Thailand Travel Guide

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Dream of Thailand

‘As with any country you visit, you’ll get more out of your stay if you prepare properly and arrive informed about the local way of life. If there’s anything we’ve missed out that you’d like to know, then please email your query to and we’ll be happy to help.’

and can rea Octobe ly humid pressiveths of May. when the isited in the ra une.anduide Thaile Trav lllNG ame: Kingdom y Fu Countr 0. te is rather June.9 Enjoying yourself Food | Nightlife | Shopping | Sightseeing | Temples | Spas | Sports Thai Boxing | Golf | Water sports 10 Useful phrases Thailand Travel Guide Page 1 . dry m ti le t The bes is during the cooto March. re f o ll m e mperatu Nov t rainfa s a le ui the te e m a S s has th h 0 d Ko id to high 3 ril to uket an of Ap capital kok. r y e tr b n m cou s hot om Nove id. In th nd of mui sometim to the e espread flood g the Koh Sa om y a M from al. o h o to rest is Contents Page 2 Preparing for your trip Passports | Visas | Health Tips | Travel Insurance 3 . T all. especially duri night-time requiredeason when the 7C. Tempe However. and not nge 18 to 32C. Bangk centigrar. Jug Mai the clima the evenings in Chianmperate and in ay be more te an or sweater mng the drier a cardig . o e w b o m es n to k c s O e ing. For most of Tthe summer m rain ca outh east e s h s a T th n n r.00 io t la u Pop hai uage: T g n a L l Officia 7 nd. but e: GMT + year rou what n ll o a Z t o e h n Tim nding o typically bly depe ailand is h ra e T : id s e t n o Clima visiting.lasts d dri e n a th s d The gen th n onso n be haila r mon summe . not as season fr will be t as hum o re n tu is ra it when as wet. is best v April to J m o the south fr t.000 n: 65. with wid er (includin and runs fr y torrenti ountry howev n is different t of the countr s c o a s e e a e th h s f o he nort e rainy area) thber to March. varies c of Thail and ate u’re the climthe country yo ring the f o infall du the winter rt ra t pa c e p is to exer times during ason eral rule rainy seons . p o e b n city ca e wetter mon Further north during thly and August.6 General information Banks and Currency Exchange | Currency | Laws | Customs /Dos and Don’ts Dress | Manners | Monarchy | Religion | Electricity | Measurements Staying Safe | Thai New Year | Travelling around Thailand | Car Hire Tipping | Transport in Bangkok | Skytrain | Taxis | Underground | Tuk tuks 7 . winter s ture can drop to tempera t of the visit mos to e r. Pho much from m g n a months e B r e In to m m ry k o as th su va doesn’t de during the ch 40C.

org/travel/index. without obtaining a visa in advance of arrival. The visa-free entry of up to 30 days per visit is limited to a maximum of 90 days in any 6 month period. However. any time spent in Thailand on a Tourist Visa issued by a Thai Embassy or Consulate does not count towards the 90-day Health Tips: Whilst there are currently no compulsory vaccinations required for your trip to Thailand. and that this includes good health cover. Many hospitals require guarantee of payment before they will start treatment. hospitals are not up to UK standards.thaiembassyuk. and you would need to seek advice from your travel insurer’s 24 hour hotline in this respect. There are excellent international hospitals in Bangkok but they can be expensive. Thailand Travel Guide Page 2 .html Travel Insurance: Ensure that you have fully comprehensive travel insurance before you start your for your trip Passports: Ensure that your passport has more than 6 months’ validity remaining.nathnac. Further information concerning visas and other aspects of travel to Thailand may be found on the Royal Thai Embassy website: http://www.htm Visas: British passport holders may enter Thailand for a stay of up to 30 days. it is strongly recommended that you seek medical advice before starting your holiday to ensure that you comply with any new requirements. The National Travel Health Network and Centre is an excellent source of information – visit http://www. Elsewhere in the country.

and armed with these and patience. and most are open Monday to Friday between 9. wearing light loose clothing does help keep you cool. 5. Customs /Dos and Don’ts: Thais are hospitable and friendly. 50 satang. • By law. you should encounter no problems with the people of this stunning country. 50. 500 and 1000 baht. and you can use your usual debit card to withdraw cash in Thai baht. For animal welfare and conservation reasons you should also avoid buying any products or souvenirs made from animals including reptiles. humour and a phrasebook for your journeys outside the major cities. Regardless of the heat. you should carry your passport with you at all times. • It is against the law to kill wildlife for food in Thailand. with jail terms not uncommon even for ‘soft’ drugs. Thailand Travel Guide Page 3 . 10 baht and 25. as well as complying with Thai standards of modesty. and easy to get along with. and from elephant ivory and turtle shell. wearing shorts. so avoid visiting local restaurants where wild animal dishes are on the menu. Cash dispensers are widely available throughout the country. Currency: • Currency is the Thai baht (THB). you should wear long trousers whilst in town – and actually. There are also fines for those seen to spit or drop cigarette stubs in the street. • Bangkok has strict laws on litter and rubbish disposal. Banks and Currency Exchange: Banks offer the best foreign exchange rates. Dress: Apart from on the beach.i General information Laws • It is illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes per person into Thailand. symbolised by B • There are 100 satang in each baht. 2.30 am and 3. It is acceptable for children. Going nude or topless on beaches is considered unacceptable and offensive (a lot of Thais swim fully clothed) and in some cases is illegal. so make sure you always dispose of your litter in a bin. They value good manners and a smile. However. 100. • Penalties for drug offences are very severe in Thailand. • Banknotes are available in denominations of 25. • Coins are available in 1. swimwear and skimpy clothing including sleeveless tee-shirts is considered improper and low-class attire.30 pm. you need to be aware of a few moral and social customs to avoid any difficult situations and misunderstandings or embarrassment.

The Thais’ devotion to the monarchy is matched only by their dedication to their religion. but not inside the chapel where the principal Buddha image is kept so remove them before entering. Measurements: The metric system of measurement is used in Thailand. this can be punishable by a jail sentence of up to 15 years. Only patience and a good sense of humour work in Thailand! • Amorous behaviour in public is unacceptable. so make sure you know your metric clothing and shoe sizes for the limitless shopping opportunities you’ll have whilst visiting the country! Thailand Travel Guide Page 4 . be prepared to vacate this if necessary. then watch the Thais. so never touch or pat anyone in Thailand on the head. Two-prong round or flat sockets are most commonly used. • Thais believe that the head is the most sacred part of the body. • Even if you’re in a frustrating or annoying situation. as these are reserved for monks. Should you be overheard doing so. • It is forbidden for a Buddhist monk to touch or be touched by a woman. especially someone older or wise. Never climb onto one. ruined or not. Religion The second sacred subject is religion. and when sitting down. so don't point at things with them. with approximately 95% of the nation being Buddhists. The Thais have an unswerving devotion to their monarch and it is a criminal offence to make a derogatory comment about any member of the Thai Royal Family. • Standing over anyone. If you’re not sure what to do. and never have your photograph taken with one as this might indicate a lack of respect. and refrain from wearing shorts. is regarded as rude since it implies social superiority. Monarchy There are two sacred subjects in Thailand – one of them is the monarchy. As a sign of courtesy. • Remember to dress appropriately if visiting any religious shrine or temple. Visitors need to be considerate of this commitment and ensure that their behaviour is not in any way disrespectful: • Each Buddha image. even in the friendliest of circumstances. • If travelling on a local bus and sitting in a rear seat. large or small. so have an electrical travel adaptor to hand if taking hair appliances etc.Manners • The normal greeting is not a handshake but a wai. or even raise your voice. shout. • If a monk is seated never stand over him. It’s acceptable to wear shoes when walking around the compound of a Buddhist temple. lower your head as you pass a group of people. make sure the soles of your feet are not facing anyone. • Feet are considered the lowest part of the body. Electricity: Voltage in Thailand is 220V AC. is regarded as a sacred object. and in fact even opposite-sex handholding or affectionate gestures are not considered proper behaviour in the more traditional areas outside Bangkok. You should always wear a shirt or tee-shirt. or even to accept anything from a woman’s hand. as monks must always remain at the highest elevation. don’t lose your temper. This is a prayer-like gesture of pressing the palms together which you will soon observe on your visit.

the volume of traffic isn’t daunting. Thai New Year: Festivals abound in Thailand. Thailand Travel Guide Page 5 . trains and buses. but check before hiring that the vehicle is in good condition and that the charges include the mandatory insurance. charming and smart and you may be very tempted to believe what they say – don’t! • Also be aware of unscrupulous taxi drivers who may transport you to shops of their choice (rather than your own!) in order to receive a commission from the inflated price of goods you are then encouraged to purchase. jewellery etc are properly protected and not easily visible. Roads are well maintained and many road signs are in English. Thailand’s con-artists are very sophisticated. Telephone: Staying Safe Thailand’s people are genuinely welcoming to visitors. Walking alone in quiet streets or deserted areas isn’t advisable. there are exceptions and we recommend that you take precautions to ensure that your holiday is a safe and happy one: • Use common-sense regarding personal safety. it lends itself admirably to the installation of temporary pumps which are used to suck up and redistribute water in all directions! Bangkok also has its own ‘wet’ activities with the most intense battles taking place on Th Khao San. but as anywhere. and we’ll happily provide more details on request.Tailor-made holidays created to make your dreams come true. as well as taking good care of your belongings. Make sure that all your valuables. You’ll need an international driving licence which you should obtain before leaving the UK. contact the local Tourist Police. but one of the most memorable is the Songkran. Apart from in Bangkok. airline tickets. As a moated city. when Buddha images are bathed and the monks and elders receive the respect of other Thais by having water sprinkled over their hands. so be prepared to get drenched as high-powered water balloons and water guns feature strongly! There are staged water battles in most areas. and best of all. with Chiang Mai’s inhabitants being particularly enthusiastic participants in this annual water ‘free-for-all’. keep your wits about you – and if problems do occur. driving is on the left as here in the UK! There are lots of small local rental agencies offering quite inexpensive deals. the celebration of the Thai New Year. Stunning luxury hotels in some of Thailand’s most idyllic locations. • In short. • Beware of strangers who approach you offering assistance or their services as guides. Travelling around Thailand: Car Hire You may wish to hire a car to help you explore the country. Other means of transport include bicycles. The telephone number in Bangkok is easy to remember – 1155. including passport. Make sure that any local tourist information is obtained from official sources and that any arrangements for sightseeing trips are also made through a The country dialling code for Thailand is + 66 reputable office. money. This takes place during April (12th -14th) and from these original religious origins festivities have developed and the entire country is now under ‘water attack’.

Taxis Taxis are without doubt the cheapest of any major city in the world and it is virtually impossible to spend more than 100 baht (less than £2) on any journey of half an hour or less! There is a minimum meter charge of 35 baht. but any more than that and it becomes a bit cramped. that will help in your bargaining) you’ll certainly have a memorable journey as you weave in and out of Bangkok’s chaotic traffic jams. Thailand Travel Guide Page 6 . Underground Bangkok’s underground system – or Metro as it’s called by the Thais . It’s quick.Tipping: Tipping isn’t customary in Thailand and not considered necessary if a service charge is shown on the bill. By the way. Transport in Bangkok: This "City of Angels" that is Bangkok is easily explored using taxis. tuk tuks. however tempted you may be for comfort’s sake. Trains run from 6am until midnight and are cheap at 15 to 40 baht depending on the journey. and there are plans underway to extend the service very shortly to the outlying areas of the city and to the airport. the underground or the city’s impressive Skytrain. especially if there’s loose change from a large restaurant bill. However. Numerous types of pass are available and for 120 baht (approx £2) a day you get unlimited travel on the whole Skytrain network – information booths show details of discounted tourist passes and provide network maps. don’t rest your feet on the rail near the driver’s head as this is considered to be very disrespectful. Tuk tuks Tuk tuks cost twice as much but are an experience that must be tried at least once! It can be difficult getting a fair price for a ride in one of these open-ended three-wheeled motorised rickshaws as their drivers are experts in the art of spotting innocent tourists and will often quote a high fare. You buy a magnetised coin (available from the ticket window or from an automated dispenser) and put this into the gate slot to exit. scenic and environmentally-friendly way to travel in Bangkok is by the incredible Skytrain. But providing you keep your wits about you and agree a sensible price before you get in (if you know the normal taxi fare for the journey. an elevated rail network that soars above the chaos of the city’s noisy and fume-laden traffic jams. You may wish to equip yourself with 5B and 10B coins as these are needed if using the automatic ticket machines. clean and inexpensive – and offers the additional benefits of air-conditioning and wonderful views of Bangkok which you would otherwise never see. or alternatively insist they take you on a very cheap sightseeing tour which will result in your purchasing overpriced goods for which they’ll receive a commission from the shopkeeper. Getting a taxi is usually quite easy apart from during peak commute hours and when bars are closing between 1am and 2am. Trains run regularly from 6am until midnight throughout most of the modern part of the city. accompanied by the ‘tuk tuk’ sound of the engine and the suffocating exhaust fumes! Three people can fit into a tuk-tuk quite comfortably. it is still appreciated. Skytrain By far the most comfortable.offers a comfortable environment in which to get from one side of the city to the other. efficient. although change is readily available from manned booths from 6am until midnight.

the most succulent meats. this is a truly amazing experience.. you’ll find it here. but by and large standards are good. serving Thai.where this wonderful city glides by as you eat sumptuous food aboard an old wooden rice barge. as you’re in Thailand you’ll really want to sample the country’s own cuisine. Indian. This is why all the dishes are normally served at the same time. Most hotels will have at least three restaurants offering Thai and International cuisine and all will have the ubiquitous steakhouse serving. eaten fresh from the vendor’s cart amid the hustle and bustle of the real Thailand.the list really is endless. Away from the hotels there is every conceivable type of restaurant to be found. Wherever they are. and you can at least see what is being cooked and how! The Thais have a very sociable approach to eating.. spicy and delicate flavours can be combined to create a magnificent meal. Also of course. try a romantic dinner cruise on the magnificent Chao Phraya . Thailand Travel Guide Page 7 . Vietnamese . there are excellent theatres offering traditional dance and drama productions. visitors young and old can always find something to suit their mood and activity levels. making mealtimes a communal experience whenever they can. Why not take in one of the many Full Moon parties that take place on different islands around the coastline or sample the world famous Go-Go scene of Patpong or Pattaya? No visit to the Kingdom of Thailand is complete without a night at a Ladyboy show . chic hotel cocktail lounges – in fact. And whilst in Bangkok. Once you sample Thai food you’ll be hooked on it. Whatever your own culinary preferences.Bangkok abounds with dance clubs. jazz bars. giving travellers the opportunity to return home able to recreate a taste of Thailand in their own kitchen! Nightlife If it’s nightlife you require then look no further! From a simple night at the cinema to world class music venues Thailand has it all. local Thai bars.‘The River of Kings’ .words cannot describe the grandeur of the performances and it must be seen to be believed! Or opt perhaps for a traditional Thai evening watching a classical dance show at one of many authentic Thai restaurants. so what better thing to do during your holiday than spend a day at a Thai cookery school? Short courses are on offer in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai and are becoming increasingly popular. If you like good food and fantastic service then you won’t be disappointed with the choice available throughout the country. a wonderful blend of sweet. and rarely eat alone. as the name suggests. Whatever your choice you will find it somewhere in this amazing kingdom. providing VIP areas with reclining seats and table service (don’t forget to stand for the Thai National Anthem played before each film).. Chinese. given the range of spices and herbs used in the cooking. Cinemas show the latest films and are high-tech and usually air-conditioned. There are regular appearances by many of the world’s top individual performers and bands in both the capital Bangkok and other resorts around the country . You may worry about the hygiene aspect of the open-air street cooking. It’s what the locals do. French. Outside the capital. If culture’s more your scene. sour. You could start by trying some of the sizzling dishes you’ll see at the local street markets – this is Thai food at its most original. there are bars and clubs galore in all major resorts and towns. as people dip in and help themselves and others to samples of all that’s on offer. Italian.Enjoying yourself Food Thailand offers a sheer cornucopia of culinary excellence. Street stalls abound in Bangkok and in Chiang Mai the night markets provide a quite incredible choice of eating experience. whatever your preference. which has in recent years become one of the world’s favourites.

The Reclining Buddha at Wat Po is an enormous Buddha covered in gold leaf and lying on its side . from their small flat bottomed boats just as their ancestors did centuries ago. You can buy local produce. whilst there are not the same array of designer shopping malls. Spend many hours meandering through street markets that are not contrived tourist scenes but are actually Thai people living their daily lives. and that every conceivable "top name" in everything from gems to high technology to designer goods appears in every shopping mall (and there are plenty of those) – after all.Shopping Shopping in Thailand is an experience that cannot properly be described. bazaars and small shops are aplenty and teem with local goods. it’s easily accessible by a 2 hour bus trip. ceramics.dreamofthailand. and makes your spending power go quite a lot further! And if it’s too hot for you to wander in the daytime try the same thing after dark at one of the numerous Night Bazaars dotted around. together with their fresh produce. All of the above are in Bangkok. You can see the locals selling a vast array of souvenirs. and you get a real feel for life as it is for the local population.html but no Thailand Travel Guide can be considered complete without reference to the country’s most prized assets: Temples If you can go a mile without seeing a temple you are in the wrong country!! To the Thai people. Outside Bangkok. Here the atmosphere intensifies amidst twinkling lights and the increased activity around the open food stalls with their sizzling pans and tempting smells. local handicrafts. and throughout the whole country you can at any time come upon Thais making their way to the local temple as part of their daily routine. in Bangkok in particular. About 100kms outside Bangkok. is good fun. woodcarvings. and whatever your own beliefs their spiritual conviction and commitment are thought-provoking and somewhat humbling. Sightseeing Details of recommended sightseeing excursions for various areas of Thailand can be found at www. and even fish (cooked or raw) caught the same day. For something different take a trip out to the weekend floating market of Damnoen Saduak with all its colour and exotic fragrances. fluted spires and glittering temples. This is a perfect example of an ancient Siamese court and houses the aforementioned Emerald Buddha. Don’t miss the Grand Palace with its golden domes. The Thai word for temple is wat and among the many "must see" temples with their dazzling array of colours and exotic smells are the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and The Golden Buddha at Wat Traimit. but in Chiang Mai there are 121 temples within the city boundary alone (with another 200 in the area!). Why not sit for an hour and eat and drink "a la local" for just a few baht before wandering on to browse the Boss shirts. whilst smaller shops usually trade from 10am to 5pm and often close on Sundays. Nothing is more important to them. but we’ll try! Forget for a moment that any fashion label that you care to think of is probably represented at two or three outlets in Bangkok alone. but typically department stores are open 7 days a week from 10am to 8pm. This most precious image of the Lord Buddha is believed to have supernatural powers and is dressed in robes according to the season by the King of Thailand himself. antiques and fabrics. temples are the most important part of their everyday life and thus visitors to the country need to respect this and pay attention to the temple etiquette given in the Customs (Religion) section of this guide.a truly incongruous yet magnificent Rolex watches and Christian Dior dresses? Unlike the shopping malls not the real handicrafts. that’s just for starters. Thailand Travel Guide Page 8 . the markets. All the temples are open to the general public and many. Serious shoppers and browsers alike will be captivated by the sheer volume and choice of goods – and the fact that service comes with a smile! There are variations. situated close to the banks of the Chao Phraya . You can usually get an immediate discount from the first price by just asking ‘is that your best price?’……it works wonders. jewellery.‘The River of Kings’. need to be visited to experience a taste of centuries gone by and the development of Buddhism within Thailand. but a wonderful way to pass a few hours as you haggle over how much your next Louis Vuitton bag will cost! Thais respect a good haggler and items sold in markets and in many shops are negotiable.

legs. You may opt for the rejuvenating techniques of a traditional Thai massage – considered to be an act of compassion in which the therapist practices the physical application of metta (loving kindness) and bestows a healing touch in the spirit of giving.all the equipment can be hired without breaking the bank as the costs are relatively cheap. whilst others are totally separate commercial enterprises. head for one of the more modern and totally splendid day or residential spas which abound in all the popular areas . Green fees are extremely reasonable by UK standards and it is mandatory to hire a local caddie (often a smartly-clad female with an excellent knowledge of the course) which is likely to add all of 200-300 baht (approx £3-5) to your costs! The best time to take your golf break is during the less humid time from November to March but it is a pleasant experience no matter what time of year you decide upon. sauna treatments. you’ll often be able to have additional beauty treatments such as manicures and pedicures. and a professional diving organisation (PADI) oversees all training so everything is really safe. many of which are full championship courses that are regularly played by the top professionals in world golf. but not to be missed! The national sport of Thailand is of course Muay Thai (Thai boxing) but it is recommended for visitors to watch rather than participate! There are regular bouts all around the country and an enjoyable afternoon/evening can be spent attempting to understand the rules of engagement! Muay Thai is both a sport and a means of self defence. waterskiing. Some adjoin or are part of the country’s luxury hotels. Or you may prefer to just recline on your lilo! Page 9 Thailand Travel Guide . Private treatment rooms are the norm. other water sports on offer at the major beach resorts include windsurfing. rock formations and coral gardens to explore. Water sports Golf Alternatively why not have a relaxing round of golf on one of the numerous courses – more than 200 in total dotted around the whole country. and usually receive excellent value for money. surfboarding.entertainment rather than sport. knees. and jet skiing. if you’re feeling energetic the crystal clear waters and coral provide the perfect environment in which to use your diving and snorkelling expertise. There could also be no better location for the beginner to have their first attempt at diving or snorkelling . The accompaniment of traditional music during the boxing provokes even greater excitement within the cheering Thai crowds. mud body wraps. think water sports. with some spas offering special romantic pampering packages for couples. if you fancy splashing out and indulging yourself a little more lavishly. If you choose to treat yourself to this in one of the low-key local (usually family-run) establishments. footbaths ……the list is endless. Either way you’ll be thoroughly spoilt for choice as you select from treatments which include a huge range of massages in addition to normal Thai massage. Think Thailand.Spas Spas abound in Thailand. combining cultural heritage with all modern amenities. Courses are well-maintained and offer excellent facilities. However. and can be found within easy distance of most major resorts. and shoulders are all weapons. facials. As well as diving and snorkelling. and with visibility in places of up to 30 metres the experience is truly stunning. kite boarding. This has been practised and learnt through the centuries and is a luxury that you should experience during your visit. Contestants may use almost any part of their body: feet. elbows. steam baths. With some of the best beaches anywhere in the world. Relax and enjoy! Sports Thai Boxing . For the experienced diver there are few better places than Thailand with its underwater mountains. Traditional Thai massage houses co-exist happily with western-style luxury day spas and residential spa retreats in a country where pampering is seen rather more as an essential than a treat.

with the word kha. The Thai people you encounter on your travels will be delighted that you’re making the effort and will be keen to help you perfect your pronunciation. You can also use these same words to answer yes to a question or to show agreement with what is being said. if you’re a man you should end your sentence with the word khrap. and if you’re a woman. We’ve compiled just a few phrases which you may find helpful during your stay. © Dream of Thailand 2008 Thailand Travel Guide Page 10 .Useful phrases No overseas holiday is complete without attempts to communicate with the locals in their own language. but a word of warning – it can be tricky! Hello Goodbye Please Thank you No thank you Yes No Excuse me Sorry Today Tomorrow Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday How much? Too expensive Smaller Bigger Beer Tea Coffee Drinking water Orange Juice sa-wat dii laa kawn ka-ru-naa khawp khun mai ao khawp khun chai mai chai khaw a-phai khaw thoht wan nii phrung nii wan jan wan ang-khaan wan phut wan pha-reu-hat wan suk wan sao wan aa-thit thao rai? phaeng pai lek kwaa yai kwaa bia chaa kaafae naam deum naam som A final point to remember is that to be polite.