|While renting and driving a car in Bangkok borders on suicide, renting your
own transport in Chiang Mai is a great way to get around if you want to visit
places outside the city.
Here's some good advice from Gary Hacker regarding purchasing a car in Thailand:
So you want to buy a car in Thailand? Not a great idea unless you have lived here for many
years and understand the Thai driving habits. Locals drive down the wrong side of the road
and motorbikes cut in front of you everywhere and offer an invitation for an accident. If they hit
you and you are involved, you are normally in the wrong. It is a no win situation and you are
better off using public transportation.
It you still elect to go ahead, you will need an "O" Visa issued in your home country to purchase
a vehicle. You will also need a permanent resident address in Thailand and a paper from
Immigration verifying this. You will need to apply and receive a Thai Drivers License. Check out
the Rules of the Road - in English
You will need to obtain two different insurance policies. One is a low end mandatory Thai
insurance required by the State and costing about 1,600 Baht. The other is a First Class
Insurance policy covering the cars occupants, damaged property, your own vehicle and
adequate liability. This First Class policy usually runs about 20-30 Thousand Thai Baht for the
first year. If you have no claims, it is reduced by 20% the second year and again by 20% for the
It may also be a good idea to look into a road coverage policy in case you break down on the
highway in some remote location. I understand that these are available for about Baht 3,000
I hope this helps you in making a decision on whether to drive in Thailand.
And some more information from our Club:
It's pretty easy to get around in Pattaya, but if the day finally arrives when you crave your very
own wheels, we can probably help you to make a good deal on the initial purchase, insurance,
registration, driving license and maintenance. So join us any Sunday, 11:30am at the Grand
Sole Hotel, Second Road, Pattaya, and meet some expats that have gone through the whole
procedure - and even survived the experience!
My good friend Mark was good enough to share his experiences with buying a car in Pattaya,
and even agreed to posting his words of wisdom on our web site. He can be contacted at 09
For emergency roadside assistance check out Car World Club
To own and register a car you will need:
- A non immigrant visa
- Proof of residency - rental agreement or home ownership papers
Before you buy:
- Have it clear in your mind what type of vehicle you want, and the price range. Trucks hold their
value better than other vehicles.
- Understand that cars maintain their value much better than you are used to in your home
- Know that Thais are generally hard on cars and typically maintain them poorly, so consider a
new car if you can afford it, and use extra care in checking for mechanical damage before you
buy a pre-owned vehicle.
Look for signs of Collision:
- Paint overspray on glass, rubber or trim.
- Wrinkled metal under the hood.
- Misaligned bumpers, doors, hood and other body panels.
Check the Engine:
- Have someone start the engine while you look at the exhaust pipe. A little black smoke on
start up is OK, but blue smoke indicates burning oil - don't buy it!
- Check the engine runs smoothly and idles quietly.
Check the Mileage:
- Look for excessive wear on the clutch, brake and accelerator pedals. Also on the driver's
side door hinges. High wear in any of these areas may indicate high mileage in excess of what
the odometer is showing.
Title and Registration:
- Check the book that comes with the car. No Book? Then just run very fast to the next
- Compare the chassis number in the book with the chassis number on the vehicle.
- Check to see where the car is registered. If it's registered anywhere but Pattaya, you will have
to travel to the city of registration to transfer the registration to Pattaya. Not much fun if that's
Get an experienced technician to check for problems before you buy:
- Once you have checked all of the above yourself, have the car inspected by an independent
mechanic, someone not associated with the selling party. Tell the seller you want this
inspection done before you buy or commit to buy. Expect small repairs but do not buy someone
else's expensive problems.
- Buy from a well established dealer. That way, if you have a problem the chances are that it will
be taken care of quickly.
Don's Life In Thailand