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How to drive in Thailand

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When driving in Thailand, it's important to adapt as there are likely to be different road rules and common practices than in your home country, and refusing to acknowledge them can be dangerous. In Thailand, drivers drive on the left-hand side of the road, although this is sometimes not adhered to. Although the country's road networks are relatively well developed compared to other countries in Asia, you can still come across areas where roadwork isn't clearly indicated or dangerous turns aren't highlighted.

You should also be aware of anything crossing your path, even on highways — from dogs and monitor lizards, to children. Roundabouts are not common in Thailand, as many people simply do U-turns. When there is a roundabout, it's important to enter cautiously, as people tend to force their way through.

 Good to know:

When you hear honking, it's probably not directed at you, as this is common practice amongst Thais when passing a temple or a sacred place.

How to obtain a driver's licence

To obtain or renew a Thai driving license, you will need to go to your nearest Land Transport Office. Required documents can vary depending on the office, so it's best to phone your local office beforehand to find out exactly what you need.

Generally, you will be required to submit the following documents if you are applying for the first time:

  • A signed photocopy and translation of your national driving licence.
  • A signed photocopy of the information page and visa page of your passport.
  • A medical certificate, which can be issued at any hospital or clinic for up to THB100.
  • A proof of address in Thailand.

If you can’t speak Thai, it is a good idea to bring along a Thai friend who can translate for you, and to arrive at the office in the morning.

Once you have completed the application form and submitted your documents, you will need to pay the fee for a one-year licence. If you already have a national driving licence, you don’t have to take a driving or a written test about regulations, but you will need to take a colour test. While your permit is being processed, you may be required to attend a screening of a DVD that will highlight a few basic aspects of Thai traffic law. You should then receive your permit, which will be valid for one year. After a year, you can renew it for five years, as long as you have a valid Non-Immigrant Visa.

 Good to know:

Photographs aren't needed for your application , as they will take your picture at the Land Transport Office.

Annual tax registration renewal

If you have a motorbike or a car, you will have to renew the registration, which comes in the form of a tax sticker, each year. This is an easy process if your car or bike is less than five years old, as you simply need to go to your local Land Transport Office with your vehicle documents and proof that you have paid the P.R.B. (Compulsory Motor Insurance) for the following year.

The fee for the tax sticker depends on the type and age of your vehicle, and the fee is the same each year for the first five years. It is then reduced by 10% each year up to a maximum of 50%.

If your car or bike is older than five years old, it will need to undergo a technical inspection at a certified garage before you can apply to renew your registration. If your vehicle passes the test, you will be issued with a certificate that you will need to present at the Land Transport Office, along with the vehicle book and proof that you have paid the motor insurance.

  Useful links:

Thai Department of Transportation
Application for a driver's license

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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