THAILAND TRAVEL TIPS
Thailand operates on GMT + 7 hours.
The Thai monetary unit is the Baht. Notes are issued in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 Baht. Coins are 1, 5 and 10 Baht.
The official language in Thailand is Thai, with various dialects spoken in regional areas. It is a tonal language which is mostly derived from Pali and Sanskrit. Although English is widely spoken in tourist areas and resorts, Thai people are always delighted when a visitor attempts a few words of their language. It can be a little tricky in pronunciation, but just a few words will stand you in good regard.
Most major foreign currencies can be exchanged for Baht in banks, hotels and money exchanges booths and kiosks. Credit cards are widely accepted in shops, restaurants and hotels. Travellers cheques can be changed in most banks although they are not generally accepted as payment for items in shops. Please note that changing money in hotels will usually result in a less favourable exchange rate.
The most important rule is that tipping is entirely discretionary. In Southeast Asia tipping is not a regular practice. Hotels and restaurants usually add a 10% service charge so it is not necessary to tip further. Taxi drivers will always be grateful for the loose change.
For full details on climate, please see Best Time to Go.
Please be aware that Thailand is a conservative society and you should dress appropriately. When visiting temples, slacks are appropriate for men and longer length skirts for ladies. Shoulders must be covered when inside religious buildings. Shoes must be removed when entering temples and it is advisable to wear a pair of socks. When visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok, you must ensure that both your knees and shoulders are covered. Heels must also be covered so no flip flops or open sandals should be worn.
Medicines are readily available in Thailand but can be expensive to obtain.
We recommend that you do NOT drink the tap water anywhere. When dining in hotels, the food is generally safe, as is the ice in drinks. Outside hotels care should be taken when eating salads, peeled fruits, seafood, dairy products and items such as mayonnaise.
Be careful when eating local food as it can be extremely spicy!
For up to date information on latest health and vaccination recommendations, please contact your doctor.
Thailand runs 220 Volts AC, 50 cycles.
Dual-prong rounded plugs as well as flat-pin plugs can be used in sockets.
We suggest that you bring an international travel adaptor with you as it may be difficult to find here.
Film and batteries are widely available all over the larger cities and it is best to buy from shops where film and batteries are stored correctly. Always check the date of expiry before purchasing. If you are using a special kind of film or battery, it is advisable to carry enough with you to last your trip. The light can sometimes be deceptively bright so it is good to use a UV filter.
Arrival and Departure Formalities
A valid passport with at least 6 months validity from the date of your return is required for travel into Thailand. Thailand has agreements with most countries whereby their residents are free to enter thailand for a proid of 30 or 90 days for tourism purposes without the need for a visa. For an up to date list of the countries that this applies to, please visit www.thaivisa.com.
Thai food has long been a favourite of people worldwide and combines powerful tastes with subtly matched fresh ingredients to provide a wonderfully flavoursome meal. Thai food can be fiercely spicy so it is imperative that you choose according to your taste, or you can simply tell your server 'mai sai prik' if you do not wish for any chilis in your meal, or if you like it just slightly spicy you can say 'pet nik noi'.
Dining in Thailand can range from basic street stalls offering simple yet sumptuous noodle soups, to the fine dining restaurants of the many international hotels and stand alone restaurants that serve a vast array of international cuisine, including German, French, Italian, Japanese and Mediterranean, in addition to Thai culinary delights.
Thailand is currently enjoying a rise in the popularity of fine wines and gourmet cocktails. Today it is possible to sample your favorite French Chablis in one of many inner city wine bars, or even a fresh twist on the Mojito in one of Bangkok's sky high bars or the beach bars of Krabi. In addition to imported beers, wines and designer cocktails Thailand produces notable beers and range of high quality 'new latitude wines'.
Shopping in Thailand can be great fun and very rewarding. Silks, antiques, designer goods, gemstones, silver and jewellery can all be purchased relatively inexpensively. However, we recommend that the utmost discretion is used when buying jewellery and antiques.
Perhaps the most sought after product of Thailand is its silks, known for its bright jewel tones and dramatic colour combinations. Thai silk was introduced to the world by Jim Thompson, an American entrepreneur who devoted himself to creating a cottage industry of hand-woven Thai silk. Along the way, he raised thousands of Thailand's poorest people out of poverty by giving his silk weavers shares in the Thai Silk Company.
Shopping in Thailand ranges from the vast department stores and famed weekend and floating markets of Bangkok to the electric night bazaar and colourful hill tribes of Chiang Mai.
Thailand's markets are legendary, not simply because they are places to find unique bargains, but because they are also a slice of the real Thailand. Markets are not just there for the tourists, they are focal points for the various communities that make up the kingdom.
Likely forms of public transport you may encounter include traditional tuk-tuks and longtail boats which zip through land and sea traffic. They are fun but you must agree on a price before setting off. The river express boats and the seemingly chaotic bus network in Bangkok both have set prices depending on the boat or bus and the distance you travel. The newer mass transit systems, the BTS Skytrain and underground MRT Metro, whisk you smoothly and in air-conditioned comfort from one destination to another while avoiding the often standstill traffic of Bangkok roads. Taxis in Bangkok are relatively comfortable and new, and many of the drivers speak some English. You must always ensure that the meter is started and that you pay the final amount at the end of your journey.
Thailand and Southeast Asia is generally a very safe destination both by day and night. However, apart from observing all the normal precautions we would suggest you pay attention to the following:
Take extra care of bags and wallets when in crowded places such as markets or temples.
Beware of strangers offering you a free tuk-tuk ride. You will be taken to a shop where they will try to persuade you to buy their products.
Never accept food or drinks from strangers as they could be drugged.
Be very careful when crossing roads as not all drivers observe traffic signals. Also be careful when walking the streets as the pavements can be uneven and storm drain covers are often broken or missing.
Use the hotel safety deposit boxes or in room safes for all valuables including passports and air tickets