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hello,
thinking of making a stop in bangkok in the next year, and was wondering if it is a good idea to rent a car and drive through the north end of the country, entering laos. I am not familiar with the road structuring, nor the amount of safety whilst driving through the whole country, off grid.

thanks for your time, peacelove

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8 Comments

  1. I don’t think it would be a good idea: crossing the border in a rented car: I’ve never heard of anyone doing this. A motorbike, maybe.

    Actually most ppl don’t rent cars in Laos: drivers are crazy. A Driving test there is meaningless AFAIK.

    So you might have success in N. thailand, but the roads are made for carving up on a motorbike. Very satisfying.

    Buses, boats and trains – and scooters – that’s they way ppl travel there.

  2. i agree with what has already been mentioned, but also…

    went to thailand a few years back, i wouldn’t recommend taking a rental car across the border. not that i had any experience of crossing borders – i went in and out – however while i was in Kanchanaburi i met an ex-pat and a correspondent for the times who were old friends in a bar, the times correspondent was there because a thai police officer had been accused of murdering a british man over an argument with his girlfriend, and so the conversation eventually made its way onto corruption within the institutions in thailand.
    The ex-pat, who was drinking as if he wasn’t driving, was saying that he could drive home that night and if he were to hit a person – as long as it wasn’t a somebody – he would be able to bribe his way outta it, given the money he had and the contacts he had made within the six years he had been out there. because he was drunk, and cus i had just met him that night, i questioned the times guy when the ex-pat went to the toilet, if he felt that it was like that out here. he agreed, and reckoned that if the cop who was accused of murder was found guilty, then he’d be smuggled out of prison and a nobody would be killed in prison in his place. i remember that conversation vividly as it was the first time i ever considered the death penalty to be justified.

    i dunno, it’s a beautiful place and i wanna go back, this time with my girlfriend – so i am in no way trying to put you off going. 

    when i’m travelling alone, or with anyone i feel responsible for, i always trust my instincts and i’m thinking maybe your instincts are against the idea of crossing the border with a rental car – for if you felt it would be of no concern you wouldn’t of asked? 

  3. Yup.
    I’ve heard stories like this too – life is cheap, and the system corrupt.

    The expat in your tale is probably exaggerating his swagger : it would still be an expensive, traumatic ordeal for him. They ain’t going to go easy on him because he’s an expat – probably the opposite these days – but when they ask for the cash, he’s going to have it, and they’re going to know he’s got it.

    Also, you know when it’s getting towards the end of the month in thailand, as the traffic cops have run out of cash and set up road blocks and are shaking down motorists for bribes : US$10 for a minor transgression, ie not wearing a crash helmet.

    This isn’t to say Thailand’s a bad place – it’s great fun : Just don’t drive a car unless you know what’s going on. But it’s okay not to drive because public transport is fun, cheap, and frequent, so you’d really have to want to go far off the beaten track to justify needing a car. If you need to zip about in town, just rent a scooter for US5-10 a day. Just be careful, and umm, wear a crash helmet.

  4. In some countries where they often went across the border by car. Or maybe they are people trafficking. But I think we should be by air.

  5. It seems like there would be a lot of waiting through customs on a road trip to Indonesia from Thailand.  I’m not sure if I would be willing to wait for hours at a time to be allowed to enter the country.  This is why I typically only choose one destination when I plan a vacation.

  6. I know for sure you can not cross with a car into Cambodia. From Laos I don’t know but can imagine it will be problematic. Als don’t forget once you get of the mai road all signs are in Thai scripture and impossible to read for us.

  7. Never try it, but I quite like road trips with my best friends, it can be very romantic and give you a chance to visit more places.

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