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Car Hire Thailand - Rent a Car in Thailand - Insights
Update 20/10/2019 By Eamonn Turley - new section of Phuket car rental scam
The team at Car Hire Thailand have a wealth of experience providing customers with car rental from every part of Thailand. We understand how it works and wish to share that with you. Below we have compiled an ever growing list of typical questions and sometimes not so typical. To these questions we have provided answers and advise.
Overall we would like to say that car hire in Thailand is much easier than in most western countries. By that we mean no fuel or other types of scams purposely exist. That being said you still need to know the basics of renting a car in Thailand.
You will even find that the rental car excess is reasonable, for a small car expect to be held liable for about USD250. If that was Europe it would 4 times that amount or more! If you feel uncomfortable with having an excess, a small daily amount extra will waive that. The excess cover can be taken out and paid for when you pick up your rental car. In addition no punitive underage fees exist and most rental companies will include at least one free additional driver. However, you must be at least 21 to rent a car in Thailand. All this is covered in more detail below under the relevant sections.
Even if you rent a car you will most likely make use of a taxi here and there whilst in Thailand. Overall the taxis are cheap, but we have highlighted some of the things to watch out for especially if renting late at night, you can read more here. Also renting a car can work out much cheaper especially if Phuket or Chiang Mai is your destination.
Car Hire Thailand - Answering your Rent a Car Thailand Questions
How much does it cost to rent a car in Thailand?
The answer depends on a number of factors. Number 1 will be the car category. The entry level category typically Honda Brio will be the cheapest. Whilst small car rental is popular and cheap if you intend to cover some distance it is better to go for the mid size Honda City or the larger Accord or Camry. As you go up the categories the prices will increase. The average cost for a mid size automatic car is approx 20 USD per day. The longer the rental the cheaper the daily rate.
Time of Year : Thailand has high and low season for car rental. In the high season rentals cars are in high demand, more expensive and do sell out quickly. The biggest demand exists over the songkran period. Christmas and the new year are also sell out periods. In low seasons you will find the cheapest car rental prices.
Wide chocie of Thailand car rental compaies to choose from
Car rental in Thailand is a very popular option and many new rental operators have entered the Thailand rental market. We have provided reviews of both the well known brands plus these new arrivals, for example chic car rental.
Why you should rent a car in Phuket
We thought it are duty to forewarn you if you are planning to rely on the local taxi service in Phuket The Phuket taxi service is a scam with prices so high renting a car will be a much cheaper option. A Phuket rental car will also provide you with an easy trip to the different beaches, shopping malls and in the evening you can try out the many different restaurants that are spotted all over the island. Unfortunately attempts to stop the price scam have failed and it is believed that criminals are involved in keeping the all phuket taxi prices inflated.
Taxi drivers and Taxi Meters
By law all taxis in Thailand must have a meter, but sometimes the driver will intentional not switch on the meter and at the end of the journey ripp you off with a price pulled from the air.
Even if you rent a car you may on occasion wish to crab a taxi for a night out so you can relax and have a few beers. Taxis in Bangkok are everywhere, but less so in places such as CHaing Mai or Chaing Rai. When you use a taxi it is important that the taxi is metered. At night especially you will find that some drivers with meters will not turn on the meter and at the end of trip try and charge you a price twice as much or more of the regular metered price. We advise checking in the first few seconds or confirming with the driver that you need the meter switched on before setting off. If they refuse simply get out and try the next taxi
A credit card is needed to rent with key suppliers
Do I need a credit card to rent a car in Thailand?
For all the car rental companies that we represent the answer is yes. This is true of all on airport car rental companies. All the brand names will ask for a credit card in the name of the lead driver. Cash deposits or debit cards will not be accepted. However, they are flexible, if for example another person has a credit card they can be named the lead driver and you could be added as a free extra driver. To rent a car without a credit card you need to go to local car rental companies.
One Ways and Free Miles
Is one way Car Hire in Thailand free?
Most rental companies with the exception of a few will offer free one ways for rental 7 days or over. With Budget car rental Thailand only 4 days is needed to qualify for a free one way. This gives you the option to make a road trip without retracing your steps. For example pickup your car rental at Bangkok airport and return to Chiang Mai airport or Phuket airport. If you are going to cover a lot of ground we would recommend choosing mid size or full size for that added luxury.
Are miles Free and Unlimited in Thailand?
Most countries will put limit on the number of miles and charge you extra above that limit. This can add a substantial amount to the final cost of the car rental. In Thailand you will not face that problem as all suppliers offer free miles without any limit.
Are Airport Fees and Taxes Included?
The prices quoted are fully inclusive of airport fees and taxes. The only extra that you will pay is for any extras added. Naturally any fuel that you use must be replaced before the car rental is returned, otherwise they will charge to refuel. The refueling charge is not exborent like most other countries, but it is still best to return at the same level received.
Lead Driver and Free Additional Drivers
Are Additional Drivers Free and how do I add them?
Most suppliers allow you to add additional free drivers, some suppliers only allow 1 free extra driver, some 3 and some unlimited. The deal on free extra drivers will be made clear during the booking stage. Please be aware that the additional driver or drivers must be present to be added. It is also possible to return to any of the supplier depots during the rental period and add an additional driver to your rental agreement.
I am under 25 can I still rent a Car in Thailand?
The key requirement is that you have held a clean licence for a minimum of one year. The minimum age with Budget and other Thai rental suppliers is 21. If you are under 25 and rented say in the USA for example you will be aware that suppliers can charge a so called under age charge, The good news this does NOT happen in Thailand. To repeat the minimum age is 21 with a clean licence held for at least one year.
What type of drivers licence do I need to rent a car in Thailand?
You will need an international driving permit. This along with your passport should be carried in the rental vehicle at all times. The rental company will accept your normal licence from country of residence. That international licence is only enforced by the Thai police, so if you only have your county licence expect a roadside fine. This will mean a trip to the local police station. In most cases the policeman will be happy with a small payment THB 500 to a THB1,000. You are unlikely to be stopped unless speeding so it is a not a big issue..
Can I rent a Car in Thailand with a US Licence
All Thailand car rental companies that we represent will accept the licence from your country of domicile ( where you live ). If your licence is not in the Roman alphabet ( for example Hebrew ), then you must bring an official translation or use an international driver's permit. In summary if you hold a drivers licence from Canada , USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany or any European Country it is acceptable ( without the need to have an international driver's permit )
Car Insurance and the Car Hire Excess Amount
What is the Insurance Excess Amount on Rental Cars in Thailand?
Most rental companies apply an excess to your rental. This means should you be in an accident deemed to be your fault you will be liable for that excess amount. The amount of excess in some countries can be substantial and daunting if this your first time hiring a car. The rental company will normally offer you an option to buy additional daily excess insurance to reduce the amount to a reasonable amount or is some cases waive the excess completely.
In Thailand most companies will charge an excess. The good news it is substantially lower than other countries. For example with Thai Rent a Car the excess is TB5,000 for mid and small size car categories. For full size that would include the Camry and Accord the excess is THB10,000
The excess amount must be paid using the credit card of the lead driver, cash will not be accepted ( no exceptions ). All suppliers will give you an option to purchase additional daily insurance to waive the excess. This can be arranged at the pickup depot. With Thai Rent car is currently (2019) THB200 per day to waive the excess to zero.
Zero excess does not mean that you have no liability. It is normal that windows, tires and underside are still the responsibility of the driver. Budget do offer to include these in their insurance package.
Does the car rental insurance cover me for personal injury?
Personal injury is not included and this is the standard in the car rental industry. All Thai car hire suppliers will offer you the option to purchase personal insurance. This can be added to your contract at pickup time. You can also take out your own insurance to cover personal injury prior to travel.
What should I do if I have an accident in my rental car ?
Whilst we hope this does not happen it is better to know the procedure. The first thing is to contact the rental supplier. Emergency numbers will be in the documentation given when picking up the rental. They will send an insurance rider on a motorbike ( to get there quickly ). In the meantime please do not move the car from the scene of the accident. Even if it is blocking traffic. This may sound wrong and I agree, but this is how it is done in Thailand. It is also time to take some snaps of the accident scene, especially if you are the innocent party. In some cases the police will arrive first and chalk out the car and take more pictures. They will then ask you to move to a layby so traffic can keep moving. It can take up to 45 minutes ( depending ) for the motorbike rider to arrive so please be patient. When he does arrive it should be all completed in 30 mins. If the accident is minor the rental company will let you continue with the same rental car. If you do wish to change then they will also oblige.
If your licence is not the roman alphabet please bring along an official translation.
Why do Rental Companies in Thailand ask for a Refundable Deposit?
This is common practice in any country that you rent a car. The deposit acts as a bond and covers the rental company for a variety of possible scenarios, for example you return the vehicle empty ( will need refilled), filthy dirty and smelly ( will need valeting and maybe retired until the smell dissipates ), you caused malicious damage to the interior, return the vehicle full of sand and extremely dirty , return late. All the aforementioned events will cost the rental company and as such they ask for a deposit that is refundable in full should you follow standard instructions and take proper care of the rental vehicle.
Car Rental Categories
Can I hire a car with a manual shift?
This will be difficult. All cars on all fleets are automatic with the exception of the 2 door pickup which is manual and the 12 seater minibus which can be manual or automatic ( you can choose ).
What is the cheapest car to rent ?
The cheapest Thailand car rental is the 2 door manual pickup. Please take note this category has only 2 seat belts in the front and a rear bench seat(no seatbelts). If this meets with your requirements then it is a great choice. As you have some built in safety with the sheer size and weight of this vehicle compared to a small mini category that would be slightly more expensive. Some customers request either an open or closed rear. This cannot always be guaranteed.
Picking up your Car Rental
Are suppliers on airport or do I need to take a shuttle ?
Thai Rentals in the past provided a meet and greet service at Suvarnabhumi airport, now for your convenience all Thailand car rental suppliers now have a desk on the second floor. This is true of most airports in Thailand and no lengthy shuttle service is required so you can commence your journey quickly after landing.
Should I check vehicle at Pickup for damage?
The car Representative will do a walk round with you and mark any damage on paper. A copy of this will be given to you after agreeing and signing the car condition report. Sometimes small things can be missed out so please make sure you actually check that all scratches or minor dents have been marked on the report. On completion you will sign the damage report, please keep this safe as it will be required when you return the rental car. If you are renting from a roadside rental company you will need to pay extra attention at this stage and also check tires for excessive ear. It will also make sense to check the spare isolated and you have the necessary tools ( lug ranch and jack) to change if needed.
Returning your Car Rental
What happens if I return the rental car late?
All Thai rental companies give you one hour grace. What this means is if you are due to return the rental at 14:00 you have until 14:59 before they will charge any additional fee for late return. If you return after the 1 hour grace period you will be liable for extra charges and you may also affect the holiday of someone else. So please bear this in mind when calculating the journey time to the airport or rental depot.
Should I return the rental car with a Full or Empty tank?
This depends on the rules of the rental company. The scam of charging for full tank and asking customers to return empty does not exist in Thailand. The way it works in Thailand is that you are expected to return the vehicle with the same amount of fuel as when you picked it up. Most times that will be full to full, but sometimes it may be half full return half full. The amount of fuel in the tank will be documented and you will only be expected to return the same. We advise making sure you know where the nearest gas station is on the way to airport and factor in some time for this task. If you are not able to don't worry they will not charge you an excessive fee for fuel as in other countries
Car Rental Suppliers in Thailand Local Names vs Brand Names?
All the big names in car rental such as Budget, Avis are all present in Thailand. These big names are competing against the local providers of car rental. The local providers has grown substantially over recent years. From day one Thai Rent Car was the big reputable car rental provider. They were cheaper than the big brands, but the cars were mostly older and of a lower specification.
Many new players have entered the market some give national coverage like Chic Car Rentals others only offer a service in Bangkok and at Bangkok airport. The latest arrival is KPN Car rentals Thailand an offshoot of Toyota Thailand. As you would expect all cars on the fleet are Toyota and with that comes reliability. At the moment they are very competitive as they try to capture a piece of the local car rental market. They operate out of Bangkok airport and Bangkok downtown
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Driving in Thailand
What do Flashing Headlights mean in Thailand?
The use of flashing headlights normally means that the driver will not stop or give way to you. You will notice this mostly at U Turns. If moving from one lane to the next in slow traffic flashing headlights indicates the driver is giving way to you.
Parking rules in Thailand
Car parking space is a premium especially at weekends in the large shopping malls like Central mall. Parking in front of another car is common practice. The most important things is that you must leave the car in neutral. Double check this by giving the car a push to ensure it moves easily. If you are parking on the street make sure it is legal even if you see other parked cars it does not mean it is okay to park. You will often see cars that have been clamped for parking illegally and that will ruin your day.
Finding a good deal on Thailand Car Rental - Compare the Cost of Car Hire Thailand
Need to hire a car in Thailand? After the best deal and best package with zero or low excess? We can help you find the cheapest and best value Thailand car hire. Thailand is a big fly drive destination making the demand for good affordable Thailand car rental high. Motorways are plentiful and most are signposted in both English and Thai. We can provide you with comparative quotes from the big brands that include Budget, AVIS, SIXT, National and Hertz. We also represent the local quality rental outlets that include Thai Rent a Car, Bizcar Rentals Thailand and recently Chic Car Rental.
All these suppliers have multiple locations throughout Thailand so you pickup a car rental from Bangkok and return to Hua Hin for example. If your car rental is seven days or over this will be free, with most suppliers.
If you are out to find the best deal on Thailand car rental start by getting multiple quotes from different operators. We can help you by letting you easily compare prices and package with branded names including Sixt Car Rental Thailand, Hertz Thailand , National Car Hire Thailand. We also have great deals from local suppliers such as Thai rent a car and Chic Car Rent Thailand. All these suppliers have multiple locations throughout Thailand
Compare Thailand Car Rental Prices
Find the best Thailand car hire deal by getting multipe quotes today.