Drive to Thailand: In A MINI Cooper
It has always been my dream to drive a car to Thailand. A few days ago, I have decided to start my journey with a ‘05 Mini Cooper R50 from Penang, Malaysia to Phuket, Thailand. In Google map, the total journey is about 655 km and it requires 8 hours and 17 minutes for the entire journey. I care nothing about the 8 hours drive because I know it is going to be different when you are on your steering wheel.
Years ago, I was planning for this trip but during that time I was thinking to drive my 1972 MK3 Mini Austin. However, I gave up this mind and decided to go with my MINI Cooper R50 as it is newer and more reliable. The current mileage is 72,360 km (44,962 miles). Before the journey begins, I replaced four new tires for my car as the journey may continue to Surat Thani -> Hua Hin -> Bangkok -> Nakhon Ratchasima -> Khon Kaen -> Nong Khai -> Vientiane (Laos). I have selected Good Year GT3 175/65 R15 tires for both front wheels and Toyo NanoEnergy3 195/55 R15 tires for both rear wheels. The purpose of this setting is to test and review both Good Year and Toyo tires. Both of these tires are highly rated in many car related blogs and forums.
Brand New Toyo NanoEnergy3 195/55 R15 Tires
As for the engine oil, MINI always recommended Castrol Edge but I have selected BMW Super Power Oil SAE 5W-40 Fully Synthetic oil. This type of engine oil is made in Germany and it has a very good feedback from an experiment. It is more economical compared to the Mobil 1 and Castrol Edge. In fact, I do believe it will be good for any type car engines. We will see how the engine oil changes after 10,000km run.
So, what else to prepare before driving to Thailand? A GPS device (see what is the best GPS system for cars), a reliable car mounting kit, 12v car charger, a spare tire, and a steering lock. It is also recommended to bring some spares along such as hose, plug cable, coil, fuel pump, spark plugs, belts, and a length of wire, radiator cap and fuses.
The journey begins… It took less than 2 hours from Penang to Bukit Kayu Hitam as the distance is only approximately 150km. For those who never drive to Thailand, you will need to know that there are a few things to get ready before entering Sadao, Thailand. First, you will fill up your petrol station because the petrol price in Thailand is much more expensive. There are Petronas, Caltex and BHP at Changlun town. Second, you will need to find an insurance agent in Changlun town. There are a few but it is recommended to go for the reputable one. The Thai Insurance of coverage for MINI Cooper is only RM16 for 9 days and RM25 for 30 days. This is because the engine capacity for a MINI Cooper is only 1598cc. The Car Insurance of Coverage Thai is compulsory. You will be fined 10,000 Thai baht if there is any police road block and you can’t show them the insurance policy. This type of insurance covers body injuries ONLY and does not cover third party vehicle should you meet with an accident in Thailand. For drivers who want to purchase third-party insurance to cover someone else’s car during your trip, you will need to buy it at Hatyai town. Once the car insurance is settled and the fuel tank is full, the journey continues.
At Malaysia border, it is very easy as you can drive through the immigration and hand over your passport to the officers. It is about 1 km from Malaysia border to Thailand border. At Thailand border, you will need to park your car at the car park (on your left) and walk to stamp your passport. Proceed to the “Custom Form” area and hand over your car registration card. The officer will give you a SIMPLIFIED CUSTOMS DECLARATION FORM (For motor car and motor cycle temporarily imported or exported). This form stated your registration number, engine number, chassis no and some of your details. Read carefully and I notice that Malaysian drivers will be fine 1,000 Thai baht per day and up to a maximum of 10,000 THB if you don’t leave Thailand within the given date. Under the Guarantee Agreement, I noticed there is a sentence saying “I hereby guarantee myself to pay a sum of 7,500,000.00 baht upon a promise that if I commit a breach of this agreement”. A friend of mine who often drive to Thailand told me that is the amount of money you have to pay in case you lost your vehicle in Thailand. Thai government imposed this law is to avoid someone else from selling the car after they drive to Thailand. OMG! 7,500,000.00 baht is approximately $230,000 USD and that is the price for a brand new Lamborghini Huracan in the United States. My advice? Bring an extra steering to brake lock if you are driving to Thailand.
Once my car entered Thai border, the first town I drive through is Dannok. Dannok is a popular town for many Malaysians. My journey continues until I see a sign board YALA 179 km. I drive for another 60km and pay a visit to the famous Hatyai town. In Malaysia, it might take only 30 minutes for 60km distance but it takes me an hour to drive from Dannok to Hatyai due to the traffic and the road condition.
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