Driving in Thailand:
If you are a confident driver, you will find Thailand easy to navigate but there are a few things you really
do need to know.
Rule one Learn the rules of the road..
Rule two Always obey rule one..
Obtaining a vehicle?
For a motorcycle, you do not need a driving license, only your passport and sometimes proof of which hotel you
are staying at.
A car is the same as a motorcycle but you must have a driving license. Often at the point of hire you won't be asked for it but if you don't have a full license do not hire a car or you will be committing an offence just like anywhere else.
What not to hire?
Avoid the Toyota Altus and Corolla Altis, both of which make your right calf muscle ache and have a stupid dashboard.
In Bangkok, have an automatic. In holiday resorts, have a motorbike. If you are touring with suitcases, do not
hire a pick up truck or Jeep.
Check out the Do's and Dont's page.
Where to hire a motorcycle?
Most of the motorcycle hire is provided by small private businesses that are not regulated. All of the holiday destinations
have them and they are easy to find. If you see a bike that takes your fancy do check it over before hiring it. If you take
one away and it proves to have a fault, take it straight back and change it.
The common faults seem to be tyre treads and pressures, lights, indicators, and brakes. These machines are not serviced, Thai's fix things when they are broke and even then it can mean a piece of string and some tape.
If you scratch it, dent it, fall off it or even if you take it back and tell them it has a fault, you will lose your deposit.
I once had a bike on hire until 11.00am, I told the guy I would return it at 7.00am because I had a flight to catch. I didn't get there until 8.00am and had to negotiate the return of my deposit because I was, according to him and regardless of my printed agreement, late.
If you're going to Pattaya you will find rows of bikes along Beach Road all of which are for hire. Ask how much first (see language section for how to ask though almost everyone in Pattaya speaks a little English) and whatever they say, offer about two thirds and if it is quiet season, offer them half.
I was once told the rediculous price of 450Baht for 24 hours. We eventually agreed on 300Baht for two days.
It might be tempting to hire a superbike and I have seen several tourists come unstuck. It is too hot so you will discard
helmet and protective clothing. There are too many pot holes so you will fall off. You will open it up and you will get
stopped by the Police.
Insurance is not a requirement on Thailand's roads and if you wreck the bike you will be expected to pay for it, so make sure you ask about insurance cover. Do not make the mistake of thinking you will be leaving soon so stuff it, that is not how it works in Thailand (see the legal bit in Rules of the road).
Sadly someone recently said to me 'They always look to get one over the falang'. I say sadly because this is an indictment to our perception of Thai. The same rules apply to Thai or visitors but the Thai assume we do everything the same way in our country as they do in theirs. They presume we know..
The above pretty much applies to all the holiday spots, Bangkok, Hua Hin, Koh's Samui, Lanta, Chang, Krabi, Phuket, but you might have to ask a local for where there are rentals in the cities. A lot of the bike shops also hire and if the one you ask doesn't they will know who does.
Where to hire a car?
All the airports have car hire in the arrivals. Avis, Budget, Hertz etc. charge the equivalent to our hire charges which I
find ridiculous when the cost of living is a third of the UK. The big companies are ripping you off.
The further out you get from Bangkok the cheaper it gets but you should get a four door saloon in Bangkok for 1400 a day and in the provinces for 900. They will ask you for a lot more so tell them it was cheaper last time.
In Suvarnabuhmi Airport
wander around the mall, one of the reps will approach you. Tell them you want to hire a car.
They will arrange everything and I recommend Mr. Long or to give him his full name Khumpun Sungtho. You will find him, he's the one who is 6'2". You can also find his details in the Links page.
In Don Muang
there were a couple of privately owned car rentals but with the impending closure I have no idea if they are still there. Avis still have an office but I personally won't pay £60 a day on principle. If you really have to pick up from there you could pre-arrange with Maneeda Tour (again, see Links) or try Thai Car Hire. There is a problem with Internet pre-book though, they take the deposit immediately off your credit card plus 3 or even 6% visa charge and your credit card company will also charge you for overseas use. Then when you return the car, presumably at the airport as you go home, they give you your refund in Thai Baht which you then cash back to euros or GBP with another charge. At times you feel like you could have bought the bloody car.
In Udon Thani International
there is only one choice, Mali Thai Car Rent. Their office is to your right just before you exit the terminus.
Like all Thai assistants the opening gambit is 'I can do a very special deal just for you today'. Tell them it's too much and haggle the price down. I printed out thaicarhire.com's web page and took it with me, Mali matched the price.
At Phuket Airport
look for AirportCarRent (see Links), it's right out the front of the terminal but on the other side of the 4031 or locally called Moo 6. You don't need to haggle with Jip (Supatra Jumpathong), she'll do you a great deal anyway but keep alert to how much the going rate is. There is no charge for pre-book if you do it by phone and they will arrange to meet you at the airport.
Out of the Airport?
A few metres along Soi 4 in Pattaya is a yellow rather rickety booth with a sign offering transfer to Suvarnabuhmi Airport for 800Baht and parked next to it is a pick up truck with, in the windscreen, a hand written cardboard sign that says 'FOR HIRE'. I asked the guy one day how much? and obviously for me and only for today it was a special deal of 600Baht. You see these trucks parked up along Beach Road and I know they also exist in Karon and Chalong and many other holiday spots including Bangkok. Be aware' it is very likely not insured or if it is, it is only for the owner, so make sure you ask. There are also small businesses such as Aey's Jeep & Motorbike in Koh Samui. He sells cars and bikes, rents bicycles, motorbikes and even apartments and he's reasonable and will barter. I don't know this company myself, but people who do, speak highly of them.
If you're going somewhere I haven't mentioned and want to source a vehicle feel free to Contact me with where, when, and what vehicle you want. I don't rent cars and neither am I an agent but I may know someone who is.