getting legal in paradise city ...
There are a number of steps you need to take as a foreigner to legally drive in Thailand or to purchase and register a vehicle.
The first would be to ensure you have a valid Thai or international drivers license (details below), secondly make sure your vehicle is insured, this is often difficult to determine with rentals so go with a reliable company. Although it is illegal to drive without insurance in Hua Hin it is not enforced so if you end up in an accident with someone without it it could get messy.
Buying a car and registering it in your name is relatively straightforward. You must have a Non-Immigrant visa and either a Work Permit or proof of address document (bai rup rong tee yuu asai ใบรับรองที่อยู่อาสัย) from local Immigration (cost 500 Baht). You may need the house document (tabien bahn) of where you are living to get this.
Once you have made the purchase, the dealership will supply you with a blue book and other paperwork to confirm you as the registered owner. If it is a second hand vehicle the buyer and seller will need to go to the DLT test centre in Pranburi (กรมการขนส่งทางบก) to have the details changed.
Purchasing new cars is also easy however car dealerships in Hua Hin will not give finance to foreigners without a Thai national to guarantee the loan. The Thai equivalent to road tax costs approximately 2,000 baht per year and insurance can range from 700 baht to 20,000 depending on your level of cover and the vehicle. They insure the vehicle here, not the driver.
As above, except you will receive a green book, together with papers showing you as the registered owner. You will need to pay the annual insurance and tax fees for the bike which are approximately 5-600 baht, this can be done through the dealership where it was purchased.
If you want to drive in Thailand, you'll need a Thai driving license. The procedure for getting one is as follows:
Go to the test centre in Pranburi (กรมการขนส่งทางบก)
it is actually about 3km before Pranburi town on the right hand side (coming from Hua Hin).
Supply your passport and photocopies of the details page, your visa (which must be a Non-Immigrant), the departure card, last arrival stamp and the last application of stay stamp.
Personal photographs - these must be 2.5cm square after the white border has been cropped.
Medical certificate which can easily be obtained at any Hua Hin hospital or clinic for a small fee.
Letter from immigration confirming your address (bai rup rong tee yuu asai ใบรับรองที่อยู่อาสัย).
105 Baht for car and 55 Baht for motorcycle license, valid for one year.
An existing driving license, preferably international, otherwise you will have to sit an exam and take a test in your own vehicle. (You might get away with not sitting the above if you only have a national license, but most times they will be required).
Your first license will be valid for 1 year.
After this has expired, you can apply for a 5 year license. Paperwork is the same as above (except for the medical certificate which isn't needed and you should have the original and copy of the expired 1 year license) and the fee is 505 Baht for car and 255 Baht for motorbike.
The driving test is very simple, motorcycles simply need to circumnavigate the car park and stop in a straight line and cars do a couple of manoeuvres between parallel poles, no actual road driving or awareness is tested. You will need to do the test and exam if you do not currently hold a drivers license.
The official website for the Department of Land Transport in Thailand can be found at: