Take a look around most parking lots in Thailand, you’ll notice that most people park by backing their cars in. This took a little for me to get used to as the skills required for backing a car into a parking spot in a crowded parking garage is not something your typical American knows how to do. After much practice, I think I’ve grasped the basic idea, but I do struggle when I’m in a hard to maneuver situation.
Why do Thais back into their parking spots? Most people I’ve talked to say that it’s easier to drive out of the parking spot when you are parked with the front of your car facing the way you need to go. In this case, all you need to do is put your car in gear, take a look in front of you and drive away. But, if you parked with your head in first, it is difficult for you to see the cars behind you when you are pulling out to leave. This can be especially frustrating in parking garages or when other cars don’t want to stop to let you back out.
The other thing that Thais say is the benefit of backing into a parking spot is that when you find your parking spot and start backing in, you have a very clear view of the cars around you. Other drivers are aware of what you are doing and those behind you have to wait for you to finish backing in. They think that backing out of a spot is more likely to cause accidents since the driver has a much more restricted view of the cars behind him.
The Thai viewpoint on parking by backing into a parking spot is well taken and in the case of parking in Bangkok, where drivers tend to be a bit impatient, makes a lot of sense. Generally, I try to follow what other people who are parked are doing in order to keep in line with the parking norms. Parking in Thailand has definitely improved my ability to maneuver in tight places and drive in reverse. Now, if only I could fine tune my ability to parallel park.