Parking in Thailand

Hi everyone

I'm coming back again to northern Thailand in a few weeks and this time im going to rent a car in Chiang Rai.

Something ive never thought about before is parking. From previous visits, i can't remember seeing any rules about parking. Can you get fined for parking your car in inappropriate places? What about where should i be parking my car overnight if guest houses don't have space. If i suddenly want to grab a water from a shop, can i pull over and park more or less anywhere as long as its safe.  I have no idea about this :-) i dont remember seeing car parks ever in Thailand?!

Also im thinking about using ThaiRentACar but if people have recommendations, i'm all ears


Let me assure you we are not as primitive as you might think.  Occasionally I park next to the curb but usually it is between the white lines in a designated parking stall.  People do double-park in some areas but nobody appreciates those inconsiderate people and the inconvenience they cause others.  You might get away with it but you won't make any friends in the process.  Parking at the Mall, here in Chiang Rai, is a real mess these days as they are in the process of building a multistory parking garage in one area and a condominium in another, leaving very little onsite parking.

Obviously you will need to discuss parking options with the guest house owner if possible.  The hired help probably ride scooters and have little knowledge of parking.  Traffic cones are often used to keep people from parking where they are not supposed to and red and white lines are painted on the curb where they don't want you to park.

Another thing to think about, you can usually turn left on a red light if it is clear but there are two different signs which are often posted at congested intersections.  They are both in Thai and one says you can turn left at any time while the other one says you need to wait for the light.  Simply learning to recognize the last word on the sign will be enough to keep you from making the wrong move.

Being too fixated on driving rules and being intolerant of people who do silly things on the road will not help you to remain safe on the road.  Just figure it is up to you to keep yourself out of harms way and not up to others to get out of your way.

If you plan to rent a car make sure it has nothing less than 1 class insurance and it says so in rental agreement.

The link below gives the best description of Thai style of driving.  If you cannot adapt to their style and suffer from road rage I would not rent a car. … dents-p169

@villagefarang - thanks so much for your reply, that definitely gives me more of an idea of what to expect
@straydog - wow! That link is incredible, the writer has such a good way of explaining how to understand the traffic rather than simply thinking ‘Thai people drive crazy' (which is true but at least i can understand the craziness somewhat more nowand anticipate it a little more). That article should be handed out with all landing cards into Thailand and maybe there would be less farang accidents.

I have been driving in Thailand for nearly 5 years and the standard here is atrocious.
I have been driving for nearly 58 years and never have an accident though i have done over 3 million KM in my home country as I was taught in the Police to drive defensively and park in designated parking areas.
Here I drive slower than ever before
Have a dash cam front and rear and as the other writers say do not have "Thai eyes" but eyes like a chameleon or try to be like that. Buy a dash cam it is an investment  and they are real cheap on Lazada.
The driving "rules" here are basically nonexistent and parking in my village which has a six lane wide main road creates congestion as the people park 3 deep on each side.
Motorbikes do not have rear view mirrors or are used to put on lipstick or speak to your three friends sitting behind you on the bike  and when an  indicator is flickering all you know the globe is working.
I try to park correctly and will rather walk than triple or double park. The Thais in the village think this Farang is crazy to park more than 10 feet from my destination.
In Thailand just your your common sense for any driving and parking here adapted to Thailand and not Thai common sense and you will be fine
Enjoy lovely Thailand

Hi Barry, I really like your post, im probably only going to be driving max for a couple of weeks, rest of the time will be in chiang dao and chiang mai, I'm not brave enough to drive in chiang mai city...possibly ever...but chiang rai seems plausable.

I looked on lazada, I'm from the uk so I might get something from ebay but do you think I'm better off not driving or getting a driver? I know ultimately I'll make my own mind up on this but this is my sixth visit to Thailand so I am fairly familiar. On my second visit I stupidly rented a scooter without a bike licence and rode in pai and then - hold your breathe - chiang mai city. After four days, I started to feel like I was a ‘sitting duck' and took the bike back.  I've never been interested in riding a bike since, I understand it is ‘the' mode of transport in thailand and a lot of farang ride with the right gear but it's not for me. I am also not keen to hire a driver because I want to feel free, it's hard to explain! My plan is to rent a car from chiang rai airport from Hertz or similar, I don't even care if I pay a bit over the normal price, I just want a good vehicle :)  I really would love to drive down the 1148 too...ahhhh!! But renting a driver, I could tell him where to go, although really I just want to generally explore and enjoy the feel of driving! I suppose another plus is I could get to practice my Thai with them!

The 1148 is a good choice.  Once you get to Nan there are several nice driving roads through the mountains.

I think you will be fine driving in Thailand
Dont get a driver then you can blame nobody for any possible accident
Just get a dashcam. Here the roads have side entrances in the bush you cannot see and the mbikes just appear in front of you
When you stop at a red light slow down even it is green and check your rearview mirror
It is actually fun driving here if you keep your cool which I sometimes feel I cannot and would like to lob a grenade in the car  or mbike "appearing" from above in front of you
Rent a car like a Toyota Vios.Honda City etc and automatic and you will be fine.You are the boss and not the car or the Thais.
Dont look around when driving as said vehicles appear from above or so it seems.
Keep left even though the Thais think that is illegal
Have a great fun trip
Thailand is  great and a challenge to drive in. Your UK licence is valid for a year here
Dont even consider a scooter except if you have a suicide wish
I rather walk than drive on any  mbike etc and some medical do not pay
Get full insurance,it's worth it

I recently spent a couple of months in Udon Thani. In the last couple of weeks I met a Thai friend and I drove her vehicle to Mukdahan (Eastern Border) and back. Then we drove to Chang Mai and onto Pai and back to Udon Thani. I did all the driving - about 2,500 km, and had no problems (including in the cities). Once you spend a day behind the wheel, you will get more comfortable.