Renting a car as a tourist in Thailand is convenient and straightforward. Thailand also has excellent roads which make driving between cities a breeze. Tourists staying in Thailand for more than a couple of weeks can save big by choosing a long-term car rental.
Below, we’ll dive into some tips on navigating Thailand by car and some suggestions for destinations best reached by driving.
Things to Know
Most tourists will fly to one of three major airports: Bangkok, Phuket, or Chiang Mai. Drive Car Rental offers locations at each airport to make vehicle pick-up a snap. We also offer online reservations and a wide selection of vehicles.
First-time visitors should be aware that the tourist high season runs from November to April. Visitors arriving during these months should book their rental vehicle as far in advance as possible. This helps ensure the vehicle of your choice is available and might score you some discounts.
Downtown areas of Thailand’s cities often have narrow streets. In many cases, these are one way to help with the flow of traffic. Visitors planning to stay in the city can opt for compact cars that are better at navigating small spaces. The one-way streets mean that a GPS is recommended. A GPS can be added to any rental package and can help guide drivers to the best routes and save both time and money.
Finally, Drive Car Rental is proud to offer electric vehicles as an option for our customers. Thailand has an extensive electric vehicle charging network with thousands of locations in major cities and along highways, so it’s easier than ever to go green.
The Best Road Trip Destinations
The larger cities have plenty of sites to see and spectacles to amaze. However, vacationers who want to see the real Thailand should venture into smaller towns and countryside hideaways. Here are some fantastic trips that start from larger cities:
Outskirts of Bangkok
The capital of Thailand is a sprawling metropolis, but once you’re outside the city, the roads give way to rice fields and national parks in every direction. Consider checking out the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya, just two to three hours north of the city. This ancient capital of Thailand boasts thousands of structures from the 14th century onward.
To the east, Kanchanaburi and its famous waterfalls and national parks, such as Erawan, are another must-see. In Kanchanaburi City, explorers can visit the bridge over the River Kwai and take the train headed west. This historic railway built by the Japanese in WW2 offers stunning views, the best of which is the Wampo Viaduct, a cliff-hugging train line elevated nine metres above the river below.
Outside of Phuket
Beaches and nightlife aren’t everything Phuket has to offer. Phang Nga Bay to the north of the island is a stunning archipelago of more than forty islands. These aren’t ordinary islands, either–they are limestone karsts rising straight out of the water to a height of forty metres or more. Boat tours offering several stops and a spectacular lunch are available throughout the day for reasonable prices.
Further to the north is Khao Sok National Park. Here, you can see the same limestone karsts on a vast manmade lake. Stay the night on a floating bamboo hut and experience all the magic that the area has to offer.
Feel free to stay off the main highways and enjoy the slow drives on winding side roads. As long as the road is numbered, it is sure to be well-maintained. Find a small cafe by the side of the road or enjoy a fruit market as you pass through a small town.
Leaving Chiang Mai
The Rose of the North offers travellers a far more relaxed atmosphere than the South of Thailand. True adventure awaits in the mountains throughout Northern Thailand. Day-trippers can opt for the Samoeng Loop, a hundred kilometre winding mountain road that skirts the outside of Doi Suthep National Park with jaw-dropping views and waterfalls.
Those wanting a multi-day excursion should consider visiting Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. Alternatively, the Mae Hong Son Loop is a three- or four-day adventure that takes visitors through picturesque Pai, Mae Hong Son, and Doi Inthanon. Homestays are available at points throughout the journey as visitors wind their way along the mountain roads.
Regardless of where one visits, road trips are what make Thailand magical. Drive Car Rental offers customers the ability to pick up in one location and drop off at another.
It’s also easy, once you fall in love with the country, to take advantage of Thailand’s thirty-day visa extension. Simply let us know beforehand, and we’ll ensure your vehicle of choice is available throughout your stay. Long-term renters also get the best prices and flexibility, especially when booking in advance!