Car rental in Thailand - insurance, documents, prices, advice

Inundated me with questions about renting a car in Thailand. I decided to make a series of articles to tell the fullest about the rental. I have already had enough experience: I rented in Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai. Moreover, he took a car, both daily and monthly, he took it from trusted network companies and private traders. If you are interested in information on bikes, then read about scooter rental in Thailand.

In this general article, I tried to talk about all the nuances of car rental in Thailand: where is it better to book, what documents are needed, is it worth making insurance, how is the contract concluded, is a deposit taken, etc. That is, about almost everything.

The content of the article

Brief instruction

The bottom line for those who don't have time to read.

  • Monitor prices through brokers Economybookings or Rentalcars. They are always cheaper than directly, and Economybookings generally offer 50% discounts. I have booked multiple times through both, no problem. All cars will be only from trusted large international distributors, with insurances, contracts, no leftist.
  • Rent a car with a discount>

  • You need to start searching and book at least a week, at least 3 before the trip, otherwise during the peak season nothing may be available, and you also need a day to confirm your reservation.
  • Next, book with a bank card. It is advisable to have the same card with you when you pick up the car on the spot. Recommend cards Tinkoff, Kukuruza, Sber Mastercard.
  • Upon arrival at the airport, you go to the required rental desk, for example, Hertz, and start the checkout process. You will need a passport, a driver's license (preferably international, but you can also use ordinary ones), a bank card. You sign an agreement, the rental cost is deducted from your card (if it has not been debited before) and a deposit of about 10 thousand baht is frozen on it, which will be returned to you 10-20 days after the end of the lease. I recommend that you immediately take out full insurance without a deductible, so as not to be afraid of scratching the car.
  • You go to inspect the car and indicate all damage in the inspection sheet, as well as the level of gasoline in the gas tank. The car is handed over with a full tank and will also need to be returned. If you took full insurance, then the car need not be inspected.
  • You should always take daily rent from international network companies so as not to have problems. Everything is clear and debugged with them, cars with low mileage, and the prices are the same as elsewhere. It just makes no sense to hemorrhage and look for private traders and local distributors. Booked online, picked up at the airport and travel!

    Also, international distributors give the opportunity to rent a car in another city. My last trip to Phuket-Ko Lanta-Krabi was just like that. I took it in Phuket, gave it to Krabi. A very cool trip turned out.

    Honda City, as always picked up at the airport

    Honda City, as always picked up at the airport

    But if you are going to rent a car for a long time (monthly), then you can look at local small distributors, it may be cheaper. But you need to be prepared for local searches and bargaining. It is also worth considering that during the peak season (December-January), local distributors may not have cars in stock, prices may fly into space. Be sure to check the availability of a contract, insurance. And do not take a car from those Russians who retake them (like sublease), they often do not have the right to do this.

    When renting a month, it also makes sense to ask your friends / neighbors where they rent a car and for how much. You can also ask the owner of the rented house if he is renting a car. If you come not just from the street, then you can try to knock out a discount.

    Where to rent a car in Thailand

    You always have 3 options where you can rent a car: small companies, large network distributors and brokers.

    Small companies

    I include all local companies, as well as individuals, as small rental points. As a rule, in such companies, cars are rented on the spot, after searching. We arrived, walked around 3-5 offices and rented something suitable. Occasionally there is a reservation via the Internet, but usually it is offered by Russian offices (or even just intermediaries). It makes sense to rent a car in a small company MONTHLY, then it will be cheaper and the time spent is justified.

    In small companies, you can agree on something, bargain, you may not be asked for your license, or you may take a small deposit and cash. But there may also be ambiguities with insurance, with drawing up a contract, there may be no inspection sheet and a divorce for money later. Moreover, the smaller the office, the everything will be «simpler». It may be necessary to negotiate verbally with a private person. Of course, if a company has been on the market for a long time, then everything will be fine in it. In general, not everyone trusts such companies, there is more crap, from search to guarantees. A detailed rental experience in a small office is described here - Car rental on Koh Samui.

    Large network companies

    Network companies are those that operate not only in Thailand, but in general all over the world. You may know their names from trips to Europe or elsewhere (Hertz, Sixt, Avis, etc.). They all have similar requirements (passport and required rights), there is always insurance (with or without a franchise, to choose from), all conditions are clearly spelled out on their websites. In this regard, everything is safe and guaranteed, the registration procedure is the same. The prices for DAILY delivery are the same as in small companies, so I personally prefer to take daily rent from them without unnecessary hassle (usually right at the airport).

    The car is booked through the website (no need to go and search), and then pay by credit card. The deposit is also withdrawn from the bank card (frozen). The detailed experience of renting through a network car rental company is described here - Car rental in Bangkok. I recommend booking through a broker, but more on that below.

    Brokers - rent with a discount

    In fact, this is not the third type of rental, but the simplification of finding a car and booking in large network companies. In fact, this is something like a search engine for air tickets familiar to everyone, sometimes they are also called brokers. One of these proven services that I myself use all the time on my travels is Economybookings..

    See prices from Economybookings>

    Brokers have many advantages:

    • It is often 2 times cheaper through brokers than renting a car directly from a distributor. A steep discount comes out, so many people use brokers, they like, due to the volume of dumping, they suit.
    • A service such as an additional driver (when two people are driving) is provided free of charge. Also, some offer their personal full insurance against road accidents with a zero deductible, that is, they compensate for everything that the car rental company can take..
    • You do not need to go to a dozen sites of various offices, compare prices and find out if the required car is available. This is especially true in a season when there are few cars left, and on one site you will see all the options from all possible distributors at once..

    Let's compare specific prices

    I made a special comparison by booking a car from December 15 to December 29 (14 days) to go to Koh Chang. I took it in Bangkok at the Suvarnabhumi airport and returned it there. Yes, in the season the prices are higher, but still indicative. Moreover, most often it is at the peak of the season (December-January) that everyone goes somewhere.

    First, let's see the prices for the most popular rental cars in Thailand: Hertz (19998 baht), National Car (15022 baht), Sixt (37543 baht). See screenshots below.

    Car rental in Thailand - insurance, documents, prices, advice

    Hertz offered for 19998 baht in 14 days

    Car rental in Thailand - insurance, documents, prices, advice

    Natioanalcar offered for 15,022 baht for 14 days

    Car rental in Thailand - insurance, documents, prices, advice

    Sixt offered for 37,543 baht in 14 days

    So-so the picture turns out. Well, more precisely, if you know in advance that you can rent cheaper. I already knew that, this is not the first time I have booked. But okay, now let's see what Economybookings has to offer..

    And he offers a compact car for only 9899 baht from Hertz. It was her that I took, saving 5-10 thousand baht out of nothing. Hertz then gave me a new Honda Jazz in very good condition.

    Car rental in Thailand - insurance, documents, prices, advice

    Lowest price with Economybookings - 9,899 baht for 14 days

    Full instructions on how to book a car

    Average rental price

    As for car rental in Thailand, the average cost of an ordinary sedan will be about 1,000 baht / day, regardless of whether it is a network company or a private trader. The cost depends on the season, model and rental period. The cheapest are small cars and pickups with a manual transmission. And in terms of duration, discounts start somewhere from 5 days. In principle, the price does not depend on anything else..

    The average price for a monthly rental is 15-25 thousand baht / month. Usually only private traders and locals offer this price. International network offices, with the exception of Avis, do not offer significant monthly discounts. Although I somehow came across a similar price also at Sixt.

    If we talk separately about renting from private owners, then sometimes you can find old (killed) options for them conditionally for 500 baht / day or 10-15 thousand baht / month. Yes, you will have to look for budget options, and it is not known how long it will take. But here everything seems to me simple: either you pay with money, or you pay with time. Alternatively, if you are a god of bargaining and can somehow bargain for a normal car. I don’t know how to bargain and I don’t like it, I never succeed. And still such a moment, do not forget about the season, on New Year's Eve, it may be problematic to rent a car everywhere, even for expensive.

    Car rental in Thailand - insurance, documents, prices, advice

    Honda Jazz from Hertz for 707 baht / day or 980 baht / day with full insurance, took at Bangkok airport

    Honda City from Hertz for 1300 baht / day

    Honda City from Hertz for 1050 baht / day or 1300 baht with full insurance), took at Phuket airport

    Rental documents and restrictions

    Do i need an international driving license?

    For rent, only two documents are required: a passport and a driver's license.

    The rights requirements are described differently for different distributors. In small offices, the rights may not be asked at all, and the large distributors most often want your international rights (IDL), although I took the last time from Hertz under the usual rights, they gave the car without any problems.

    It is believed that the requirement for an IDP is not from the distributors, but from the insurers, which is why it may be written on the website and in the contract about the presence of an international driver license. Also, the police asked me specifically for the IDL, although they stop very, very rarely. Thus, in the event of any accidents, it is difficult to say what the absence of an IDP will turn out to be. I know that Thailand has signed the Vienna Convention and here it seems like you can ride on national rights. Want to prove it to the police and insurers? Your right ... And I have an IDP 🙂

    Car rental in Thailand

    Car rental in Thailand


    There are restrictions on the driver's age - you must be at least 21-25 years old, depending on the conditions of a particular office. Another limitation is associated with the use of a car - you cannot go abroad, that is, to a country neighboring Thailand. And on the islands, small offices often meet requirements to ride only here on the island, not to ride along the beaches and country mountain roads. The mileage is usually unlimited for everyone..

    Bank card and deposit

    Do I need a credit card?

    Credit cards and debit cards are accepted, although it says everywhere that they do not accept debit cards. There is such a nuance, many Russian debit cards «are beating», as credit, for example, Tinkoff and Kukuruza, which I recommend for travel (selection of maps). I repeatedly took the car over them. But in general, make yourself a normal AllAirlines travel credit card (by the link 1000 rubles a gift to the card) and get a good cashback on it.

    If you are booking a car online, then when you receive a car, it is advisable to have this very bank card with which you made the reservation. Also, a bank card will be used at the rental point to write off rental fees and a deposit..

    To check how your card will break through, google BIN check online (here is one of the services), and by the first 6 digits of your card, you will find out whether it will be defined as DEBIT, or as CREDIT. For example, debit debit Tinkoff and debit Corn go like credit cards, and the Sberbank Mastercard Standard debit is making its way now like a debit card. Sometimes, you still manage to pay for the car rental, but it's better to make normal travel cards, Tinkoff is the first in my rating, I have been using it for 4 years.


    Cash deposit is quite normal practice. Private distributors always take a deposit in cash, while network distributors, on the contrary, withdraw (freeze) only from a bank card. From a private owner, a deposit can be 5-30 thousand baht, network ones take 8-10 thousand baht.

    And if everything is clear with private ones - you give the car and your cash back to you, then with large network distributors the situation is different. The online car rental company will freeze the deposit on your bank card, which will return about 20-30 after the end of the lease, you do not need to do anything specifically for this. For example, HERTZ freezes 5000 baht in your account, and Avis freezes 8000 baht. IMHO this is not a problem, the money is very small and will not go anywhere.

    From personal experience: National Car returned the deposit after 2 days because they made a cancellation. Hertz was returned after 25 days, it was just an automatic cancellation of the transaction.

    Passport as a deposit

    When renting a car, you may be asked for your passport as a deposit. You should not give it away, this is not correct, then you can get divorced. Practiced by small private owners, international offices never take a passport as a deposit. But among small offices there are those where a copy of a passport and a cash deposit will be enough, look for them.

    I personally never give my passport as a deposit.

    All about insurance (types, deductible)

    Whenever you take a car, ask about insurance. One can hope for the best that nothing happens, but I would take only with insurance, at least with one where there is a deductible. For example, you will not be able to take insurance from network distributors at all, it is already included in the price by default. And don't forget about travel insurance, God forbid, to come in handy, but it's better to have too.

    Types of car insurance

    • Third Party Insurance, according to the type of our OSAGO
    • Theft Insuranse
    • Damage Waiver, some types of CASCO
    • Personal accident insurance PAI

    Damage insurance with and without deductible

    MTPL is included in the basic package, insurance against theft usually comes for additional money. Damage insurance has two different options:

    • With a deductible, where the deductible amount is, say, 10,000 baht. Usually referred to as CDW (Collision Damage Waiver).
    • Full insurance or zero deductible. Usually referred to as SCDW or ECDW (Super Collision Damage Waiver or Extra Collision Damage Waiver).

    All English names are from the sites of large network distributors, that is, they may differ. In the case of full insurance (SCDW) for any damage, you do not pay anything, and in the case of a franchise (CDW), there is a liability limit of about 5-10 thousand baht. The liability limit is the franchise. Let's say you scratched your car. If the insurance is full, then these are not your problems, if with a deductible, then you will be invoiced, but not more than the deductible amount. That is, in the case of insurance with a deductible, you will get a maximum of 5-10 thousand baht, usually this is the amount that appears.

    But there is an exception. If the car after the accident became total loss, that is, it was written off for scrap, then even if you have full insurance, you will be charged a certain amount. For example, Hertz will charge 30,000 baht. In principle, for a completely killed car, this is not much, but still not a complete CASCO.

    Car rental in Thailand - insurance, documents, prices, advice

    Types of insurance from HERTZ that can be taken on the spot

    Is it worth taking insurance with a deductible?

    In addition to the fact that you yourself can somehow damage the body or bumper, there is also such a moment with the franchise. The rental workers may try to attribute not your scratches to you in order to earn a little, and here you won't really prove anything. I myself have not encountered this, but it happens. Therefore, if you are too afraid of divorces, as well as scratching something, then your option is full insurance, even if it is a little more expensive. I personally take full insurance so as not to bother myself.

    However, not everything is so bad. The moment you take the car, you inspect and record all the scratches in a special document. Large network offices cannot do without it. Therefore, really, go around and see the car, where and what. But I'll tell you more about this below..

    If you rent a car on a monthly basis, then the cost of renting with full insurance and with a deductible can be very different. And then you need to look at how much and decide what you need. For example, you can rent a car for 15,000 baht / month with a deductible of 10,000 baht or 20,000 baht / month and with full insurance..

    Contract and inspection of the machine

    When renting a car, it is advisable to draw up a contract, which will spell out the lease terms, the cost of the lease, and the conditions of insurance. The latter is the most important. But small offices and individuals may not offer you any contract. Here you decide for yourself how much you trust them. You can insist and write down the conditions at least in a simple form. I rented a car once in Hua Hin and Chiang Mai without a contract. I took risks, but it was interesting to get experience.

    Network distributors always offer a contract and all the necessary documents, everything is standardized..

    An agreement with a large network distributor

    An agreement with a large network distributor

    A typical contract in a small office

    A typical contract in a small office

    Now about the inspection. If the office is large, they themselves will give you a car inspection sheet, and there you can put marks on the picture of the body and sign where the scratches and dents are. Well, or any other comments. The fuel level is also indicated here. If the office is small, then usually they do not bother with such things, neither the fuel level, nor the inspection sheet. In this case, in order to protect yourself, write down all damages in the contract in free form (more photos can be taken).

    Also, check with what level of fuel you need to return the car, otherwise, upon return, you can roll out the missing one at a triple price. The big network distributors in Thailand always give a car with a full tank, and you must return it in the same way with a full tank. Otherwise, you will pay about 400 baht for each division of the fuel level (this is how Hertz takes). Therefore, I always refuel before handing over the car. He brought out such a rule - to refuel a maximum of 50 km before the return point, it is enough so that not a single division goes away.

    Vehicle inspection sheet with fuel and accessories

    Vehicle inspection sheet with fuel and accessories

    And more about the inspection. Recently, I have been doing this: I take a car through Economybookings from some Hertz and with full insurance, and therefore generally forget to inspect, because in any case, the insurance covers everything, they will not quibble afterwards in any way.

    Traveling around Thailand by car

    Roads and traffic rules

    The main difficulty in driving a car in Thailand is left-hand traffic (in the other direction, not like ours) and right-hand drive cars. It took me a couple of hours to get used to it, but I know that some people find it very difficult. Unfortunately, I can't give any advice here, except that take the car on the machine, then you will not need to think about changing gears and driving will be easier.

    The cars are right-hand drive, and the movement is left-hand

    The cars are right-hand drive, and the movement is left-hand

    The second difficulty is the bustling movement of motorbikes. If you hardly notice this on the track, then in the city bikes are scurrying here and there. If you drive calmly, take your time, give them the way, then everything should be fine and without incident. Just try to remember them, often look in the mirrors and in front of you..

    The traffic rules are similar to ours, the colors of the traffic lights are also the same 🙂 But traffic lights often have arrows, not quite the same as ours and you should pay attention to them. Also, turning left when red is on is a normal situation..

    The roads in Thailand are normal, even good, I would say. But the markings are sometimes faded, which makes it difficult to move in the dark (after 6 pm). They also have reckless truck and bus drivers here, with one lane - overtaking in the oncoming lane for a sweet soul.

    Gasoline prices in Thailand

    Gasoline prices in Thailand can be seen in the photo below. On the islands (Phuket / Koh Samui) it is more expensive, in Pattaya it is cheaper. Update from November 2018. More about prices and fuels, in my post for the link. Read it, otherwise it's not always easy to figure it out right away.

    Gasoline prices in Thailand

    Gasoline prices in Thailand

    Car rental in Thailand - insurance, documents, prices, advice

    It is always written on the tank hatch which gasoline can be filled

    P.S. Anything to add? Welcome to comments! I will be glad to see your additions.