of Smiles is famous the world over for
its remarkable hospitality, friendliness, and rich culture. Nestled
in the heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand offers an abundance
of destinations, from modern city life to the exquisite
scenery of lush green mountains and warm blue seas. It
is a place where pleasure merges with tranquility. The
Thai people have ever maintained their precious qualities
of kindness and generosity; indeed, "Take good care
of your guests, make the best for them" is a traditional
are literally hundreds of web-sites about Thailand's beauty,
culture, and tourist opportunities. Here are a few especially
helpful for first-time visitors to Thailand:
Authority of Thailand http://www.tourismthailand.org/
The Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/south_east_asia/thailand/index.htm
Hua Hin http://www.hua-hin.com/
area on Thailand Map magnified
of Niels Steeman
for international flights is now added to your ticket in
and CREDIT CARDS
banks around in the country offer ATM services both in Thai
and English. Note that for some withdrawals from banks using
a foreign (non-Thai) bank cards, fees can be applied for
withdrawing Thai Baht in Thailand. Contact your bank
for more details.
Cards are widely accepted around Thailand, both at hotels,
large restaurants and department stores. In Thailand,
it may be common for extra fees to be applied for credit
card purchases, and/or for non-Thai credit cards. Smaller
stores, hotels, and street vendors cannot accept credit
in most countries, there are some standard opening and closing
times in Thailand. Here are the most common ones
Banks: Mon – Fri 09.30 – 15.30
hrs (Closed on public holidays)
Businesses: Mon – Fri 08.30 – 17.00
hrs (Closed on public holidays)
Post offices: Mon – Fri 08:30 – 16:00
hrs (Closed on public holidays, some may be open on weekends)
Shops and department stores: normally open
12 hours a day and 7 days per week (most from 10:00 – 22:00 hrs)
enjoys three seasons: Cool, Hot and Wet
- Cool: From
November to February with a temperature range from +10C
to +25C in the North and mountainous areas, between +20
to +27C in the Central, South and low lying areas.
- Hot :
From March through May with temperatures ranging from
+26C to +35C
- Wet :
The monsoon season is from mid-May to October. Temperatures
range from +26C to +35C with humidity above 70%. Short
bursts of rain showers can be expected in the evening,
The SUN in
Thailand is strong even on overcast days. The use of high
SPF sunscreen in conjunction with sunglasses and clothing
to protect against sunburn is strongly recommended.
to the hot and humid climate, cotton clothing is advised.
A sweater is useful for the cool season’s evenings
or when visiting mountainous areas. If you have
the time, don't pack much - shop instead! Much
good quality clothing at reasonable prices can be found
in Thailand, though the sizing tends to be small. Recommended
to bring with you are – when required – spare
glasses, extra contact lenses, and a small emergency
kit of things you cannot live without.
Code for Entering Temples and Palaces: Temples
and palaces are considered sacred. Visitors must
not wear the following when entering, and you can always
ask somebody if what you are wearing is appropriate to
enter a sacred place:
flops/sandals without a strap behind the heel
wear / Beachwear
with offensive texts or images
Code for other Occasions/Situations: If one
remembers that the Thai people are, for the most part,
extremely modest, this knowledge can be helpful when
considering what to wear for certain occasions and situations. The
Thai dress code may look quite conservative to foreigners,
but should be respected as much as possible. As
a rule, dressing properly with sleeved shirts, clean
clothes, and pants or skirts will be more respectful
than wearing short, skimpy, tight, or dirty clothes.
nudity is an offense; topless sunbathing is not allowed
and is considered extremely obscene.
tops, shorts, and (not-too-revealing) bathing suits are acceptable
at the Drop Zone.
is the Thai Baht, with bank notes from 1000, 500, 100, 50,
20 and 10 in denomination. Coin denominations are 10,
5, 2 and 1 Baht down to smaller divisions of 50 and 25 Satangs
(100 Satangs = 1 Baht).
Check the current exchange
major overseas currencies and travellers cheques can be exchanged
at banks and hotels throughout Thailand. Travellers are advised
to check the exchange rates prior to the transaction. There
is a small transaction fee per Travellers Check exchanged,
but the exchange rate is usually higher than it is for bank
notes. The exchange rate is better for USD 100 bills
than it is for smaller denominations.
Volt AC (50 cycles) using two-pin plugs with variations of
flat or rounded pins. Be careful! Many electrical
outlets in Thailand look the same as those in North America
and Japan, but they are not! It is always advisable
to travel with dual-voltage appliances but, when that is not
possible, please remember to bring the proper currency converters
for your 110 Volt appliances. Try to bring all necessary
adaptors from your home country, as well, as there is no guarantee
that those you need will be available on-site.
Thai kitchen is well known throughout the world, catering
for each and every single person’s personal taste.
Please feel free to sample the vast range of cuisine
on offer. However, we recommend that you exercise care
when consuming food from street stalls, making sure that
they are clean and hygienic. Thai food is a blend
of basic ingredients (rice, meat, vegetables, seafood
and noodles) where the addition of a huge variety of
spices gives it that special taste. For those who
have not developed a taste for Thai food, hotel restaurants
generally serve a variety of international foods.
do not drink tap water - just don't. Bottled water
is often available in your hotel rooms, and always available
for sale. Cheap. Everywhere.
refer to your health insurance policy to insure that you
are covered for medical and emergency services in Thailand,
as charges will be levied should you require treatment. If
you are not covered by your policy, please consider arranging
for travel insurance before you depart. There is a
good hospital in Prachuap, and several excellent internationally-renowned
hospitals in Bangkok.
most mobile telephones (cellphones), it is fairly easy to buy
a Thai SIM card in Bangkok, and top-up cards can be purchased
at any 7-11. This is not true, however, of cell phones
from the USA, which don't work anywhere else. New cellphones
can be purchased in Bangkok for under USD 70, and used ones
for much less (but, Buyer Beware!)
prices of many articles, services, and products are lower
than in most western countries, and the salary level of the
Thai is generally much lower, as well. With some average
monthly salaries not exceeding USD 200 per month, many Thais
work 6 – 7 days a week and, to them, western visitors
are considered to be rich in all aspects.
be mindful and considerate of this reality if/when you
are confronted by a Thai with it. They do not mean
to insult you, but do not insult them by angrily denying
that you are 'rich.' Compared to them, you are.
the country has a reputation of being safe and the amount
of criminality is low, it does not mean that you can walk
around careless of your personal belongings. Thais are attentive
when you forget something or drop something while walking,
but please bear in mind that pick pockets are around, mostly
at busy areas (bus stops, markets and tourism attractions)
use of the safety deposit boxes at the hotels, in your
room or at the front des, if they are available. In
most cases, these are free of charge.
not carry too many valuables, money, or travel documents
with you (but always at least one legal form of identification)
your stay you may be approached by a variety of people,
called 'touts,'who will initially befriend you. Once
they have established your trust they will try to sell
you something at inflated prices. Please be aware that
there are NO government shops in Thailand.
not buy any jewelry without a certificate of authenticity
you become victim of a crime, always go directly to the
police station to report or – when in larger tourism
destinations – to the tourism police. For stolen
passports, always get in touch with your local embassy
contact your insurance company for anything in case of
a loss of theft. They may be of more assistance to you
than you imagine.
back from Thailand without having experienced this is like
not having visited Thailand at all! The choices are many – feet,
head, body, aroma therapy and other variations of massage. The
duration is between 1 to 2 hours and the prices are very reasonable
(approx 200 Baht per hour). At some hotels you have the option
to let a masseuse come to your room; otherwise you can visit
one of the many massage shops on the street and try it out. Many
of the masseuses have undergone months of intense training
and some can even give you a medical diagnosis. Be careful
with some ailments (hernia, pregnancy or weak joints) that
may not be suitable for a traditional Thai Massage.
time in Thailand is GMT +7 hours all year round.
the current time in Bangkok
is not compulsory but is welcomed. Here are some guidelines – Bell
Boys 20 Baht per suitcase, maids 20 Baht per day, tour guides
and drivers 100 Baht per person per tour. In restaurants,
when the service is good, 10% of the bill is appropriate.
has an extensive local transportation network, covering the
whole country. Here are the most commonly used means of transportation.
It is not common or recommended to hitchhike in Thailand.
There are 4 major lines, all leading to
Bangkok (West, East, Northeast and South). Trains offer a
comfortable and cheap way to travel.
Train schedules between larger cities as well as in between towns
operate frequently and, sometimes, around the clock. Trips over
10 hours in length offer both 1st and 2nd class sleepers with bed
and pillow. Click
here for the State Railway of Thailand web-site (includes schedules
Thailand has one of the most extensive
bus and coach schedules around the world. Servicing main
cities with frequent departures. Bangkok
itself has 3 major bus terminals with a variety of services from
local non-air-conditioned bus services to fully air-conditioned
coaches with all facilities you can find on a bus. Tickets can
be purchased at the bus terminals.
With an open skies policy in place in
the beginning of the 21st century, Thailand has a wide and
extensive network of domestic flights connecting
all major cities from Bangkok. Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, are
among the most used airlines for domestic stretches; flights
on these airlines can be pre-booked in all the
usual ways. Thai AirAsia and Nok Air are active
players on the low cost/no thrills segment, but can only be booked
via the airline web sites.
“ Tuk Tuks” are three-wheeled motorized taxis; its name is derived
for the sound the engine makes. It is normal to agree on the fare
before the trip has begun. Tuk tuks are a fun and fast way to explore the town
and to get from one side to the other in Thai style. Be mindful not to
accept “ free trips around the town” by tuk tuk drivers, as they
may try to force you to buy at tailors, jewelry stores and handicraft centres,
where the drivers receive commission from the shops
Mostly seen in Bangkok, they can be recognized by the “Taxi Meter” sign
on top of the roof. You can stop them everywhere by putting your
hand out to a taxi with a red light on in its front window. The meter
always starts at 35 Baht. Should the taxi driver refuse to turn
on the meter and begin to arrange a price, please leave the taxi immediately
and call the next one. Insist on using the meter at all times.
Always bring sufficient small money with you; taxi drivers never have
sufficient change in hand.
Again, mostly found in Bangkok, a maze of business with various colors
and price schemes drive around the city centre and even further.
It may be hard to find the right bus number, which brings you to
the destination you may need to go to, as routings and bus numbers
frequently change. It is a very cheap way to travel. There are
green and red busses (non-air-conditioned) as well as orange and
blue ones (air-conditioned) travelling all around the city. You
pay the fee inside the bus to a bus boy/girl who runs around the
bus, collecting the fee for the stretch you plan to drive. Correct
change is required.
Mainly in Bangkok and sailing over the Chaophraya River, this is a
nice way to sail around and see Bangkok from the water. The
main access point for water taxis is the River City Boat pier, close
to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel, where a detailed map of all the
water routes and fees is displayed. If you bring electronic equipment,
make sure that you have a protective, water-proof bag for your valuables.
Water can be very destructive!
This kind of transportation you can find mainly at the beach destinations;
open, covered trucks with 2 benches (song taew) who drive you where
you want to go. Cheap and always be prepared to bargain about the price!
Opened in December of 1999, the Bangkok Sky Train is an elevated electrical
train system connecting the city from north to southwest and to the
river — no
traffic jams, connecting all the major roads around in Bangkok, clean,
air-conditioned, and frequent. There are currently only 2 lines,
connecting with each other at Siam Square, yet more are planned. The
fare is paid via coin machines and/or staff at the Skytrain stations.
The prices are determined by distance. Maps of the Skytrain can be
obtained free of charge at each Skytrain station.
Opened in 2004, the subway is the latest addition to beat traffic in
Bangkok. It connects the city from north to west via an extensive
network underground and has connections with the Sky Train at 2
stations (Sukhumvit and Saladaeng). Works in the same way as the
Skytrain (prices are according to the distance you plan to travel,
they run 7 days a week, and trains arrive basically every 5 minutes).
order to rent a car in Thailand, either a Thai Driver's license
or an International Driver's license is required.
Only recommendable outside the larger cities (not in Bangkok,
even though there are loads of motorcycles around in this
city, please do not try this yourself). Rates for renting
a motorcycle are around 200-250 Baht per day, but this
can vary a lot from town to town. These motorcycle
shops are never properly insured and you, as the renter,
can be held liable for any damage or loss of the motorcycle.
It is compulsory to wear a helmet at all times.
is highly recommended that you arrange for travel insurance.
This may include coverage for medical services, emergency
evacuation, repatriation, trip interruptions, and lost luggage.
Short-term policies can be arranged by your travel agent,
or directly with an insurance company, for a relatively low
MANNERS AND RELIGION
with all the countries in the world, Thailand has its own
(un) written rules about how to act. Here are the most common
ones you may want to consider:
Thailand, it is rude to use your feet to point to something
and almost unforgivable when it comes to Buddhist artifacts.
Feet are literally the lowest part of the body, and the
head is the most sacred part. When Thais sit on
the floor, they keep their feet always under their body. It
is impolite to touch a person’s head. Resist
the temptation to tousle a child's hair; it is considered
you enter somebody’s house, it is customary to
take off your shoes. Should you enter another establishment
(such as a restaurant or other public place), please
respect their customs
important expression in Thailand is “Jai Yen” (translated
as “cool heart”). Losing one's temper and/or
showing emotions is not “Jai Yen.” It is
of importance to remain calm and patient, even in frustrating
situations. Handle all with a smile and you will see
that you can get much more done. For a Thai, losing your
face is something really bad and it can result in losing
respect. Thais are not the strongest when it comes to
direct confrontation. It is said that it can take
20 or more years to gain a Thai's trust, yet all can
be wiped away in just 5 seconds
not to shout (either in English or in Thai) to a Thai
when on the street or in a public area; it may result
in totally the opposite of what you intend to say
love to smile (the expression “Land of Smiles” says
enough) but that does not mean that he/she is happy all
the time. Each member of the kingdom loves “Sanuk;” “cozy” and “feeling
good” are expressed with this simple word.
a Buddhist country,Thais are very tolerant of other religions
correct greeting in Thailand is the “Wai." Place
both of your hand palms together in front of your chest/chin
region and make a small bow, you can use this for both
welcoming saying farewell
Royal Family in Thailand is one of the most important (if not the most important) institutions. Any jokes or
insults when referring to the Royal Family are extremely
inappropriate. The popularity of H.M. The King,
H.M. The Queen, and all other members of the Royal Family
is immense, due to their good work and caring for the
Thai nation. Some indecent acts against the Royal Family
are considered a criminal offense
(the Thai word for “Temple”) are the homes
for the Buddhist monks, as well as a place for worship.
Buddhism is the main religion in Thailand (over 90% of
the country's inhabitants are Buddhist). Buddhism
is more a philosophy of life than the other worldwide
known religions. When visiting a temple, please
dress respectfully (see Clothing above)
and respect the monks at all times. Taking pictures of
a monk is only allowed if the monk gives approval. Women
are not allowed to touch a monk in any way. Becoming
a monk (male only) gives a Thai family status and is
highly respected by the outside world. Monks do not have
to choose to become a monk for life; it depends on the
person himself how long he wants to stay in the monkhood
affection (like kissing in public or embracing each other)
is not acceptable. Walking hand in hand is tolerated.
alcohol, smoking, and going out are very popular with
the Thais; karaoke is among one of the most favorite
past times in Thailand. As in other countries,
however, the over-consumption of alcohol is frowned upon. Opening
and closing times of bars, discotheques, and other entertainment
venues are strictly controlled and enforced.
drugs, weapons, and other narcotics into Thailand is
strictly forbidden. The death penalty can be given
to those breaking this law.
and bargaining about a price of a product is a highly
competitive and fun thing to do. At local markets
and large open-air markets, it is a sport to try to get
something off the initial offered price. Larger
shops, department stores, restaurants and other public
areas where prices are fixed are not for bargaining.