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Thailand Overview
 

Thailand is a Southeast Asian, predominantly Buddhist kingdom almost equidistant between India and China. For centuries known by outsiders as Siam , Thailand has been something of a Southeast Asian migratory, cultural and religious crossroads.

With an area of some 510,000 square kilometres and a population of some 63 million, Thailand is approximately the same size as France. Thailand shares borders with Myanmar to the west and north, Laos to the northeast, Cambodia to the east, and Malaysia to the south.
picture of thailand


Geographically speaking, Thailand is divided into six major regions: the mountainous north where elephants work forests and winter temperatures are sufficiently cool to permit cultivation of temperate fruits such as strawberries and peaches; the sprawling northeast plateau, largely bordered by the Mekong River, where the world's oldest Bronze Age civilisation flourished some 5,000 years ago,- the central plain, one of the world's most fertile rice and fruit-growing areas; the eastern coastal plain, where fine sandy beaches support the growth of summer resorts', western mountains and valleys, suitable for the development of hydro-electric power; and the peninsular south where arresting scenic beauty complements economically vital tin mining, rubber cultivation and fishing.

Best Time to Visit?
No matter where in the world you are going to travel to, you need to find out the answer to these two questions before making the trip. Going to the right place at the right time will make your trip more worthwhile and more impressive.

Generally, the best time to visit Thailand is between November to February which is the cool season. However, because of the diversity in landscape, tradition and culture, Thailand can be visited at all time of the year if you know where to go and when is the right time for that.

Seasons
When traveling to each part of Thailand, you should also consider the season and the weather at a particular time of the year for a perfectly enjoyable trip.

The Central and the East
Summer begins in about March or April, during which the weather is quite hot. From the end of May to October is rainy season. November to February is wintertime. Actually the weather is cold only for a few days and it may even be hot for the rest of the time.

The North and the Northeast

There are 3 seasons at the same period of time as in the Central. However, winter in these 2 regions is colder than in other parts of the country. On top of the mountains, particularly, may get as cold as 0°C. Winter (November - January) is the best time to visit the North and the Northeast because it is the blooming season and the weather is most beautiful.

The South
Unlike other regions, there are only 2 seasons in the South-summer and rainy season. There is more rain here during rainy season than in anywhere else in the country.

In the south, the peninsula lays southwards separating the Thai Gulf in the east from the Andaman Sea in the west. The best time for the West Side (Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi) is during November to April. Apart from that is the time of monsoon season which makes it difficult and dangerous to take a boat to visit the islands. The good time for the East Side of the coast (Koh Samui, Hat Yai), on the contrary, is during May to October.

If you want to visit both sides of the coast-the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, we recommend making the trip during March to April.

Holidays and Long Weekends
Visiting Thailand during traditional fairs and events is an opportunity to see and learn about Thai culture and way of life. However, during important festivities with long holidays, people will flux out of Bangkok for vacations. People from other provinces who work in Bangkok also take these times to visit their families back home. Touristic places will be crowded with tourists. Hotels and Resorts will be all taken. Click here to check Thailand's Public Holidays. If you love calm, quiet nature, you should avoid traveling during these times or just change your peaceful schedule to see more in Bangkok instead. (There will be no traffic in Bangkok during these times for sure.)

But if you want to witness traditional festivities, you should depart prior to the holidays and make a reservation for hotels and tickets about a month ahead of time. Click here to make a hotel reservation with us. You will get a great discount here. Also avoid making the trip back to Bangkok on the last day of the holidays or long weekends when a huge number of people is heading back to Bangkok at the same time.

General Information

Weather
Temperatures in Thailand vary little outside 25-35 degrees Celsius;however, temperatures in the northern provinces can drop much lower during the cool season. The three seasons are: cool season(November to February),hot season (March to June) and rainy season (July to October).


What To Wear
Light, loose cotton clothing is best. Nylon should be avoided. Sweaters are needed during the cool season evenings or if visiting mountainous areas or national parks. Jackets and ties are required in a few restaurants and nightclubs. Neat clothes are required for entering temples or palaces.

Currency
The Thai unit of currency is the baht, which is worth a little less than 3 US cents. One US dollar = approximately 37 baht. There are 100 satangs in 1 baht. (B=baht) Notes are issued in denominations of 1000 (gray), 500 (purple), 100 (red), 50 (blue), 20 (green), and 10 (brown). There are five coins: 10, 5 and 1 baht coin, and 50 and 25 satang.

Traveller Cheques & Credit Cards
US dollar traveller cheques can be conveniently cashed at all provincial banks and authorised money changers. Traveller cheques in other currencies are best changed in Bangkok where better rates prevail. Generally, hotel exchange rates are lower than those offered by banks and authorised money changers. Major international credit cards, such as American Express, Diners, Carte Blanche, Master Card and VISA are accepted by major banks, restaurants, hotels and shops.

Thai and foreign banks provide standard services nationwide, Monday through Friday, except public and bank holidays, between 9.30 AM and 3.30 PM. Major banks such as Bangkok Bank, Thai Danu Bank, Thai Farmers Bank and Siam Commercial Bank operate currency exchange centres in most tourist areas from 7.00 AM to 9.00 PM, seven days a week, including holidays. Many first-class hotels provide 24-hour money exchange services, but only for major currencies such as American dollars, British pounds, German marks and Swiss francs. Travellers cheques are generally accepted only from bona fide hotel quests.

Most foreign currencies and traveller cheques are easily changed at banks, hotels or moneychangers. All major credit cards are widely accepted throughout the kingdom.


Business Hours
Most commercial concerns operate a five-day week.Government offices are generally open between 8:30am and 4:30pm with a noon to 1:00pm lunch break. General banking hours are Monday to Friday 9.30 am to 3.30 pm. Many stores open 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Local Time GMT + 7 hours.

Electricity
The electric system is 220 Volt AC (50 cycles). There are many plugs and sockets in use. Travelers with shavers, tape recorders and other appliances should carry a plug-adapter kit.

Telecommunications
The country code for Thailand is +66

Emergencies
The Tourist Police is a unit of English-speaking policemen set up to protect and assist visitors to Thailand. There are branches in Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Phuket, Kanchanaburi, Koh Samui. Hot Line:1155

There are two types of hospital in Thailand for medical emergencies:government public hospitals and private hospitals. Most major provincial cities have international standard private hospitals.

 

Customs
Thailand is a Buddhist country where Buddha images are held sacred. Sacrilegious acts are punishable by imprisonment even if committed by foreign visitors.
Thai people hold their King and Queen and the Royal Family in great reverence, and so won't tolerate foreigners showing disrespect to them.
Generally Thai women are conservative. So don't touch them without their consent.
Dress properly when entering a Buddhist temple. Miniskirts and shorts are not allowed. Take your shoes off before going inside the hall of worship. Ladies must not on any account touch a Buddhist monk, give things direct to him or receive things direct from him.
Intimacies between man and woman should not be shown in public. Sunbathing in the nude is prohibited.
Call Thais their first names; use the title "Khun" for adults.
Normally, Thai people address others by their first names and with the title 'khun'. So don't be surprised if you are addressed as 'Khun Mary' or 'Khun John' instead of by your surname.
Traditionally, Thais greet each other with a wai (by pressing the palms together at the chest). If someone wais you, you should wai back (except wai-ed by a child).
Thai people smile to express gladness and happiness, to thank for small services, to return the wai of children and inferior persons, and even to excuse small inconveniences.
Don't touch a person's head, nor ruffle his hair. The head is the noblest part of the body. A sincere apology should be offered immediately if you touch someone's head unintentionally.
Avoid placing your feet on the table while sitting. Never use your foot to point things out or to touch any part of the body of anyone, which is considered rude.
Entering a Thai house, you're expected to remove your shoes.
Visa
The following information about Thailand's visa information is obtained from the Office of the Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Tourist Visa Exemption
The Thai government allows nationals from 39 countries to stay in Thailand for tourism purpose for up to 30 days without an entry visa.

List of 39 countries are as follows:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam,
Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece,
Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan,
Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands,
New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar,
Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland,
Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA, Vietnam.
Temporary Tourist Visa : Visa on Arrival
Passport holders from 14 countries may apply for visas at the immigration checkpoints for the purpose of tourism for the period of not exceeding 15 days.
Documents required: Valid passport, visa application form completely filled in, confirmed air ticket paid in full, one recent photograph
( 2 1/2 inches), and application fee of 1,000 baht.
Validity of stay: 15 days
The visa is granted by Immigration officers at Thailand's international airports -- Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hatyai, and at other points of entry into the country.

List of 14 countries are as follows:
Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Czech, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan,
Maldives, Mauritius, Oman, Poland, Russian Federation,
Saudi Arabia, Ukraine
Transit Visa
Documents required:
1. Passport or travel document with validity not less than 6 months
2. Visa application form completely filled out
3. One recent photograph ( 4 x 6 cm)
4. Confirmed air ticket paid in full
5. Evidence of adequate finance
(20,000 Baht per person and 40,000 Baht per family)
6. Visa of a third country in a passport or travel document

Visa fee : 800 baht per entry
(The fee may be changed without prior notice.)
Validity of stay: 30 days
Tourist Visa

Documents required:
1. Passport or travel document with validity not less than 6 months
2. Visa application form completely filled out
3. One recent photograph ( 4 x 6 cm)
4. Confirmed air ticket paid in full
5. Evidence of adequate finance
(20,000 Baht per person and 40,000 Baht per family)

Visa fee: 1,000 baht per entry
(The fee may be changed without prior notice.)
Validity of stay: 60 days

Extension of Stay

Those who wish to stay longer or may wish to change their status of visa must file an application form at the Office of Immigration Bureau located on Soi Suan Plu, off South Sathon Road, Bangkok. The extension of stay as well as the change of certain type of visa is solely at the discretion of the Immigration officer.

The above information is subject to change. For more details, contact the Immigration Bureau, South Sathon Road, Bangkok,
tel. 0 2287 3101-10

 
Health Regulations
In Thailand, as in most countries, vaccination certificates are not required for foreign visitors except those from or passing through a designated contaminated area. Anyway, there is a risk of malaria in some forested and hilly areas. If you plan to travel in endemic areas, it is highly recommended to take tablets to prevent the onset of this desease.

Currency & Money Exchange
Foreign visitors may freely bring in foreign currencies or other types of foreign exchange. Cheques or drafts brought in, if the owner desires to sell, must be sold to a bank. Upon leaving Thailand, they may freely take out all foreign exchange they have brought in. For residents, unlimited amounts of foreign notes and coins may be taken out for travelling expenses. The amount of draft or cheque is subject to the approval of the issuing bank.
Foreign visitors may bring in an unlimited amount of Thai currency. For travellers leaving Thailand, both Thais and foreigners, the maximum amount permitted to take out without prior authorization is 50,000 baht per person or, if they are going to one of Thailand's neighbouring countries, 500,000 baht per person.
The basic monetary unit in Thailand is the Baht. A baht is divided into 100 satang. The following coins and notes are currently in use:

Coins : 25 and 50 satang; 1, 5 and 10 baht
Banknotes : 10 (brown), 20 (green), 50 (blue), 100 (red), 500 (purple) and 1,000 (grey or brown) baht

Major foreign currencies can be exchanged for Thai baht with banks and authorized money changers. For buying baht, US dollars are the most readily acceptable , though travellers' cheques get a better rate than cash.
Major credit cards are also widely accepted in tourist centres. The most commonly accepted cards are Visa and Master Card, followed by Amex, Diners and JCB.
Bangking hours: Monday to Friday, 8.30 a.m. - 3.30 p.m. (except public and bank holidays)
Major banks such as Bangkok Bank, Thai Farmers Bank and Siam Commercial Bank operate currency exchange centres in most tourist areas from 7.00 a.m. - 9.00 p.m., seven days a week, including holidays.

Customs Clearance for Passengers
Passengers arriving in the Kingdom of Thailand have to fill in the "Passenger Declaration Form" (Form No.211) and submit it to the Customs officer while bringing their luggage or belongings through the red or green channel. In case there are no dutiable, prohibited or restricted goods, please mark "nothing to declare" on the Passenger Declaration Form and submit it to the Customs officer at the green channel.
In case there are dutiable, prohibited or restricted goods or the passenger is unsure whether or not goods are subject to any of the three aforesaid categories, the passenger should mark "goods to declare" on the Passenger Declaration Form and submit it to the Customs officer at the red channel.

1.1 Duties for goods brought into Thailand will be assessed according to Customs Acts, Customs Tariff Decree, and other associated laws.
The following are subject to duty charges (30% of the goods' value):
• Goods which are brought into the country in a limited quantity as personal effects and are not for a commercial purpose.
• Goods not exceeding 80,000 baht in value.
• Duties shall be paid in cash on the date of arrival.
In case goods do not comply with the above conditions, they will be sent to Goods Accompanying Passenger Section of the Import Formalities Sub-Division at Customs Warehouse 1, Import Customs Warehouse Building, Bangkok International Airport Customs Bureau or any local respective Customs House to comply with normal Customs procedures. The passenger will receive a delivery order form (Form No.466) as evidence.

1.2 Personal effects for personal or professional use which accompany passengers in an amount not exceeding their needs with the total value not exceeding 10,000 baht, will be exempted from customs duties.
Personal effects such as clothing, cosmetics, jewelry, shoes, glasses, perfume, etc., purchased abroad must have a receipt to show before the Customs; if there is no such receipt, the Customs officer will consider other available evidence.
The following accompanied goods can be brought into Thailand in amounts not exceeding as stated below;
• 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of cigars and tobacco
• 1 liter of alcoholic liquor

1.3 A certain amount of used household effects accompanying a passenger due to change domicile will be exempted from Customs duties.
• Used household effects such as television, radio, video, etc., will be exempted from Customs duties; however, passengers are required to declare the mentioned items to the Customs officer at the red channel by submitting a passenger declaration form (Form No.211)

For further information, contact the Customs Bureau,
Tel. 0 2535 1269, 0 2535 1569 or 0 2535 1153

Customs Formality (Outbound Passengers)
Cameras, video cameras and portable computers must be declared to the Customs officer in order to confirm outbound accompaniment upon re-entry to Thailand.
Jewelry and ornaments are required to go through the Customs formalities at the Outbound Section, Passenger Control Division, Bangkok International Airport Customs Bureau (3rd floor, International Terminal 1).
Prohibited Goods and Restricted Goods:

Prohibited goods are goods for which either the import into or export out of the kingdom is prohibited, e.g. drugs, pornographic materials, protected wild animals or related products, etc. Violators of laws related to illicit drugs, e.g. having and holding, holding for use, or being a producer, seller or transporter are subject to the death sentence.

Restricted goods are goods the import and export of which are restricted by law and therefore require a permit from the related government agencies. The following items require a permit from the government agency concerned in order to go through the Customs formalities.

• Firearms, ammunitions, explosive objects (Office of National Police)
• Buddha images, artefacts and antiques (Fine Arts Department)
• Radio transceivers and telecommunications equipment (Post & Telegraph Department)
• Plants and planting materials (Department of Agriculture)
• Live animals and animal products (Department of Live Stock Development)
• Medicines and chemical products (Office of Food and Drugs Administration)

Dining
Drink only bottled or boiled water.
You can find places to eat 24 hours a day, but better avoid sidewalk stalls where, though food is cheap and palatable, hygienic conditions may not be up to standard.
Most Thai food is already cut into small pieces before serving or made soft enough to be cut with a spoon or fork; thus, a knife is unnecessary.
Saltshakers are rarely found on Thai dining tables, so add a little caramel-colour fish-sauce (called nam-pla in Thai) instead, if you find your food not salty enough.
English is spoken in large restaurants in tourist provinces and most establishments have menus in Thai and English.
Beckon waiters with a wave of a hand. Don't clap, snap fingers or hiss.
Tipping
Normally most hotels and restaurants add a 10% service charge to the bills but a tip for waiters is appreciated. For porters, a tip of 20-40 baht is acceptable.

Shopping
Be careful with your bag and valuables while shopping in a crowded area.
After buying and before leaving the shop, check that the goods are the same that you bought. Some shops do not exchange or give refunds, and make sure you keep the receipts.
In the case that you have the shop send the goods by mail, ask for a receipt for sending the goods, so that you can be certain that there is an actual mailing service.
Bargaining is an art long practised in Asian countries including Thailand. So feel free to ask for a proper discount when shopping in places where prices are not marked.
Be careful in dealing with sidewalk vendors who may not offer genuine goods at fair prices.
Souvenir stores in hotel arcades and department stores may ask for higher prices than general souvenir stores and street shops for they have to pay high rents. Yet these shops mostly offer high quality goods.
To shop gems, make sure that you shop from a specialist in that field instead of buying from a simple souvenir store.
Before making your decision to buy, especially precious objects, compare prices at several shops.
Receipts should be obtained for the goods you buy. For jewellery you must get a certificate of guarantee as well.
Some shops can offer a money-back guarantee but you should clearly determine all conditions with the shopkeeper beforehand.
Ask for a written agreement to full refund on any goods returned within 90 days.
Do not let a new acquaintance take you to shopping, for he or she is very likely to get a commission from the store. And the commission will be added to your payment.
Travelling
Don't get involved with any kind of narcotic drugs, gambling, child prostitution or other illegal activities that violate the law.
Don't walk in isolated places.
Strictly observe the warning signs at tourist attractions. Don't violate the law, as this may result in severe consequences.
Be careful with your bags and valuables when travelling. Don't leave them unattended.
Don't accept any complimentary tour offered by a stranger. Reliable tourist information and safe tours are only provided by a tour agency with a license.
Before using any service, check the information before making a final decision and keep all the important related documents in case a problem should arise after using the service.
Don't take any foods, drinks, or candies offered by a stranger.
Don't spit saliva or phlegm, discard cigarette stubs, or throw away any garbage in public areas, on the streets, or on the ground. Offenders are subject to a maximum fine of 2,000 baht.
Consult Thaiways web or Thaiways magazine, the most comprehensive guide to Thailand , or obtain information about the tourist destination from the Tourism Authority of Thailand before travelling. Check the weather conditions, especially when going to the sea, and your health, so that your trip will go smoothly.

If you have any problems while travelling, please contact the Tourist Service Centre, tel. 1672 (24 hours) or Tourist Assistance Centre, tel. 0 2505 5686 (Mon - Fri, 08.30-16.30)

For your personal safety and protection by law, please use the services of travel agencies holding a TAT license only.
About Wildlife & Environment
As the environment has become more polluted and many wildlife species have become extinct, or are in danger of extinction, partly due to the development of tourism, visitors are requested to help keep the environment clean and protect wild animals for the benefit of the later generations.
Styrofoam and other types of plastics thrown into the sea or discarded in the forest are harmful or even deadly to animals.
Never buy and keep wild animals as pets in which condition they are never meant to be. Never purchase any product or souvenir made from wild animals or their organs.
Avoid patronizing restaurants that serve food consisting of any wild animals. It is against the law to slaughter wildlife for food in Thailand.

 

Hotel Directory Guide

Central Thailand
Hotels

Ayutthaya Hotels
Bangkok Hotels
Cha Am Hotels
Hua Hin Hotels

Kanchanaburi Hotels

Koh Chang Hotels
Koh Samet Hotels
Khao Yai Hotels
Lopburi Hotels
Nonthaburi Hotels
Pattaya Hotels
Prachinburi Hotels
Rayong Hotels
Surin Hotels
Trat Hotels
T

Northern Thailand
Hotels

Chumphon Hotels
Hat Yai Hotels
Koh Lanta Hotels
Koh Samui Hotels
Krabi Hotels
Mae Sot Hotels
Phi Phi Island Hotels
Phuket Hotels
Songkhla Hotels
Si Thammarat Hotels
Surat Thani Hotels
Trang Hotels
Prachinburi Hotels
T
T
T

Southern Thailand
Hotels

Chiang Mai Hotels
Chiang Rai Hotels
Khon Khaen Hotels
Korat Hotels
Lampang Hotels
Loei Hotels
Mae Hong Son Hotels
Mukdahan Hotels
Nakhon Pathom Hotels
Nakhon Sawan Hotels
Phitsanulok Hotels
Sukhothai Hotels
Ubon Hotels
Udon Thani Hotels
Uttaradit Hotels
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