• Gerald Hogg Author

Driving in Thailand or South-East Asia .

Many people think that when you come to Thailand (or many other Southeast Asian countries for that matter) that you can drive a motorbike or a car on your driving license issued in your own country...Not so, if you want to rent or buy a motorbike you must have an international motorbike license or a Thai motorbike license to drive in Thailand. If you want to rent or buy a car you must have an international car driving license or a Thai car license to drive in Thailand. You will still find many rental businesses that will rent you vehicles with your home countries driving license, they are happy to rent you a motorbike even if you only have a car driving license, as their philosophy is; it’s up to the person renting the vehicle to know the laws of the land. But be warned, they may take your passport as security, and if you have an accident they will keep your passport until you have paid for the damage to their vehicle to be repaired, meaning you are trapped in Thailand until you pay up and are able to retrieve your passport. If you have an accident while driving without a valid international driving license, or driving a motorbike with a car driving license your health or travel insurance may dismiss your claim. I see every week people who have had motor vehicle accidents in countries like Indonesia. Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia asking on Go Fund Me or similar sites to help them pay for their medical bills or Medivac flights home because they had been badly injured, and their travel insurance have turned down their claim because they had an invalid driving license, or they did not have any travel insurance.

Criteria for applying for a Thai Driving License:

Getting a Thai driving license is a long drawn out process and can take all day if you have to do the practical driving test. It can even go into two days if you don’t get to the department of transport early. The first thing you will need to do is present your paperwork at the license desk, along with your home country driving license. If all is well with your paperwork, you will then be directed to watch a video on the Thai rules of the road, unfortunately the videos audio is in Thai so you won’t be able to understand it anyway. Next will be a multiple-choice exam. If you have a valid international driving license or an English language-driving license from your home country then you won’t need to do the driving test. If you do not have an international driving license or an English language-driving license then you will need to do the driving test. If you need to do the driving test, you will be directed to the driving course within the complex.

In Thailand as in most countries, you need a separate driving license for cars and motorcycles. If you want both licenses then you will need two copies of all the documents required. As always when dealing with any government departments in Thailand, you will get a better response if you are well presented and polite. Documents required:

  • Passport with a non-immigrant visa. You will also need photocopies of the photo page, non-immigrant visa page, and current entry stamp page.

  • Confirmation of your Thai address. You can get this from your embassy in Thailand or from any Thai immigration office. For either your embassy or the immigration office, you will need proof of address. This can be in the form of a rental contract with your name on it.

  • A current health certificate. You can get a health certificate from any doctor’s clinic or hospital. The health certificate should cost around ฿100 and is valid for one month.

  • Your home country driving license or a valid international driving license.

It’s a long-drawn-out process and doesn’t make much sense as when they get their new driving license, many Thais and quite a lot of farang drive out of the office of land transportation and go straight back to their usual bad driving habits, leaving their helmets off, driving down the wrong side of the road, driving through roundabouts without giving way to the right. Then go home and pick up the wife and three kids, put them on the back of the motorcycle and go for a spin. Driving in Thailand is not for the faint-hearted and you should only do so if you are a confident driver with nerves of steel.

To sum up driving in Thailand, I found this amusing write up on one of the farang websites, in answer to a tourist who was contemplating coming to Thailand and renting a car. Take it with grain of salt. If your careful, observant and don’t take risks, you hopefully you will have no more problems in Thailand than driving in any other country in the world.

First thing is to go to a good eye hospital in Bangkok and get some implants, you'll need 3 sets, one on each side and one set at the back of your head, then it's off to a local Wat to get the car blessed, load up the rear view mirror with protection amulets and glue a statue of your favorite monk to the dashboard.

Rent a car with tinted windows so that casual compensation seekers can’t see your farang.

When driving always remember that there is an invisible third lane that runs down the centre of the road, anyone can use this. If you find yourself on bendy roads like the ones you may encounter up north, stay away from the centre line as they will be overtaking on your side of the road coming from the opposite direction. Buses, lorries ... They all do it , at speed ... So stay away from that invisible third lane on bendy roads and blind hills.

If you find yourself at the front of the line at traffic light , when they turn green ... DO NOT HIT THE GAS HARD ... You risk being hit by idiots jumping the lights at 120kph ... Watch out.

If you come up behind a truck, like a Hino belching smoke and crawling along , they may notice you if they are not too high on yabba, sometimes they will indicate left to let you know it is safe to overtake ... IN THEIR OPINION ... Check it out , if they indicate right, that means it is not safe , seeing a right indicator is rare though. Keep a distance from buses and coaches as they're suicidal and on yabba most of the time and don't care much about their passengers or you.... Remember might is right

If you're in an accident then be prepared to pay up even if it's not your fault, just keep calm, negotiate if you can, pay up and go. You'll always be to blame, even parked with the engine off in Tesco Lotus car park ... It's your fault, you’re a farang, if you hadn’t have come here the accident would not have happened.

Hope this helps”

If you need any information on retiring in Thailand, please go to my contact page and send me a message and I will do my utmost to help you. If your interested in retiring in Thailand or many other great countries where your pension dollars will stretch much further take a look at my books on my authors page on Amazon.