Guide to Renting a Car in Thailand

19 Nov 2022

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Renting a car is a terrific way to explore all of Thailand because you can explore at your leisure and take the roads less travelled. This unique country is full of hidden gems, from natural parks to quaint villages full of lovely people; many of these things you'd miss if you opt for the tourist buses and vans that take you to predetermined, popular locations. So read on to find out how to rent a car and go on the road trip of a lifetime! 


Car Rental Preparations

You should be aware of a few things before renting a car in Thailand, such as whether or not you qualify, the documentation you'll need, and the regulations you'll face.


Who is Eligible?

Rent-a-car agencies typically establish their age requirements. For example, some car rental agencies require drivers to be at least 21, while others set the minimum age at 23.

Renting a standard car in Thailand requires a valid driver's license for at least a year. Luxury vehicles are only available to more experienced drivers. 

You need a valid international or Thai driver's license to operate a motor vehicle in Thailand. Your native country's driver's license might be valid in some places, but you risk being uninsured.


Road Conditions to Bear in Mind 

Transportation infrastructure in Thailand is generally reliable. However, it's not uncommon to come across sections of roads that are very bumpy and full of potholes.

Thailand has been ranked by different organisations as one of the deadliest places to drive, with a high road traffic death rate. However, this is primarily due to speeding, drunk driving, and stray animals on the roads. In addition, because traffic regulations are rarely enforced, people frequently break the speed limit and drive recklessly.

Some rural back roads may not have reliable street lighting. These are particularly risky for stray animals. Also, the animals are extra dangerous if you drive too fast, even on a well-lit route. If a dog runs across the road out of nowhere, you won't have time to stop or swerve after making sure nobody is next to you. 

The best way to stay as safe as possible is to drive slowly and keep a safe distance from other motorists. Also, even the most responsible driver can face a disaster, so you must have comprehensive travel insurance just in case.


Rental Car Prices

Car rental costs vary by location and operator in Thailand, as well as by car model. Therefore, the size and model play a significant role. For example, a small, basic car can be 700 baht daily, while a full-size luxury vehicle with extras is 10,000 baht daily. 


Once you've decided on the model of rental vehicle you desire, the next step is to provide a credit card and pay a deposit. Then, you can pay the balance when you bring the car back.

To save money, you can just book in advance. You may also get a discount if you rent long-term (like by the month). 

Rates per day increase when extras like infant seats and GPS systems are included.

The rental fee often includes the standard VAT charge of 7%.

The minimum rental period is 24 hours. You will be charged late fees or the full daily rate if you return the car beyond the agreed-upon time.

If you need more time with your vehicle than initially agreed upon, please let the rental company know at least two days in advance. You will then be charged the rental agency's standard daily cost. 


Car Rental Procedure

The process of hiring a car in Thailand is standard across all agencies. 

First, you sign a contract. In Thailand, renting a car requires signing a legally enforceable contract that protects you and the rental agency. Contracts might be as short as a single page or as long as a few A4 sheets of paper. Either way, read the fine print!

In addition, there are a few things you should clarify before signing, including:

  • If my car suddenly stops working, what should I do?
  • If I misplace my car key, what should I do?
  • What numbers do I dial if the car is stolen, malfunctions, or sustains damage?


And before you put your signature on the dotted line, there are things you should know.

  • First, you need to make sure to return the rental car with a full tank of gas or pay the car rental company to do it for you at a significantly inflated charge.
  • Second, adhere to any mileage restrictions outlined in the contract. The cost of going above the allowed kilometres can be dramatic.
  • Third, you may be subject to additional fees if you return the rental car early or late.
  • Fourth, inspect the car with a company representative. If you see any dings, dents, or other evidence of wear and tear, point them out to avoid being penalized for this damage when you return the vehicle. You and the firm should preserve a signed record of the inspection. 
  • Fifth, verify that the rental car's registration is up-to-date, and check the tire pressure and tread wear. Then, look inside. Your vehicle's cabin should be tidy, with the manual for your ride tucked away in the glove box. Lastly, search the car's undercarriage and trunk for a spare tire, lug wrench, and jack.


Car Rental Drop-Off

It's possible that the airport or land border you enter Thailand at will not be the one from which you exit.

At the time of rental, you'll be able to tell the company where you'd like to leave the vehicle. Larger automobile rental agencies sometimes have multiple locations across the country, making it easy to choose a different drop-off location. However, some agencies charge a fee for this. 

Most of Thailand's car rental agencies will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel or airport, but you'll need to make arrangements in advance. This service is often complimentary unless you are beyond ten miles from the agency's office.


Car Insurance

Remember insurance!   Make sure you and the rental car are covered in case of an accident before signing the contract and taking off. Unfortunately, car rental mishaps are a possibility in Thailand. Accidents, theft, or malfunction are all possibilities.

Local car rental agencies usually provide at least some insurance coverage. However, few car rental agencies offer premium insurance that covers you fully in case of an accident or theft. Therefore, you may want supplemental insurance to protect yourself, the car, and any passengers if the rental agency only provides the minimum liability coverage.


Recommended Car Rental Portals in Thailand

Click here to connect to the country's major car rental providers. 

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