Parking a car in Thailand: leave in neutral???

Link.In this article from the Bangkok Post, entitled “Parking 101,” the auto “expert” says the following:


Is this common practice in Thailand? Anywhere else?

Parking on hilly roads must be fun.

The article is talking specifically about parking in a car park, not on the street or on a road.

The practice still seems odd, though.

I’m not sure about this being limited to car parks/garages. I have a hard time picturing parallel parking being a common thing in parking garages.

I was in Seoul, S. Korea in the mid-90s, and this was the practice there. The employees at the parking garages would go around pushing cars by hand to move them. There are a LOT of cars in these cities, and I guess they need to do whatever they can to save space. I saw delivery vans parked on an angle, right on the front steps of buildings, motorcycles going down the sidewalk, etc.

I’m sure Siam Sam can provide more details, but I can say that I witnessed it personally when I visited Bangkok last year. My friends and I watched in amazement as our driver proceeded to push around some parked cars so he could move his car out of the very crowded sidewalk. One of our friend, a local who was taking us around, proceeded to explain the local custom of leaving cars in neutral so others can move your car around if they need to leave and you were blocking their exit. It’s actually a very efficient system and our driver was pretty careful with the other car.

I’m not sure I understand why the cars need moving. If there is a line of parallel parked cars along the sidewalk, is there also another line of parallel parked cars between the first row and the street? As in, are cars parallel parked two rows deep?

ETA: I was in Bangkok about 10 years ago and didn’t notice this phenomenon.

If you look at the pictures in the article, it seems they are defining parallel parking differently, e.g. as side-by-side parking.

I don’t know how it is in Thailand, but when I was in S. Korea, it seemed limited to parking garages/parking lots. And it wasn’t so much that cars were parked two rows deep, though they often were, so much as they were parked wherever they could fit. So it often was necessary to move other cars to make room to maneuver a vehicle out of a spot, make a spot just a bit bigger to fit one in, or even to make room for a driver to actually enter their vehicle.

My memory’s a little fuzzy, but yes, I believe there were some double parking involved. Two rows of cars were parked against the sidewalk and our driver’s car was in the row closer to the sidewalk than the street. Also, here in the US, we generally parallel park on the streets by leaving some bumper spaces in the front and back for cars to leave, but I recall that in some parking lots in Bangkok, you just parked as close to the rear bumper of the previous car as you could without hitting it and then when you needed to get out, just push the cars a little forward.

This is the intro to the article:

All the photos depict parking in a car park/garage.

Yes, in Thailand in the car parks the drivers (most folks that can afford a nicer car have one) push the cars around. At least in Bangkok it’s not hilly at all - flat as Florida, so there was no need for employing the brake.

That was the way I interpreted it too. Especially in light of the sentence, “Some of you with European cars that cannot park without engaging Park will just have to find yourself a proper space.”

I assume “a proper space” means one which will not require your car to be pushed out of the way.

I live in Bangkok. In the parking lot under my apartment building everyone leaves their cars in neutral. There is even a sign reminding people to do it. When the marked out parking spaces are all full, extra cars are parked behind and between other cars, blocking them in. When someone needs to get their car out, the security guards will push the other car out of the way. The guards also tell people where to park in the first place - they seem to know what they are doing.

This is normal for parking lots in Thailand because there is usually limited space. At first it seems insane and it can be chaotic but seems to work out OK in the end. Typical of life in Thailand really.

It is common to leave cars parked in neutral, so they can be moved out of the way if another car is blocked in somewhere. Due to limited space, it is common to park parallel in a line in front of regular parking spaces. Been this way as long as I can remember, and yes, it works well. This area is as flat as a pancake, there are no hills or slopes.

Don’t the steering wheels lock when the ignition is off? Or are they parked in a way where the steering wheel does not have to be turned?

That was the practice this year in the parking lot for Busan Station in Busan, South Korea. The attendant would push your car out of the way by hand so another car could move. The parking lot’s being replaced now with a parking garage so that practice will no longer apply.

I saw this outside a police station in Dublin, where there weren’t enough spaces for all the people working there, so they double-parked. I never saw it anywhere else in Ireland, so I presume it was an unofficial arrangement between the cops.

Another interesting thing I’ve seen is how small the spaces Parisian drivers can parallel park into. They do it by bouncing gently back and forth off the bumpers of the cars front and back of the space until they’re all the way in. It did not do any damage, and nobody seemed to mind the practice.

The cars are usually locked, so no way to get at the steering wheel anyway.

They do the same thing in Jakarta, which, like Bangkok, is flat and crowded.

When I was young my dad went to Argentina for a work term (late 50’s early 60’s); he was laughing about the parking in Buenos Aires. He said it was not uncommon for people to inch back and forth, pushing the cars in front and behind to make enough room to get out of a parallel parking (bumper to bumper) situation.

In more congested older cities I guess they were not made for cars, parking was at a premium, and every little bit of space was exploited. Also in those days cars had real bumpers and they were all pretty much the same height - none of these monster trucks or SUVs whose bumper takes out your hood ornament, no fancy plastic bumpers that break with a tiny touch. I guess the Argentinians were more inclined to use motor than muscle.

I remember noticing in Paris in 1999 that most of the cars had scrapes on the corners, probably from squeezing into parallel parking spots they barely fit in or out of. By 2006 they seemed to have learned to respect other people’s paint finish, there were a lot less. In the alleys where there was very little room, people would park half up on the (narrow) sidewalk, leaving about a foot and a half or so for pedestrians between the car and the building.

I guess in many other countries, a car is a practical item, not an object of worship with pristine finish, to be buffed daily and never even touched as if you were Jay Leno…