On the Road AgainNovember 30, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ 🌙 23 °C
We had our last long road trip today to Chiang Mai and I thought it time to share some thoughts on driving in Thailand. It’s scary. There are few speed limit signs and fewer drivers adhering to them. There are lines down the middle of the road but they’re more for decoration than instruction. The main roads have wide (4 - 5’) shoulders which are essential for survival. Here is why. To pass a car, no matter what the situation, you simply pull out to the center of the road and the car ahead straddles the shoulder to allow you to pass. If there is oncoming traffic, they simply move over to their shoulder. No horns honk; the only noise you hear are the sharp intakes of breath from the Western passengers.
Motorcycles mostly stick to the shoulders until you reach a stop light; then they all weave through the traffic to the head of the line. Less than half wear helmets but most wear flip flops. It was not uncommon to see parents with one or two children zipping along. The legal age to drive is 20 but I swear I saw many young teens scootering down the road.
Most cars are Japanese make, Toyota, the favourite by my count. There are MANY pickup trucks modified with extra large rear decks to haul goods. They can be seen to sway with their over filled loads of merchandise.
Lastly, to be fair, I only saw one minor traffic accident. The Thai are just as polite on the road as they are off it. Honking is seen as rude. The police don’t seem to have much of a presence. We did pass 6 officers around a corner in Chiang Mai. Our guide explained they were stopping tourists on rented motor bikes. If you don’t have an international licence it’s a large fine and a good money maker for the city.Read more