Bangkok - Post Report Question and Answers

What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any car should be fine, but one with high clearance could be good for the flooding. if you want to drive up to the northern mountains, an SUV could be helpful. - Feb 2023

We didn't have a car for the 1st year and never really missed it. We had a taxi "fixer" that would send us a taxi whenever we wanted to go somewhere and this was still cheaper than car ownership. Eventually we broke down and bought a car to get to church, and have enjoyed having it. You do not need a car to enjoy Bangkok, and in fact, I wouldn't recommend you drive in the city as its awful in my opinion. However, the highway system in Thailand is one of the bright spots of the countries infrastructure. The highway system is good, and you can take long car trips with ease. The highways are almost like the States with gas stations on easy exits and rest stops. It's great. Weekend beach trips are glorious. - Jan 2023

While it's possible to have a very good time in Thailand without a car, I recommend bringing (or locally purchasing one) anyway. Thailand is a great roadtripping country with great national parks, mountains, and beaches all over the place and has very developed highway/road systems (including plentiful gas stations and sparkling clean rest stop bathrooms), and it's much easier to cover more ground (especially outside the cities) if you have your own wheels. We had a sedan, which was fine for our family, but having something with a bit more clearance will allow you to get off-road a bit in the parks if that's your thing. Parts and maintenance services are widely available for the major brands that sell/operate in Asia (Toyota, Honda, Suzuki, Ford) as well as more luxury brands (lots of Mercedes-Benz, BMWs, Lexus here also). You might have to import a part or two if you have an unusual make or model from the United States. Interestingly, Thailand is trying to develop its electric vehicle infrastructure and Tesla is about to open up direct sales. I've seen some EVs on the streets and expect more and more Teslas on the roads soon as well. You'll see high-society Thais driving their Lamborghinis and Maseratis around but they can afford the $10,000 every time they hit a pothole or speed bump on Bangkok's famously unpredictable pavement. I presume you don't have the same luxury, so leave your custom sports car back at home. You probably should leave your hummer or RV at home too as Bangkok's alleys can get pretty tight, so in general a smaller car is better. The minivans here are designed for Bangkok's streets and are narrower than what you see in the United States. - May 2022

Around Nichada there are some options for purchasing a diplomatic sale car. When a car comes in with a diplomat it can only be sold to other diplomats for the next 3 years. After that, it can be sold on the local economy. Owner and purchaser must exchange the car and payment while both are present in the country. We drove our right side drive car here fine without any problems. The highway has Ez-pass which gets around trying to pay tolls when the booth is on the left. We have a mini-van and it has been fine for driving and parking most places. - Aug 2019

You can bring anything in, but Thailand drives on the left side. Small cars are better for navigating small congested roadways and tiny parking spaces. - Apr 2017

We do not have a car but it seems as though most have small SUVs per usual for the dip community. I think we would probably do the same were we to buy a car. - Nov 2016

You don't need an SUV in this country - the roads are great. Car parts for American vehicles and even American import Toyotas can be hard to find and often have to be ordered. - Aug 2015

Thailand is right hand drive (British style), but you can bring a left hand drive automobile if you choose. Most major brands have dealers, however, U.S. manufacturers' models are not the same as the models sold in the U.S.; and thus, if you bring a U.S. spec American car you may have problems obtaining parts. With that said, I know many people who did have U.S. spec American cars and didn't have any problems. My colleague had a BMW that wasn't sold in BMW, and the BMW dealers in Bangkok refused to work on it. Roads are generally ok, and you'll be fine with a sedan for the most part. If you plan on exploring the real countryside then you may want to consider bringing a SUV. There are plenty of used automobiles available on the local (diplomatic community) market. Driving in Bangkok can be crazy, but I have seen worse (China, Cambodia etc.). Traffic in Bangkok is very very bad though, and if it rains it can take hours. Note: Thailand has some of the highest road fatality rate sin the world - this may affect the type of vehicle you choose to bring. - Aug 2014

This is a left-side drive country. You can bring your American car but it will take some getting used to. Very large vehicles seem to be a problem, though possible. No carjackings. Generally speaking, your car will be considered average and suitable if it is a medium size car. - May 2014

We have a CRV and it's about as big of a car as I would want to drive. The roads are a little narrow and parking spots are narrow and you often have to squeeze into parking garage spots where an extra row of cars is parked in the middle. - Oct 2013

Small SUV's and sedans are fine. Roads are pretty good. - Jul 2013

Any vehicle, but I bought a scooter to get around the streets of busy Bangkok. - Jun 2013

Locally made brands likeToyota, Mitsubishi and Honda are cheaper, but more than you'd pay in the US. - Jul 2012

You don't really need a car here. We don't have one. Taxis are very cheap and public transport is very good. If you like to drive out of the city often, it may be useful. Any car will do, but they do drive on the left side. - Oct 2011

Roads are very good, and any kind of car will work. Traffic is tough, and gas is expensive ,so keep that in mind. - Jul 2011

The dumpier the better - as long as it functions well! Traffic is heavy with reasonably good flow but there are plenty of scrapes. I cannot imagine having a nice car here. No way! I hear that Japanese auto parts are easy to find; others not so much. We have a Honda shop nearby. - Feb 2011

I wouldn't drive in Bangkok although friends with children liked having cars so they could use children's seats. You see a lot of sedans on the roads. Thais drive on the left side like in Britain. - May 2010

Bring something small. The roads are too small for SUV's (although I've seen several expats with them). - Apr 2010

a regular auto is fine here, except that they drive on the left side of the road and all steering wheels are on the right side of a car. - Jan 2010

The "only" car I would discourage anyone from bringing would be a convertible, unless you have a hard top for it. Between the rain and sun, rest assured, you won't be spending too much time with the top down with that hot stagnant air. A good chunk of the Americans ship their cars from the States without any problems; be it mini vans, SUV's- they're all here. Before shipping your car to Thailand, though, I'd go online just to verify that parts for your car are indeed available here - or at least that the dealership can order them for you. As for driving conditions here, the Thais are very polite drivers, and road rage is pretty non-existent. The one drawback to driving in Bangkok is, well, the traffic. Some days it'll only take you 30 minutes to drive to work or get to the mall, and other days, that same route can take you two or more hours. A lesson that most of us learned the hard way is to have the following in the car with you at all times: a bottle of water, snacks, something to read, cell phone - you'll need this to call and tell whoever you're meeting that you'll be late. Car insurance is available locally, which many of the expats, ourselves included opted for. Our US insurance company (USAA) does not offer car insurance in Thailand. So we opted to go locally with AIG. The premiums are a fraction of what we paid stateside. - Jul 2009

You don't even need a vehicle but a Camry, Accord etc. might owrk best. - Apr 2009

A Toyota Camry is a large car here. Minivans are a good option. Small cars are fine. Large ones will haves problems on the side streets (sois). - Feb 2009

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