Thailand

All taxes and services charges are included in the ticket prices.

Thailand enjoys a tropical climate with three distinct seasons:

  • Hot Season: March - May
  • Rainy season: June - October
  • Cool season: November - February

The average annual temperature is about 28°C.

The northern region can be a bit cold during the cool season so be sure to bring along a sweater or a light jacket if you intend to visit this region around that time of the year. During the rainy season, downpours hardly last more than a couple of hours.

Dressing in Thailand depends on where you are going. Bikinis, short pants and sleeveless shirts are more acceptable and often seen on the beaches. Appropriate dress - modest clothing that covers your shoulders and knees - will be required if you are visiting temples or the Grand Palace. Some restaurants, such as rooftop bars in Bangkok, have a smart casual dress code including no slippers, sandals, sport uniforms or torn clothing.

Currency
The Thai monetary unit is the baht. There are 100 satang to 1 baht. Coins are used in denominations of 25 satang, 50 satang, 1 saht, 2 baht, 5 baht and 10 baht. Bank note denominations comprise 20 baht (green), 50 baht (blue), 100 baht (red), 500 baht (purple) and 1000 baht (gray). Notes are also scaled in size; the larger the denomination, the larger the note.

Money Exchange
Money and traveller's cheques of all major currencies can be exchanged at hotels, banks, exchange booths and mobile exchange kiosks in tourist areas. Banks usually offer the best rates.

Credit Cards
Credit cards are widely accepted in department stores, major hotels, up-market shops and restaurants. They can also be used for cash advances at banks and exchange counters. The most commonly accepted cards are VISA and MasterCard, followed by American Express, JCB and Diners Club.

Import/exports of the Following Goods are Strictly Prohibited
Importation of all kinds of narcotics (opium, heroin, cocaine, etc.) and pornographic media are strictly prohibited. Firearms and ammunition can be imported only after a permit has been obtained from the local police department. A reasonable amount of clothing for personal use, toiletries and professional instruments can be brought in free of duty.

The Following Articles are Exempt from Duty
200 cigarettes or smoking materials in total of 250 grammes, one litre of wine or spirits, one video camera, five rolls of still film, three rolls of video film, and one item of electrical goods per person are allowed in duty free.

Note
Buddha images, antiques or fragments thereof are not allowed to be taken out of Thailand without authorisation from the Fine Arts Department.

Drinking water from the tap is not advisable. Use only a reliable brand of bottled water or boiled water from the tap. Be wary of ice, which may come from a questionable source. Ice served in the hotels and good restaurants are usually safe. A bottle of drinking water is usually provided complimentary by most hotels.

The electric current for the whole of Thailand is 220 volts AC, 50 cycles. Dual-prong rounded plugs as well as flat-pin plugs can be used in sockets. Adaptors are provided by most of the hotels.

Choosing a place to eat is pretty much a matter of using common sense: if a restaurant looks clean, well run and is packed with tourists or locals, then the food is probably safe, while an empty one is questionable. Be aware that Thai food can be very spicy. Go easy if you are not used to spicy food. Fruits and vegetables should be washed or peeled wherever possible before eating. Recommended restaurants can be found at www.reataurantsofbangkok.com.

The Royal Family is held in the highest esteem in Thailand. Negative remarks about the Monarchy are considered offensive and may result in prosecution.

Thailand has several international airports and is well connected with many direct flights from mayor cities around the world.

No vaccinations are presently required unless you are travelling from or through contaminated areas. It is recommended that you be immunised against polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A and B.

Internet cafes and wireless internet services are incredibly common across the country. All serviced provider networks in Thailand, such as AIS, DTAC and True Move H, usually provide free WiFi spots in major tourist destinations, such as malls, shopping centres, walking streets, etc.

Thai language is widely spoken throughout Thailand, many Thais also speak and understand English, though mainly in the major tourist areas. There are also regional languages, such as in southern Thailand and northeastern Thailand, the latter of which is essentially just the Lao language (as most of the population is of Lao descent). In northern Thailand, which had been the independent kingdoms of Lanna, a distinctive form of Thai is still spoken by the local inhabitants, all of whom can also speak central Thai.

Thailand time is at GMT + 7 and lies in the same time zone as its neighbours Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Many nationalities, including citizens of Australia, Canada, South Africa, the US and most European countries, do not need a visa for stays of up to 30 days. A passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry, return ticket or onward travel arrangement needs to be presented upon request at your arrival in Thailand. These requirements are subject to change. Please check with the embassy or consulate in your home country before departure.

The Thailand communications network is both easy and convenient for foreigners to utilise. Thailand features numerous public telephones and mobile phones are easy for visitors to procure. There is a post office in every major town in the Kingdom. From telephones to the internet, the Thailand communications network allows visitors to stay in touch with comfort and ease.

Most Thai citizens - approximately 95% - are Buddhists with Muslims, Christians and Hindus represented in the remaining 5%.

Thailand is a safe country, but like anywhere in the world, it is wise to be a little cautious. Simple safety precautions such as ignoring touts, keeping away from trouble areas, not wearing excessive jewellery, being careful when crossing roads (remember: left-hand traffic!) and taking care of valuables will keep you out of trouble. Valuables such as money, traveller's cheques, passports and flight tickets are best kept in the safety box of your hotel.

Essential Tips for Shopping in Thailand

No doubt, travelling in Thailand is thrilling — and its shopping scene doesn’t disappoint. But with so many skyhigh shopping malls, massive markets, and hi-so boutiques, visitors need to know the do’s and don’ts of shopping in this exotic country.

Shopping Hints and Tips

Bargain
Thai prices will vary greatly — it’s expected that customers will bargain for a lower price. You can try for a 10% to 50% discount at a market. Shopping around to find out the best rate also helps. Know how much you want to spend, stand your ground, and be friendly!

VAT Refund
When exiting the country, you can receive a refund for goods you purchased inside Thailand. Have all your receipts, VAT refund forms, passport and goods ready to show at the refund counter at the airport before your departure. The service fee costs 100 baht, and total value of your goods purchased must be over 5,000 baht.

Payment
Shopping malls accept the majority of major credit cards, with extra fees for international payments. This often makes cash the most cost effective way to buy things. Particularly at markets, bartering with baht is a better strategy.

Return / Exchange
Be sure to return or exchange goods within 7 days of purchase at department stores. Small stores and markets will likely not accept returns or exchanges. Try clothes on whenever possible, as Asian sizes vary in fit. When buying electronic items, check them for functionality and keep all receipts.

Thailand, officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand, covers an area of 514,000 square kilometres. It is similar in size to France and has a population of about 60 million. Approximately 95% of Thai citizens are Buddhists. The remainder of the populace is comprised of Muslims, Christians and Hindus. Geographically, Thailand is divided into four main regions: the central plains, the north, the northeast and the south. The majority of the population lives in the fertile central plains, where the capital city of Bangkok is located. The northern region, dominated by Chiang Mai (Thailand's second largest city), is an area of mountains and fertile valleys. In contrast to the central and northern regions, the northeast has harsh climatic conditions and is the least fertile region of Thailand. The south is famous for its fine beaches and idyllic limestone islands.

Thailand proudly proclaims that it has never been colonised. One positive aspect of this fact is that the country has retained its unique culture, traditions and language. With a long, rich heritage and abundant natural resources, Thailand is without doubt one of the most exotic countries in Asia.

Traditionally, tipping is not a common practice in Thailand, though it is becoming more widespread as a result of foreign influence. Tipping is entirely up to your discretion. In hotels and finer restaurants where a service charge of 10% is added to the bill, it is not necessary to tip further. Taxi fares should be rounded off to the nearest 5 or 10 baht.