I got my second driving license - how and where to get a car driving license in Thailand.
The moment when I intend to return to Poland for some time is slowly coming. At that time, I plan to take my Thai motorcycle license and convert it to a Polish one. However, I thought that since I would have to do it anyway, and I don't have a car driver's license yet, it might be wiser, faster, etc., to also get a car driver's license in Thailand. I'll kill two birds with one stone, convert the motorcycle and car license to a Polish one, and also be able to drive a car in Thailand.
By the way, if you haven't read it yet, I invite you to read my previous post about how I learned to ride and got a motorcycle license.
Paperwork and More
What's important before making a decision and starting the whole process is understanding what documents are required to apply for a driver's license.
The magical word that is most important is the Residence Certificate. This document certifies the address where we live (later this address will also be printed on the driver's license). You can obtain this document from the Embassy (I wrote about it in the previous post) or from the immigration office. The whole trick is that whether we can get this document (and later the driver's license) depends on the type of visa we have. The general rule is that in Bangkok, you can obtain the certificate and driver's license on long-term visas (after the first 90-day report), and in other (tourist) provinces like Pattaya, Phuket, and Chiang Mai, you can also obtain the certificate and driver's license on tourist visas (or visa-free entry). Therefore, it's important to know what visa you have and where you want to go to school and later apply for a driver's license.
3 Options for Obtaining a Driver's License
1 I can drive and have a driver's license (in my home country) in the same category I want to apply for.
If you have a driver's license from your country (and an international driving permit) in the appropriate category, the matter is super simple. You need to go to the DLT (Department of Land Transport), and ask them what exact documents you need (you will also need the Residence Certificate I mentioned earlier). After filling out the form and providing all the necessary documents, they will issue your Thai driver's license on the spot.
2 I can drive, but I don't have my driver's license or an international permit with me.
In this case, you are treated as a person without a driver's license. After gathering all the necessary documents, you can go to the DLT and sign up for the exam (theory + practical), pay a few hundred baht, take the exams 2 or 3 times (depending on luck and skills), and receive a local driver's license.
3 I can't drive, but I want to learn.
This is the last option that applies to me, and I will describe it below.
Choosing a School, Course, Hours, Prices, etc.
The last time I learned to ride a motorcycle, I took a course and passed the exam at the Honda driving school. I liked this option. So, I decided to find a school again that offers both the course and the opportunity to take the exam at the school. This makes the stress much lower, and the pass rate is almost 100% ;) What was also very important to me was for both the school administration and the driving instructor to be able to communicate in English.
After a brief search on the internet, I found four potential schools, contacted them, and asked about the prices.
The prices offered by the schools for the entire course ranged from 7,700 to 10,000 bahts for a 15-hour course (5 hours of theory + 10 hours of practical training) and the exam at the school.
I ultimately decided to choose S.SAPANMORN Driving School. They responded promptly online, had a good level of English, appeared to have experience with foreigners, and the school seemed to be of a reasonable size. They also allowed me to arrange the course over 4 days. Additionally, the location was convenient, with the school being close to the MRT line. The schedule was as follows: the first Saturday for theoretical training (5 hours), then on Friday, 2 hours of practical training, Saturday - 1 hour of practical training, Sunday - 4 hours of practical training and the exam.
I arrived at the school on a Saturday morning. On that day, I was scheduled to learn the theory. I had to fill out a few documents (including scanning my fingerprint – this serves as proof for the DLT that I am genuinely attending the course and completing all the hours). After completing all the formalities, I was seated in front of a computer and given 5 hours of video content to watch. From what I saw, the videos were provided by the DLT, and the narrator's voice was in Thai, but there were English subtitles. Overall, I found the videos to be valuable and interesting, providing insights into driving in Thailand and some aspects of safe driving. Since the videos were a bit slow for me, I played them at 1.5x speed, and then I had some time to practice mock tests.
Here's some information about the theoretical test. The test is not overly easy and includes quite a few tricky questions. The best option is to memorize them thoroughly. When I was taking the driver's license exam a year ago, I had a hard time finding study materials, so I created my app, which turned out to be quite popular. Below, I'm providing a 10% discount for readers to use the app. I also used it myself while preparing for the theoretical test.
I began the practical course on Friday evening. I got acquainted with the instructor and the car. We started with learning how to park because the exam primarily focuses on that – how to park. Below, I'm sharing a video showing what the entire exam looks like.
The next day, we continued practising parking, and then we also drove into the city and practised driving on real streets. I must say that driving in Bangkok is not easy, and you need to be very cautious. However, it's much more interesting than in Europe, where driving can be monotonous.
The Final Day and Exams
On the last day (Sunday morning), we started again with parking practice. After about an hour, the instructor said that we had done enough, and now we would do the practical exam, which was interesting because the exam looked exactly like a continuation of the practice, making it not at all stressful. Due to the hours of practice earlier, I passed everything with flying colours. We still had about 2.5 hours left, so we drove into the city again and navigated through Bangkok.
Upon returning to the school, I had the opportunity to take one or several practice tests before being allowed to take the official test. Thanks to my previous training with my app, I passed it on the first try.
After passing all the exams, I had to wait for a while to get all the paperwork ready. They explained to me what and how I needed to bring to the DLT to receive my driver's license.
Visit to the DLT and Receiving the "Plastic"
I received the Residency Certificate from the immigration in Bangkok through the mail (I'll describe more about how to get it in the future). The next morning, I headed to the DLT (Department of Land Transport) near Chatuchak, making a quick stop at the clinic, which is very close and provides medical examinations for driver's licenses.
Upon arrival, I went to the window for foreigners, and my documents were checked. Then, I was directed to the document printing department, where I paid around 100 baht (or 200, I don't remember the exact amount now), and my new driver's license was printed.
As I mentioned earlier, you can also refer to my previous post, where I described the process of obtaining a motorcycle driver's license.