As many of the major international car rental companies are present (such as Avis, Budget, Sixt or Hertz), along with a vast range of local companies to choose from, it is certainly not difficult to hire a car in Thailand. While some expats do prefer to drive their own car, it is also common to hire a driver in Thailand. This, as the general cost of a full-time driver is not very high, coupled with the sometimes frustrating traffic conditions (notably in Bangkok).
The major car rental companies generally have standardized rates (with 7% VAT included), while prices may vary slightly depending on location for smaller companies. Needless to say, rental cars for long term come in several categories according to preferences and budget. As a guiding example, a 12 months rental of a car including full time driver should be expected to cost between THB 450,000.- and 675,000.- (USD 12,800.- to 19,200.-), and a bit more than half as a self-drive option. Some car rental companies do offer to provide driver service ‘in-house’.
If an expat prefers driving by him-/herself, it should be noted that while driving is allowed on an international driver’s license, for long-term stays in Thailand it is recommended that a local driver’s license is obtained. A few further cautionary notes should be made on the issue of general road safety, which is a serious issue in Thailand and sadly reflected in very high road fatality statistics. Contributing reasons are the rather ‘lax’ attitudes, on the part of the general public as well as enforcement, of e.g. observance of traffic rules, safety precautions and drink driving.
While the quality of roads across most of Thailand’s provinces and rural areas are perhaps surprisingly good, and driving one’s own car is indeed a convenient way of leaving the city and exploring the countryside, the aforementioned traffic frustrations coupled with the frequent inner city traffic jams and highway ‘pile-ups’, hiring a car with a driver is often a safer and more convenient option.
Regardless of the favored solution or type of vehicle, Thailand offers plenty of options for car rental, with or without driver service, via an impressive array of local and international car rental companies.