Driving in Thailand



Navigating traffic in and around Bangkok and rural areas can prove to be a challenging experience. Traffic jams are a common sight and should you be caught in one, there is little you can do except grin and bear it. 

Traffic Conditions

The Thai people are peace loving and polite. Instances of road rage are very rare. However, most drivers on the roads are new and inexperienced. There is scant regard for traffic regulations. Usually, traffic in and around major cities like Bangkok is very hectic. Also, many of Bangkok's roads tend to be very confusing to drivers because the direction of traffic changes at certain hours. There may be reduction in the number of lanes as well thereby adding to the confusion.


There is a good network of roads across the country, particularly in and around Bangkok and the north-western parts. Roads are equipped with road signs in English and Thai.

Driving License

To be able to drive in Thailand, you must hold a current, non-probationary license issued in Thailand or your own country. Carry a Thai or English translation and don't forget your passport.

Driving with an International Driving Permit is not a good idea. If you intend to stay in Thailand for more than three months, you must apply for a Thai License. Documents required include a valid passport and non-immigrant visa, copies of the first page with the non-immigrant visa and the last page with the entry stamp and TM card, a certified letter from your embassy of International Bureau which is not more than 30 days old. You will need the services of an interpreter if you do not know Thai language. You will have to appear for 3 tests: color blindness test, reflex test and depth perception test following which you will have to pay a fee of 105 Baht to get a one year temporary Thai driving license.


Traffic in Thailand drives along the left side of the road. Prescribed speed limits vary in cities, towns and the countryside. Do not exceed 60kph in cities and towns and 90-120kph on main roads and roads outside city centers. Police apply speed checks regularly.

Seat belts are mandatory. Drink and drive laws are very strict.


Driving along the countryside, particularly at night, is far from safe. The situation gets very alarming around holidays and weekends. Drunk driving is a particularly serious problem in these parts.

Many cars have broken lights or no lights at all. Public buses can be menacing in their bid to race with other drivers. Traffic police are empowered to stop drivers and collect fines. Fines range between 300-400 Baht. Even if you are not on the wrong side of the law, it is advisable that you do not argue with the police. Pay the fine but do not be surprised if you don't get a receipt for the sum.

In Case of an Accident

All main roads and highways have 24-hour rescue teams that are prompt to respond in case of an accident. Police and ambulance services will arrive quickly. However, be prepared for some long drawn negotiations before a settlement is reached.