Driving in any foreign country can be a daunting prospect regardless of where you are in the World and Thailand is certainly no different and perhaps more daunting! The Thai’s usual polite, reserve demeanor if left behind upon entering a motor vehicle and an every man for themselves and aggressive manner takes control! So long as you are aware of a few potential pitfalls and peculiarities you will be fine, so here are 5 points that can help you along the way!
1. Flashing lights means I am coming through!
In many western countries, the flashing of headlights meanings ‘after you my good man’ in a polite, friendly manner. Sadly in Thailand it has a completely different meaning that basically translates to – ‘get out of my way I am coming through!’ Don’t expect someone to let you pass because it seems like the sensible thing to do – this is likely to lead to an accident or at the very least vigorous horn blowing and more flashing of lights!
2. Lots of people don’t have a license!
Most people assume that holding a valid driving license is a pre-requisite of driving a car, sadly in Thailand although it is illegal not to have a license many people decide not to bother getting one! Not only do many drivers not have a license, they won’t have had any lessons to boot – so beware, anything may happen and usual does!
3. Odd and Even parking days in some areas
Parking can be restricted in Thailand. Often this is linked to times of the day but can also be connected to the day of the month. For example on even days in the month you can only park on the right hand side of the road or perhaps not at all. Signs SHOULD be around to advise you of this, but a good rule of thumb is to do what everyone else does and don’t be different from the crowd!
4. Free left turn at traffic lights
At many (but not all) traffic lights you are free to turn left regardless of the colour of the lights. The etiquette should be give way to the right but is often down to who has the larger vehicle! Again try and be aware of the situation and proceed with caution.
5. Undertaking IS illegal!
Regardless of how people drive, undertaking (passing on the inside) is illegal in Thailand. It is never advisable to undertake anyone but be careful of those budding Lewis Hamilton’s looking to try the manoeuvre on you!