Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Driving in Thailand - Part 2 - Local driving habits

Guests arriving at Cape Panwa Hotel, often ask 
whether driving lessons are available in Phuket.

The answer is “yes”; Driving Schools offering driving lessons exist, and a driving test with a written exam in English may be taken at the Motor Vehicle Department.  Also International Driving Licenses are officially recognized and obtainable in Thailand.

However, as a passenger, be aware of some habits (and car marks) common in Phuket, such as:

1)   Drivers will sometimes lift their hands free from the steering wheel of the car and  ‘wai’, at either a Wat (temple) or a roundabout, such as The Heroine’s Monument – this is a mark of respect.

2)   Drivers will reach the top of a particularly steep hill in Patong and feverishly hammer on the horn – this is also a mark of respect.

3)   A strange set of swirls and crosses on the car’s windscreen is a blessing from a monk.

image from timinphuket with permission
4)   Drivers may touch the amulet hanging around their neck – this may be a sign that the driver is worried, and seeking assurance and protection. (If your driver does this a lot, and you do not have an amulet, I suggest you get out of the vehicle as soon as possible).

If, however, the driver lets go of the steering wheel, and starts crossing himself or herself, then I suggest you do the same.


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