Aug 22 2011
There’s nothing quite as freeing as a road trip with good music on the stereo, snacks as far as the eye can see, and friends along for the ride. There are plenty of beautiful places close enough to Bangkok — empty stretches of beach along the seaside, national parks, hot springs, and waterfalls up in the mountains — and even the furthest reaches of the country are only about a day’s drive (well, a very long day for the deep South). Street food is available all over the place, and every expressway oasis has enough vendors to stuff you full of fried noodles, fresh fruit shakes, and grilled meat, from Udon Thani to Yala.
As the roads in Thailand are good, and excellent maps are available of the Kingdom, the only thing left to sort is a car. Foreigners are allowed to drive in Thailand as long as they have been issued an international driver’s license. In practice, the enforcement of this rule is left up to car rental companies, which don’t seem very concerned if your license is international or not. However, if stopped by the police, not having an international license might increase the “fine” you are asked to pay. Thailand is a left-hand drive country, like Britain, Australia and Japan, so if you come from a right-drive country get ready to constantly get in the wrong side of the car.
The following companies in Bangkok all have good reputations and reasonable prices. Remember that most car rental companies require either a credit card or hefty cash deposit, although some of the smaller operators do not. Make sure that local insurance is included in the price, as most overseas auto insurance is not valid in Thailand.
If the prices they are offering online seem too expensive, you might consider calling the office directly during business hours, as often car rental companies will have discount cars available to local renters (as opposed to those renting from overseas) that they will reserve for you, no matter where you are resident. Also consider going a bit further afield to rent — car rental in the provinces is often half what it costs in Bangkok, and a train to Chonburi or Ayutthaya is a cheap option to get your road trip started!
EZY Rent A Car (normally one of the cheapest options)
226 Phaholyothin Rd. Samsennai Phyathai
T: (02) 615 1103-9
Sawasdee Rent a Car (good rates on rentals of a week or longer)
Interchange Building (Level L)
T: (02) 661 6505
Thai Rent a Car (allow one way rentals with no extra fee)
Petchburee Building, 1st Floor
2371 Petchburee road
T: (02) 737 8888
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