Licensed to Drive in Thailand

The thought of getting my Thai driver’s license is not quite as exciting as the first drivers license I obtained in California 21 years ago. The excitement is gone, and now it is just a hassle. So what is the best way to get your driver’s license in Thailand?
I will explore all the options. Getting a Thai license when you have a driving license from your home country that is in English. What do do if you have an international driving license, and of course what to do if you do not have a license or if your license is in any language other than English and will be starting from scratch.
Anyone that has been here any length of time knows that getting things done in Thailand is as simple and straightforward as I can write in a blog post. We all know that TIT is always in effect, and anything in this article is subject to change with or without notice. Please update the comments with new information, as things change often in the land of smiles. Just ask anyone on an education visa.

What is required for a foreign national to get a Thai Driving License?

For a foreign national to obtain a Thai International Driver’s License they must meet the following requirements:
  • Being of sound mind and good health (not having physical or mental handicap(s) that will prevent them from operating a vehicle safely)
  • Being at least 18 years of age
  • Hold a valid Non­Immigrant Visa (tourists may not apply)
  • A Certificate of Residency
  • A recent medical certificate


How do I get a Thai Driver’s License if I already have a current license from my home country and it is in English?

This is the easiest way to get a Thai driving license. If you already have a valid driver’s license from Australia, Ireland, the UK, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA and most provinces of Canada you will be able to skip the written test portion. You will give them a copy of your license and then you will have to take a reflex test, a color blind test, depth perception test. These tests are administered in English.
Even in the rural provinces the tests are available in English, however the person giving the test may or may not have the English skills needed for verbal answers. If this is the case having Thai language skills or an interpreter is a must. If you are on your own, you will need to understand instructions in Thai of stop, go, left, and right, and answer the names of colors. The vision test is composed of numbers rather than letters so knowing the digits from 0­9 is also needed.


How do I get a Thai Driver’s License if I do not have a valid license or international driving permit?

If this is your first driving license or if your license is not printed in English you will be required to take the written test and the driving test. The written test is 50 questions choose the correct answer. The driving test itself will test your skills in real traffic.
All the other requirements are the same.

Complete List of Documents Needed to get a Thai Driving License

  1. Application for Thai International Driving License (obtained at the office)
  2. Photocopies of your passport pages showing your identification, and the current visa page or extension of visa
  3. Photocopy of valid Thai work permit (if applicable)
  4. A medical certificate stating you are physically fit that is dated within 30 days
  5. Certificate of Residency (for Chonburi province immigration is in Jomtien Beach Soi 5)
  6. Valid driving license from your home country in English or an International driving permit in English. The original will be examined and copies will be required.
  7. Payment for a car license is 205 baht and for a motorcycle license the fee is 155 baht, the fees are subject to change, please double check with your local office before going as cash is the only acceptable form of payment.
  8. Time to double check your document, some of it will be in Thai, you will need to be very good at matching each character to what shows on your residency permit or have your Thai helper check your document for accuracy, this is a legal form of ID and the last thing you need is an error on your license.
  9. A big smile, they will take your picture. Scratch that they don’t let you smile but you get the picture.


Where do I get my Thai Driving License if I live in Pattaya or other parts of Chonburi?

The hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8:30 ­ 4:00 and closed for lunch from 12:00 to 1:00.
Obtaining your license to drive legally in Thailand is easy, inexpensive and relatively painless. Once you have your temporary license it is good for a year and if you will be staying longer in the kingdom the second renewal can be up to five years.
The advantage of having a Thai driving license is having an additional form of ID, it is generally accepted in lieu of a passport by authorities. You will be able to rent a car, with it, or buy a car in your own name if you are licensed.

What do I need to know about Renting a Car in Thailand?

So you think you are ready to hit the road in Thailand? To rent a car in Thailand you certainly have to be a little bit brave, or a little bit stupid, or perhaps a smidge of both. Be prepared, make sure you look in all directions at one time as cars, trucks, motorcycles, buffalo, dogs, and elephants are likely to be travelling in your direction at various speeds regardless of the direction traffic is supposed to be flowing.

You will see up to half a dozen boys riding a single motorcycle, or sometimes an entire family including the family dog. One time I even saw a motorcycle with a sidecar and in the sidecar was a pony. Yes that’s right a pony in a sidecar. My other crazier than crazy road experience was the time I nearly rear ended an elephant in full battle dress with a mahout riding on top. They were crossing a bridge in Suphan Buri over a river. There are hazards in Thailand that you will not experience in other places.

We have put together a list of questions that many expats ask prior to renting a car in Thailand. We have tried to think of the most common questions are clients ask us about. If you have additional questions please feel free to contact us immediately at 038 364 238 or email us at and one of our friendly staff will get back to you ASAP.


Do I need a Thai Driver’s license to rent a car?

You may use a foreign license to rent a car if the license is in English, and if you are a tourist who has been in the Kingdom for less than 90 days. If your license is valid but not in English a certified translation to Thai or English may be used in conjunction with the license.


Is my international Driver’s license acceptable for renting a car in Thailand?

An international driver’s license may be used for renting a car in Thailand for up to one year. After one year a Thai international license is required to continue driving legally. Check your insurance policy carefully, some policies will only accept a Thai License and some put a limit of only three months. Make sure to always do your homework!


Where can I obtain a Thai Driver’s license?

A Thai driver’s license may be obtained at your provinces local Department of Transportation. For Chonburi province the office is located near Regent’s School on Highway 36.

What do I need to get my Thai driver’s license?

A complete list of documents and instructions to get your Thai license can be found in the article, Licensed to Drive in Thailand

What kind of insurance is required when renting a car in Thailand?

Insurance varies. Thai law has a very bare minimum liability requirement. Rental companies vary from company to company. Some use the minimum, while others use full first class insurance.

*Be sure to check the policy for the type of license that is acceptable and for how long. This is very important as having the wrong license will void any insurance cover

How do I know if the car I am renting is insured properly?

Any reputable rental company will provide you with your insurance coverage in writing. Most have add on insurance available ala carte. If you have questions, simply read the policy and do not let them rush you. If you can not get the policy in writing I would be hesitant to trust anything about the company. Always better to be safe than sorry.

Travel insurance is another great way to supplement rental car insurance against injuries that occur for the driver or passenger. Every person has different requirements, just make sure you read the documents.

What is the minimum age to rent a car in Thailand?

Rental car companies set different age limits to be able to rent cars in Thailand. Budget is 21, while Avis is 23. Expat Rental Car Rental will rent to anyone who is at least  21 years old.

What happens if I get into an accident while driving a rental car in Thailand?

How are the safety standards on vehicles in Thailand?

Beware of rental companies that seem unusually cheap. Remember when things seem to good to be true they usually are. Some rental companies have rentals as old as ten years old. These cars may have been fine when they were first on the road but a car that has been a rental for 10 years has had so many drivers that it is bound to have issues.

Expat Car Rental only uses late model vehicles with low mileage. Safety is one of our primary concerns. The safety standards on the vehicles we are willing to rent to our clients are all cars we would be willing to drive our own families in.

How do I report a stolen rental car in Thailand?

In the event of a car theft you should report it to the Tourist Police immediately by dialing 1155. You may dial the Tourist Police from anywhere in Thailand using 1155.

Thailand is an adventurous place to visit and sometimes it is just better to be behind the wheel of your own vehicle. Renting a car in Thailand is relatively easy, cars are available through huge international chains and smaller mom and pop style places. Always do your due diligence to ensure your trip is a safe one. Happy travels.

The Ten Best Weekend Driving Destinations From Pattaya

Living in Pattaya with all the attractions and great amenities, it is hard for somebody who does not reside in this great city to understand why you would want to take a short holiday.

But the truth is that Thailand is such a diverse country, with fascinating cultures, fabulous countryside, bustling cities, amazing wildlife and of course a rich history and tradition.

Pattaya is perfectly situated being a part of central Thailand, to go exploring other exciting and interesting places. Here we have highlighted 10 widely different places that you can easily drive to and back over the course of a weekend.

Of course you will probably need transport, and hiring the perfect vehicle for your trip could not be easier as Pattaya has some of the best car rental firms on the Eastern Seaboard. Just about every vehicle is available to hire; from spacious saloons, open top cabriolets, sturdy 4×4 trucks and even big bikes.

Hua Hin

Hua Hin is Thailand’s oldest beach town and is a perfect getaway for the HiSo crowd from Bangkok. Situated on the west coast of the Gulf of Thailand it became popular with the Thai Royal Family in the 1920’s and there still remains a Royal Palace there.

A sleepy and refined town, Hua Hin boasts a magnificent sandy beach and great dining for the weekend visitor. There are specialist seafood restaurants that reach out like tentacles into the sea and are a must when visiting.

Ayutthaya & Historical Park

Ayutthaya is steeped in history and was the capital of Siam, founded around 1350. Four hundred years later it was one of the largest cities in the world with 1 million people.

The city was destroyed by the Burmese resulting in the collapse of the Kingdom, fortunately renovations started in earnest in the 1960’s bringing back much of its former glory, with moats, canals and roads.

The Historical Park is located on an island surrounded by three rivers where the old capital used to be. If you really want to immerse yourself into the deep history of Siam then Ayutthaya is the perfect place.

Kanchanaburi & Thai-Burma Railway

Kanchanaburi province features some of the most beautiful nature in central Thailand. It is home to several waterfalls, mountains, caves, national parks and last, but not least, the River Kwai.

The scenic train journey along the notorious Thailand-Burma Death Railway from Kanchanaburi, via the Bridge over the River Kwai, to Nam Tok is one of Thailand’s most spectacular and popular train rides.


For some Rayong is just a staging point to take the ferry across to Koh Samet, but Rayong has far more to offer than just that. It has some fine sandy beaches that you will find are a lot quieter than those of its neighbour Pattaya.

There are some great historical places to visit with many Wats and Temples dotted about. The old market on Jinda Road is definitely worth a visit and there are many good seafood restaurants in the town.


Trat  province nestles along the border with Cambodia with the impressive Khao Banthat mountain range forming the border. Trat is synonymous with Koh Chang and there are 52 assorted offshore islands offering unspoiled long, white sandy beaches and exciting coral reefs.

Trat is definitely somewhere you go to for a peaceful break, the small, sleepy province offers delightful scenery and tranquil hideouts for the lovers of nature. The city of Trat is home to a plethora of markets due to the near proximity of Cambodia.


Chanthaburi is a charming town with many examples of past influences on its history to be seen in its wonderful architecture. The waterfront buildings define the styles of previous inhabitants including; the French, Chinese and Vietnamese that have influenced life in Chanthaburi for centuries.

Every weekend at the bustling market you can still see precious gems being traded, from sapphires to emeralds and everything in between. It is a reminder of a bygone age and is marvellous to see.

25km from the town going south, passing numerous salt fields, you come to the quaint coastal towns of Laem Sing and Chao Lao.


Phetburi region is famous for its thick, jungle-covered mountains forming a natural barrier with Myanmar, and is often frequented with nature lovers for the vast expanses of wild country, especially the Kaeng Krachan National Park (Thailand’s largest at 3,000 sq kilometers).

Phetchaburi is a must to visit, the town is split in two by the Phetchaburi river and all of the interesting things to do and see are in walking distance from its banks. Khao Wat is to the west but most of the other interesting sights are on the other side.

Many examples of Phetburi’s past history when the Khmer empire was dominant are to be found all over the region.


The motto of Ratchaburi extols the natural beauty of its land and people, including caves, earthen jars, a floating market, temples and its beautiful and charming women.

The town is home to Damnoen Floating Market, running along a network of canals off the Mae Klong River and it remains a must see attraction for most tourists.

A trip to this part of the country is mainly going back to nature. The province is riddled with bat caves, mountain ranges, gushing waterfalls and explosive hot springs.


In addition to beautiful natural attractions, including two national parks, Saraburi is known for its delectable food and hospitable people.

Saraburi is famous for Wat Phra Phutthabat, built under King Songtham in the 17th century,it is the most popular pilgrimage site in central Thailand. The Wat is reputed to have been built around a footprint of Buddha.

Nakon Ratchasima

Nakon Ratchasima is generally known as Khorat, the province is mainly plateaus and mountainous terrain. Khorat has fascinating traditions, charming hospitality, splendid natural scenery and awesome historical sites, including Khao Yai, and the Khmer temple at Phimai.

Khao Yai National Park is home to a wide array of wildlife, including Asian elephants and black bears. The park also offers, hiking trails, lodges, cabins and campsites. There are even dinosaur footprints, so visitors find surprises at every turn.

These ten great getaway weekend destinations are within reasonable travelling distance from Pattaya. You can enjoy journey even more by taking the backwater routes if you are not in a hurry, and discover unknown gems on your way.

That is the beauty of hiring a car, you can take your time and stop off whenever you want. Your itinerary becomes flexible and all your luggage is easily stowed away in the boot.

Next weekend why not pick a destination, rent a car, and discover more of fantastic Thailand

Article by By Kevin Cain