On My First Visit To Bangkok I Looked At The Traffic And Said, “There’s No Way I Am Driving In Thailand!”
Mind you, I’ve traveled extensively and rented vehicles in all manner of exotic locales, yet the frenetic beehive of Thai roadways scared me.
Then I found out my Thai girlfriend owns a car. She doesn’t drive the car but she owns it. She bought it for her brother to use while he was attending university and the trade-off was he had to be her chauffeur when she needed him. It worked well for both parties involved but he did eventually graduate and move on.
The car sat idly waiting for it’s next chauffeur…cue the music as I walked off the plane. Was there anyway I could look into those beautiful almond shaped eyes and say I can’t do it, I’m too afraid? No. This was a stand up moment and I had to come through for my Thai girl. And the time will come when you’ll need to come through for your girl as well. It’s best to start your preparations now by reading this guide to driving in Thailand.
On The Road: The Motorcycles That Are Driving In Thailand!
The most striking thing you’ll notice as you look at the traffic in Bangkok is the motorcycles. They are simply everywhere. Do you drive a motorcycle in your home country? Do you remember the rules of the road and the defensive driving techniques you were taught to make your travels safe and happy? Please forget all that. They don’t apply while driving in Thailand and if you’re thinking about them too much you’ll be continually surprised and shocked at what transpires before you on the road. OK, Maybe that’s a little overboard but I want to emphasize that driving in Thailand is vastly different from your home country.
Rule #1 While Driving In Thailand: The Motorcycle Is A Family Vehicle
I don’t mean that everyone in the family can use it, which is no doubt true, no, what I mean is it’s used by the family for family outings. And I’m not talking about the 1100cc car on two wheels type of motorcycles like Honda Goldwings and such. No No No.
The bike of choice for driving in Thailand is a 100+cc scooter type bike like the Vespas you see in Italy. And by family outing I mean Dad drives, Mom sits behind, one child sits behind her clutching hard to her waist and a toddler stands on the floorboard in front of father and hangs on to the handlebars. If there’s a baby Mom will clutch it to her bosom. And off they go without a helmet in sight.
The 100cc Motorcycles are inexpensive compared to buying a car or a truck and the dealerships offer great pay by the month loan terms. Most everyone can afford one so they’re everywhere. However, my impression is there’s a serious lack of motorcycle safety courses for driving in Thailand. The things you will witness motorcycle drivers do are beyond comprehension to anyone with a western sense of defensive driving. Every time I am driving in Thailand, without fail, I’ll see something that makes me say, “Oh My God!”
Want to know what strange behaviors will leave you trembling and make you shout out loud? Look for Part 2 coming soon!