New Suzuki Swift 2018 Review

My Suzuki Swift review:

The Swift fulfills a function whereby it provides a  more chic and compact supermini than its competitors.  You get some classic Swift design features, like the wraparound windscreen and the sloping roof, plus distinctive C-pillar treatment that now has a ‘floating roof’ effect. Even the light clusters front and rear aren’t that much different to the old car and a new front grille which might not appeal to everyone but I like it.

With the Swift weighing as little as 890kg it feels lively and alert, well-managed body roll and a real eagerness to flick-flack through direction changes. That speaks of a purposefulness that’s at odds with the Swift’s cutesy face.  The ride is comfortable and there’s little to report in terms of wind, engine or tire noise when you’re on a steady highway cruise. I wouldn’t say it’s an absolute firecracker to drive but reminds me of that joyful go-kart feeling of old Mini’s. It’s a really appealing supermini, the Swift is a little corker that’s up there with the best in class.

It’s not exactly breathtaking inside, but it is all well laid-out and intuitive, and there’s plenty of space on board for four adults, although five might be pushing it, the back seats aren’t quite as roomy but they’re still better than most of its rivals’. The equipment levels in the Swift are generous for a budget supermini.  Even the base model has air conditioning, six airbags & DAB radio as standard.

You don’t have to work this Japanese hatchback hard to get it to build up a good head of steam and, once the corners start coming thick and fast, it’ll hang onto its pace as much of as possible, thanks to a limber chassis with an excellent set-up. This is a fantastic little car from a company that’s fast becoming known for such things. This is my go to car when I need to nip around Pattaya & the Darkside for the corners.  If you need to rent a fun small car I would highly recommend it for the fun factor. Why not come down to Expat Car Rent and give one a try, it may surprise you.

Rental CarMan

Renting A Car In Thailand

Renting a car is a great way to explore the Kingdom of Thailand. If you are not in Pattaya, public transportation options are quite limited outside downtown areas. Having private transportation allows you to visit the country at your own pace and venture off the beaten path to discover tiny villages, areas of intense natural beauty and secluded sandy beaches that are not part of the usual tourist itinerary. There are certain things you should know in advance before renting a car in Thailand, from required driving license, insurance options, prices, to procedures and available companies.

Who Can Rent a Car in Thailand?

Renting a car is regularly the best way to spend your vacations in Thailand. The minimum age is usually set by the car rental company. Some companies set the minimum age at 21, while other car rental companies specify that the driver must be at least 23. Most car rental companies in Thailand require the driver to have a driver’s license for a minimum of a year, while luxury cars are often reserved for older and more experienced drivers.

Required Driving License

If you plan to drive in Thailand, you should either have a Thai driving license or an international driving permit. The driving license from your home country works in some cases.

Copied from Thai law: To drive or lease a car in Thailand as a tourist or visitor it is necessary to have either a Thai driving license or a valid foreign driving license with a photograph. The foreign license must either be in English, or be accompanied by an official translation into English or Thai. The license needs to have been issued by a country that has a treaty with the Thai government allowing the mutual acceptance of driving licenses. Most countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA have this agreement with Thailand under the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic or the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Those in doubt should contact their embassy for advice.

You should carry with you at all times your driving license or an international driving permit, along with a copy of the photo page and visa page of a valid passport. Failure to carry these documents can result in a 200/500 baht fine if stopped by the Thai traffic police.

The Cost of Renting a Car

The cost of renting a car varies depending on the location in Thailand and the car rental company. However, main car rental companies like Expat Car Rent tend to offer standardized prices. The other major factor that will affect the rental cost is size and style of the car. The cost for renting a small budget car starts at 790 THB per day and runs all the way up to 2,200 THB per day for a luxury sedan, while a large SUV 7 seater could cost as much as 3,000 THB per day.

If you wish to extend your rental period beyond the agreed length of time you usually need to let the rental company know at least two days in advance. Rental companies will then charge you the agreed daily rate. Added features, like baby seats and GPS are usually included for free. If you plan to rent a car for several weeks or even months at a time you may get a discount. Rental prices tend to drop slightly in the low season and rise in the high season. Many of the larger car rental companies offer special deals and promotions throughout the year as well.

Car Insurance Provided by Car Rental Companies

Before signing a car rental contract and driving away from the car rental office, make sure that you and the vehicle are insured in case of emergency. Things could go wrong while renting a car in Thailand. Potential hazards include damaging the vehicle due to careless driving or having a collision with another driver, theft of the vehicle, or a break down. If you rent from very local car rental companies, cars tend to come automatically with type First Class Insurance. Only a few car rental companies like Expat Car Rent provide premium insurance, giving you full protection in case of accidents and theft of vehicle. Others offer basic insurance, so you may prefer to take out additional insurance to make sure that you, the rental car, and your passengers are fully protected.

Road Conditions

The roads in Thailand are generally very smooth and well maintained. People who choose to rent a car will find little difficulty. However Thailand recently was labeled with the highest road accident death rate in the world. The main hazard comes from drivers. Since traffic laws here are not well regulated, this results in reckless and speedy driving even in a community area. Accidents may happen even while you are walking on the footpath. It’s better to have travel insurance in preparation for this type of unexpected incident. Minor roads, especially those in the countryside, are not always well lit. If you’re driving on these roads for the first time, avoid driving at night to reduce the risk of road hazards. Danger also comes from stray animals, like dogs that lie in the middle of the road or dart across moving cars. Street dogs can be particularly difficult to spot at dusk and motorists should keep a lookout for them at all times.

Traffic Conditions

Pattaya is infamous for its heavy traffic jams, ranking among the worst in Thailand. It is especially bad during peak hours and can cause cars to come to a standstill. Visitors should avoid hitting the road between 08:00am and 09:00am and 5:00pm and 7:00pm. Traffic crawls along at a snail’s pace even on the expressways. Motorists should stay particularly vigilant and keep a close eye out for Baht Bus drivers and motorcycle taxi drivers. These drivers take passengers around the city for a set fare and will do almost anything to cut driving times, including driving on the sidewalk, cutting across traffic lanes, and squeezing unnervingly close to moving cars.

Parking

Finding somewhere to park in Pattaya can be an issue, especially for motorists who are exploring the heart of the city. Although there are designated parking lots in Pattaya, they are few and far between, especially in the heart of the city. The fine for parking illegally is high and should be avoided at all costs. Most shopping centers feature car parks where motorists can either park for free or a small fee. And in older areas of the city, making use of vacant plots & temple parking lots is allowed for short periods of time.

Unexpected Situations when Renting a Car

No matter how safe or how experienced you are as a driver, accidents can happen and things can go wrong. The trick is being as prepared as possible and knowing what to do if the worst happens so that you are able to handle the situation calmly and without it affecting your trip in Thailand. In the event of an accident, it is essential to stop and make sure that the car is parked in a safe and visible spot. The Thai police, including an auto insurance agent, must be called and they will judge responsibility. Motorists must make sure that they do not move the car unless it poses a direct danger to other traffic. Several pictures from different angles should be taken. When they have arrived and assessed the situation, the Thai police will issue you with a report to give to the car rental company.

Fuel for the Journey

Gas stations are scattered throughout Thailand and are located at regular intervals in cities, large towns and on the sides of motorways. Although most rental cars in Thailand run on Gasohol 91 or 95, which is cheaper than unleaded gasoline, it is recommended to check with the car rental company. While larger gas stations accept credit and debit cards, it is always best to have cash ready, especially in small towns and on the islands. Attendants at gas stations fill up the tank for you, so you only need to specify gas type and how much you want in THB, and they will take care of the rest. PTT is the leading fuel company in Thailand and motorists will be able to find PTT stations conveniently located in all towns and cities throughout the country. you can find PTT stations with rest rooms, small restaurants, convenience stores, and a wide range of other services. Shell, Bangchak, Esso, Petronas, and Susco are the remaining leading fuel companies with numerous stations to choose from. The cost of gasoline between each company is only a few satang different.

From All Of Us At Expat Car Rent “Have A Safe Trip & Enjoy The Drive”

What are the best attractions in Pattaya?

What are the 10 best tourist attractions in Pattaya?

#1 Nong Nooch Tropical Garden Na Jomtien.

The 2.4sq.kms of Nong Nooch are full to bursting with some of the most remarkable flowers, displays and landscaped gardens in Thailand, if not the world. The team behind them have repeatedly won international awards for their designs, which include 17th-century-French-style gardens, a recreation of Stonehenge, creative topiary displays and gardens created exclusively with cacti, bonsai and tropical palms. It is also the home of over 670 native and hybrid species of orchid and regular displays of classic Thai dancing, boxing and drumming. Due to its vast landscape, it’s unlikely that you will hit all the attractions within Nong Nooch Garden by walking alone. It’s a good idea to rent a bicycle and explore the garden at a leisurely pace. Showcasing exotic-shaped leaves and blossoms, the cactus and succulent plants garden is both educational and eye-opening. Meanwhile, the French garden, with its symmetrical design and perfectly manicured shrubs modeled after the gardens of Versailles, is another big highlight. An interesting feature is the skywalk, a shaded, 1.1km elevated walkway that takes you through the topiary garden, European garden, tropical palm garden, butterfly hill and Stonehenge garden. Apart from the botanical park, Nong Nooch Garden features daily shows at the Thai Cultural Hall.

 

#2 Art In Paradise.

This is no ordinary art gallery, instead this gallery takes the normal art gallery concept and turns it on its head. At Art in Paradise you become part of the artwork by a series of optical illusions and other clever tricks. The gallery is set up perfectly so you can take pictures in such a way that it looks like you are crossing an old bridge or flying over the dessert on a magic carpet. The building is split into ten sections and houses over one hundred pieces of art. It is great fun for children as well as adults and should be on any to-do list.

#3 Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!

For those not in the know Ripley’s Believe It or Not is a chain of museums that show the visitor strange facts about the world we live In, most of these facts you would have no idea existed. This museum in Pattaya is home to over 300 items split over ten different subject areas. You will find a 1937 Jaguar that doubles as a motorboat as well as a replica of the Titanic made from a million matches. There is so much to do that it will take you an entire day, especially if you get lost for hours in the infinity maze. When you are finished with the museum and maze you still have the Tussaud’s Wax Works and the 4D Moving Theater to explore.

#4 Koh Larn. 

Coral Island near Pattaya is a little piece of paradise beyond the hustle and bustle of Pattaya. Although Thailand’s famous beach resort town would not be your first thought when imagining a cerulean blue sea and a long stretch of pristine beach void of high-rise buildings and away from the claws of civilization, this little idyllic island offers exactly that and is just a short ferry ride away from Walking Street. Also known by its Thai name of Koh Larn (and sometimes as Larn Island), Coral Island is situated 7.5 kilometres west of Pattaya Beach. It has long been an alternative retreat for those who have become jaded with Pattaya’s overdeveloped and overcrowded beaches. Since the island is not so far away, visitors can easily go there in the morning, stay for several hours and then come back to Pattaya Beach in the late afternoon. The most convenient way of doing this is by taking a guided tour.
Endowed with several beautiful beaches and unspoiled natural wonders, Coral Island near Pattaya exudes a true tropical atmosphere and ample sunshine. If you didn’t buy any tours on the ferry earlier, you can still delight in a host of activities offered on the beach. In addition to parasailing and speedboat riding, jet skiing, banana boat riding and, of course, swimming can also be enjoyed. Although not much coral left to be seen, the island’s clear waters are excellent for snorkelling.

#5 Underwater World Pattaya. 

One of the most beautiful attractions and tourist destinations of Pattaya is the Underwater World. It is Thailand’s first modern aquarium where the visitors can behold the brilliance of the undersea life. It is one of the best places to visit in Thailand.
The Underwater World is a 100-metre long underwater tunnel, showcasing around 500 species of fishes. Visitors can either dive with the sharks & rays with the experienced divers or they can indulge in feeding the Kois with a milk bottle in the Koi pond.
Highlights: The Underwater World also plays a prominent role in the marine conservation. Hence, to educate the common people about the same, frequent school visits and education programs are being developed by the Underwater World.

#6 Wat Phra Khao Yai.

On the very top of Pratumnak Hill, between Pattaya and Jomtien Beach, you can’t fail to notice an enormous 18 metre tall Buddha popping up through the trees. This Big Buddha – the largest in the region – is the highlight of Wat Phra Yai, a temple built in the 1940s when Pattaya was nothing more than a fishing village. The Big Buddha is extremely popular with tour groups who love to see the intricate design of the statue and the temple complex, but it is also revered by local people who come to pray at the temple. Despite the crowds, the wreaths of flowers and burning incense create a reflective mood in which to explore the many smaller Buddha statues, partial views of Jomtien Beach, and the pavilion hall which has a beautifully painted mosaic on the walls. The staircase leading up to the temple is quite striking as there are golden dragons running along the entire handrails, and at the foot of the stairs, seven-headed mythical snakes called Nagas emerge from the dragon’s mouths. Once at the top, visitors like to take photographs with the many Buddha figures in different postures (some are sitting, others lying down or standing) which are representative of different days of the week. Many foreigners are unsure on which day they were born but in Thailand there is a special relevance placed on this information, with a unique Buddha posture which should be revered. Although a visit to Wat Phra Yai requires some walking, it is a popular activity with old and young visitors and the stairs aren’t difficult to handle.

#7 Khao Kheow Open Zoo.

Out of the places to see animals in Pattaya, Khao Kheow is arguably the most ethical because the zoo is the only one of it’s kind in Thailand where the over 8,000 animals are free to roam the grounds of the Wildlife Reserve. Khao Kheow has received international recognition for its set-up, and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. You can choose to walk or drive through the observation areas to check out the animals up close, but if you don’t have a car or feel like a hike, take their tram service instead, which is also offered for a night safari.

#8 Water Parks & Fun Park.

Giant water slides, a whirlpool by a private beach, and tons of fun in the sun for kids and adults alike. Check out some of these ride names: Tower Shot, Slalom Roller Coaster, Family Swinger, Demolition Derby, Samba Tower. Morning until night, you’ll find adventure here. Who doesn’t like a water park? Cartoon Network Amazone, Ramayana Water Park, Pattaya Water Park

#9 Sanctuary of Truth.

If the Sanctuary of Truth doesn’t amaze you, nothing will! Despite the fact that this awe inspiring temple is not due for completion until 2050 it’s still a spectacular place to visit and is usually always listed as the number one thing to do in Pattaya. This incredible temple was started in 1981 so this isn’t a place you would visit for its historical value though its architectural value is another thing entirely. Built entirely of wood, the detail and craftsmanship that has gone into the temple is simply breathtaking. Ornate carvings and sculptures are based on traditional Buddhist and Hindu symbols, and the whole place has an air of Khmer architecture with the many rooflines and the high peak of the building reaching an impressive 105 meters.
The entry fee is higher than some other places but if you spend 2 to 3 hours it’s well worth the price you pay. Once inside the sanctuary, which is set right by the sea, there are more opportunities to spend your money if you want to feed a goat or an elephant, ride on an elephant or even get a foot massage. Despite this, nothing detracts from the sheer beauty of the temple.

#10 Ban Amphur Beach.

Ban Amphur is a quiet fishing village that happens to have a beautiful beach with gorgeous sand and lots of palm trees. The beach is quiet and uncrowded with ample parking unlike many of the other beaches in Pattaya, because it is a fishing village the various seafood restaurants that are located in the fishing harbor sell the most delicious and fresh fish imaginable. Tourism has not yet caught up here as much as so many places so prices are still quite low and the area uncrowded.

Driving In Thailand “A Survival Guide”

DRIVING IN THAILAND, A SURVIVAL GUIDE

Living in Thailand is the dream of every hardcore racing fan, at least it should be. Where else can you watch car and motorcycle racing live on a daily basis without having to pay for admission? All you need to do is pull up a chair to any major street and watch the chaos unfold. Witness the breakneck speeds, hairpin turns, pedestrian slalom. Thailand has got it all. You may be thinking, how can it be racing without winners and losers? That’s simple, the winners you never hear about, and the losers, just follow the ambulance sirens.

Okay, I’ll admit that I may be exaggerating just a tiny bit. If I’ve already scared you out of driving in Thailand then I am sorry. On the other hand, it may be the best thing to ever happen to you. Who knows, maybe I saved your life.

Although driving here is not as extreme as I’ve made it out to be, it’s still pretty bad. Just think of the absolute worst traffic conditions in your home country and multiply that by ten. If you still insist on doing it, then you better sit down and take some notes.

FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT DRIVING
Maybe not everything, but remember all those laws and rules from your home country? You can throw those out. Yes, there are traffic laws here in Thailand. It’s very likely that the laws are exactly the same as those laws in your home country. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for those with a wild side), rules mean less than nothing without enforcement. In Thailand there is no enforcement. 99.9% of Thai traffic laws come down to two things. You must wear your helmet while riding on a motorcycle and you must carry a valid driving license while operating a vehicle. The huge penalty for neglecting to do these things? About two hundred baht or around six dollars, assuming you ever go through one of the very obvious police checkpoints.

LAWLESSNESS BREEDS ANARCHY
With nobody to keep drivers in check, drivers are free to do as they please. This includes every stupid, reckless, selfish maneuver that you can possibly think of as well as about ten times as many that you couldn’t even consider. Driving on the wrong side of the road at full speed. Failing to even recognize a red traffic light. Driving on a sidewalk to get to the front of traffic. These are just a few of the wonderful driving practices that you will encounter here in the Land of Smiles on a daily basis.

UNOFFICIAL RULES OF THE ROAD
The above should really say ‘Rule of the Road’ as there is really only one. If you have a big car, the smaller cars need to get out of your way. In this land of lawlessness, the semi trucks and tour buses are the Kings of the road. If you are in their way, you had better move because they won’t. You’ll be lucky to get a friendly honk before being run down at a high speed.

If you are like most people in Thailand and are driving around on a motorcycle, sorry to tell you, but you’re the bottom of the rung. You need to look out for everyone else as they won’t pay you much mind at all.

HOW TO PREPARE
When approaching driving for the first time, it is good to ‘Always expect the unexpected.’ Sorry to drop such a cliche on you, especially one that is impossible to fulfill, but it does get the point across. Maybe a better cliche for Thailand is ‘Always expect everyone to do the dumbest thing that they can possibly do.’ You’ll be surprised how often it actually happens.

THE THAI MENTALITY
I’d like to go out with a little anecdote that I read somewhere online. It goes a bit like this:

In Western countries, drivers won’t pass vehicles across the center line while driving around blind turns or over hills. This is because there is always the possibility of a car driving toward you in the opposite lane. In Thailand, the drivers have no problem doing these things because a car may not be coming.

If you can understand this, you can understand Thai driving.

Stay safe out there.