Tips
Here are some tips for foreign pilots who wish to fly for leisure in Thailand. They are based on my own experiences (dated 2013-2019). An "operator" may be a flying club, a flight school or any owner of aircraft(s). The "CAAT" is the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, which is responsible for licensing.
 
Flying in Thailand

They are many beautiful places in Thailand: mountains, jungles, seas, islands etc. Weather is mostly good, however during the rainy seasons it can get stormy. And of course, it's mostly really hot! During the colder winter months the visibility can be quite low. The airports mostly have long runways. But always make sure those airports are licensed and you have permission to land before you get there. Many of the procedures in Thailand differ highly from other countries. You may want to have familiarization lessons before you go solo. You always need to be in contact with an ATSU, even if flying VFR in Airspace G. Basic IFR knowledge may be helpful to cooperate with ATC. Aircraft rental prices are between THB 4500 and THB 10000 per hour. Instructors cost THB 500 - THB 1500 per hour. Landing fees vary from free on smaller airfields up to extravagant on airline owned or big airports.


Pattaya beach.
 
Operators in Thailand

They aren't a lot of small aircrafts registered in Thailand and apparently there is a lack of pilot schools and instructors. Activities, aircraft airworthiness' and bases of the operators are varying. Some of the operators you may find online may have moved their base, reserved their fleets solely for airliner cadets, or they may even not be active anymore. Therefore it may not be easy to find an operator that will be able or willing to hire aircrafts for leisure flights. Don't be discouraged about that, but make sure you chose an operator that will be able to provide your needs (aircraft rental for leisure, aircraft types, solo flying, instructors, safety pilots, convenient location etc.).


Thai HS-registered aircrafts.
 
Foreign PPL license validation

To be able to privately fly Thai HS-registered aircrafts as PIC in Thailand you need to have your foreign PPL license validated by the CAAT via an operator. However, you don't need to do a separate Medical Certificate in Thailand. The validation can't be done on your own, here are the steps to take:

1. Find an operator that will get your foreign license validated and send them the documents they need. Remember a "certified copy" is a copy that is signed by you.
2. You need to pass the Thai Air Law examination at the CAAT headquarter in Bangkok, so arrange your next Thailand trip accordingly (examination dates are normally at the end of every month). The only thing to learn is the Thai Air Law document (very easy!).
4. Pass the Thai Air Law examination.
5. The CAAT will then make some background checks on you. This may take 3-9 months! Be patient, they don't forget you...
6. After having received your validation you will be allowed to operate as PIC immediately. However you may need or wish familiarization lessons. Note that a local safety pilot is sufficient, you don't need a flight instructor-rated pilot for that.
7. Don't forget to renew your validation in time, as it's only valid for one year or until your main license expires.


Normally the operator will charge you a certain fee that covers the CAAT examination fee, CAAT validation fee, their drive costs to the CAAT etc. (approx. THB 2000 - THB 4000). You may also need to pay a membership fee to the operator before you fly. Normally no deposits are required.

Important note: the validation will only be valid for the HS-registered aircraft(s) of one operator only. You will need separate validations if you wish to fly HS-registered aircrafts from other operators. So be sure to choose the "right" operator to have your license validated. Re-validations and separate validations for other operators take around one month.


CAAT headquarter in Bangkok.


Foreign license validation document.
 
Flight preparation and information

Thai AIP: You can order or download it from the CAAT website. It will fill 3 big folders if you print it double-sided or 6 folders if you print it on one side only. I can't tell what you get when you order the "buy-version" from the CAAT. The charts are only IFR and they are no VFR approach charts. However, airport ground charts are included. Amendments are released normally once a month.

VFR navigation charts: there are no official VFR flight navigation charts for Thailand. The best charts are the ones available on this site.

Aerodrome charts: get the Thai AIP or the ones from Jeppessen.

Flight plans: depending on your departure airport they need to be filed by phone, fax or other devices (not in the air!). Make sure they really were filed by re-confirming! The flight plans often aren't "opened" and "closed", but just filed.

NOTAM: ask the CAAT by phone or NOTAM Search (ICAO-code for Thailand FIR is "VTBB").

Weather briefing: METAR/TAF of the major airports, SWCs, satellite pictures or weather apps.

Self printed Thai AIP.


AD section of the Thai AIP with airport charts.
 
Thai Air Law and rules

Thailand's Air Law is relatively uncomplicated and the document didn't change since 1953. It's only 88 pages thick and available online. To avoid high penalties and in order not to damage the reputation of private leisure flying in Thailand, take following rules seriously:

- Don't ever fly without valid documents.
- Don't ever fly without filed flight plans.
- Don't ever fly in prohibited or restricted areas.
- Don't ever enter controlled airspaces without clearances.
- Don't ever land outside aerodromes or on an aerodrome that isn't licensed.
- Always maintain radio contact with the appropriate ATSU.


Flying over the gulf of Thailand.