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Car Ownership in Thailand

Updated on November 4, 2011


The joys of owning your very own automobile is a great thrill and pleasure. Driving in a foreign country is an even greater thrill but also can be a dangerous one. In Thailand it is no different they have new and used cars for sale almost everywhere. Even If you have a nice car where you live and you want to import it you can do that as well. Just be aware that in Thailand the duty and import taxes on cars can be very high. Also make sure it is a car that is readily available in Thailand parts could be an issue if it is not common.

The ability for foreigners to obtain a care without paying cash or outright credit are limited unless you a real a Thai citizen. Foreigners are unable to get credit loans for cars unless you are buying them through a Thai citizen. So if you decided to purchase through a friend make sure he is a trustworthy one and that he will not make the last payment on the car and take it for his own. Otherwise you can convert it to your name without much issue.


In Thailand you are driving at home it is a right handed driving area so if you are from a left hand side driving country then it might take some getting used to. If you are not use to it then I suggest getting an automatic it can be cumbersome to learn to drive on opposite sides of the road using a stick shift transmission.

When purchasing a car, make sure you check it out thoroughly with a garage mechanic or a friend that knows them real well. If you are new to the country and don’t know many people use one of the local dealerships. When you find the car that you want it will be ordered they usually only have ones on the showroom floor but it only takes about 2 weeks for it to come.  Remember though you will be paying them cash upfront for the cost of the Car or truck, foreigners cannot obtain car credit.

Obviously the most imported cars are from China there are more Honda, Toyota, and Mitsubishi dealerships then local GM. So sticking with a foreign brand might e your best option on parts and service for it. Car repairs are not all that expensive in Thailand so if something does happen you will not be out of the car for too long.

Gas stations in Thailand are full service you can get your tank topped off along with Windshield wiper fluid as well as checking the oil. If you are used to the self-service stations this will be a nice change for you will a little touch of personal Thai service. Gas station prices are regulated at the state level so they are all the same so saves you from having to drive around town to the best price station.

Along with regular maintenance and gas cars also need to have a valid insurance coverage for the Areas. Insurance for your car is available. There are basically classes of coverage in Thailand you can choose from first class through third class. First class covers the collision and personal injury if you were to suffer in an accident. Second class covers collision and personal injury but it will only cover if it is determined that the accident was not your responsibility. If it is determined to be your fault then you are responsible for the fiscal cost of the associated repairs and injury’s.  The third class of insurance covers personal injury but not collision and the same applies if it is found to be your fault the insurance company can refuse to cover you. Being a foreigner in this country you might want to opt for the full first class coverage which runs about 15k baht yearly.

If an accident does occur and you are not the main person driving the car then your insurance will still cover you. But, only if the driver has a valid Thai driver’s license and is sober at the time of the accident. If either case turns out to be invalid then the insurance company can refuse to pay the cost of the accident and injury’s. Same is if you were to get into a accident while driving there but, also make sure you have your passport and Thai or home country licenses when driving in Thai so if something does happen you have your paperwork. Also be aware of mobile phones if you talk and drive at same time it can be up to 200baht fine if you are caught.

For periodic checks there is a requirement to display a valid insurance sticker and a car tax sticker on the left hand driver side window. The road tax charge is dependent on the type make model and year of your car. These stickers are usually gotten at the same time through your insurance company. If you do not want to go through them many backs provide a road tax service as well. There are many times that police will setup road blocks to check the validation of your information for your car so is better to have it up to date. They do not have a law stating that they have just cause to search they just will.

If you are in a serious accident in Thailand that results in a injury or death, even if you are not at fault plan on going to the police station and released out on bail until a final determination can be made of whose fault it was exactly.

The biggest problem driving in Thailand is that to get a driver’s license you only have to watch a 2 hour video and start test. These are pretty easy standards and most people walk out with their first driver’s license without ever driving a car before. This makes driving in certain parts of Thai very interesting and also very dangerous. So be observant and alert at all times of your surroundings.

So as with all the advantages of having a car they are pretty much the same for Thailand as well. It will make your life just that much easier to cope with in your new home. If you are new another suggestion is to look for a good GPS unit that will help you find your way around. They are available at most dealers and upscale electronic stores that will provide you very detailed maps and information on your new area. Driving from city to city with use of a road map is fairly simple, but once you arrive in an unfamiliar city having a GPS can be extremely helpful and reassuring.


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  • expats profile image

    expats 7 years ago from UK

    "The biggest problem driving in Thailand is that to get a driver’s license you only have to watch a 2 hour video and start test." This sounds crazy. As you say both interesting...and dangerous.