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Cathy and Garys Travel Pages Phuket


Driving in Thailand
Driving in Thailand - Hire Car
Riding In Thailand
Driving in Thailand - Hire Car
Driving in Thailand
Driving in Thailand

This is some general information for anyone interested or concerned about driving in Thailand.

Over 30 years of driving extensively (car and motorcycles) throughout SE Asia, in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand, it has afforded me many varied and extremely interesting experiences.

The Golden Rule of driving in South East Asia:


 Drive defensively, and drive to the road and weather conditions always. 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 fault.


Car and minivan hire Phuket
Big Bike Hire Nickys Handlebar Phuket
Car Hire Thailand

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 be.  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/license, stay calm and respectful then you will not have a problem.

Pay close 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 PERMIT.
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 driver’s 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. 

Travel Insurance

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 and you hold the correct licenses you will be covered. Make sure your policy covers bike hire and also double check that your policy covers the size of the bike you want to hire, there are quite a few companies that cover for big bike hire at no extra cost.

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.


Khanom Thailand
Nothing better than driving yourself around Thailand
Driving Thailand

Vendors will 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 bike license and 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 learn.

Be Polite

The majority of drivers and 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 some excellent road networks, good road surfaces and far less traffic.

International Driving Permit - Australian Automobile Associations


All Other Countries - Where to apply for International Driving Permits

Driving Tips

When driving anywhere in Thailand people may overtake on bends, hills and everywhere else in between, so be aware and vigilant.

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 overtake 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 you in.

Remember that right of way essentially even if not legally belongs to the larger vehicles!

Our trusty car Bluey

The most 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, taking photos, no helmets and 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 won’t be sorry.

Link to Thai Road Signs

We have traveled thousands of kilometers in our trusty Bluey
Nothing better than having our own car
Driving Thailand
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