Thailand Speed Formats

Thailand uses Kilometers per Hour (km/h) as their official speed measurements on all roads.

Speed Limits

For motorways with at least 2 lanes each direction, divided by barriers, the standard speed limit is 120 km/h.

Other open roads have a limit of 90 km/h while towns and cities have a maximum limit of 60 km/h.

Passenger vehicles, heavy hevicles and motorcycles may have reduced limits which take priority over the maximum limits.

Roads may also have permanent or variable speed limits indicated by signage

Thailand Road Speeds

Over recent years Thailand has found itself topping tables with the most road accidents and fatalities in the world, but why?

The roads are generally well surfaced and there is ample street lighting and road markings & direction signage, yet across the board; motorcycles, cars and heavy goods vehicles, Thailand’s road deaths and accidents are staggering.

A look back at the history of road safety and speed laws takes us to 1934 when the introduction of locally controlled speed laws were implemented due to the slow build up of road vehicles, however, due to a quick uptick in the number of road users in a short period of time and the fact that there were many discrepancies from one area to another, the central government decided to take over and made all road speeds uniformed across the country. Kilometres per hour was introduced as a continuation of the metric system introduced by King Chulalongkorn in 1923. Initially, a family car within a built up area could travel at up to 80kph and outside of built up areas they were permitted to travel up to 100kph. Following updated data the Thai government decided that the 100kph limit was not very economical and so around 12 years later adjusted it down to 90kph. This 90kph is still in use today on normal “A” type roads outside of built up areas. Then, in 1999 the transport department decided to adopt a separate speed limit for motorways and highways of 100kph.

For drivers who are in a built up area like a city, town or industrial area, the maximum speed is usually 60kph, however, note that any larger vehicles like buses, commercial vehicles, motorcycles will all have different speed limits dependant on their vehicle type.

Let’s look at the new laws for speed limits for motorway and highway road types in Thailand. Early in 2021 the speed limit for motorways (with at least 2 lanes in each direction) was increased to 120 kilometres per hour from 90kph previously. However, anywhere there are U-turns or major intersections, the limit will remain at 90kph. This new speed limit is also only applicable to vehicles with 7 seats or less, therefore larger vehicles, commercial vehicles, motorcycles and farm vehicles will have a variety of different speed limits less than the 120kph. It’s also an interesting fact that the right hand lane (typically for overtaking in most countries) has its own rule. That is that a vehicle must do the minimum speed noted on the signpost. For example on the motorways the new minimum is 100 kph and vehicles can be prosecuted for not driving at the minimum speed.

Another issue related to accidents on Thai roads is the poor level of vehicle maintenance. This has been addressed in 2021 also, just before the Songkran holiday. The transport department has offered vehicle owners a free vehicle checking service to try to improve the standards of vehicles on Thai roads and persuade vehicle owners to be more responsible about their vehicle safety and operation.

Thailand is well known for its highway police, who several years ago could be seen at strategic locations waiting for unsuspecting speeding motorists. Today, however, Thailand has been introducing a network of speed/radar cameras for the purposes of catching and prosecuting speeding motorists. If you are caught travelling beyond the signed speed limit, it is normal to receive a notice via post to the owner of the vehicle. This notice will usually have details of the offence (date, speed, location) along with a printed photo of the vehicle and the driver at the time. The owner/offender usually has 14 days to send the fine to the transport department via bank transfer or cheque. The fines currently are around 500 baht for the first offence, but can go up for further offences.

In summary, it is really important for road users to be aware of other road users in Thailand, especially foreigners who perhaps rent a vehicle (car or motorbike) as Thai road users have developed some unpredictable habits over the years which have contributed to the high accident rate on roads. For example, overtaking on the inside lane, speeding in built up areas, falling asleep at the wheel frequently due to over work and random parking manoeuvres without the use of signals.

What is the maximum speed limit in Thailand?

For motorways with at least 2 lanes each direction, divided by barriers, the standard speed limit is 120 km/h.
Other open roads have a limit of 90 km/h while towns and cities have a maximum limit of 60 km/h.

Does Thailand use Miles per Hour?

No, Thailand uses the metric system and measures all road speeds in kilometers per hour, km/h

Are Thai roads safe?

Thailand has frequently topped world rankings for the most road deaths, so caution is advised while driving in Thailand. The week surrounding Songkran, Thai new year, is especially dangerous with the combination of increased traffic, drink driving & road side throwing of water.