You can’t comprehend how large Bangkok truly is until you see it for yourself. It is legendary for many reasons, and one of these reasons is its notorious traffic.
Hiring a car in Bangkok can be a great option for those visiting the city, but it takes a little know-how regarding the rules of Bangkok’s traffic patterns.
Peak Traffic Times
Like most cities, 7:00 to 9:00 AM is morning rush hour. People from the surrounding suburbs make their way into and through the sprawling streets, and locals hop on motorbike taxis to zip between cars on their way to work.
The afternoon traffic for commuters is from 4:00 to 7:00 PM. However, many schools get out around 3:00; the rush of students alone is enough to congest the roads, so afternoon traffic is typically worse than morning traffic.
Going Against the Grain
Because morning commuters drive into the city from the suburbs, for those planning to head out of town for a day trip, the morning is a great time to leave. Very few people leave the city during the day, so highways leaving the city will be mostly clear. Just be sure and allow extra time to navigate city centre traffic to make it to the highway.
Similarly, in the afternoons, daytrippers heading back into the city won’t see too much traffic. The only problem with this strategy is what happens when it is time to exit the highway and get into the centre of Bangkok.
Navigating the City Proper
Finding your way around the grid without the gridlock can be challenging. Here are a few tips from the pros on how to navigate downtown Bangkok:
Sometimes, it isn’t an option to avoid peak hours, but there are ways to make it easier. Staying away from major thoroughfares is a must. In times of high traffic, side roads are your friend.
Tread carefully, as many side roads of Bangkok are one-way only. Having an app, such as Google Maps or Waze, is essential to navigating the side streets. A couple of well-planned twists and turns can help avoid the worst traffic jams of the main roads.
When changing lanes, signal well in advance, and make lane changes slowly. That way, the faster motorbikes will have time to slow down and go around you.
Keeping your eyes peeled can allow you to take advantage of a gap in the traffic. These small miracles appear every so often during traffic in Bangkok, but only for those who are paying attention.
Paying your way to the head of the line is always a possibility. When travelling between districts in Bangkok that are far from each other, paying $5 for a trip on the tollway can buy back a whole afternoon.
Be sure and keep an eye on the navigation apps because entrances to the toll roads can be a bit tricky. Always keep small bills and change handy to quickly pay tolls without issue.
Travel to the airport during peak hours means the toll roads are a necessity. They offer the absolute fastest way to get there.
Drive Thai Style
In Thailand, slower traffic stays to the left and the faster traffic drives to the right. Those new to Thailand’s roads are advised to be ‘Sabai.’ The word can roughly be translated as ‘happy and care-free.’ Drive slowly on the left side of the road and avoid those in a hurry in the right lanes.
Keep a watchful eye out for any traffic entering from the left side. Anything from cars to motorbikes to curious street dogs may enter the road. The real secret to driving in Thai traffic is to stay calm.
Now that you have all the traffic advice you need, you need to find your ride. If you’re considering taking a trip to The Land of Smiles, Drive Car Rental has five convenient Bangkok locations, including locations at both major airports. This means you can easily have your own personal vehicle from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave!