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Travel to Thailand
The Kingdom of Thailand situated geographically in the center of the Southeast Asian Indochinese peninsula is bordered by Myanmar and Laos to the north, Malaysia to the south and Laos and Cambodia to the east. The southern strip of Thailand extends to Malaysia and is surrounded by the Gulf of Thailand to the east and the Andaman Sea to the west.
It’s 1500 miles of uninterrupted coastline along with year-round sunshine and warm weather, makes it a haven for beach lovers.
Bangkok and its vicinity provides a wealth of opportunities for the culturally curious traveler. The temples of Bangkok and Chiang Mai are venerable examples of Buddhist architecture. The cuisine is flavorful and heavily dependent on fresh flavors like lime and lemongrass- making it a delightful destination for food lovers.
This, paired with the relatively low cost of accommodation and food makes Thailand the ideal holiday destination if you are planning a trip to Thailand.
Read on to learn about further tips for Thailand travel.
Travel tips for Thailand
Visa Requirements for Thailand
To travel to Thailand as a tourist you must have a valid passport (validity of not less than 6 months) and a Thailand tourist visa. The length of the visa varies. The visa stamp printed in the passport if you arrive at an international airport is usually between 30 to 60 days. If entry is via a land border- this permission may be only 15 days. This tourist visa can, however, be extended.
The Thai visa can be obtained from the Thai embassy in the home country or in some cases, visa can be obtained upon arrival in Thailand. Please check the visa requirements for your country.
Important Cultural Information
It is a most serious offense to show any kind of disrespect to members of the Thai Royal Family. Any kind of negative remarks or mutilation of the currency because of the King’s head appearing on it- is also considered highly objectionable.
The Thai people are extremely polite. You can greet them with the traditional greeting- the ‘wai’. Simply press the palms of your hands together and bow your head. Most Thais are conservative when it comes to dressing. Particularly when you visit wats, you should wear clothing that covers the knees and the shoulders. Shorts are frowned upon.
Many private homes, temples and some shops will require that you take off your outdoor shoes before entering. Make sure to wear shoes that easily slip on and off.
Culture in Thailand
Banking & Money
The currency of Thailand is the baht. There are six coins- the 25 and 50 satang (copper or gold coins), 1,2,5 and 10 baht (silver or gold coins), and six notes – 20,50,11,500 and 1000 baht notes. Of these, the 100 baht and the 20 and 50 baht notes are the most user-friendly.
ATMs are found widely within the city along with money exchange counters, which often offer a better exchange rate, at most major SkyTrain stations.
Credit cards are widely accepted in large cities- at restaurants and malls but cash is used in the smaller towns and rural areas. It is handy to keep US dollars in hand if you are in need of easy exchange.
Some of the major banks in the location includes Bangkok Bank, Krung Thai Bank, Bank of Ayudhya, Siam Commercial Bank and more.
Medical Emergency Information for Thailand
Some emergency numbers to keep in mind include the following:
- Emergencies: 191, 123, 999
- Medical Emergency: 1669
- Fire: 199
- Tourist Police: 1155
- Police Headquarters: 1196
Thailand is a provider of world-class medical emergency services. A few hospitals in Bangkok include Cental General Hospital, Paolo Memorial Hospital, Bangkok Hospital, Bangmod Hospital and many more.
Vaccination for Thailand covers tetanus, diphtheria, measles, mumps and rubella as well as food borne diseases like Typhoid and Hepatitis A. Malaria prophylaxis should be considered as well.
If you’re looking for travel insurance, we are an affiliate of World Nomads.
Wi-Fi and Internet
You must provide a passport to obtain a Thailand SIM card. It’s most convenient to buy a prepaid SIM card at one of the counters at the international airports.
The major mobile service providers in Thailand are AIS, Truemove and DTAC. To use the SIM you should carry an unlocked mobile phone or you can buy one in Thailand (all phones sold here are unlocked). For uninterrupted usage of your mobile you must have both credit and validity on your phone. Adding credit can extend the validity. Adding credit to your phone can be done at any 7-11.
Internet in Thailand is provided by all three GSM operators, who offer 3G service in major destinations. It is wise to obtain data packages from the providers- in some cases unlimited data options are available for a day, week or month.
Internet cafes are widespread particularly in the big cities and beach towns. Be careful to protect your passwords in Internet cafes and avoid doing any banking transactions in case keyloggers are installed on shared computers. Use your own laptop if possible in such cafes.
Free Wi-Fi locations are not that widespread in Thailand. Remember to always use a VPN when traveling and using public Wi-Fi spots.
Areas of Thailand
Places to visit in Thailand include the following:
Northern Thailand covers the plains that encompass Chiang Mai, the mountains and the Golden Triangle in the far north of Thailand- that represents the meeting place of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.
Central Thailand covers the central low lying plains that cover Bangkok and other historical regions.
Travel tips for Bangkok
Southern Thailand encompasses beach towns of Phuket, Ko Samui and Krabi among others. This covers mile upon mile of beautiful coastline and islands on the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand.
Travel tips Southern Thailand
Eastern Thailand encompasses many beach towns of which Pattaya deserves mention and several islands.
This is backcountry north-east Thailand, containing a number of Khmer ruins and relatively isolated.
Transportation in Thailand
Thailand has a number of domestic airline options making it the easiest way to travel within the country.
A number of budget airline opportunities are available from Don Mueang Airport. There is a free shuttle bus service from Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok to the budget terminal at Don Mueang Airport.
An Asian low cost carrier is AirAsia- expect low price tickets if booked well in advance. Bangkok Airways unfortunately runs a monopoly on flights flying in and out of Ko Samui- so visiting this destination might be an expensive option. Orient Thai, Nok Air, Thai Airways, Thai Smile and Jet Asia Airways are other domestic airlines.
Search for flights on Expedia.
The State Railway of Thailand has a 4000 km widespread network with a Northern Line extending to Chiang Mai, a Northeastern line, an Eastern line to the Cambodian border and a Southern Line to the Malaysian border. You can travel by three main classes- first class (air-conditioned), second class (might be air-conditioned) and third class with basic amenities. Pre-book, especially for sleeper berths.
BKS is a reliable government bus company and the buses range from local, express, first class, VIP, or super-VIP.
Modes of local transport include the tuk-tuk, taxi, songthaews, motorbikes, rental cars, boats, the BTS SkyTrain (in Bangkok) and others.
Traffic in Bangkok city is particularly congested, so when possible avail of the efficient SkyTrain service that is part of Bangkok public transport.
Transportation In & Out of Thailand
The major international airports in Thailand are in Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi Airport -BKK) and Phuket (Phuket International Airport- HKT), although Hat Yai (Hat Yai International Airport- HDY), Krabi (Krabi International Airport- KBV), Ko Samui (Ko Samui Airport- USM) and Chiang Mai (Chiang Mai International Airport- CNX) also have international airports.
Cambodia has six international border crossings by road with Thailand and the queues on the Cambodian side can be very long.
There are border crossings with Laos- one of them is via the Friendship Bridge.
It is possible to drive into Thailand from Singapore and Malaysia via bus services.
Thailand has one international train link in to Penang and Kuala Lumpur and then all the way to Singapore. Keep in mind, however, that Thailand to Singapore may take 48 hours.
It is possible to island hop from Phuket to Indonesia via ferry.
Accommodations in Thailand
Thailand provides a number of accommodation options ranging from hostels, tourist hotels, boutique hotels, guest houses or luxury hotels.
The lowest rates are obtained during the low season, which coincides with the monsoon from May to August. The peak season is from December to February.
Although hostels are not that typical in Thailand, you will be able to choose from a wide range of cool design hostels, especially in Bangkok.
Staying in a guesthouse is a cheap option – providing you with a room with a fan and shared squat toilet for only 100-200 baht in certain cases.
Thai hotels, with better amenities, could run you up anything from 200 to 800 baht.
There are mid range boutique hotels but luxury hotels will cost 4000 baht or more and include names like the Sofitel So Bangkok, The Oriental and the Peninsula among others.
Popular beach town hotels may have year-long high prices.
Where to stay in Thailand
Food & Dining Guide for Thailand
If you are a foodie, then just the food itself is reason enough to visit Thailand. Unlike other Asian countries, it is safe to eat street food in Thailand which is cooked in a very hygienic way.
Some of the flavours that dominate Thai food are lime, lemongrass, spicy chilies and the use of fish sauce in some dishes.
Food in the different regions differs but the main staple is rice. Rice noodles in a number of varieties Ike angel-hair, egg noodles and glass noodles are also very popular. Pad Thai is a perennial favourite with its piquant tamarind-based sauce and the usage of vegetables, chicken, pork or shrimp. Thai soups or mains dishes of deep fried or grilled fish are lip-smacking items as well. Thai salads provide a fresh, palate cleansing side dish to spicy mains.
What to eat & drink in Thailand
Things to See & Do in Thailand
Thailand attractions can be broadly classified as follows:
A tour of Thailand tourist places is incomplete without spending some time in Bangkok, especially visiting the glittering Thai temples and palaces. The ancient capitals of Ayutthaya, Sukhothai and Siam should not be missed.
Check out our offbeat guide to Bangkok.
Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is the largest city in this region. Famed for its relatively quiet aspect and lush greenery, Chiang Mai is nestled in the plains, within easy reach of mountains. There are more than 300 temples in and around Chiang Mai with remarkable architecture.
Beach Resorts of Pattaya, Phuket and Ko Samui
The beach towns of Phuket, Ko Samui and Pattaya are remarkably popular and offer all kinds of relaxation and leisure facilities, making them the ideal getaway.
Each of the beach locations offer a different experience so it’s best to do some research in order to choose which destination is the right choice for you.
Swimming, snorkeling, diving, jet-skiing, windsurfing and fishing are just some of the water activities you can enjoy.
The rock faces of Railay Beach, Ko Lanta National Park with its coral islands, waterfalls, caves, bird-watching and a number of gorgeous beaches are the major pulls of this destination.
National Parks in Thailand
Some of the must-see national parks include the waterfalls of Khao Yi National Park with tropical forest teeming with macaques, deer, gibbons and birds (perhaps the occasional wild tiger and elephant too!), the jungle of Khao Sok National Park.
The limestone rock formations of Phang Nga Bay are also a major pull.
Shopping in Thailand
One of the joys of visiting Thailand is unquestionably visiting some of the street markets -particularly the night markets.
Cheap shopping in Thailand is quite common and nowhere as popular as the extensive collection of stalls at Bangkok’s weekend market- better known as ‘Chatuchak Market’ or ‘JJ Market’ to locals. Covering a staggering 35 acres, Chatuchak Market sells everything from t-shirts, sandals, diffuser oils, soaps, crockery and antiques. You can purchase luxurious silks in Thailand or celadon ceramics.
Expect to haggle at the markets, although prices are fixed at the high-end malls, particularly Bangkok shopping malls, which sell all kinds of world-class brands.
Thailand nightlife can include a number of divergent experiences, from Go Go bars, lively bars and nightclubs to beautiful traditional dancing.
The top places in Thailand to party all night include, full moon parties at Koh Phangan, the Walking Street at Pattaya, the Go Go Bars in Phuket, Khao San Road Bangkok with its neon lights and the clubs and sunset bars in the major beach towns. Here’s all about the best party beaches in Thailand.
For alternative experiences consider a Muay Thai Live Show at Asiatique, a cultural show featuring traditional Thai dancing with dinner or even a dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya River.
Things to Do and See in Thailand
Safety Tips for Thailand
Be wary of a number of scams that you might be confronted with in Thailand.
A common one is being told by tuk-tuk drivers that a visitor attraction is closed and then being taken to a remote marketplace that charges exorbitant prices with difficulty in getting home to your hotel. Gem scams, cell phone selling scams and others are quite common.
Thailand has strict drug laws and penalties for drug possession can be extremely harsh.
Although the law requires that you carry the passport at all times, sometimes a photocopy of the passport will suffice.
Avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellents, as malaria and dengue fever are prevalent.
Millions of tourists flock to Thailand every year.
It is a perennially warm, sunshine destination with over 1500 miles of beautiful coastline, sun-drenched sandy beaches, ancient Buddhist temples, a rich cultural heritage, mouthwatering food and relatively inexpensive to boot! The country is surprisingly modern, in fact parts of Bangkok rival any well-developed western city with regards to development.
Despite its modernity, the Thais are proud and aware of their rich cultural traditions. The palaces and ancient temples are wonderfully preserved and dripping with wealth and plenty. Chiang Mai, situated in the north of the country is wonderfully green and within easy reach of the mountains. A city of many temples, it is an architecture lover’s paradise. Find the perfect beach holiday in Koh Samui with its white sand beaches and relative calm. For more action hit the all night bars at Pattaya and Phuket.
Thailand, simply has something to whet every kind of tourist’s appetite.
Travel tips for Thailand
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