Thailand, known as the “Land of Smiles”, is a country of unique traditions, tranquil islands, fantastic food, fascinating ethnic tribes, a dynamic nightlife and some of the best and most memorable shopping in Southeast Asia. It is truly a feast for the senses. In Bangkok, Thailand’s flourishing capital, world-class shopping, serene temples, and amazing palaces are within minutes of each other. Away from the capital, relax on some of Asia’s most famous and beautiful beaches – Kho Samui, Kho Phi Phi, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Phuket and Krabi. Dive into crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful fish and exotic sea life. In the north, hike through tropical rain forests near Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. The diversity of this captivating country is its main attraction: whether you are seeking hedonistic seclusion, enriching encounters with the gentle Thai people, culinary delights, or high-end adventure, Thailand is perfect choice. Adventures Asia staff is ready to help plan you an ideal journey to Thailand.
Due to its long north-south span, Thailand’s climate is very diverse. While temperature differences in Bangkok are slight (highs around 38C or 95F in April and lows of 32C or 88F in January), it can drop down to 13C in Chiang Mai in the winter. Northern, north-eastern and central Thailand has three seasons: the rainy season lasts from July to November; the cool season runs from November through mid-February; and the hot season from March through June. Southern Thailand has only two seasons: wet in the summer and dry in the winter. As a general rule, the farther south you go the shorter the dry season.
IMMUNIZATIONS BEFORE TRAVELLING TO THAILAND
The following immunizations are recommended for travelers in Southeast Asia. Consult your doctor or local health department to discuss which ones you need:
Diphtheria and tetanus: Combined vaccinations for these two diseases are usually given in childhood and should be boosted every ten years.
Hepatitis A: Vaccination provides immunity for up to ten years and involves an initial injection followed by another six months to one year later.
Typhoid: Vaccination takes the form of an injection or capsules.
Rabies: People making longer trips to remote areas should consider rabies vaccination, which involves three injections over a period of three to four weeks.
Japanese B Encephalitis: People on trips of a month or more to areas suffering from recent outbreaks should consider getting this vaccine, which involves three shots over one month.
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR THAILAND
You should bring a money-belt to safely carry your travel documents and cash, and ensure that your luggage has a lock. Bring photo-copies of your passport and visa, plus some extra passport-sized photos if you’re applying for visas to other countries. When flying into or within Thailand, you will probably be given baggage claim tags (they will be stuck to the back of your ticket). Keep these, as you will need to show them when leaving the airport.
SAFETY TIPS WHILE TRAVELLING IN THAILAND
In general, Thailand is very safe for travelers. Violent attacks are rare, although petty theft is a problem. When possible, secure your valuables in the hotel safe. Remember to record your traveler’s cheque numbers and credit card info—just in case.
Do not leave your wallet or mobile phone in the back pocket of your pants or anywhere else that’s easily reached (like an outer zip-up compartment on a backpack). Be especially vigilant in markets and other crowded places like ports and train stations.
As anywhere, use common sense and don’t walk alone after dark. If confronted by a mugger, do not resist. You’re always better off skipping tuk tuks at night; ask your hotel or restaurant to call a reputable taxi firm.
Traffic is chaotic. If you choose to ride a motorcycle or bike, wear a helmet. Remember that traffic drives on the left in Thailand so take extra care when crossing the street.
If your trip to Thailand includes stops at beaches and mountainous areas, you will need clothes for all temperatures. A swimsuit, sunglasses, a hat, t-shirts, shorts that are not too revealing, long trousers, some light-weight, long-sleeved tops and a light jacket that is wind- and rain-resistant will get you through most trips, but if you plan to visit northern Thailand in the winter, you’ll need a warm coat. Mountainous areas can get chilly; choose clothes you can layer. If trekking is on your agenda, you will need sturdy footwear—plus lots of socks. Slip-on shoes or sandals are useful for visits to pagodas or people’s houses, as you’ll save time taking your shoes on and off.
Bangkok and Phuket offer upscale bars and restaurants, so be sure to pack some clothes and shoes for a nice evening out. Leave your flashy jewelry at home.
Imported beauty products are readily available in Bangkok and tourist centers. If you plan to venture to remote areas, bring staples like sunscreen, contact lens solution, tampons and mosquito repellent, as well as prescription medication. Many medicines are available in Thailand without prescriptions, but they may be out-of-date or of poor quality. In Bangkok, chains like Boots and Watsons are good places to stock up on Western toiletries and medicines.
In Thailand, revealing clothing is unacceptable off the beach. Shorts are generally fine—as long as they aren’t too short. People tend to dress as well as they can afford to: Asian people tend to be astonished by the dirty and tattered clothing worn by some travelers.
When visiting pagodas and temples, shorts and tank-tops are unacceptable. Your knees and shoulders must be covered. Footwear must be removed in religious sites. Shoes are often removed upon entering private homes too. Visitors to the Royal Palace in Bangkok are required to wear closed-toe shoes, long pants (or skirts) and sleeved tops. Some upscale nightclubs and restaurants in Bangkok will refuse entry to men wearing flip-flops.
In terms of behavior, public displays of affection between men and women are considered shocking. On the other hand, it’s perfectly normal for a pair of men or a pair of women to link arms or hold hands. In Thailand, people typically greet each other by placing the palms of their hands together in front of their chest.
The Thais are devoted to their royal family. It is unacceptable to make disparaging comments about the monarchy. Everyone is expected to stand upon hearing the national or royal anthem. If you go to a movie in Thailand you should stand during the tribute to the king.
THAILAND MONEY MATTERS
Thailand’s currency, the Baht, trades for around 32 to the US Dollar. You will have no trouble finding ATMs, getting cash advances, exchanging travelers’ checks or using popular credit cards in Bangkok and other major tourist centers (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket, Ko Samui, Krabi, etc.) although it is wise to bring adequate funds in Thai Baht if traveling in remote areas. The most popular credit cards are Visa and MasterCard, followed by AmEx and JCB. US Dollars are not accepted in shops, restaurants, taxis, etc – carry Thai Baht. Credit card fraud is a problem; do not allow vendors to take your credit card out of your sight as thieves could make several receipts and forge your signature.
Country code: 66
INTERNET IN THAILAND
Internet access is available in most hotels and in Internet cafes.
SHOPPING & SHIPPING
If you shop in markets or smaller shops, bargaining is necessary. We recommend that you check prices in several shops before reaching a deal. Upscale boutiques and shopping malls in Thailand have set prices. If you choose to ship items home, we highly recommend that you buy shipping insurance and check the policy details. As shops are not responsible for damages incurred en route, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
DO’s AND DON’Ts IN THAILAND
- Do respect all Buddha images. Buddha images are held sacred and sacrilegious acts are punishable by imprisonment even if committed by foreign visitors.
- Do dress properly when visiting a temple.
- Do remove your shoes before entering a temple, somebody’s house and even some shops.
- Do treat monks with the highest respect. Do try and keep calm no matter what the problem or provocation may be.
- Do eat with a spoon. Use the fork to load food on to the spoon.
- Do lower your body slightly when passing between or in front of people.
- Do try and learn a few basic phrases in Thai, like ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’.
- Don’t show disrespect towards the Thai Royal Family.
- Don’t cross your legs when you are in the presence of a monk. This applies whether you are sitting on the floor or in a chair.
- Don’t touch a Thai woman without consent. Despite the image portrayed in some bars and clubs, the majority of Thai women are conservative.
- Don’t be overly affectionate in public.
- Don’t sunbathe nude. This is offensive to most Thai people although nobody is likely to say anything to you if you do so.
- Don’t touch a Thai person’s head or ruffle their hair.
- Don’t place your feet on the table while sitting, don’t point to anything with your feet and don’t touch anybody with your feet.
- Don’t raise your voice or lose your temper
- Don’t be offended by questions about age, marital status or what you do for a living. These are subjects that will often come up in small-talk. Of course, you don’t have to answer (especially the question about age), you can just smile and just say it’s a secret or ‘mai bok’ (‘not telling’).
There are lots of things you should and shouldn’t do when visiting Thailand, but don’t worry, if you have any query or need local assitance, please feel free to contact us at Adventures Asia to have an affordable, safe and local journey in Thailand.