Car and motor-cycle rental. The country is well-served by rental companies, both international and local, and competition is fierce in tourist areas, especially outside high season. A good range of vehicles and options are available. The cheapest cars tend to be open-back pickups and small SUVs. Saloon cars are mid range, with top of the range SUVs the most expensive. Mopeds and motorcycles are readily available. Officially to drive in Thailand an International Licence/Permit is required, although rental companies usually accept any licence. They will also ask for a passport copy and credit card slip or cash deposit. It's quite easy to rent vehicles with drivers, with most rental companies able to provide that service.

Driving and Fuel. GPS satellite navigation systems can be rented in major locations, and make driving through major cities much easier. Toll roads exist in the Bangkok area on the Expressways, and for a relatively small fee enable the driver to cross Bangkok in a very short time. Along all major roads, signs giving directions to towns and cities are in both Thai and English. Traffic in Thailand drives on the left - most of the time. Be very aware of motorcyclists who are a law unto themselves, and can be found driving with no respect to rules, regulations, themselves or other people. Driving at night without lights is common, as is running red traffic lights, not stopping at pedestrian crossings and driving under the influence of alcohol. Fuel prices in Thailand vary somewhat depending on the grade of fuel, with the price structure favouring fuels with an ethanol content. Thailand has a bewildering range of fuels at the pumps. Standard diesel and standard 91 octane fuels are similarly priced, with E20 and E85 (ethanol mixed with petrol) about 10% cheaper. Benzine, with no ethanol, costs 50% more and is being phased out. Most companies also served a high performance diesel and a 95 octane petrol costing 20% more than standard fuels. As a general rule, diesel engines are only available in trucks, pickups and larger SUVs, with all saloon cars fitted with petrol engines. Fortuantely all modern rentals will run on either standard diesel or any of the local petrol variants. Occasional police roadblocks will be found inside towns and on the open highway. They may ask for an International Driving Licence/Permit. If riding a motorcycle wear a crash helmet or expect a fine.

Driving Times and Distances. Driving times and distances between birding sites and major international gateways - Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket - across Thailand can be downloaded in Excel. A subset is displayed below. Driving times and distances are driving times, without breaks. Calculation of these times and distances are based on a mixture of personal experience as well as times/distances calulated by the Garmin GPS Thailand map and Google Maps.

Driving Times and Distances