Bangkok

Is it worth hiring a car in Bangkok ?

Should you rent a car in Bangkok Thailand > Bangkok

James says - a few trip notes:


Bangkok is the second most visited city in the world, in terms of international arrivals, sitting behind just Hong Kong.

Even if it’s very easy to visit the Thai capital without a car, the sheer number of tourists who come here, combined with the natgural desire to explore jungles and coastlines beyond the city make the question of whether or not it’s worth renting a car in Bangkok a good one to consider.

Since the cost of both fuel and car hire costs are determined primarily by nternational factors, there’s certainly no reason to rent a car in Bangkok if you are mainly looking at the cost of travel. Even if you are a group of friends who can fill a car, it will almost certainly still be cheaper to get out of the city by bus. You can explore  Thai islands by using the ferries as a foot passenger.

Needless to say, Bangkok has a terrible reputation for both traffic and pollution.  Any advice on renting a car in Bangkok is going to be much more about driving out of the city, than staying within it. However, if you are planning on renting a car at the airport and then maybe staying a couple of nights in the city before driving elsehwere.

It might be useful to know that around 60% of hotels in Bangkok offer free parking. This is always going to be more likely in suburban hotels than it will be in the centre.


Bangkok Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Is it worth hiring a car in Bangkok ?

Our Bangkok car hire guide will start by stating the obvious! Bangkok is a huge congested metropolis which has also recently invested heavily in rail-based mass transport. All of the most popular attractions are a relatively short distance from each other.

To give an idea of its size, it’s worth noting that Bangkok also holds the distinction of being the world’s most populous city when considered as a multiple of the next largest city in that country (in this case, Chang Mai). Yet most of this size is based on endless development beyond the central core where the main tourist sites are located.

Why should you rent a car in Bangkok?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Bangkok?

Bangkok Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

60%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€105

 #111/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €105

42/300

 

Free parking score

Total 2382 - of which 1370 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

58%

#98/300

 

Is it worth hiring a car in Bangkok ?

Anyone planning a visit to Thailand which starts with a long haul flight into Bangkok is almost certainly going to be looking at where else to visit outside the capital. This then begs the obvious question: Even if you might well want to avoid driving in Bangkok like the plague, is it worth getting a rental car and then driving down to some of the more famous coastal resorts such as Krabi, Phuket or Koh Samui? All of these destinations are essentially a good day’s driving from Bangkok. You might prefer just to take a bus and let someone else do the driving. Alternatively, they are both just a short flight away from Bangkok. Please see our Phuket and Koh Samui car advice pages the further suggestions about whether or not it’s worth driving in these destinations when you get there.

Is it worth hiring a car in Bangkok ?

  • Simply because Bangkok is so well connected, even if the roads are so congested!
  • Bangkok is at the centre of Thailand’s highway network – start here for a journey to anywhere else.
  • This is the most obvious place to start a Thai road trip.
  • Fuel is cheap.

Why not? Visiting Bangkok without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Bangkok public transport quick facts

Train score

 

00%

Water travel score

80%

Overall public transport score

20%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

80%

  • Another popular excursion from Bangkok is to visit the Burma railway and to see the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai at Kanchanaburi. Naturally, this is an excursion that is most appropriate to do by train, but in reality, many people do by tour bus. Yet there is still little point in hiring a car to go in this direction, as the main points of interest are all easily reached on foot.
  • If you’ve only got a few days in Bangkok and just want to take a short coastal break away from the city, then the best place to do this Pattaya, which can easily be reached by bus or train.
  • Getting a hire car in Bangkok might make sense if you want to start exploring further inland, and especially if you want to visit some of the national parks heading towards Chiang Mai. However, on balance, Bangkok is the sort of place where the great majority of visitors will be better off without one.

Is it worth hiring a car in Bangkok ?

Verdict – no

Ratings

Car rental in - Bangkok Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Bangkok?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Bangkok?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Bangkok?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Bangkok if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Bangkok if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Bangkok if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

1

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

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Chiang Mai

Should you hire a car in Chiang Mai?

Should you rent a car in Chiang Mai Thailand > Chiang Mai

Generally, car hire in Thailand doesn’t make a great deal of sense, because visitors are most likely to spend time in frenetic Bangkok, where driving is a nightmare, or in any one of the country’s famous coastal resorts, such as Phuket or Koh Samui, where the emphasis is always going to be on the beaches and the water.

Yet Chiang Mai is quite different, firstly because it is very deep inland, and secondly because it is surrounded by so many natural parks and other scenic forested areas.

Chiang Mai Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Why should you rent a car in Chiang Mai?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Chiang Mai?

Chiang Mai Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

20%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€110

 #126/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €105

43/300

 

Free parking score

Total 1554 - of which 977 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

63%

#83/300

 
  • There are also no rail services in Chiang Mai, and although local scheduled bus services are readily available within the city.
  • Buses to any other scenic areas around the city are much less widely available.
  • Buses are mainly focused on intercity service, rather than at stopping at the parks in between.

Why not? Visiting Chiang Mai without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Chiang Mai public transport quick facts

Train score

 

00%

Water travel score

90%

Overall public transport score

20%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

20%

This doesn’t mean that the only way to visit Chiang Mai is to do so with a rental car – as with any scenic area, a car is only going to get you so far, and this is really the sort of destination that lends itself to long walking excursions. You may well prefer to hire a local guide, who might also provide transport, rather than renting your own car, and this might well work out as better value anyway.

Ratings

Car rental in - Chiang Mai Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Chiang Mai?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Chiang Mai?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Chiang Mai?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Chiang Mai if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Chiang Mai if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Chiang Mai if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

8

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Should you hire a car in Chiang Mai?Verdict – yes (possibly guide with car)

Would you hire a car in Chiang Mai?

Have you driven in Chiang Mai? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Chiang Mai?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Koh Samui

Do you need a car in Koh Samui?

Should you rent a car in Koh Samui Thailand > Koh Samui

Many visitors might well consider that Koh Samui is the sort of destination where a combination of beachfront activities, watersports and boat trips would make a hire car unnecessary. This might well be the case, but it’s also a great place to explore further, whether by car or not:

Koh Samui Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Why should you rent a car in Koh Samui?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Koh Samui?

Koh Samui Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

40%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€110

 #127/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €200

128/300

 

Free parking score

Total 1007 - of which 641 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

64%

#77/300

 
  • Compared to a heavily congested city like Bangkok, a hire car in Koh Samui might be useful for visiting the various parks and coastal roads which are nearby. A full circuit around the island without stopping would take a good 2-3 hours. This lends itself to getting a car for a single day.
  • The island is relatively small, but distances can be deceptive. Due to the winding nature of the roads, expect to drive slowly.
  • Expect everything else to move slowly too! Compared to a bus, you will have much for flexibility!
  • Because Koh Samui airport is so close to the town of Bophut, a wide range of car hire choices is available, with healthy competition.
  • It is also possible to head to the mainland by taking advantage of one of the car ferry services from the western side of the island. However, one way rental is not advised – it’s far easier to return your car to the same place.
  • You may enjoy the initial novelty of a songthaew (shared pick up truck). After that, you may prefer the comfort of a rental car. Safety, as ever, is a matter of judging your own risks!

Why not? Visiting Koh Samui without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Koh Samui public transport quick facts

Train score

 

20%

Water travel score

20%

Overall public transport score

20%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

30%

  • If you are staying in Bophut, Samui airport is close enough to be able to walk to your resort!
  • Even with winding roads, the island is still small – and easy enough to tour round in a day using local transport services.
  • Public buses, songthaews (shared taxi services using converted pick-up trucks), regular taxis and NaviGo (app based) taxis combine to provide a range of choice for touring the island.
  • to really appreciate the natural wonders of this part of Thailand, you will need to take to the waters! Ferries are available to the nearby resort island of Pha Ngan, or to the islands which make up Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park to the west.
  • Koh Samui is easy to visit as part of a combined itinerary, taking in the Thai mainland, and also possibly including the island of Phuket, which sits on the western side of the peninsula. You can buy combined through ferry and coach tickets to Phuket, promoted by local ferry companies such as Seatran Discovery and Lomprayah.
  • Ferry companies serving either the mainland or nearby islands will give you the option of adding in a shuttle bus connection.

James says - a few trip notes:


Note – before confirming any ferry bookings to or from Koh Samui, I would always suggest taking a look at the kind of boat that the operator will be using.

If a service is operated as being “fast”, ask yourself first if this is what you really want! Fast often means you will get a catamaran with only very limited outdoor area at the back – for me, this is absolutely the worst way to travel! A more conventional ferry may still label itself as “high speed”, but have far wider outer decks. Why rush when you are travelling on crystal clear waters in one of the most beautiful places in the world? Even if you are just trying to make an onward connection, a two hour “fast” ferry is still unlikely to take more than around two hours as a “slow” service.


Ratings

Car rental in - Koh Samui Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Koh Samui?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Koh Samui?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Koh Samui?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Koh Samui if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Koh Samui if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Koh Samui if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

2

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

So, do you need a car in Koh Samui? This has to be one of the softest “yes” recommendations that we have made, and it is very much one that suggests getting a rental car for a day or two rather than for the length of your stay, but it is still something that might be worth considering nonetheless.

Would you hire a car in Koh Samui?

Have you driven in Koh Samui? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Koh Samui?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Krabi

Should you rent a car in Krabi?

Should you rent a car in Krabi Thailand > Krabi

Given the coastal location of Krabi, the limited driving roads and the range of beach and watersports activities on offer, combined with less energetic boat trips, we would generally not recommend hiring a car here.

Krabi Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Why should you rent a car in Krabi?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Krabi?

Krabi Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

20%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€110

 #123/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €120

58/300

 

Free parking score

Total 1105 - of which 600 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

54%

#109/300

 
  • For a road trip around southern Thailand. Krabi is on the mainland, not an island, so no ferries to worry about.
  • Despite buses being plentiful and cheap, a hire car will still provide flexibility.
  • For any of the scenic areas, including national parks off the main north-south Highway 4, a hire car can still be useful.

Why not? Visiting Krabi without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Krabi public transport quick facts

Train score

 

20%

Water travel score

20%

Overall public transport score

30%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

30%

  • Many of the places you can visit from Krabi as also easy to access from Phuket, for where we have a more detailed car hire advice guide.
  • Many of the islands in the Andaman Sea have heavy restrictions on motorised traffic.
  • Buses are widely available and cheap – check locally for full details, not all scheduled are online.
  • The island of Phi Phi, made famous (or perhaps infamous) due to the film “The Beach”, is as easy to access by boat from Krabi as it is from Phuket.
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Would you hire a car in Krabi?

Have you driven in Krabi? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Krabi?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Phuket

Is it worth hiring a car in Phuket?

Should you rent a car in Phuket Thailand > Phuket

Phuket Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

[coming]

Generally speaking, Thailand is the sort of destination where many visitors don’t really even think about getting a hire car, or perhaps where anyone who does think about getting some sort of motorised transport is more likely to pick up a scooter, rather than a hire car.

There are certainly plenty of things to do and places to see in and around Phuket without really beginning to bother with a rental car. We think it might be worth considering getting a car for at least a day or two, in order to explore a bit further beyond some of the most popular tourist haunts.

Is it worth hiring a car in Phuket? Yes

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Would you hire a car in Phuket?

Have you driven in Phuket? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Phuket?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below: