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About Thailand

Thailand is described by travelers as "the west exotic country in Asia", and with good reason. It is colored by a distinct culture, with a rich and varied heritage, and it posses a remarkable range of scenic beauty. Whatever your interests you'll find this a unique land, a place of kaleidoscopic wonders unseen elsewhere. You'll marvel at wondrous sights that give definition to a kingdom with an independent history stretching back more centuries.

Capital City: Bangkok (9.3 million)

Language: Thai
 
Currency: Baht (THB)
 
Time Zone: GMT +7 Hours
 
International Dialing Code: +66
 
Passport and visa
Some people arrive in Thailand and never want to leave. They have to because the Country has visa requirements. Citizens of some countries can stay for 90 days without a visa but for the majority it is 30 days if arriving by air but just14 if coming overland. There is a fine system for anyone who stays beyond the permitted period and while previously many simply left Thailand for a day then returned things have been tightened up.
Recent changes do allow extensions to be done to 30 day visas, another 30 days, at the nearest immigration office for a specified fee.
Serious examples of over-staying will lead to people being denied entry for five years or more. Reading this Thailand Travel Guide should persuade you to find out more and avoid getting into trouble in any aspect of daily life.
 
Currency
The currency of Thailand is the baht in note and coin form. The most useful notes are the 20, 50 and 100 though there are 500 and 1000 as well. They are in different colors which helps in avoiding mistakes. The most common counterfeits are the 1000 incidentally. Please note that the baht is also a measurement of weight so be careful to avoid confusion if you are contemplating buying gold because a baht’s worth of gold costs several thousand baht (currency). The exchange rate is around 35 to the US$.
ATMs are fairly common in large towns, tourist areas and cities. Debit cards are actually likely to get a better rate of exchange that that given at currency exchanges. In remote areas travelers’ checks are useful because there may be no banks or ATMs. Small denominations of currency or checks are best in all cases during Thailand travel.
The problem of using a credit card for purchases is that there are times when they have no got the security of PIN number and therefore fraud is much easier so use your discretion about where and when you want to use your credit card.
 
Phones & Internet service
The Thai postal service is very reliable and there are also courier services widely available.
Calling abroad is easy but expensive.
Internet access is available in all major tourist places and you will find WiFi in most cafes in more built up areas.
 
Weather
Thailand has a climate determined by three seasons: summer, monsoon, and winter. Generally speaking, the weather is reasonably uniform through the country. The southern part of Thailand is an exception; it has only two seasons – summer and monsoon.
The cool season (winter) is from November to February and it is the best time for travelling. The temperature ranges from 18°C to 32°C in Bangkok while in the northeast it is cooler. Humidity is also at its lowest level. January is the peak-month throughout Thailand, which means that prices are the highest, streets are more crowded, the nightlife is busier and, in general, traffic is increased.
The rainy season (monsoon) is between May and October. The average temperature is 29°C (84°F) with 90% humidity, which means it is very wet. Heavy downpours usually gather force from June to October.
The hot season runs from March to May, with temperatures averaging around 35°C in Bangkok. April is usually the hottest month and the only thing that you can do is to be permanently submerged in the ocean. The summer period sees sporadic rain. Temperatures can reach 40°C with humidity levels of 75%.
 
Health and Safety

Healthcare in Thailand is some of the best in South East Asia, with most hospitals offering a Western level of service. However, be aware that it can be expensive. Each traveller is responsible for his or her own health. First and foremost, make sure that you have travel insurance for your trip. It is also advisable to consult your doctor or local travel clinic for the latest information on travelling to Thailand before departure.

Vaccinations

Before travelling to Thailand, please ensure you have adequate protection against disease.  Contact your doctor for the latest medical advice on the vaccinations you need, no less than two months before your departure.  Be aware that there is malaria risk in rural parts of Thailand.

Travel insurance

Indochina Charm Tours try out best to do everything possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. However, travel inevitably involves some risk and this should be recognised by holiday-makers. Travel insurance is a cost effective way of protecting yourself and your equipment should any problems occur such as cancelled trips, delays, medical emergencies, baggage loss or damage. It also gives you peace of mind. Please also ensure your travel insurance covers all activities planned on your trip.

Food and drink
Thai food is regarded by many people as one of the best in the world comprising various different flavours. You can try five kinds of tastes – sweetness, spiciness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness. Thailand’s cuisine is notable for it fresh ingredients and liberal use of herbs at almost every meal. That definitely satisfies the most demanding gourmet’s requirements.
 
Noodles come in different varieties. Phat thai (noodles prepared with tofu, egg, onion, shrimps, peanuts, lime), pad thai (rice-noodles, shrimp or chicken, peanuts), rad naa and gway tiow (served with beef, chicken or pork and condiments). Most noodles are made of rice (ba mee or mungbean). Normally noodles are eaten with chopsticks and a spoon. Beside these kind of dishes, noodles are usually served in soups.
 
Soups are eaten at the same time as other dishes. Popular is tom yam (a coconut-milk soup) prepared with sour prawns or chicken, ginger, makroot leaves and lemon grass. A similar soup, tom yam kung, has the same ingredients, but lacks the coconut milk. People also like kha kai, which is a creamy coconut chicken soup.
 
Thai people love desserts (khanom). A typical dessert is quite sweet and made of rice, coconut milk, sugar and other ingredients such as kidney beans or sweet corn. Luk cheum, coconut milk in various forms (ice cream, sangkhayaa (coconut custard), salim) or khao niaw mamuang (sticky rice with mango) is particularly common. Fruits are often served with sticky rice or covered in sweet coconut milk. 
 
Popular fruits such as mangos, jackfruit, rambutans, mangosteens, pamelos or durians can be found at street food stalls all over the country. If you have not washed fruit yourself, only eat fruit that you can peel, in order to avoid any chance of getting a stomach bug.
 
Smoothies and fruit juices are very common and can be extremely sweet. You can find juices such as Limeade (nam manao), Grass Jelly (chao-guay), Tiger Grass Drink (nam bai bua-bok) and Wild Chrysanthemum Drink (nam gek-huay). 
Thai ice tea (cha yen) is a traditional drink in Thailand. Normally, it is served with condensed milk which gives it a sweet flavor.
Tap water is not recommended but bottled water can be found everywhere. 
Singha, Singha Gold and Chang are the most popular beers.
MeKhong, SongSam, Mekhong are some of the better whiskies that are available.
 
As a curiosity you have to know that Red bull energy drink was invented in Thailand.
 
Public holidays
There are a number of holidays in Thailand generally relating to Buddhism or royalty. Banks will observe all of them, including in tourist areas but other establishments may not observe them all. This Thailand Travel Guidewill tell you more:
 
• Wisakha Bucha on the full moon of the 6th lunar month (May/June) commemorating the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha. There will be candle-lit processions, candles, flowers and incense.
• Makha Bucha on the full moon of the 4th lunar month (February/March) commemorating the spontaneous gathering of people in front of Buddha.
• Asanha Bucha on the full moon of the 8th lunar month (July) commemorating Buddha’s first sermon.
• Chinese New Year. The celebrations are similar to Wisakha Bucha.
• Songkran is the Thai New Year (13th – 15th April) and definitely a fun holiday. It has evolved into a huge 3 day water fight so expect to get wet in many popular areas in the Country.
• Loy Krathong on the full moon of the 12th lunar month (November) which thanks the river goddess for life. It is a time when many locals will launch a small candle-lit ‘’boat’’, usually a banana leaf, hoping that any troubles they have may float away.
• Coronation Day is 5th May to commemorate the crowning of the current king in 1950. He is the longest serving monarch in the world because he actually took the throne in 1946.
• The King’s Birthday is 5th December and the Queen’s 12th August.
• Royal Ploughing Ceremony is an old tradition aimed at boosting the morale of farmers.
• Children’s Day is the second Saturday in January and there are many bodies who will give out presents to children on this day.
 
Pre-departure checklist
  • Travel insurance
  • Passport with at least six months validity from date of entry
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Passport-sized photo and $USD for visa on arrival
  • Vaccinations
  • Foreign currency (US$) and/or ATM card
  • All relevant tickets
  • Reconfirmed flights
  • Light weight clothing
  • Long sleeved shirts and trousers (November-February evenings)
  • Depending on the season, your activities and the region you will be visiting (e.g. mountainous areas) it may be advisable for you to bring a jacket with you.
  • Electrical adaptor: 220V, 50Hz; 2 pin plugs
  • A small bag/backpack for day and overnight trips
  • Appropriate shoes for trekking, cycling and walking
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Medication/first aid kit

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