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Thailand Tourist Information: A Guide to Laws in Thailand
By Jennifer Patin

11 May 2011

Driving and Parking

If you do intend to drive a vehicle in Thailand, there are several laws regarding driving and parking that are useful to know.

     Driving and Drinking While Driving

The legal driving age in Thailand is 18 for car drivers and at least 15 years of age for motorbike drivers.  All tourists to Thailand are required to have an International Drivers’ License on their person at all times while operating a vehicle. It is also advisable to carry a copy of your passport information page and Thai visa with you at all times.  Front seat car passengers, as well as the driver, must wear seat belts. Motorbike drivers and their passengers are required by law to wear helmets. A survey conducted by the Thailand Accident Research Center in 2009 found that out of the 3,757 motorbike drivers and passengers surveyed, 15% were unaware that passengers must wear helmets and 32% did not wear helmets while riding as passengers. The payment for breaking helmet laws depends on the authorized officer issuing the fine, but is usually between 500-1000 baht.
Thailand’s legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers is 0.5 grams per liter of blood, and 0.2 grams for drivers who have possessed their license for less than five years. The fines for drunk driving in Thailand are usually heavy and can increase during holiday seasons.


Parking rules and fines are usually found on curbside parking signs. Unfortunately, outside of tourist-frequented areas, the information on these signs is usually posted in the Thai language. Curbside or lot signs with a one red diagonal in a blue circle indicate “no parking,” and signs with a red X in a blue circle indicate “no stopping/no parking.” Painted curbsides also indicate parking regulations. Red and white paint means “no parking;” yellow and white markings mean short-term parking or a bus stop; a white rectangle painted on the road indicates a “parking” zone; and multiple diagonal white lines means parking for motorbikes only.

False Documents and Identification

Come to Thailand as a backpacker or even a high-end tourist and for the right amount of money you could leave a licensed truck driver, Masters Degree holder, or passport holder of nearly any country. Vendors hawking fake IDs are numerous in Bangkok and other major tourist destinations in Thailand. Getting caught using or citing a falsely created document, however, can result in fines and imprisonment. It is illegal to present a false document as a real one, and it is also illegal to use the information from a false document on any official application.   The buyer and user of a fake International Student ID, for example, is just as liable to penalties as the seller of the falsified ID.


The penalty for presenting or referring to a falsified document is six months to ten years imprisonment and/or a one thousand baht to two hundred thousand baht fine, depending of the type of fake document used. For example, using a fake passport carries a much heavier fine and imprisonment penalty than using a fake Student ID. Using or referring to a professional certification - including teaching degree, law degree, medical license, accountant’s certificate, etc. – is punishable by at least two years imprisonment and/or at least four thousand Baht fine.   


Littering is against the law in Thailand. In Bangkok, the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) generally oversees rules and fines regarding littering. The maximum fine for littering should not exceed two thousand baht. If you are asked to pay more than two thousand baht, you are most likely being scammed or dealing with persons unauthorized to enforce the littering law. On 29 August 2010, however, the Bangkok Post Online’s Spectrum Section released an investigative report into malpractices involving BMA inspectors and foreign tourists. You can ask to see identification from anyone who claims to be a BMA inspector. If the person is authorized, they will be able to show you their license and ID immediately; if you are being scammed, the person will often just walk away.

Medical Treatment

Thailand has a booming medical tourism industry. Patients are drawn to Thai hospitals from all over the world because of the variety of procedures performed here and the relatively low costs. Tourists also come to Thailand for medical treatments that are unavailable in their home countries, not covered by health insurance, or available at unaffordable prices.
Instances of medical malpractice discuss the level of care at Thailand hospitals. For example, see Medical Malpractice in Thailand: Patient Rights in the Medical Tourism Industry.

 The very controversial Medical-Malpractice Victims Protection Bill would make it easier for “medical malpractice victims of all nationalities to claim compensation.” Foreigners can seek compensation for injury with the assistance of a Thailand medical malpractice attorney at present, but the process is currently more difficult than it would be if the new bill were to become law. The Bill also sets up a fund, which would speed up the compensation process to malpractice victims. Thailand medical facilities, and not foreign patients, would be responsible for contributing to this fund. 


Many tourists attempting to visit the famous Wat Pra Kaew at Bangkok’s Grand Palace find their trip to be unsuccessful; some don’t even get to the gates.  While circling the outside walls looking for the entrance, tourists might be stopped by a charming local man who can speak advanced English. He might tell them that the Palace is closed that day and the next, but that he can recommend other tourists attractions to see and take them there himself for 20 to 40 baht. For those poor individuals who take these touts up on their offer, a trip might include stops at nearby gas stations, gem shops and tailor shops, where the driver can collect gas vouchers and the tourists will be pressured to buy gems of unverified quality, or overpriced tailored clothing. What sounds like a good deal for the money can end with tourists spending more money than planned and bypassing the Grand Palace completely. Some of these so called “tours” can end at a travel agency where agents assist in booking tickets or accommodation for an upcoming trip. Sadly, this type of set-up will likely leave a tourist on a cramped bus that takes longer than it should, and with accommodation that is not as luxurious as promised and paid for. It should be duly noted that Thailand is notorious for tourist scams as much as it is famous for its beautiful destinations.

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10. Unless noted by an additional footnote, most of the information in the Driving and Parking section of this Guide was compiled from the information found at http://bangkok.angloinfo.com/countries/thailand/driving.asp#Rules

11. One in Three Pillion Riders Flout Crash Helmet Law, December 18, 2009, The Bangkok Post, found at http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/29467/one-in-three-pillion-riders-flout-crash-helmet-law

12. For a thorough list of Thailand’s regulatory traffic signs, please see http://driving.information.in.th/regulatory-signs.html. For a thorough list of Thailand’s warning traffic signs, please see, http://driving.information.in.th/warning-signs.html.

13. Anglo-Info: Driving in Thailand & Rules of the Road, found at http://bangkok.angloinfo.com/countries/thailand/driving.asp#Rules

14. Title VII, Section 268 of the Thai Criminal Code

15. Title VII, Section 269

16. See Bangkok’s ‘Cigarette Police’, August 29, 2008
http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/investigation/193476/bangkok-cigarette-police for the full article and further information about littering.

17. Angry Doctors Say Parts of Malpractice Bill ‘Benefit Nobody,’ August 20, 2010, The Nation Multimedia, found at http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/2010/08/20/national/Angry-doctors-say-parts-of-Malpractice-Bill-&039;b-30136205.html


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