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Renting a car in Thailand

Compared to its neighbors’ roads, Thailand’s are smooth and wide. But just because the roads aren’t as awful as say, Cambodia’s, doesn’t mean that driving here is a pleasant experience. Traffic laws and flows are much different than at home, and you also have the added stress of driving on the left side of the road. Motorbikes, vendor carts and tuk-tuks weave in and out of lanes, often passing on blind turns. I’ve yet to see a turn signal being used. And if you get in an accident, you’ll have to deal with a major language barrier.

That being said, once you get outside of major cities, driving in Thailand can be a great way to tour the country at your own pace. If you’re aware of the rules of the road and drive slowly,  you should be able to enjoy a road trip holiday that most visitors to Thailand never do.

Officially, you need an International Driving Permit to rent a car or motorcycle in Thailand. This document is essentially a translation of your original license, which you’ll also need to have. US citizens can obtain one through the American Automobile Association for $15.

Make sure you have adequate insurance through your rental company. At the least you’ll need liability coverage, but better rental companies offer comprehensive insurance. Check the dates and extent of the coverage before you sign anything.

Though smaller, local companies generally offer cheaper rates, they also tend to have older cars. Global companies are generally easy to deal with and have better services; you can search many companies at once for a car rental in Thailand by using a service such as

Finally, remember to relax and slow down – you’re on holiday in Thailand, after all! Allow time for mishaps, detours, and traffic jams, and simply go with the flow of traffic.

More information:

Transportation in Thailand
Thailand Maps

[Photo credit: Argenberg, Flickr]