By now, we have hitchhiked in almost every country where we have been traveling and Thailand was also not an exception to that. We had heard lots of good experiences about hitchhiking in Thailand. We were keen to give it a try but after we discovered how cheap the Thai trains are, we went for the easier option.
Anyhow, later we got a chance to try hitchhiking in Thailand. Our one-day hitchhiking from Surat Thani to Prachuap Khiri Khan turned out to be a very nice experience! The distance was about 350 kilometers and it took us four car rides and six hours to reach the destination. Check also the short video in the end of the post.
Hitchhiking out from Surat Thani
When we left Koh Phangan, we took a night ferry back to the mainland to Surat Thani. This time the ferry was quite different than the ferry to Koh Tao. Instead of bunk beds, there was a long row of mattresses on the floor. Sleeping in a wooden boat with locals and watching the stars from an open window was a quite cool experience.
Then the idea came to our minds: why not to try hitchhiking!
After a not so good night’s sleep, we arrived at the pier in Surat Thani. It was only 4 am and there we were, in the dark and empty city center, a bit confused and sleepy. What to do next? We wanted to continue our journey towards north on the same day. There was a more expensive train leaving at 10 am and a cheap one only in the afternoon. It felt like a too long wait so we had to figure out what to do. Then the idea came to our minds: why not to try hitchhiking! This would be a perfect opportunity for that as our time in Thailand was running out soon.
We took a very old and clattering local bus to the train station because it was close to the place where the highway started. It’s a pure wonder that the bus didn’t break down before we reached the destination, so much weird noise it made. But the journey cost only 15 baht each so it was the best way to get close to the highway.
When we arrived at the train station and the sun came up, we walked to the roadside and started waving the cars. In Thailand, the traditional thumb up method doesn’t work that well for hitchhiking so we lifted our whole arm and moved our hand the palm pointing down.
After only five minutes, a pick-up truck pulled over and a man opened the window. He was delivering some stuff and driving only a short distance but we could get closer to the highway so we hopped on the back of the car with our backpacks. The wind was blowing hard when the guy speeded up and we felt happy. Getting our first hitchhiking ride in Thailand was a piece of cake!
The guy dropped us off after a couple of kilometers and we continued our hitchhiking attempts. This time it took a bit longer but finally a friendly lady stopped and gave us a ride. She was working at the airport and going to work so we got only a few kilometers further but at least we finally got the big highway! The lady wanted to offer us breakfast but when we told that we already ate, she treated us with a big bottle of water.
Our third ride was from a guy that didn’t speak much English but brought us at least 200 km further. As soon as we got in his car we fell asleep and took a nice long nap. We don’t know why but this happens to us almost every time while hitchhiking – we immediately get sleepy in the car. After we have evaluated the driver and concluded that he is probably not a serial killer, we feel like we can relax.
We had already come more than half way to Prachuap so we could only hope that our luck would continue. And fortunately, it did. A nice guy with another pick-up truck pulled over. He was going all the way to Bangkok so we could travel with him the rest of the way, yay! This time we got to sit inside the car and not in the back. The space was a bit narrow but we managed to fit in the car somehow. On the way we chatted about everything from football to music. The guy seemed to be very happy to practice his English. When we had a break, he went to buy local banana snacks and gave us a whole bag as a present. The people we met in Thailand were so friendly to us!
Overall, our hitchhiking experience was very positive and we would recommend hitchhiking to anyone who travels in Thailand. We were also positively surprised how good the roads were, at least the main highway. It would easily fill the European standards too. Hitchhiking in South Thailand is quite straightforward as there is basically only one highway down from Bangkok.
Tips for hitchhiking in Thailand
Here are some things that we noticed when we hitchhiked in Thailand. In general, be cautious and use common sense while hitchhiking like in any country. Hitchwiki contains useful information and hitchhiking tips.
Wave the whole arm instead of raising the thumb. This might make it easier for the drivers to understand that you want a ride.
Remember to smile a lot like the locals do. This will make you look more harmless and the drivers probably pick you up more easily.
Take water and sunscreen with you. You might be sitting a lot outside in the back of the pick-up trucks because this kind of cars are very popular in Thailand.
Start early in the morning. It’s not too hot at this time yet and you have plenty of time if hitchhiking takes longer than expected.
Choose the hitchhiking spot wisely. In Thailand the drivers might pull over even in unsafe places but you don’t want to cause any traffic accidents, do you. A good spot is on a big road that has wide shoulders where the cars can easily stop.
Make clear that you don’t have money. Also, make sure that the driver is not going to take you to the bus station. We weren’t asked any money but it seemed to be hard to understand for many drivers that we don’t want to catch a bus.
Here is our hitchhiking day summarized on a video. Remember to change the video quality to 720.
Happy hitchhiking in Thailand!