Driving Tips, Rules & Regulations in Thailand

Driving in Thailand can be more than just a good way to get around. In this country, it’s a better alternative to public transport. For one, you’ll feel much safe in your own car than in some bus or taxi, given the traffic culture there. This is important especially when you’re travelling with children. You’ll also be able to go wherever you want without having to spend too much on the very expensive public transport fares, not to mention having to deal with taxi drivers.

Those who carry a tourist visa or otherwise non-residents to Thailand will only need their driver’s permit issued from their country of origin in order to be able to drive in the country. This will most likely be the better choice for those who intend to go driving in Thailand for a few days. However, those who will be going to the country on a non-immigrant visa will require a local driver’s license. You will need to be at least 18 years old to be able to drive in Thailand.

On the road, the locals have an “easier way over the safe way” philosophy of driving in Thailand. You’ll notice most of them taking the wrong side of the road or being on the emergency lane, and this most likely because they’re too lazy to wait for the next U-Turn or simply don’t think it’s convenient for them to follow the flow of traffic. So you can say that a lot of the driving regulations will be thrown out of the window – you’ll even spot tourists driving differently from what they were used to, enjoying the more or less complacent traffic rules in the country.

Expect to see other motorists flashing their headlights at you to signify that they want to go in first. You might also want to avoid driving too fast because the road conditions aren't always at their best. Work areas are hardly marked and there aren't very many signs visible. Also, don’t be surprised if you see cows, dogs, or snakes crossing the roads – they are as common as the children and other pedestrians crossing the roads.

Be careful about parking. The first rule you have to follow is to ascertain whether you can park in a certain area or not. Just ask people if you can park there. If someone asks you to move your car, then just move it. Parking in front of a store you won’t be going into isn't advised as well. Some people can be very territorial about their parking and you’ll want to avoid any trouble from them. Also, don’t succumb to road rage – that’s just going to get you into trouble.

Despite the poor regulations, it’s still illegal to drink and drive, so just don’t.

Play it safe. Very safe. Wear your seat belts at all times or a helmet if you’re driving a motorcycle. Make sure your insurance covers you for your duration of stay in the country. And always have a list of emergency numbers in case you need help.

Summary

Driving is a better alternative to public transport, and safer.
You will need to be at least 18 years old to be able to drive in Thailand.
Your local drivers licence is sufficient is you rent a car for a holiday.
Motorists flashing their headlights is a sign that they want to go in first.
The road conditions aren't always at their best.
Despite the poor regulations, it’s still illegal to drink and drive, so just don’t.

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