Driving in Thailand: Tuk Tuks, Tailgating & How To Remain Calm

Petchburi Road in the Pratunam District of Bangkok
Petchburi Road in the Pratunam District of Bangkok

Driving in Thailand often gets a bad rap. While it is perhaps a little more disorderly than what most tourists are used to, it’s not all goat tracks and white-knuckle terror. Some people would have you believe you’re taking your life into your own hands should you venture onto the roads of Thailand, however it’s a much more convenient way to get around while on a holiday. TravelOnline shared some handy tips and tricks to help you remain safe and calm while driving in Thailand.

Hiring a car via VroomVroomVroom or renting a motorbike is an easy and affordable way to get around Thailand and visitors are often surprised by the quality of vehicles that are available. You don’t even need to obtain an International license, all you need is a driver’s license from your home country – just make sure it’s in English. You will have to get used to the fact that vehicles drive on the left hand side of the road in Thailand but as long as you move in the same direction as the traffic you shouldn’t have any trouble. Road signs are also expressed in English as well as Thai, which makes navigating much easier than many would anticipate.

The biggest difference when it comes to driving in Thailand is that there aren’t really any road rules as such and the etiquette is quite different to most Western countries. Tuk tuks are a common sight around Thailand and these three-wheeled taxis are known for their erratic driving. Tailgating is also common practice and don’t be surprised to see people cutting each other off or cutting into lines of cars. Try to remain calm, as this kind of behaviour is actually accepted in Thailand and no anger is generally displayed on the roads.

Street view of Khao San in Bangkok Thailand

If you’re caught up in the mix just take a few deep breaths and remember that you’re on holiday, so there’s no need to rush anywhere. Your best bet is to just give way to the vehicles darting in and out of the traffic and be sure to keep an eye out for pedestrians as well. Embrace the experience. Many people consider these exciting and often entertaining encounters a quintessential part of all Thailand holidays.

Driving during the day is safer and driving at night is typically not recommended, especially for tourists. The roads receive heavy truck traffic at night and these drivers tend to have little regard for anyone else on the road. Not all roads are in good condition either, so it’s best to stick to driving when the roads are well-lit. Generally speaking though, major routes around the resort and tourist areas as well as outside the city are usually quite safe.

Despite the lack of apparent road rules, using your mobile phone while driving is actually illegal and if caught breaking this rule, you can be pulled over and fined. If you’re pulled over at any time while driving in Thailand, you’ll need to provide your license and car rental documents to the officer who may also request to see your passport. If issued with a ticket, your license will be seized and you’ll need to go to the closest police station in order to pay your fine and get your licence back.

So while driving in Thailand may not be for everyone, it sure makes for a great story to tell your friends when you get home!

VroomVroomVroom would like to thank travelonline.com for sharing this useful article with us.

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