Bangkok Car Rentals
Whether or not you speak Thai, renting a car in Bangkok is a very simple and straightforward process. Make your reservation online or in person, ensure you have the required ID and sufficient cash or funds on your credit card and that’s about it. And with a large variety of car hire companies serving the city you can easily find a vehicle that suits your requirements.
A rental car is a fantastic option if you want the freedom to go anywhere in Bangkok at any time. There’s no need to rely on public transportation timetables – just get into your car and go. You can also rent a car with a driver. Let someone else take the wheel and navigate roads that maybe unfamiliar to you. This leaves you time to gaze out of the window taking in the fantastic sights.
Conveniently, rental cars can be picked up from several locations in Bangkok. They include Suvarnabhumi Airport, Don Mueang Airport and Srinagarindra Road in the downtown area. Among the companies that operate in the city are Avis, Budget, Hertz, SIXT, Thai Rent a Car, Ezy Rent a Car, Chic Car Rent and Europcar.
Read on for some useful tips and advice about renting a car in Bangkok and driving on the capital city’s roads.
Bangkok Car Rental: What You Need to Know
If you want to rent a car that you are going to drive yourself you need to have a valid driving licence from your country of residence or an international driver’s licence. A provisional or probationary licence will not do. Increasingly, car hire companies are performing background checks on potential hirers to see if there’s a history of traffic violations. They don’t check out every single driver, but they reserve the right to do so. Bring your passport with you as well.
Most Bangkok rental companies require a major credit card such as Visa or MasterCard as a way to secure a deposit.
The minimum age for drivers varies between companies. For some it is 23 years of age, while for others it can be 21.
Some car hire companies in Bangkok will include one additional driver in the price.
Beware of offers that appear too good to be true. Periodically, companies will try to lure customers with unbelievable headline prices. Just be sure to read the small print, because when you factor in other costs and add-on fees you may not receive such a great bargain after all.
Always read the terms and conditions carefully and double check the type of insurance protection that comes with your car. Some companies say their vehicles are fully insured when in fact, they have only given you a very basic level of cover. If in doubt, ask. Know exactly what is and what isn’t included, so there are no nasty surprises should something happen to your vehicle while it’s in your care.
Before driving away with your vehicle, check it over with an employee from the car hire company.
When driving, always carry your driving licence and the original or a photocopy of your passport.
All self-drive rentals are subject to VAT which is currently seven percent.
Important Bangkok Driving Tips
In Thailand, you drive on the left hand side of the road.
Try to avoid the morning and evening rush hours when Bangkok’s streets are clogged with traffic. Sitting in a car for ages while barely moving is no fun at all. You’re wasting valuable time that could be spent on actually enjoying the city.
Before climbing out of your rental car, be sure to look behind you. Motorbikes can appear as if from nowhere. Also, pay extra attention to motorcyclists when driving through the city because many are reckless and tend to weave in and out of the traffic.
Flashing your headlights means something completely different in Thailand. In your home country you may flash them as a courtesy to let another driver go first. However, here it has the opposite meaning. It says “Stop, I’m coming through”.
If you plan to drive to destinations outside of Bangkok, it’s best to use the main roads during the day. At night, there can be a lot of lorry traffic.
As with driving in any county, it is always a good idea to drive with the doors locked, especially when driving at night or in deserted areas.
It is illegal to talk on a mobile phone while driving, unless you are using a hands-free device.
Like many big cities, Bangkok can be a confusing place to navigate by car, especially if you are unfamiliar with the roads. There are a lot of expressways, the signs can be confusing and entry and exit locations can change during the day. Make things easier for yourself by planning your itineraries before you get in the car. You can also rent a GPS navigator from your car rental firm, and use Google Earth and Street View to help you get around with ease.
By law, drivers and front-seat passengers must wear seat belts.
Petrol stations are plentiful in Bangkok, so fill up before giving the car back to your rental company. It will be more expensive for you if you return the car empty.
In Case of an Emergency
In the documents you receive from your car hire company there should be a number to call in case of emergencies. Some Bangkok firms also have 24-hour phone support. Other important numbers that are good to know are:
Police and general emergency – 191
Fire – 199
Highway police – 1193
Medical emergency – 1669
How to Secure the Best Deal
As with any service, it’s best to do your research and shop around. Before going on your vacation or business trip to Bangkok, compare like with like by visiting each company‘s website. Some of the major companies have standardized prices, but you can find big differences between them. And remember to read the small print!
Spending a little time on the internet can end up saving you big bucks.