of the driving conditions in Thailand, then driving is a great way to travel around the country and will give you the freedom to really explore.

Car Rental Thailand

There are plenty of reputable car rental firms in Thailand like Avis, Budget, Hertz, Via and Braun. A typical rental car in Thailand would be a Toyota Soluna at around 1500 to 2000 baht (about 50 to 65 $) for a day.

Cheap car hire can be found by the beach side renters. Just don't leave your passport as collateral for your rented vehicle, give them a photocopy instead. And be assured you won't be well insured...

Which fuel to use when driving in Thailand

The main vehicle fuels in Thailand are:

  • 91 (octane output of the fuel), advisable for motorbikes

  • 95 (a little more octane and is a little more expensive than 91), advisable for car rentals

  • gasohol (90% gasoline and 10% ethanol: introduced in Thailand to reduce rising fuel import costs) and

  • diesel.

How to survive driving in Thailand

  • be smart and aggressive, otherwise you will never advance an inch

  • obey driving rules when you can but expect Thai drivers not to obey rules

  • drive on the left hand side of the road and be prepared that Thai drivers will ignore this rule if it helps them get to their turning quicker

  • respect the speed limit: 60 km/h in town from 90 to 120 km/h on country roads and expressways

  • expect Thai drivers to be unpredictable

  • always look everywhere and remember: westerners due take driving conventions for granted, some Thai drivers just don't!

  • be prepared for motorbikes flying towards you like... well, like flies to a pot of honey. Unlike flies, don't hit the motorbikes as they will also try their best not to hit you. Help them a bit because some of them just don't try hard enough...

  • do not drive drunk

  • if a car flashes at you, it means he won't change lane but expects you to do so

  • when the traffic light turns green, don't zoom away, as you might hit motorbikes that are zooming through the opposite red light

  • when overtaking a bus or truck :

    • their right hand indicator warns not to overtake as there is oncoming traffic

    • their left hand indicator signals that it is safe to overtake OR that the car is turning!

One good thing about driving in Thailand is the overall Thai cultural habit of not getting angry in public. So when the Thai do get angry, you can rest assure that your driving is not at all up to Thailand's standards!