Thailand

Foreign Driver Rating: !!! clearly you enjoy a driving challenge; also drives on the wrong side

Thailand has a reputation as a difficult place to drive. That reputation is overstated. In general, the road conditions are good (aside from in the impoverished east of the country) and people generally do not blow through red lights (unlike, say, in India). While there are indeed crazy traffic jams in Bangkok, they are not worse than New York – and you see fewer of New York’s random “2am traffic jams,” which never cease to amaze me.

Also, the roadside food at Thai highway rest areas is among the world’s best (although spiciest). Thailand is generally a rich enough country that you are in most cases fairly safe eating in roadside stalls.

That said, if it’s your first time driving on the wrong side of the road, I wouldn’t pick Thailand as your place to try it out. You will usually want to have a Road Obstruction Canary, unless you are on a major expressway, and you will find a fair number of Third World Vehicles on the roads. Also, because a lot of the cars in Thailand are made for the Japanese market, you’ll find the windshield wiper and turning signal levers reversed.

There are some pre-car roads, but not as many as you would expect. Thailand has an old civilization, but outside of a few areas along rivers, the country was largely unsettled up to the 20th century. Hence much of the country was made for the motorcar, although often with some very bad urban planning.

Note that so few people rent cars in Thailand that, as of 2017, to return the car to the Bangkok Airport, you pull up to the curb at airport departures, put on the hazards, and leave your rental car there as you run into the Rent-A-Car desk and tell them you’ve brought it back.

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Roads in Thailand can be a challenge, although not as bad as its reputation would suggest. Photo by the author.