THAILAND TRAVEL TIPS
Thailand, officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand, covers an area of 514,000 square kilometers. It is similar in size to France and has a population of about 60 million. Approximately 95 percent of Thai citizens are Buddhists. The remainder of the populace is comprised of Muslims, Christians and Hindus. Geographically, Thailand is divided into four main regions: the Central Plains, the North, the Northeast and the South. The majority of the population lives in the fertile Central Plains, where the capital city of Bangkok is located. The Northern region, dominated by Chiang Mai (Thailand's second largest city), is an area of mountains and fertile valleys. In contrast to the Central and the Northern regions, the Northeast has harsh climatic conditions and is the least fertile region of Thailand. The South is famous for its fine beaches and idyllic limestone islands. Thailand proudly proclaims that it has never been colonized. One positive aspect of this fact is that the country has retained its unique culture, traditions and language. With a long, rich heritage and abundant natural resources, Thailand is without doubt one of the most exotic countries in Asia.
Thailand has several international airports and is well connected with many direct flights from mayor cities around the world.
PASSPORT AND VISAS
Many nationalities, including the citizens of Australia, Canada, South Africa, the USA and most European countries, do not need a visa for stays of up to 30 days. A passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry, return ticket or onward travel arrangement needs to be presented upon request at your arrival in Thailand. These requirements are subject to change. Please check with the embassy or consulate in your home country before departure.
No vaccinations are presently required unless you are traveling from or through contaminated areas. It is recommended that you be immunized against polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A and B.
Importation of all kinds of narcotics (opium, heroin, cocaine, etc.) and pornographic media are strictly prohibited. Firearms and ammunition can be imported only after a permit has been obtained from the local police department. A reasonable amount of clothing for personal use, toiletries and professional instruments can be brought in free of duty. In addition, 200 cigarettes or smoking materials in total of 250 grams, one litre of wine or spirits, one video camera, five rolls of still film, three rolls of video film, and one item of electrical goods per person are allowed in duty free. Buddha images, antiques or fragments thereof are not allowed to be taken out of Thailand without authorization from the Fine Arts Department.
CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE
CURRENCY: The Thai monetary unit is the Baht. There are 100 Satang to one Baht. Coins are used in denominations of 25 Satang, 50 Satang, 1 Baht, 2 Baht, 5 Baht and 10 Baht. Bank note denominations comprise 20 Baht (green), 50 Baht (blue), 100 Baht (red), 500 Baht (purple) and 1000 Baht (gray). Notes are also scaled in size; the larger the denomination, the larger the note. MONEY EXCHANGE: Money and travelers cheques of all major currencies can be exchanged at hotels, banks, exchange booths and mobile exchange kiosks in tourist areas. Banks usually offer the best rates. CREDIT CARDS: Credit cards are widely accepted in department stores, major hotels, up-market shops and restaurants. They can also be used for cash advances at banks and exchange counters. The most commonly accepted cards are VISA and Master card, followed by American Express, JCB and Diners Club.
LOCAL TIME & WORKING HOURS
Thailand time is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), 6 hours ahead of Rome, Paris, Frankfurt and Vienna, 5 hours ahead of Pretoria, 13 hours ahead of New York and 3 hours behind Sydney. All these time differences are based upon Winter Time. Thailand lies in the same time zone as its neighbors Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
Most Thai citizens - approximately 95% - are Buddhists with Muslims, Christians, and Hindus represented in the remaining 5 %
Thailand enjoys a tropical climate with three distinct seasons: Hot Season: March - May Rainy Season: June - October Cool Season: November - February The average annual temperature is about 28° C. The northern region can be a bit cold during the cool season. Be sure to bring along a sweater or a light jacket if you intend to visit this region around that time of the year. During the rainy season, downpours hardly last more than a couple of hours.
Thai language is widely spoken throughout Thailand, many Thais also speak and understand English mainly in the major tourist area. There are also regional languages, including Southern Thailand and Northeastern Thailand, the latter of which is essentially just the Lao language (as most of the population is of Lao descent). In northern Thailand, which had been the independent kingdoms of Lan Na and Chiang Mai, a distinctive form of Thai is still spoken by the local inhabitants, all of whom can also speak central Thai.
The electric current for the whole of Thailand is 220 volts AC, 50 cycles. Dual-prong rounded plugs as well as flat-pin plugs can be used in sockets. Adaptors are provided by most of the hotels.
Dressing in Thailand depending on where you are going. Bikinis, short pants and sleeveless shirts are more acceptable and often see in the beaches. While appropriate dress will be required if you are visiting temples or palace. The same with some restaurants that require smart casual dress code such as no slipper, sandal, sport uniform and torn clothing.
Drinking water from the tap is not advisable. Use only a reliable brand of bottled water or boiled water from the tap. Be wary of ice, which may come from a questionable source. Ice served in the hotels and good restaurants are usually safe. A bottle of drinking water is usually provided complimentary by most hotels.
POST AND COMMUNICATION
The Thailand Communications network is both easy and convenient for foreigners to utilize. Thailand features numerous public telephones, mobile phones are easy for visitors to procure. There is a post office in every major town in the Kingdom. From telephones to the internet, the Thailand communications network allows visitors to stay in touch with comfort and ease.
Internet cafes and wireless internet services are widespread. All serviced provider network in Thailand such as AIS, DTAC and True move H usually provide free wifi spot on the major tourist destination such as malls, shopping places, walking street, etc.
Bangkok is the shopping capital of Southeast Asia. The high quality, wide variety and attractive prices of many Thai products are a major attraction for tourists. In major cities outside Bangkok you will also find plenty of areas to shop.
Traditionally, tipping is not a common practice in Thailand, though it is becoming more widespread as a result of foreign influence. Tipping is entirely up to your discretion. In hotels and finer restaurants where a service charge of 10% is added to the bill, it is not necessary to tip further. Taxi fares should be rounded off to the nearest 5 or 10 Baht.
FOOD & DINING
Choosing a place to eat is pretty much a matter of using common sense: if a restaurant looks clean, well run and is packed with tourists or locals, then the food is probably safe, while an empty one is questionable. Be aware that Thai food can be very spicy. Go easy on it if you are not used to spicy food. Fruits and vegetables should be washed or peeled wherever possible before eating. Avoid food from street vendors. Recommended restaurants can be found at www.reataurantsofbangkok.com
SAFETY & SECURITY
Thailand is a safe country, but like anywhere in the world, it is wise to be a little cautious. Simple safety precautions such as ignoring touts, keeping away from trouble areas, not wearing excessive jewelry, being careful when crossing roads (remember: left-hand traffic!) and taking care of valuables will keep you out of trouble. Valuables such as money, traveler’s cheques, passports and flight tickets are best kept in the safety box of your hotel.
All taxes and services charges are included in the ticket prices.
The Royal Family is held in the highest esteem in Thailand. Negative remarks about the Monarchy are considered offensive