Thailand is a wondrous kingdom, featuring Buddhist temples, exotic wildlife, and spectacular islands. Along with a fascinating history and a unique culture that includes delectable Thai food and massage, Thailand features a modern capital city, and friendly people who epitomise Thailand’s “land of smiles” reputation.
From traditional Buddhist festivals and wet and wild Thai new years celebrations to spectacular national parks and an array of land, sea, and air activities, Thailand is a wonderland of festivals, attractions, and activities.
Thailand travel is convenient for visitors as there are many ways to get to Thailand and even more ways to travel in Thailand, whether your destination is Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, or the most remote provinces.
There are five regions of Thailand: North, Northeast, East, Central, and South, which are divided into 75+ provinces, each geographically distinct from the others; each Thailand province contains unique cultural, historical, and natural attractions from the northern peaks (replete with wildlife and home to exotic hill tribes) and the central plains (the “Rice Bowl of Asia”) to the northeastern plateau (stretching to the Mekong River border with Laos) and the spectacular beaches and islands of the south (including both Phuket and Samui).
Thailand, in Southeast Asia, is dominated by the Chao Phraya River basin, which contains Bangkok—the capital and largest city.
For all you need to know about visiting Thailand and planning your trip, visit http://www.tourismthailand.org/home - the official site of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Bangkok presents a distinctive Buddhist landscape, with gold-layered spires, graceful pagodas, and giant Buddha statues. To the east rises the Khorat Plateau, a sandstone plateau with poor soils supporting grasses and woodlands. The long southern region, connecting with Malaysia, is hilly and forested. The highest mountains are in northern Thailand, and the rich soils in the remote mountain valleys produce opium poppies.
The population is largely homogeneous, with most being ethnic Thai and professing Buddhism. Some three million Muslims live in the south near the border with Malaysia.
Useful Tips 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 will not tolerate foreigners showing disrespect to them.
- Generally Thai women are conservative. So do not 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 do not 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.
- Do not touch a person on the head, nor ruffle his hair. The head is the noblest part of the body. A sincere apology should be offered immediately if you touch their 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.
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 disease.
Currency & Money Exchange
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, 2, 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 authorised money changers. For buying baht, US dollars are the most readily acceptable.
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.
Banking hours: Monday to Friday, 08.30 - 15.30 hrs. (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 07.00 - 21.00 hrs., seven days a week, including holidays.
- 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
- Do not get involved with any kind of narcotic drugs, gambling, child prostitution or other illegal activities that violate the law.
- Do not walk in isolated places.
- Strictly observe the warning signs at tourist attractions. Do not violate the law, as this may result in severe consequences.
- Be careful with your bags and valuables when travelling. Do not leave them unattended.
- Do not 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.
- Do not take any foods, drinks, or candies offered by a stranger.
- Do not 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 fines.