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Car Hire

Durham, United...
Level Contributor
135 posts
86 reviews
Car Hire

We are returning to Le Meridian for a week in November and getting excited already! To see a bit more of the area am thinking about hiring a car for 3 days.

1 Should I book in advance or wait till we are there

2 Do I need an international Driving Licence (have had conflicting information)

3 Recall a car hire office in Khao Lak town and Hertz had a desk at Le Meridian any thoughts

4 Any sugestions for places to visit

Thanks in anticipation


London, United...
Level Contributor
290 posts
1. Re: Car Hire

Hello Pete,

We have similar plans. We're returning around the same time and looking for a car to go to-

Khao Sok National park

Takua Pa

Bang Nam Khem

Plus numerous trips to Bang La On and Bang Niang in the evenings!

I have a quote from budget in Phuket, although they apparently have an agent in Khao Lak, and have asked if they will deliver the car to Khao Lak. They are a little more expensive than other operatores but are highly recommended and include Super CDW.

They can be contacted at - brachkt@budget.co.th

I do have an International Driving Licence as it is, as far as I know, required. Just download the form from the AA web site and post it off. You will get it in 3-5 days.

Poulton Le Fylde...
Destination Expert
for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
Level Contributor
45,458 posts
107 reviews
2. Re: Car Hire

Hi Pete,

Hertz do still have a desk at Le Meridien and Mike has given an addy for Budget.

Yes, you do need an IDP though the rental company will hire you a car with your UK one. However, if you have an accident and the local constabulary are called you will be required to produce an IDP. Failure to do so could cause problems even if not your fault. For the cost involved it is not worth risking not having one. As well as the AA there are a limited number of main post offices where you can apply and pick one up in person. These are listed on the AA site.

Booking in advance will give you certainty. Local outfits are cheaper but just ensure they have the requisite insurance.



Southern California
Level Contributor
530 posts
12 reviews
3. Re: Car Hire

We are also planning on hiring a car for 3 days... my hotel KL ORCHID BEACH says there are local companies... but be sure that the BUDGET is part of the corporation not an indie franchisee... CONDE NAST TRAVELER writes about this all the time... as you think you are paying more for quality & when the problems occur many travelers find out that the franchisee is paying for the name, but not delivering the quality.

Call BUDGET & HERTZ in the UK & ask them.

Also guys, WHAT is SUPER CDW?

Our Visa cards offer it if we put a rental on it. Is there something else that CDW gives you if you buy it from the car rental agency?

Southern California
Level Contributor
530 posts
12 reviews
4. Re: Car Hire

Hey Russet,

would you please tell me a brief description about each of the places you've highlighted?

<<Khao Sok National park

Takua Pa

Bang Nam Khem



we're going to do 2 boat excursions to the SIMILANS & PANG-NGA BAY, but I want to rent a car & drive...

I've driven leftside in Anguilla... it's not a biggie for me (but my husband is a menace LOL!)



Level Contributor
2,979 posts
5. Re: Car Hire

I have to go to bat for Budget Rent a Car here . . .

My personal experience is that they DO deliver the quality here. I've rented from them multiple times.

My wife had an accident in a Budget car a couple years ago and they were GREAT - their insurance guy was on the scene within 20 minutes and handled EVERYTHING - and when you have an accident is when you come to KNOW about quality.

It is easy for an accident to be a MAJOR legal problem here - and an injury accident is a criminal offense in Thailand.

Take your chances, rent the cheap car - but don't expect the support when it is really needed.

BTW, after the accident mentioned above - Budget upgraded us to the next level with the replacement car.

Just my opinion.

Southern California
Level Contributor
530 posts
12 reviews
6. Re: Car Hire

Hey Ted,

It sounds like BUDGET is not an indie franchise but part of the corporation...

If our Visa/MasterCard provide CDW, do you still advise buying it from Budget?

It's been nearly two decades since I've been in Phuket, we want to drive around the Khao Lak area... are the routes to the park well marked in English signs?

What's the driving like in the KL area? Aggressive? Risky?

When people visit Los Angeles, I encourage them not to drive unless they have big city, aggressive driving experience... Boston & Paris are worse than L.A., so I'm wondering how the driving will be in KL?

Level Contributor
2,979 posts
7. Re: Car Hire

My cards all cover CDW, but I don't think they are going to show up on the scene if I have an accident. That's the biggest reason why I support Budget.

How are you going to represent yourself if you don't speak Thai? VERY few police speak passable English, so which side of the story are they going to hear?

I'm not trying to be an alarmist, but really - having a serious accident in a foreign country where you don't know the language OR the laws can be quite a frightening experience. To me the few baht saved going for the cheapest rental car possible is not the worth the peace of mind lost. Put the expense in the big picture - how much will you spend on airfare, lodging, food, shopping, etc?

The roads from Phuket to Khao Lak are all quite well marked in Thai and in English - no problem finding your way.

Driving around in the Khao Lak area is easier than around Phuket., but I don't recommend driving anywhere after dark. Roads are inconsistently lit, bikes and cars and trucks often have poor or no lights, black dogs sleep on the tarmac, brown people in dark clothing walk on unlit roads . . . I find driving at night a bit unnerving sometimes.

Particularly off of Highway 4A (the artery that runs through the Khao Lak area), driving is quite easy and slow. Keep your speed down, don't be in a rush and you will be fine.

Durham, United...
Level Contributor
135 posts
86 reviews
8. Re: Car Hire

Thanks for the information Guys

Will check out and contact Budget and Avis for prices. Certainly do not want to risk a problem for the sake of a few Baht


Southern California
Level Contributor
530 posts
12 reviews
9. Re: Car Hire

Thanks Ted, again, for your wise advise.

Without you I would have never discovered the KhaoLak Orchid Beach.

I will definitely rent through BUDGET in Phuket.

Will they deliver the car to KLO?



Khao Lak
Level Contributor
126 posts
28 reviews
10. Re: Car Hire


I think everyone here is giving you great advice and something to think about. But you mentioned that you drive in Los Angeles. Personally, I have never worried about the 'traffic' here in Thailand. If you are a seasoned driver in Los Angeles, then you have stood the test behind the wheel.

Now that won't account for the things that could happen that are not in control by you. A dog, motorbike and such. But I can say that I have driven nearly 50,000km in 2 years here (we live in Khao Lak) and I don't feel like I've taken much risk. The Thai's on motorbikes more likely know you are near them in a car. They've been riding since they were children. Its the farangs (foreign visitors) that you gotta watch out for. Some never have driven on the left side of the road (did you know this yet?). Get an automatic transmission, a truck if possible (for added safety) and use your seatbelts. If you do have an accident, perhaps you can find out if your insurance company will cover you MEDICALLY if driving in a foreign land. There are so many pros and cons with driving in a foreign country. I just drove 1,500 miles in Kenyan outback to help feed some folks, and that was a real risk, but I like to live under the odds that are in my favor:

I drive respectfully and carefully

I don't drink and drive (I hardly drink anyway)

I drive a large vehicle (4x4 truck which you can find here to rent)

I drive with an Internatinal Licence from AAA

I don't take any risks (dangerous passing, etc)

I always drive defensively, especially around motorscooters

I stay home in heavy rain and at night if possible

I carry a Thai/English dictionary with me with international phone numbers for my insurance, embassy and family.

But, hey. I'm a risk-taker, but I do it with calculation. I save lots of money because the odds are in my favor. If you hit someone and injure them, regardless of your rental car involved, you're screwed. Consider yourself the new adopted father of the family you may have to support.

All of the posts here will give you food for thought. Most do NOT use high-end car agencies. MOST use local low-cost rentals. And MOST make it home safely. If you are irresponsible, then you increase your chances of being one of the statisitcs that we hear about in the Phuket Gazette. If not, then we will never hear about you and you will go home with a great family vacation memory.

Good luck in what ever you decide to do.

Johnny and Roong

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