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THAILAND TRAVEL TIPS

Time Zone

GMT +7 hours

Language

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. Basic English can be used to communicate, particularly in major cities and tourist areas, although Thai people are always delighted when a visitor attempts a few words of their language. 

Currency

The national currency is Thai Baht.

Religion

In Thailand, 94% of the population are devoted to Buddhism, while 5% follow Islam and Christianity, with other faiths making up the remaining 1%. With such a strong and devoted following, Buddhist traditions and customs play an important role in everyday life. Buddha images are considered sacred and therefore should not be desecrated in any way. It is often forbidden to climb on or touch religious monuments.

Weather

For full details on climate, please see Best Time to Go.

Arrival and Departure Formalities

Passport holders of the following nations may enter Thailand without a visa and stay for up to 30 days when arriving via an international airport, or 15 days when entering via a land border checkpoint:

Europe & North America: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK and USA.

Rest of the World: Australia, Bahrain, Brunei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, South Africa, UAE and Vietnam.

Passport holders from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and South Korea may enter Thailand visa-free for up to 90 days. Visa on arrival is available for nationals of Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, India Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. All other nationals must apply for a visa at their nearest Thai embassy prior to departure from their point of origin. The visa fee may vary depending on the applicant’s nationality.

Money Matters

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. Travelers checks can be changed in most banks although they are not generally accepted as payment for items in shops. Normal banking hours are: Monday - Friday 08:30–15:30, although branches in department stores and shopping malls often remain open in the evenings and on weekends. ATMs are found in all major cities.

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory and often not expected in Thailand. Most restaurants will add a 10% service charge and 7% government tax to your bill. However, you are welcome to offer additional gratuities as a sign of appreciation for services provided.

Clothing

The climate is warm year-round, so light summer clothing is usually appropriate. Thai people are generally conservative and this should be kept in mind when deciding what to wear. In tourist resorts, shorts and sleeveless shirts are acceptable, but when traveling to remote areas, ladies in particular should dress conservatively.

When visiting temples and shrines, it is best to dress conservatively as visitors may be refused entry if not dressed appropriately. It is often a requirement to wear a long skirt or trousers that cover the knees as well as long sleeves to cover the arms and shoulders. Avoid any see-through clothing. You may also be required to remove any footwear, so sandals may be more convenient.

You should also ensure that you take adequate protection against the sun which can be very strong. A hat, sunglasses and sunblock are recommended.

Electricity

The voltage supply in Thailand is 220v 50Hz. Sockets are sometimes fit for two or three round prongs and sometimes two parallel blades.

Health

Please contact your doctor for up to date information on latest health and vaccination recommendations. In Thailand, it is advisable to be immunized against hepatitis A, tetanus and diphtheria. Malaria is present in Thailand but the main areas of risk are in the rural and forested areas near the border with Myanmar and Laos. There is little risk in the central and coastal areas. Please consult your doctor as to the best medication for you.

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers over nine months old coming from areas at risk of yellow fever transmission (including parts of South America and Africa).

Dengue can be transmitted by mosquitoes in Thailand. Although there are no vaccinations for dengue, you can reduce the risk of mosquito bites by keeping your arms and legs covered as much as possible and by using insect repellent with the active ingredient DEET. Avoid perfumes, hairspray and other scented products.

Do not drink tap water in Thailand and avoid ice in your drinks unless it is made from mineral water. Exercise caution when eating and drinking outside reputable hotels and restaurants and avoid eating fruit and vegetables if they have been peeled already.

Photography

Camera etiquette requires that you ask permission before photographing local people, unless you are shooting a crowded public scene. This applies especially to small children. Please be considerate of a desire not to be photographed.

Photography is not permitted at some designated locations, which may include some museums, art galleries and private houses, for example. These areas are usually clearly marked. In general, avoid taking photographs of government buildings or installations, and military or police personnel. If in doubt, please ask your guide.

Local Handicrafts

Silks, antiques, designer goods, gemstones, silver and jewelry can all be purchased at relatively low prices in Thailand. However, we recommend that the utmost discretion is used when buying jewelry and antiques. Thailand is known for its silks with bright jewel tones and dramatic color 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.

Other interesting local handicrafts include leather goods, batiks, precious and semi-precious stones (in particular rubies and sapphires which are indigenous to Thailand), masks, painted umbrellas, lacquerware and bamboo products. Tailor-made clothes are also good value and are usually of a high standard.

Shopping in Thailand ranges from the vast department stores and famed weekend and floating markets of Bangkok to the electric night bazaar and colorful hill tribes of Chiang Mai. Remember to bargain when shopping at local markets. 

Local Food

Thai food has long been a favorite of people worldwide and combines powerful tastes with subtly matched fresh ingredients to provide a wonderfully flavorsome meal. National specialties include ‘tom yam’ (spicy soup with prawns or chicken), ‘pad thai’ (stir fried noodles with prawns or chicken) and sticky rice with mango (glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk and served with slices of mango).

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'.

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