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I'm hitchhiked from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur a few days ago. I came along a major expressway where I found it very easy to get rides at the rest areas.

Rest areas are places along major long-distance roads where you can stop for a rest, buy petrol/bas, use the toilet, buy food and drinks, or sleep before driving further. Some have only a couple of these features. In some countries there are similar amenities adjacent to toll booths.

I have not been able to find out whether the major long-distance roads in Thailand have rest areas. I've checked Hitchwiki and Wikipedia and Google.

One thing is that actual "expressways" only exist in Greater Bangkok, whereas I'll be travelling in the south from the Malaysian border to Krabi on roads classified as "motorways". Could it be that in Thailand there are petrol stations and restaurants along the motorway without any special rest areas?

  • It turns out there is at least one "official" service area near Chumphon, "Khao Pho" or "Khaopho" Service Area (ศูนย์บริการทางหลวงเขาโพธิ์). I saw several signs announcing it but then didn't spot it while hitchhiking from Surat Thani to Bangkok. We did however stop at several of the "unofficial" ones such as described in the answers here. A photo of a sign for the Khaopho Service Area I found via Google: thairaptorgroup.com/TRG/html/RaptorSites/RadarHill_files/… – hippietrail Aug 27 '13 at 9:21
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The answer is both yes and no.

Outside Bangkok, Thailand has only two roads that are "real" controlled-access, grade-separated motorways: Route 7 from Bangkok to Pattaya (150km), which has (AFAIK) Thailand's solitary "real" rest area as well, and Route 5, which loops around Bangkok's periphery and which you're unlikely to venture onto. So, no, you're not going to find any "real" rest areas driving up from Malaysia to Bangkok.

On the other hand, Thailand's main highways are the country's lifeblood and are thus full of gas stations, restaurants, motels, etc. Quite a few of these cater more or less explicitly to buses and travelers and are thus rest areas in all but name, so yes, you can almost always find gas, a meal or a place to sleep when you need one. Not quite as good for hitchhiking as the real thing though...

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    Yes this is exactly the situation I encountered. I may provide a photo later. Thanks! – hippietrail Aug 22 '13 at 14:20
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In Thailand as jpatokal said, "real" motorways is only to Pattaya which has some rest area. But if you come from the South. It's just roads. If you want to save some money I'd suggest you travel by bus it's gonna be a long ride but quite fun. In Thailand you can pretty much sleep anywhere really but I wouldn't suggest you do that. It's not safe at all especially if you travel alone (I'm Thai).

You can also get a train from Southern Thailand to Bangkok. It's a 13 hour ride and good view along the way which is really cheap.

One problem is you will find out that people doesn't understand much English so you will have a hard time hitchhiking anyway.

  • Yes I did find the language barrier here greater than in many other countries. Few people stop and of those that do everybody wants to tell you to take a bus. I try to tell them I'm hitchhiking around the world and have done so in many other countries but they still don't understand. Yet I managed to get from the Malay border to Hat Yai just find. From Hat Yai though I thought I had a ride to Krabi but instead I had a ride to the bus station for Krabi (-: – hippietrail Aug 22 '13 at 14:23
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While there may not be many official resting places, there are PTT gas stations, which are the go-to stops for those making road trips in Thailand (and beyond?, can't say from experience but they're certainly trying).

Without making it too much of advertisement, I am going to argue that they are the best rest area because they provide a consistent quality across the country. And I really mean across the country, the easiest way to find them is on Google Maps and to look through the pictures (either searching for ptt or cafe amazon, example search West of Chaing Mai, e.g. for the southern part of the Extended Mae Hong Son loop).

(Almost) without exception, they feature the following:

  • Coffee (by Cafe Amazon)
  • Convenience store (either 7-Eleven or Jiffy)
  • Gas (obviously, most gas stations do)
  • Clean toilettes

Larger ones also have restaurants and other shops (look at the pictures on Google Maps or equivalent to see what's available at the one near you at the time).

This is a non-fancy one and a fancier one in Kalasin (one of the poorer parts of the country) which have all listed amenities. This is one outside Khon Kaen that you don't want (for gas) as it only sells LPG, the rest of the amenities are available though.

Some of the things to take care of:

  • PT isn't the same as PTT, they may come up in the search, but they may not have as many facilities.

  • PTT also has liquid gas stations (generally denoted by an added LPG in the logo), those might not provide petrol or diesel. These also tend to have (though they seem to be improving those too) fewer or lesser quality amenities. So always look at the pictures / reviews of the station you're looking to go to.

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