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Driving in Phuket

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Phuket.
Driving in Phuket

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Phuket can be a unique experience. The traffic can be chaotic and the driving habits of locals may seem aggressive and unpredictable to foreigners. It’s important to drive defensively and always be aware of your surroundings. Motorbikes are very common and they often weave in and out of traffic, so be prepared for this.

2. Car Recommendation

Smaller cars are recommended for driving in Phuket due to the narrow roads and heavy traffic. A compact car or a scooter is ideal for navigating through the city. However, if you plan on exploring the more rural areas of Phuket, a 4×4 might be more suitable.

3. Parking Situation

Finding parking in Phuket can be challenging, especially in popular tourist areas. However, there are usually paid parking lots available. The cost of parking is relatively cheap compared to Western standards, but it can add up if you’re parking in these lots regularly.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Thailand with an international driving permit (IDP) for up to 90 days. After this period, you will need to obtain a Thai driving license. It’s important to always carry your IDP and your home country’s driving license when driving.

5. Obtaining a Thai Driving License

To obtain a Thai driving license, you will need to visit the Department of Land Transport with your passport, a valid visa, a medical certificate, your IDP, and your home country’s driving license. You will also need to pass a written test and a driving test. It’s recommended to hire a translator or a local guide to assist with this process as it can be quite complex and most of the procedures are conducted in Thai.

6. Road Safety

Always wear your seatbelt and ensure that all passengers are also wearing theirs. If you’re riding a motorbike, always wear a helmet. It’s also important to note that drink driving is a serious offence in Thailand and the legal limit is lower than in many Western countries.

7. Be Aware of the Weather

During the rainy season, roads can become slippery and visibility can be poor. Be extra cautious when driving in these conditions. Also, be aware that flash floods can occur, so avoid driving through flooded areas.

8. Be Prepared for Checkpoints

Police checkpoints are common in Phuket. Always carry your driving documents with you and be prepared to show them if asked. If you’re stopped for a traffic violation, remain calm and polite. It’s also a good idea to have a basic understanding of Thai traffic laws and regulations.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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