Elwood's Thai Adventures

Driving in Thailand

Driving in Thailand

Do you have a need for an adrenaline rush?  Do you have a sense of adventure?  Do you have a death wish?  Try driving in Thailand; better still try driving a scooter in Thailand.

Now to be honest, I have not driven in many places in this world.  Canada, the States, even Mexico but driving in Thailand is an adventure.  There are no laws or rules of the road here, at least none that are followed.  The police turn a blind eye to just about anything, except maybe for the odd “safety check” blitz, but that usually is simply a shake down for Baht.  Motorcycle and scooter helmets are required but only by the driver and again very rarely enforced.  Lights at night apparently are optional also and some young Thai’s will actually disable the rear light so that they can escape police pursuit if one arises.

Anything that can be transported on a scooter is.  I’ve seen metal poles twenty feet long sticking out the front and back of a scooter zipping along and with no flags at either end I might add.  Groceries, laundry, jugs of water, you name it and I’ve probably seen it.  I’ve even carried these things myself.  Oh and did I mention families?  Yes, I’ve seen families of four and five on one scooter.  Dad driving, Mom behind him, a child behind her, a toddler standing up in front of Dad and a baby wedged in between Mom and Dad.  And at best Dad has the helmet on because like I said, helmets are required by the driver.

One other learning curve here, for North Americans anyway, is they drive on the left side of the road.  It takes a bit to get used to and I’ve even turned into oncoming traffic a couple of times myself.  Curves, hills, oncoming traffic are meaningless if the person you are following is going slower than you want to be, you just pass.  Even if you only have to get past them for another fifty meters before you want to suddenly pull over, you just pass.  I think I’ve crapped myself a couple of times when a big dump truck or cement mixer has pulled out to pass a car or bike and heads straight for us.

For the most part, stop lights are obeyed, for the most part.  I think this is mostly from self-preservation than any fear of punishment though.  I’ve seen cars and scooters wiz through red lights with not so much as a sounding of a horn.  I’ve gone through them myself.  And stop signs are not to be found here.  This is how you approach and proceed through an intersection without a stop light, at least Thai Style.  First approach with all the speed of a driver with no intension of stopping, do not look for traffic coming from the direction you intend to merge with.  By not making eye contact, you do not have to assume any of the responsibility and you can rest assured that any approaching traffic will swerve enough to allow you at least partial use of the road.  At this point you simple turn onto the road, staying to the side as best that you want until you feel the need to blend into traffic.  It is harrowing and something I don’t know if I will ever be able to get used to.

All this makes it no surprise that Thailand is 2nd in the world for Road Fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants with 36.2 per year.  We’ve seen so many people here with road rash burns, missing limbs, broken and not healed properly limbs and those were just the lucky ones.

By all means though, when you come here, rent a scooter.  It’s only about 200 to 300 baht a day and is far cheaper than the taxi’s.  Not in Bangkok though, I wouldn’t ride a scooter in Bangkok for any reason.  Take the BTS when you're there.

Please comment and share your experiences driving.  Thx

Related Comments

Leave your comment


Clicking Helps Us

Thank You!