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Travelling In Thailand

Road Travel, Driving And Petrol Stations

The moment that there is talk about driving or travelling by road in Thailand, one thinks about traffic jams and sadly about accidents. Fortunately this is not what this article is about, we talk about some good things related to road travel in Thailand. The petrol stations on almost every road can be a true blessing. The gas stations, as western visitors to Thailand would refer to them - can make your driving comfortable, relaxing and safe. There are at least two major oil providing Thai companies that maintain very good petrol stations that are equipped with conveniences that go beyond selling oil and vehicle cleaning.

Most petrol stations in Thailand have decent and clean toilets. The importance of these cannot be denied - separate toilets are maintaind for ladies and gents, it is better for children to be accompanied by an adult. Convenience stores that are open round the clock are also located on the station premises. You can get just about anything that you would need for a long or short road journey through the country. Snacks, hot coffee, chips, chewing gum, batteries, dry and wet napkins, pain balms, soft drinks, drinking water, toothpaste and brushes, soaps, shampoos, simple sun hats and sun glasses etc. If you happen to be using a local prepaid phone service in Thailand, you could most probably fill prepaid calling minutes into your card at these convenence stations too. And if you do not carry a mobile phone but require to make a call either within the country or overseas, make use of the public service phones installed at most gas stations.

petrol pump or gas station in Thailand with convenient facilities

The first pillar (right) with the drop shaped logo, is one of the most popular petrol stations (gas stations) in Thailand. You can see this sign on almost every long road both, within and outside Bangkok. The right most house like structure is a convenience store, open 24 hours and stocked with almost anything and everything that you would need on your driving venture in the country. The shops that follow on the left are standard food outlets offering clean and hot food at standard prices. You will also find clean toilets with running water separately maintained for ladies and gents.

Food is something that few of us can do without when travelling. Many petrol stations have clean eating places and even restaurants where, you could find some delicious snacks or an entire meal. With many of these eating services closing late night, the food at the convenience store inside the petrol station proves to be very useful. Depending on which route in Thailand you are driving through, you could just find your famous hamburger or pizza franchise located within the petrol station. Convenience stores at the gas stations also stock - 'do it yourself' cofee and coco corners with both hot and cold options. Should you pick a snack from the store that requires heating, request the staff to help you get that done in their microwave oven.

Another facility that you could find in many Thai petrol stations is the ATM money withdrawal service. You could withdraw money using most debit or credit cards. Just make sure that you do not leave your cards, purse or other belongings at the ATM counter. If you plan to use some money at the petrol station, it is a good idea to keep just a few notes easily accessible - do this before you get down from your vehicle. And if you are looking to change a 500 or 1,000 baht note for smaller denominatios, you can do that when paying for the petrol. Most convenience stores will gladly change bigger notes to smaller ones if you make a small purcase at the store. Don't make it a habit however - but, you could actually make a 50 baht purchase at the gas station convenience store and present a 1,000 baht note for the payment.

solar powered lights in the Thai petrol station
An interesting observation at one of the gas stations in Thailand. The tall lights are powered by solar panels. Since these are generally required in the evenings and night when natural light falls - these solar panels help grab and store the solar energy during the day time. Thailand is generally quite sunny and hot for most part of the year, solar energy is therefore never in short supply!

There is one other time when the facilities at a Thai petrol station will be useful. A long road journey in Thailand can leave you tired and exhausted and even sleepy. Parking for a while at the petrol station, downing a hot coffee and stretching your legs around can be a good and healthy idea. And before you return to your vehicle and continue your journey, make sure that any papers and garbage that was created by you is dropped into the dustbin. Just keep in mind that you could enjoy all these facilities even without filling a drop of petrol into your vehicle. Double check that everyone in your group has made it into the vehicle - then continue on your safe journey. If you are travelling with children, make one last check to see if any of them would like to use the toilet.

We must admit that the mobile telephone services in Thailand are quite impressive. But if you do happen to be faced with a low signal situation you will be glad to know that both internet and phone service signals are likely to be stronger near a petrol station. Many petrol stations provide wifi services at no charge. Communication facilities throughout Thailand should be showing significant improvement in the next 2 to 3 years. Public call booths are also installed and kept in working condition in many gas stations, you can make both local and international calls from these booths.

Thai coffee shop in petrol pump
At the same petrol station shown in the above photographs, is our favorite coffee shop. If you are fortunate you might find a range of coffee shops to choose from on the same gas station premises. Amazon, S and P, Black Canyon and D'Oro are some of these. The coffee shop offers both hot and cold beverages, clean, and delicious snacks and cookies are also available. The staff at this coffee shop never stop smiling, and the entire atmosphere is truly refreshing. Expect to find hot and cold coffee, teas, chocolate drinks and some juices at Amazon - all priced moderately and served with a smile.

Here are some things that we do when we drive around in Thailand. We are lucky enough to have professional drivers to take us around. When we do the eating and stretching around part at the petrol station, we always buy a few small things for the driver too. A bottle of water, a wet cooling napkin, a can of readymade cool coffee and some small snack. And if you do not know what exactly to buy for your driver, you could probably give him a 100 baht just once in the day - he will be grateful and appreciate your kind gesture. One place that we never miss at the petrol station is the coffee shop. This is professionally made coffee - a wide range of coffee, tea and coco both, hot and cold. The coffee at the convenience store would generally be limited in range but also, cost less.We must admit though that the coffee lovers in our team aim for the best coffee available.

We do hope that you have a wonderful journey in Thailand. Political changes and economic hardships have taken their toll on the local people. Smiles might have become rarer but, just flash a smile and you will surely get one in return. The country still remains one of the most tourist friendly destinations for international visitors. Driving can be tense during festival times when, long holidays bring people and vehicles on the road. To beat this sort of traffic, you could either travel a day or two before the holidays begin and return a day before or after they end. Keep in mind that drunken driving can be dangerous and is also against the law. If speaking Thai is not your cup of tea, it is better to follow the laws and rules and stay away from uncomfortable situations.


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