For a bit more comfort you can rent a car and travel all over Thailand. In places like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Phuket and many other bigger places are many car-rental shops. With some companies you can rent a car in example Bangkok and bring it back in Chiang Mai. So go and rent a car or motor-bike and explorer Thailand beyond the high-lights, find that beautiful lake or overlook that beautiful view from an mountain. But before you do .......
Some simple rules for choosing rental shops :
1. Be sure to check the insurance (should have full insurance)
2. Check for damage (make photos)
3. Check the paper-work (registration)
4. In case of car try to choose an international company
5. Be aware that the most scooter rental shops do not have full insurance for their bikes
Is driving / riding in Thailand safe?Yes it is safe, but different as in many European countries. First of all people tend to drive on the left-side of the road (well most times) and the roads are for everybody. Also for chickens, dogs, children, small motorbikes, old trucks, crazy bus-drivers, drunk people in a car and for people driving against the traffic flow. Another thing that I am not used to is that many times there is no intersection but just a u-turn, many u-turns actually.
The law in Thailand
1. To drive any car or motorbike you need to have a driver-license
2. Tourists need to have an international driver license AND their own national DL
3. Long term residents of Thailand need to have a Thai driver license
4. On a motorbike you need to wear a helmet
5. In a car you need to wear safety-belt
6. There are speed-limits (for car and motorbike)
7. It is left-side driving in Thailand (most times)
8. You car or motorbike needs to have insurance and road-tax paid
9. For driving a car or motorbike you have to be at least 18 years old
10. Motorbikes (big and small) can not drive on the Bangkok toll-ways
Some simple rules for driving
1. Do not drive at night
2. Look left and right .... and left and right again
3. Be aware of put-holes or other things in (on) the road
4. Be aware of weird (or none) exit lanes
5. Be aware of the Thai police .... they are looking for extra income
6. If you have never driven a motorbike or car do not choose Thailand as the country to start doing so
But also realize that 70% of the Thai people did "buy" their driver-license (if they have a DL at all) and that they do not have any imagination about what could happen if ....they drive with 3 kids on their motorbike without helmet at a speed of 90km/h on the motorway while making a telephone call. Or what happens if you have to break hard while you have 10 people in the back of your pick-up truck. They tend also not to realize that it is very dangerous to drive without lights on a dark road with a lot of traffic.
You should also realise that that old overloaded trucks also drive on the motorway going uphill with a speed of 5 km/h and that the bus will also pass this truck with 40 km/h and that the all traffic of 3 lanes will be slowed down because of that.