Travel Tips for Thailand
Over 95 percent of the population of Thailand is Buddhist, with Muslim, Christian, Hindu and animist minorities. Their national language is Thai, although many speak local and Chinese dialects. English is also widely spoken, especially in cities and towns. Thailand shares borders with Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma).
Thailand’s climate is tropical, with three main seasons:
Hot: March to June
Rainy (Monsoon): July to November
Cool: November to February
Average temperatures range from 20°c – 35°c The weather is always cooler in northern and forested hill regions..
Most nationalities do not need prearranged visas, as visas are granted on arrival for a stay of up to 30 days. Other nationalities can obtain a 15 day visa on arrival (two photos needed). For a longer stay of up to 60 days, a tourist visa can be obtained in advance from overseas Thai diplomatic missions and embassies. A tourists visa can be extended for up to 30 days.
Duty-free allowance for visitors is 200 cigarettes and one litre of wine or spirits. Import of weapons or pornography is forbidden. Penalties for attempted smuggling of drugs are very severe.
Any amount of traveller’s cheques or drafts may be imported, but cash in excess of US$10,000 must be declared on arrival. Not more than Baht 50,000 may be exported in cash. Antiques and Buddha images require export licenses, applied for at the Bangkok Department of Fine Arts.
Certificates of inoculation for cholera or yellow fever are only required if you arrive from an infected area. Some border areas of Thailand are malarial, so appropriate precautions should be taken. Bangkok, major cities and resorts have excellent
medical facilities and most hotels have doctors on 24-hour call.
Currency, Credit Card & Tipping:
Thai currency is the Baht, divided into 100 Satang. Notes are in denominations of B1,000, B500, B100, B50, B20 and B10. Coins are B10, B5, B1, S50 and S25. Cash and traveller’s cheques can be exchanged freely, with banks and moneychangers giving better rates than hotels. Major international credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants and shops.
Tipping is widely practiced. In restaurants give 10% if a service charge is not included. Hall porters and bag boys B10-20. Taxis are not tipped, but passenger must pay Expressway tolls.
Self-driven or chauffeur-driven cars are available, with leading car rental companies having desks at main airports. Driving yourself is an excellent way to explore up-country areas. An international driving license is required, although most agencies accept American, EU or Australian national licenses. Driving is on the left side of the road.
Thailand time is GMT + 7 hours.
Electric current is usually 220 volts A/C (50 cycles). Various plug sockets are in use; better hotels supply adaptors and transformers for 110V equipment.
Government offices work a five-day week.
Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except for public holidays.
Business offices usually open and close half an hour later than these times and some work Saturday mornings.
Banks open Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
For keen shoppers, Thailand is truly a paradise, with luxurious malls, department stores, open-fronted shops, day and night bazaars and vibrant open-air markets in which to hunt for bargains. Fancier shops have fixed prices, but elsewhere, bargaining is half the fun. One must-see place is Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market.
Buy jewellery only from reputable shops and insist on a certificate guaranteeing the quality. Avoid friendly street touts who receive a hefty commission for directing you to a store.
Literally hundreds of colourful festivals and temple fairs are celebrated throughout Thailand. Songkran, the Thai New Year and water festival, attracts annual revellers from around the world.
Contact worldwide offices of the Tourism Authority of Thailand for the exact calendar,
or visit the TAT website: www.tourismthailand.org