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Driving in Thailand

If you are new to Phuket or Thailand you will have found that the driving practices are somewhat different from your home country.


Thursday 18 August 2016, 12:07PM

Driving in Thailand

In many Asian countries it seems to be that red traffic lights are somewhat of a suggestion rather than a rule. Yes, it is advisable to stop at a red light, but you may choose to proceed at your own risk! A little more difficult to get used to is the accepted practice of motorbikes driving into oncoming traffic from the opposite direction (to take a shortcut). Be alert at all times. Pedestrians should also be aware that sidewalks are not always only for pedestrians.
To obtain a Thai driver’s licence or not, that is the question. Strictly speaking, it is a legal requirement and you will find that in the event of an accident, your insurance may not be valid if you do not have a Thai driver’s licence or International Driver’s Permit. If you are staying a while, it’s a good idea. If you do the groundwork to obtain all the necessary documents beforehand, it is a fairly straightforward process.

You will need:

1) Photocopies of your passport photo page, current visa stamp and entry card.
2) A health certificate (cheaply and easily obtainable from medical clinics. Must be less than one month old.)
3) Proof of registration of residence or work permit (obtainable from Immigration).
4) Photocopy of your home country licence or International Driver’s Permit.
Submit all the documents at the Phuket Provincial Land Transfer office in Phuket Town between 8:30am and 9:30am and you will be given a reaction test (to show you can break quickly – a skill quite often needed!) and a colour-blind test. You are also required to watch a one-hour video (in Thai with English subtitles) about the Thai traffic regulations. After that, payment is made, a photo is taken and you have a two-year licence that can be renewed near to the expiry date to a five-year licence. Do the happy dance and drive yourself (legally) to one of the PIWC’s monthly luncheons or many activities!
Further info on driver’s licences can be obtained at:

Meet and Greet Coffee mornings are held every second Thursday of the month at 10.30am at Starbucks in Central Festival. Monthly luncheons are held every third Thursday of the month at various venues around the island. For more information please see our website:



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CaptainJack69 | 21 August 2016 - 13:02:37

Very good, it's important for people to know the facts and do their best to be legal. Be warned though, it's the tendency of government entities here to change their requirements on a whim so be prepared for anything.

For instance it's my experience that they wont accept ANY foreign license other than an international permit obtained from your home country. This can then be used to obtain a Thai license which will be valid for 2 years, after which it can be renewed for 5 years. But notice that it will only get you one license, either car or motorbike (in Thailand they are separate). You will have to sit a test, 2 part, multiple-choice theory and car-park practical to get the other license. In fact you may have to sit the theory anyway. Of course if you don't have the international permit then you'll need to do driving tests for both as well as the theory test. All this can be done in 1 day but go early to beat the queues.

It's well worth doing because insurance companies will definitely not pay out if they find out the driver didn't have a Thai license. Plus you can use it as ID everywhere and not have to carry your passport with you for things like bank and mobile phone services, etc.

Oh, and the video has English audio, terrible English 555.

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