It is important to be aware of the cultural differences involved when driving in Thailand. Below is a general account of Thai standards and procedures on the road that will help save you potential stress and confusion.
There is a good network of well maintained highways and roads between major towns and most of the north-south route is dual carriageway. Road signs follow international standards and are in both English and Thai and motorists drive on the left hand side of the road.
Heavy trucks dominate the roads at night so night driving is not usually recommended as truck drivers in Thailand have little respect for cars.
Outside of the major towns and around resort areas driving is both a safe and enjoyable experience.
Bangkok has a very poor reputation for traffic conditions as the city is very overcrowded with traffic so if you are unfamiliar with the city it makes it very difficult. Thai people are very calm and do not show anger and take offence by other people showing it so drivers are usually well mannered and polite but traffic directions and entry and exit locations often change during the day but they are seldom advised by signs and none are in English.
The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is 60km per hour and varies between 90 and 120km per hour on main and country road outside the city centres and the police apply regular speed checks. Seat belts are compulsory and drink drive laws apply which makes insurance invalid if drivers exceed the legal limit.
All kinds of fuel is readily available with petrol stations being in plentiful supply. Most of the larger ones will accept major international credit cards. In remote locations cash will be needed.
All drivers must hold a current, non-probationary licence either Thai or from their own country but if it is not Thai or English they must carry an English translation or an international driving licence. A valid passport must be carried at all times.
You will need a Thai driving licence as opposed to an international drivers licence once you have been in Thailand for more than 3 months.
If you get stopped by the police you will almost definitely get a fine of about B400, about £6, but if you are lucky it will be just B200, or £3. To get stopped you have done something wrong even if you don't know what it was! It is advisable to discreetly pay the money and never argue or lose your temper as it will cost your more.. Don’t expect a receipt for the money and you will never know if it is a genuine fine or whether it is being pocketed as a bribe.
When parking your car, never put your handbrake on (only where the car won't roll) and it is normal to double or triple park, therefore blocking other people in. If you find yourself blocked in, all you need do is simply push the other cars out the way!!
Never park in front of railings or a kurb which are painted red and white.
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