Think driving around your local roundabout is tough? Think again! Optional traffic lights, icy roadblocks and sharing the motorway with chickens: there are some parts of the world where you need to be extra careful behind the wheel. Just imagine negotiating tight corners in the blazing sun or driving in monsoon rains. Here are some of the more ‘interesting’ places around the world you could end up driving in during your lifetime as a driver.
Nocturnal Truckers in Thailand
Thailand is famed for its sandy beaches and fun party atmosphere. But when this laidback attitude plays out on the country’s roads, things can get a little scary.
Here is what you need to know about driving in Thailand:
- Driving on Thailand’s open roads late at night will bring you on collision course with lots of Thai trucks who like to travel through the night. Thai truckers have gained a reputation for rather boisterous driving, so best to avoid night-time driving unless absolutely necessary.
- Small motorcycles make driving interesting by zipping out in front of drivers with little or no warning. Be extra-careful at crossings.
- Insulting the Thai King in any way is a big no-no. Be respectful of police if you get pulled over and hand over any documentation requested. Very importantly, never appear to insult the Thai King, even in jest. This is a serious crime.
Icy Roads in Russia
Russian driving is affected by challenging road conditions and icy weather. In 2014 alone Russia had over 198,000 road traffic accidents.
Here is what you need to know about driving in Russia:
- Driving in snowy and icy conditions means you need a car that is equipped for the weather. You’ll also need to know how to handle your car skidding out of control on ice without panicking.
- Drinking and driving is a big no-no and there is an enforced zero-tolerance policy throughout Russia. If you even sniff that vodka, get a cab (or Uber) instead.
- Russian police officers conduct frequent traffic spot checks, so be ready with your documentation if you get pulled over. They can also issue spot fines at all times so best to err on the side of caution and be respectful (humour is probably not your best bet).
- Dirty cars, hitchhikers and dipped headlights during the day are not welcomed in Russia.
Lawless Drivers in South Africa
Unfortunately, South Africa has quite a lot of problems with crime on its roads. Be careful. Maximum insurance is recommended!
Here is what you need to know about driving in South Africa:
- Don’t get caught speeding. In South Africa, speed traffic officers can hide in order to catch you out speeding, and speed traffic cameras aren’t marked.
- Lock your doors and have your windows rolled up to avoid getting car-jacked. Keeping the car’s air-con on will keep you cooler in hot weather anyways.
- Don’t leave valuables lying around, and if you are stowing them away in the boot try not to be obvious about it.
Motorbike Mayhem in Vietnam
The FCO states that Brits need a Vietnamese driving licence to drive in the country. You’ll need to get your paperwork sorted before you are let loose on Vietnam’s roads where motorbikes are king.
Here is what you need to know about driving in Vietnam:
- There are many organisations that help tourists drive in Vietnam, but make sure that you are talking to a reputable one before handing over a wad of cash for your licence.
- Motorbikes are very popular in Vietnam, but in Saigon alone motorbikes cause almost 70% of traffic accidents. If you are travelling on one, definitely wear a good quality helmet and try to stay clear of the wilder fellow bikers.
- Ingenious thieves have recently started targeting tourists travelling by motorbike by cutting off their bag straps and running off with their belongings.
Expect the Unexpected in Ecuador
A growing travel destination, Ecuador provides some hair-raising driving experiences. The laidback South American attitude is expressed on the country’s roads.
Here is what you need to know about driving in Ecuador:
- Road quality is poor so drivers tend to get creative. Off-roading is common and sometimes it’s not clear what part of the road is actually meant to be driven on.
- Driving etiquette is very different, so be prepared to see some wild driving. Expect the unexpected; people might overtake you in the middle of two lane roads if they need to.
- Ecuador’s mountainous terrain and roads call for a steady driving hand.
Different Rules of the Road in India
After watching that video, I bet you don’t feel quite so keen about getting involved in driving in India… India’s notoriously hectic driving culture makes headlines around the world, yet people who are used to driving there say it’s very safe (in its own way).
Here is what you need to know about driving in India:
- Drivers (and pedestrians) are fearless. Driving and walking into oncoming traffic is considered normal.
- Traffic is dense and crowded, and roads don’t look like anything you’ve seen before. Traffic lanes are optional and car buffer zones are small.
I bet your local roundabout doesn’t feel so bad now! How do you feel about driving abroad?