What can we help you with?

Guide on First Time Driving Overseas | DirectAsia

travel insurance

Despite our small population, Singapore ranked fourth among Asian countries whose drivers were involved in fatal and injury crashes in New Zealand. While numbers are not available on how many Singaporeans are involved in road accidents overseas, there were five reported fatal cases in 2017, with three in December alone.

As more and more Singaporeans are choosing for self-drive options during overseas vacation, it is imperative that one understand the main difference between driving here and in other countries. If you’ve been thinking of taking the self-drive route, here’s what you need to know to help you prepare for a safe trip on the roads.

Documents you need

  • Valid driving licence
  • Valid international driving licence
  • Keep your passport with you at all times
  • Vehicle registration and insurance documents - If you're renting a car, the rental company will provide the relevant paperwork. If you're borrowing a car from a friend or relative, be sure that the registration and insurance coverage is current and with you
  • Travel insurance - falling sick or running into other emergencies when you're overseas is often expensive and inconvenient, be sure that you always have travel insurance with you for these situations

Difference between driving in Singapore and Overseas

  • Right-hand drive

Countries like Singapore, Australia and other countries which were British colonies drive on the left, whereas over two-thirds of the world use the right-hand drive system. This can be a huge challenge for many drivers from Singapore, since it typically takes around 2 to 3 weeks to be familiar with driving on the opposite side. Unfortunately, when you are on a holiday, you don’t have the luxury of time to familiarise yourself with driving on the opposite side. But some tips could help - familiarise yourself with the car’s controls before you head off and if you get confused about the direction to turn at a busy intersection, you might want to follow the car in front of you.

  • Long stretches of Road

Being a city, driving from point A to Point B in Singapore typically takes you a maximum of 1 hour. But in most other countries which are significantly larger, each trip you drive in the car could stretch for hours. This is especially important because being fatigued when driving is extremely dangerous. More so for those who have just taken a flight and wants to embark on their road trip straight away. It could be a better idea to rest the night before starting your self-drive trip. Remember to always schedule for breaks and, if possible, have a co-driver who can take over when you become too tired. Ensure you have food and water in the car as you may experience long stretches of road without any pit-stops.

  • Weather conditions

Luckily for us in Singapore, we only have to deal with the hot weather and some occasional rain (or flooding). If you intend to drive overseas during winter, you’ll need to take extra precaution. It is very important that you rent a car fitted with winter tyres if snow is expected. On roads with thick snow, avoid driving too near the “curb” to prevent your car from sliding over an embankment. Be wary of black ice – a thin layer of frozen water on tarmac. This is extremely slippery and you should always keep your distance from the vehicle in front. To avoid your car windscreen from fogging up in the cold, deactivate the “Recirculation” button on the air-con. This will remove moisture from the cabin.

  • Road Signs

Obviously, other than the different language you’d see, road signs vary from country to country as well. Do check out online for some of the different signs you might encounter before you go.

Tips for Popular Driving Destinations

Here are some helpful links for those looking to drive in some of these popular destinations




New Zealand


Before you go, remember to sign up for a travel insurance for you and your entourage! Other than possible dangers on the road, unexpected mishaps can dampen your holiday spirits and cause you unnecessary financial damage. Ask for an instant quote now!