Regardless the news, you can still get a scooter or car driving license in Bangkok on a tourist visa. I have entered the Kingdom on a 60 day standard tourist visa, which you can take out at any Thai Embassy quite easily. The reason why I didn’t use the standard 30-day Tourist Visa Exemption Scheme because I wanted to stay longer that 30 days. I am unsure if you can get a license if you are on the 30-day Tourist Visa Exemption Scheme though so this guide is intended for those who enter Thailand on a visa of any kind stamped into their passport.
Once you are in Thailand you need to sort out the following in order to be able to submit your driving license application at the Department of Land Transport (DLT):
- Residence Certificate, as weird as this sounds the easiest way to get this is to go to your local Embassy in Bangkok. This is basically a statement you make that you live on a specific address in Thailand. My embassy needed me to show a rental agreement even though I told them I have booked an apartment for a month on booking.com and the reservation shows my address and the length of stay. I contacted my host before arrival and asked them if they can draw up a short-stay rental agreement contract, I was lucky enough that they had no problem providing me one. So before you come to Bangkok contact your embassy and ask them what requirements they have for the Residence Certificate as I am sure it varies from embassy to embassy. Also try staying in an apartment as it would be complicated to ask for a rental contract in a hotel…
- Medical Certificate, this is quite easy. Walk into any Clinic in Bangkok and tell them that you need a Medical Certificate for drivers license and they will know what to do. I paid 600 Baht for mine and it was done in 15 minutes. It is a standard medical check they take your blood pressure, asking for your existing medical issues if any, etc… I went to Blez Clinic without an appointment which was the closest to where I was staying.
- Passport, you will obviously need this one 🙂
There are multiple DLT offices in Bangkok the one I used is near Chatuchak Market close to both MRT Metro and BTS Skytrain stations so it was quite easy to get to, also this is the biggest DLT office in Bangkok so things go faster due to higher capacity.
Since virtually nobody speaks English at the DLT I hired a company that helped me submit the paperwork and to navigate the process. I made an appointment with them and met this Thai lady at DLT Building 4 the next day.
Location: DLT Building 4.
The first day we submitted the paperwork and got an appointment for the theory exam for the next Thursday ( 5 working days later or so ). I was surprised that I already had to do the 4 ability tests right after we booked the appointment. The 4 tests are:
- Color blindness Test, you will be shown the colors red, yellow and green randomly and you will have to tell which color you see.
- Depth perception Test , Use forward and back buttons to align a moving pin with a fixed one, in a small box at app. 10 meters distance.
- Reflex Test, you will have 2 pedals gas and break as you would be driving a car and you have to press break when you are signaled.
- Peripheral Vision Test, This test involves placing your head on a special station – you are shown various objects such as traffic lights on both the left and right hand sides or your eyes; you must correctly identify the colors.
Before you can take this test, you have to watch a video which has English subtitles showing the whole procedure. It is quite easy to complete and it takes around 60 minutes including watching the video. There are usually a lot of people taking this test one by one so you will be sent from one station to the other quite quickly. The whole thing is happening in the same large room.
I had about a week to prepare for the theory exam. I used material found online for studying. There is an app on Android called “Thai Driver License ( for foreigners)” and there is a website you can also use to prepare. Both the website and the app has the same test questions.
Now, the real question is if you are going to see the same questions at the exam? The answer is, Yes! I had about 70% of the same questions popping up in the study material so if you practice enough online you have a good chance to pass the exam at the first try.
The theory exam have 50 questions and you will need to answer 45 of those correctly to pass. The study material has 100 questions but don’t let that confuse you. It is 45 out of 50 at the exam.
Location: DLT Building 4.
The second day starts with watching a bunch of videos and finishes with the theory exam. The timeline is the following:
- You have to come to DLT at 8:30am
- Between 8:30am and 9:00am they take your details and register you for the exam and the video session.
- At 9.00am you will start watching videos in Thai with English subtitles. You will have 4 videos to watch: Rules of the Road #1, Rules of the Road #2, A video on how to behave on the road, A video showing gruesome accidents and trying to scare you into stopping at a stop sign instead of speeding through without looking around.
- At 12:00pm there is a break for lunch
- At 1:00pm video watching session continues.
- Around 2:00pm a guy walks in, hands you over some study material which is completely useless apart from the last few pages showing traffic situations. Try to memorize those as they will be part of the exam and they are not in the online study material.
- At 3pm you will be taking the exam. You will be escorted to the exam room, your details will be checked again and you will be asked to hand over your passport. You will sit down at one of the exam terminals and will start doing the exam. These terminals even have a webcam and they take your photo when you start the exam. This way it makes it impossible to send someone in to take the test on your behalf. Once you are done with the test the exam terminal will print out a paper with your score, you walk up to the exam officer and he/she will validate your results. You get your passport back along with a paper that shows that you have passed. I scored 49 out of 50 and passed at the first time.
The next step is to take the driving test. Unfortunately it can not be done the same day as there are no slots for the driving test after 3pm.
Location: Driving Test Circuit just across the parking lot from DLT building 4 on the same side of the main road.
I came back the next day and took the driving test at the 9:30am slot. There is no need to make an appointment you can just walk up to the driving test circuit, hand over your passport and the paper showing you have passed the theory test and you can do the driving test straight away. When I took the driving test there were only 3 people taking it 2 Thai guys and myself. I suppose the later you show up the less people will try to take the driving test.
The driving test starts with watching 2 videos, one in English one in Thai, you should watch and memorize both as they will tell you what to do and where to drive. You will more than likely will watch both videos multiple times. It is important to point out that the test entirely happening on a closed circuit. Driving in real traffic in not part of the driving test so even if you are inexperienced to drive in traffic you should be OK.
Once you are done with the videos you will be provided a helmet and a scooter and you can start driving. You can ask for both a manual and automatic scooters they seemed to have both available. I took the easy way out and took the test using an automatic bike.
The driving test circuit has 2 main sections. The first section which concentrates on your skills handling the scooter, consists of the following:
- You will drive on a raised bar which is about 50cm wide and about 10 meters long. You will have to stay on the bar in order to pass.The bar is only about 3cm high so you won’t fall with the motorbike even if you slip off it.
- You will drive on the slalom slope. Drive slow, if you put your legs down you failed. The slope is about 1.5 meters wide and around 3 curves long.
Once this section is done, you either fail or pass. If you failed you can try again at least once, if you pass you move on to the second section.
The second section has various traffic signs. Wait for your signal to start, then follow the directional signs to complete the circuit. Stop at every stop sign and count to 5 before you drive further. Use the blinker at every turn and don’t forget to keep left!
In case you are wondering why I didn’t take more photos or videos of the circuit and the area it is now forbidden to take photos of videos unfortunately. Trust me I was prepared to shoot a 4K motorbike helmet video of my driving test but I was shut down 🙁
Protip: Try letting Thai people ( or basically everybody, really ) in front of you. Chances are that they have failed this test already and now they know exactly which way to go.
Protip: Take the right at the beginning of the second section and then the left immediately after that and go up the bridge. Many people just go straight on and failing right away.
I let both Thai guys in front of me and luckily I passed at the first time.
After the test you get the your paper and passport back with one more signature showing that you have passed both the theory and driving tests. You are now good to go back to Building 4 to get your driving license, which is surprisingly printed and given to you the same day. There were about 70 people in front of me when I took my number yet I was out, with the driving license in my hand within 40 minutes.
You might ask the question How long did it take for me the complete the whole process from the beginning until the license in my hands. I contacted the driving license guys on the 16th of January, Day #1 happened on the 17th of January, I had the Theory exam on the 23rd of January and the driving test on the 24th. I passed all exams at the first time so all in all I had got myself a shiny new scooter license in just a week and a half.
The license you would get first is a Temporary license valid for 2 years and only valid in Thailand. After 2 years you can come back to Thailand and take out a 5 years full license and an international license. This is when you can use your license in a different country.