Driving in Thailand is something of a challenge with people experiencing a series of different emotions from sheer panic to amusement to complete disbelief.
Although the country has quite strict laws regarding driving they are rarely adhered to and this can be quite hard for foreigners to fathom. However, if you learn to keep your wits about you, stay calm and expect the unexpected, your chances of having an accident will be at least reduced!
For most tourists, the easiest way to get around Pattaya is by motorbike. Taxis are plentiful but the chances are that you would prefer a little bit more freedom. Renting a twist and go scooter is the easiest and safest option at first, especially if you have little experience or haven’t ridden in Thailand before. You can explore to your heart’s content and are far easier to park than even the smallest of cars – something that you will quickly discover.
Many rental shops will offer larger engine bikes that may appear appealing although the temptation should be avoided unless you have plenty of experience riding larger bikes in your home country or elsewhere overseas. An increasing number of police checkpoints means that having at least an international driving license is a must unless you would like your sightseeing of Pattaya to include a trip to the local police station. It may seem a novelty but is something that is best avoided.
On a similar note, the temptation to drink and drink is always there. The simple advice here is don’t. Park your bike up somewhere safe for the evening and leave it there until the morning, taking a motorbike taxi home yourself. Alternatively, you could ask one of the friendly drivers to drive your bike home on your behalf, although this requires two drivers unless you fancy putting them up for the night which probably wouldn’t be appreciated by anyone.
Speed is something of a serious issue in Pattaya especially amongst the local youngsters but you should avoid doing this yourself. The need to be aware of what is around you is far greater in Thailand than it is in most other countries so driving too fast just adds another unnecessary factor into an already complex equation. Having accident insurance is advisable and this is available from most of the local banks for around 2000 Thai Baht. This is a small price to pay and could save you a lot of heartache and financial trouble.
Possibly the biggest hazard on Pattaya’s roads in the baht bus or, more to the point, their drivers. It would appear as an outsider that the need to fail a driving test is one of the main criteria for getting the job. Stopping without any warning, driving too quickly and switching lanes without looking seems to come with the territory. Should you be disgruntled with their driving, it is best to avoid confrontation and keep them at a safe distance. There will only be one winner and it won’t be you regardless of who is the in right or wrong.
If you are planning to live in Thailand then a Thai driving licence is a must as the international license only lasts for 60 days. If you have a valid license in your home country there will be no requirement to take to practical test but you will need to do the theory and other fairly basic tests. A medical certificate and proof of residency will be required along with your passport. This should be taken to the driving test centre which is located near to the Regent’s School on the 36 Highway. More details on the costs and procedure for applying will be available on our website at driving.pattaya.guide
In summary, motorbikes give you that extra freedom to really explore every nook and cranny on Pattaya. However, they and the roads should be treated with respect and caution. Tens of people die on Thailand’s roads every day and sadly this is largely due to poor driving by one party or another. Thais can often leave their usual impeccable manners at home once stepping into a vehicle so always ere on the side of caution.