is some general information for those persons interested or
concerned about driving in
30 years of driving extensively (car and motorcycles) throughout SE
Asia, in countries such as
Cambodia and Thailand, it has afforded
me many varied and interesting experiences.
The Golden Rule
of driving in South East Asia:
Drive defensively, and drive to the road & weather
conditions at all times. Different people might suggest that it's
not safe for foreigners to drive in Thailand. They will say
that if you are involved in an accident you will automatically be at
WHAT A LOAD OF
Thailand has road rules, and
for the most part the Thais adhere to them. Another misconception is
that you are always going to be pulled over by the Police and fined
for no reason.
If you are not wearing a helmet when riding a
motorcycle, then yes, you will get pulled over and likely fined, and
so you should. It is also law that passengers must wear a helmet,
though unfortunately this is less regularly enforced. A responsible
bike rider would never let a passenger on the back unless they were
wearing a helmet!
If you are pulled over for any reason, so long as you have been
obeying the road rules, hold the correct documentation, stay calm
and respectful then you will not have a problem.
attention to the huge number of motorcycles on the road, in many
cases these are ridden by children as young as 12, so you must be
constantly vigilant and drive defensively.
International Driving Permit:
The most important advice is
before you leave your home country, obtain an INTERNATIONAL DRIVING
They are easily obtained from your Local Automobile Association, RAA,
RACV etc for a small fee.
This Permit is an internationally recognized document which acts as
a transcription of your driverís license credentials. It also has
your current photo affixed. By obtaining this PERMIT and carrying it
with your original driving license, you are legally entitled to
drive any motor vehicle etc which appears there on.
For the sensible travelers who obtain travel insurance, should you
be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, where you have
not contravened their terms and conditions, you will be covered.
Do not be fooled
into thinking you can legally ride a small motorcycle in Thailand if
you do not hold a current motorcycle license in your own county.
happily hire you a motorcycle whether you have an appropriate
permit/license or not. But if you are involved in an accident and
the Police or Insurance Company become aware that you are not the
holder of a current valid license & International Driving Permit, you may well feel the full brunt
of the law and void any insurance you thought you may have had.
If you don't
ride a motorcycle in your own country, Thailand is NOT the place to
The majority of drivers & riders in Thailand are
far more road savvy and patient than we are. It is extremely rare to see
or encounter any form of Road Rage from a Thai driver.
Driving around Phuket
Island is quite safe and easy. The traffic moves at a constant pace,
so long as you are aware of your surroundings and
drive defensively, you should not have a problem.
On the mainland, touring the major highways is far more pleasurable
with excellent road networks, good road surfaces and far less
Driving Permit - Australian Automobile Associations
All Other Countries - Where to apply for International Driving Permits
While driving anywhere in Thailand
people may overtake on bends, hills and
everywhere else in between, so be aware and vigilant.
While driving on
the highways you will often see large trucks in front of you turn on
their left or right indicator. The left means it is safe to
over take and the right means it is not safe. This is the
reverse of what we do in Australia so be aware.
You will often see
vehicles approaching you from behind flashing their lights and using
their horn, use common sense and move to the left to let them pass.
If you are at a
roundabout, once again use your common sense and inch out slowly
into the traffic, Thai's are usually courteous drivers and will let
Remember that right
of way essentially belongs the the larger vehicles!
dangerous drivers in Thailand (other than drink drivers) are
predominately Foreign Tourists who can't ride a motorcycle and quite
often will ride two or three abreast, looking at maps, no helmet &
completely oblivious to other traffic.
Self driving through Thailand can be a very pleasurable chapter of
your Thai holiday.
It allows you the freedom to explore at will, to see and experience
far more of the Kingdom than you thought possible.
So follow the local road rules, drive defensively, stay alert, keep
up with the traffic flow, have your permit and license in order and
you should not have any problems at all.
If you are a
safe, defensive and confident driver, give it a go, you wonít be
Link to Thai Road Signs