There are many roads without sidewalks and many sidewalks with dangerous holes and construction to be aware of. Keep half an eye downward to ensure your safety while you enjoy your tour.
As always when you are in a strange land, be aware of your surroundings and stay in more lighted area. Thailand is fairly safe country but don't push it. Also, be ware that the majority of the crime in Thailand is the snatch thief. So ensure you are protective of your belongings.
There are a few things you need to bear in mind before embarking on your epic road journey, things that will hopefully keep you safe and make you ride as smooth as possible. There are laws for driving in Thailand; however it would appear for the most part that these rules are there to be broken. Officially, everyone drives on the left, although there will be occasions when a car or motorbike will head towards you on the same side of the road. Normally they will drive slowly on the hard shoulder – don’t be alarmed, just carefully pull around them to let them pass.
Although it may seem as if parking is a bit of a free for all in Thailand, there are some general points to be aware of. Unless you want the police to issue you with a ticket, don’t park by a curb or in front of railings that are painted in red and white stripes. The Thais have an ingenious solution to the fact that parking is limited, by double and triple parking. The owner of a car that has been blocked in simply has to push the offending vehicle out of the way – therefore when using a car park keep you car parked in neutral.
Drinking and driving in Thailand is illegal, but many still do it, and in the interests of self preservation, it is better to assume that every other driver on the road is a little worse for wear. Expect to see people running red lights and stop signs, trucks piled dangerously high with all manner of goods, motorbikes precariously balancing whole families and packs of dogs running wild in the middle of busy highways. It is also not unknown for someone to try to overtake as you are overtaking them or to undertake you by driving on the hard shoulder. In every circumstance the best survival technique is to constantly check your mirrors while liberally employing your horn. It may seem odd at first beeping and tooting everyone, but it helps to keep you safe and is a common practice on Thai roads. Flashing your headlights in Thailand is a warning sign meaning ‘don’t go’.
Should you be unfortunate and have a road accident in Thailand, it will be considered your fault – as a Westerner you are seen as rich and therefore responsible for paying for a crash even if your car was parked and you were no where near it at the time. You can also be stopped and fined by the police for doing what everyone else is doing. (However, this prejudice works in your favor during road blocks as Ferangs (Westerners) will be generally waved through). If you do get stopped by the police, don’t argue, pay any fine and in the case of an accident pray that your hire firm has got good insurance.
Also, be aware that whether you are hiring or borrowing a car, one thing that will remain prevalent is that your windscreen wipers will not work in the rain. This is because for most of the year the sun will have slowly melted the rubber of the wipers, welding them on to the windscreen. So, when it rains, all you will be effectively doing is smearing a couple of small strips of perished rubber across your eye line – handy if you are trying to create the impression of a badly tuned in TV in stripy mud, not so good if you are trying to negotiate your way through unknown roads during a tropical thunderstorm.
With that all said driving in Thailand is generally easy and good fun. The roads are wide and in overall great condition, most of the tourists sign posts are written in English and Thai, and you never have to pump your own gas. Just drive with your eyes open, expect the unexpected and enjoy your Thai road trip.
Taxis are the most common, but there are many types of taxis. There is the common taxi that uses a meter and are usually yellow or pink in color. The metered fare is reasonable and they will often try to negotiate a flate rate before getting the ride. The rate is almost always way too high. Then there is the tuktuk. Said as it's spelled. The tuktuk is a three wheeled modified motorcycle, that runs on natural gas, making them a bit loud. The tuktuk can be expensive but pricing is negotiable. The motorcycle taxi is a quick alternative for getting short distances around the city but requires a bit of courage, especially during rush hour. While I often take a motorcycle in the morning to the office, it took several years to build the courage.
Vans are a great alternative to buses but they do not operate on a given schedule. When they fill, they leave. They are usually fastest if they are going where you want to go and can be comfortable but are crowded. The tour agencies often use vans as an alternative for smaller groups. Vans usually operate at a competitive price and there are many van companies so if you can, shop around. The main hub in Bangkok to catch a van is Victory Monument Circle.
For getting around outside of Bangkok there is the SRT. In Bangkok the main train station for the SRT is the Hua Lampong Station, located in the heart of the city, next to Bangkok's Chinatown and at the southern end of the subway (MRT) also called the Hua Lompong Station. The Train station can be quite intimidating and I will be honest I have only taken the train once but here is a good website to help you understand what to look for...