Tips for Driving in Bangkok
Bangkok is a great city when it comes to cars and enthusiasm for driving. From everyday people to diehard car fans, the excellent road infrastructure of Bangkok sees plenty of traffic. The variety of the automobiles on the road rivals any megacity in the world. The buses, cars, motorbikes, trucks and vans of Bangkok all drive through the city in their own way. When renting a car in Bangkok, it is important to follow the traffic rules as you would in every country but there are many customs here that might differ from other countries. As such, Bangkok is a safe place to drive your car but it is better to be prepared for any incidents that might interrupt your smooth ride. Here are some tips for driving effectively in Bangkok.
Driving Orientation and Basic Etiquette
In Thailand, the motorists drive on the left side of the road. Thailand joins the UK, India and even Japan along with a clutch of other countries that drives on the left, which means that the driver sits on the right side.
Changing lanes in Thailand is not a tricky affair. Just use the indicator to show which lane you switching to at least 20-25 metres away from the actual turn. Most Thai drivers will slow down and let you go, there are some notable exceptions that might not obey this rule but we will get to them later.
Lane changing can be a little more challenging at turns and at turns after signals. This is because drivers tend to lose lane discipline in an attempt to get to faster lanes. Overall, lane discipline in Bangkok is maintained in all but a few instances.
U-turn lanes are clearly demarcated and it is very easily to follow the lane and make the turn. Some turns are specifically marked as ‘No U-Turn’ spots, so keep that in mind.
Motorcyclists and Other Motorists
When driving in Asia, the behaviour of the motorcyclists and scooter riders is very different from the rest of the world. These motorists tend to fill up or pass through any gap they can find in traffic. While this is more prevalent in the other Asian countries, Thai riders are known for some reckless driving from time to time.
It is not uncommon to see motorcycles or scooters riding the wrong way in the left-most lane from time to time. They don’t continue like this for long distances but they do this to avoid taking longer routes. Before changing lanes and overtaking ensure that you check for bikes approaching from the rear, especially in the general blind spot.
Bikes and scooters tend to ride between the lanes and go through spots to move to the front during a traffic signal. They collect at the front of the pack and wait for the signal to change before driving any further. Motorcyclists and scooter riders are prone to some reckless driving so drive cautiously around them.
Commercial pickup trucks, buses and commuter vans tend to be more aggressive drivers. They are less likely to let you pass or change lanes ahead of them. This does not result in rash or dangerous driving but it is better to give them more leeway, in most cases.
Police, Pedestrians and Smaller Streets
The pedestrians in Bangkok are mostly law-abiding especially on the larger streets and on highways. You will rarely see pedestrians cross in the middle of the street or without a zebra crossing.
The smaller streets of Bangkok, or ‘sois’ are where traffic rules are looser. Pedestrians tend to cross where they can here and with an absence of police in many of these streets, other motorists take advantage of the lax enforcement. The police are more prevalent than before in Bangkok but they are very helpful. Ensure that you have your documents in order and in the car when the police ask you to present it to them and they will let you go in a short time.
When you rent a car from Carspool, you can speak to our representative to learn more about the city and its driving customs.