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Thailand Travel Guide
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Dream of
Thailand
�As with any country you visit, you’ll get more out of your stay if you prepare
properly and arrive informed about the local way of life. If there’s anything
we’ve missed out that you’d like to know, then please email your query to
[email protected] and we’ll be happy to help.’
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Contents
Page
2 Preparing for your trip
Passports | Visas | Health Tips | Travel Insurance
3 - 6 General information
Banks and Currency Exchange | Currency | Laws | Customs /Dos and Don’ts
Dress | Manners | Monarchy | Religion | Electricity | Measurements
Staying Safe | Thai New Year | Travelling around Thailand | Car Hire
Tipping | Transport in Bangkok | Skytrain | Taxis | Underground | Tuk tuks
7 - 9 Enjoying yourself
Food | Nightlife | Shopping | Sightseeing | Temples | Spas | Sports
Thai Boxing | Golf | Water sports
10
Useful phrases
Thailand Travel Guide
Page 1
Preparing for your trip
Passports:
Health Tips:
Ensure that your passport has more than 6 months’
validity remaining.
Whilst there are currently no compulsory vaccinations
required for your trip to Thailand, it is strongly
recommended that you seek medical advice before
starting your holiday to ensure that you comply with any
new requirements. The National Travel Health Network
and Centre is an excellent source of information – visit
http://www.nathnac.org/travel/index.htm
Visas:
British passport holders may enter Thailand for a stay of
up to 30 days, without obtaining a visa in advance of
arrival. The visa-free entry of up to 30 days per visit is
limited to a maximum of 90 days in any 6 month period.
However, any time spent in Thailand on a Tourist Visa
issued by a Thai Embassy or Consulate does not count
towards the 90-day limit.
Further information concerning visas and other aspects
of travel to Thailand may be found on the Royal Thai
Embassy website:
http://www.thaiembassyuk.org.uk/index.html
Thailand Travel Guide
Travel Insurance:
Ensure that you have fully comprehensive travel insurance
before you start your trip, and that this includes good
health cover. There are excellent international hospitals in
Bangkok but they can be expensive. Elsewhere in the
country, hospitals are not up to UK standards. Many
hospitals require guarantee of payment before they will
start treatment, and you would need to seek advice from
your travel insurer’s 24 hour hotline in this respect.
Page 2
i
General information
Laws
• It is illegal to import more than 200
cigarettes per person into Thailand.
• By law, you should carry your passport
with you at all times.
Banks and Currency Exchange:
Banks offer the best foreign exchange rates, and most are
open Monday to Friday between 9.30 am and 3.30 pm.
Cash dispensers are widely available throughout the
country, and you can use your usual debit card to
withdraw cash in Thai baht.
Currency:
• Currency is the Thai baht (THB), symbolised by B
• There are 100 satang in each baht.
• Banknotes are available in denominations of 25, 50,
100, 500 and 1000 baht.
• Coins are available in 1, 2, 5, 10 baht and 25, 50 satang.
• Bangkok has strict laws on litter and
rubbish disposal, so make sure you
always dispose of your litter in a bin.
There are also fines for those seen to
spit or drop cigarette stubs in the street.
• Penalties for drug offences are very
severe in Thailand, with jail terms not
uncommon even for �soft’ drugs.
• It is against the law to kill wildlife for
food in Thailand, so avoid visiting local
restaurants where wild animal dishes
are on the menu. For animal welfare and
conservation reasons you should also
avoid buying any products or souvenirs
made from animals including reptiles,
and from elephant ivory and turtle shell.
Customs /Dos and Don’ts:
Thais are hospitable and friendly, and easy to get along with. They value good
manners and a smile, and armed with these and patience, humour and a
phrasebook for your journeys outside the major cities, you should encounter no
problems with the people of this stunning country. However, you need to be
aware of a few moral and social customs to avoid any difficult situations and
misunderstandings or embarrassment.
Dress:
Apart from on the beach, wearing shorts, swimwear and skimpy clothing
including sleeveless tee-shirts is considered improper and low-class attire. It is
acceptable for children. Regardless of the heat, you should wear long trousers
whilst in town – and actually, wearing light loose clothing does help keep you
cool, as well as complying with Thai standards of modesty.
Going nude or topless on beaches is considered unacceptable and offensive (a
lot of Thais swim fully clothed) and in some cases is illegal.
Thailand Travel Guide
Page 3
Manners
• The normal greeting is not a handshake but a wai. This is a prayer-like gesture of
pressing the palms together which you will soon observe on your visit.
• Standing over anyone, especially someone older or wise, is regarded as rude since it
implies social superiority. As a sign of courtesy, lower your head as you pass a group of
people. If you’re not sure what to do, then watch the Thais.
• Thais believe that the head is the most sacred part of the body, so never touch or pat
anyone in Thailand on the head, even in the friendliest of circumstances.
• Feet are considered the lowest part of the body, so don't point at things with them,
and when sitting down, make sure the soles of your feet are not facing anyone.
• Even if you’re in a frustrating or annoying situation, don’t lose your temper, shout, or
even raise your voice. Only patience and a good sense of humour work in Thailand!
• Amorous behaviour in public is unacceptable, and in fact even opposite-sex handholding or affectionate gestures are not considered proper behaviour in the more
traditional areas outside Bangkok.
Monarchy
There are two sacred subjects in Thailand – one
of them is the monarchy. The Thais have an
unswerving devotion to their monarch and it is a
criminal offence to make a derogatory comment
about any member of the Thai Royal Family.
Should you be overheard doing so, this can be
punishable by a jail sentence of up to 15 years.
Religion
The second sacred subject is religion. The Thais’
devotion to the monarchy is matched only by their
dedication to their religion, with approximately 95%
of the nation being Buddhists. Visitors need to be
considerate of this commitment and ensure that
their behaviour is not in any way disrespectful:
• Each Buddha image, large or small, ruined or not, is regarded as
a sacred object. Never climb onto one, and never have your
photograph taken with one as this might indicate a lack of respect.
• It is forbidden for a Buddhist monk to touch or be touched by a
woman, or even to accept anything from a woman’s hand.
• If travelling on a local bus and sitting in a rear seat, be prepared
to vacate this if necessary, as these are reserved for monks.
• If a monk is seated never stand over him, as monks must always
remain at the highest elevation.
• Remember to dress appropriately if visiting any religious shrine
or temple. You should always wear a shirt or tee-shirt, and refrain
from wearing shorts. It’s acceptable to wear shoes when walking
around the compound of a Buddhist temple, but not inside the
chapel where the principal Buddha image is kept so remove them
before entering.
Electricity:
Measurements:
Voltage in Thailand is 220V AC.
Two-prong round or flat sockets are most
commonly used, so have an electrical travel
adaptor to hand if taking hair appliances etc.
The metric system of measurement is used in Thailand, so make
sure you know your metric clothing and shoe sizes for the
limitless shopping opportunities you’ll have whilst visiting the
country!
Thailand Travel Guide
Page 4
Tailor-made holidays created to make your dreams come true.
Stunning luxury hotels in some of Thailand’s most idyllic locations.
Telephone:
Staying Safe
Thailand’s people are genuinely welcoming to visitors, but as
anywhere, there are exceptions and we recommend that you take
precautions to ensure that your holiday is a safe and happy one:
• Use common-sense regarding personal safety, as well as taking
good care of your belongings. Walking alone in quiet streets or
deserted areas isn’t advisable. Make sure that all your valuables,
including passport, airline tickets, money, jewellery etc are
properly protected and not easily visible.
• Beware of strangers who approach you offering assistance or
their services as guides. Make sure that any local tourist
information is obtained from official sources and that any
arrangements for sightseeing trips are also made through a
The country dialling
code for Thailand is
+ 66
reputable office. Thailand’s con-artists are very sophisticated,
charming and smart and you may be very tempted to believe
what they say – don’t!
• Also be aware of unscrupulous taxi drivers who may transport
you to shops of their choice (rather than your own!) in order to
receive a commission from the inflated price of goods you are
then encouraged to purchase.
• In short, keep your wits about you – and if problems do occur,
contact the local Tourist Police. The telephone number in Bangkok is easy to remember – 1155.
Thai New Year:
Festivals abound in Thailand, but one of
the most memorable is the Songkran, the
celebration of the Thai New Year, when
Buddha images are bathed and the
monks and elders receive the respect of
other Thais by having water sprinkled
over their hands. This takes place during
April (12th -14th) and from these original
religious origins festivities have developed and the entire country is now under
�water attack’, so be prepared to get
drenched as high-powered water balloons
and water guns feature strongly! There
are staged water battles in most areas,
with Chiang Mai’s inhabitants being
particularly enthusiastic participants in
this annual water �free-for-all’. As a
moated city, it lends itself admirably to the
installation of temporary pumps which are
used to suck up and redistribute water in
all directions! Bangkok also has its own
�wet’ activities with the most intense
battles taking place on Th Khao San.
Travelling around Thailand:
Car Hire
You may wish to hire a car to help you explore the country. Apart
from in Bangkok, the volume of traffic isn’t daunting. Roads are well
maintained and many road signs are in English, and best of all,
driving is on the left as here in the UK! There are lots of small local
rental agencies offering quite inexpensive deals, but check before
hiring that the vehicle is in good condition and that the charges
Thailand Travel Guide
include the mandatory insurance. You’ll need an international
driving licence which you should obtain before leaving the UK.
Other means of transport include bicycles, trains and buses,
and we’ll happily provide more details on request.
Page 5
Tipping:
Transport in Bangkok:
Tipping isn’t customary in Thailand and not considered
necessary if a service charge is shown on the bill. However, it is
still appreciated, especially if there’s loose change from a large
restaurant bill.
This "City of Angels" that is Bangkok is easily explored
using taxis, tuk tuks, the underground or the city’s
impressive Skytrain.
Skytrain
By far the most comfortable, scenic and environmentally-friendly way to
travel in Bangkok is by the incredible Skytrain, an elevated rail network
that soars above the chaos of the city’s noisy and fume-laden traffic
jams. It’s quick, efficient, clean and inexpensive – and offers the
additional benefits of air-conditioning and wonderful views of Bangkok
which you would otherwise never see. Trains run regularly from 6am
until midnight throughout most of the modern part of the city, and there
are plans underway to extend the service very shortly to the outlying
areas of the city and to the airport. Numerous types of pass are
available and for 120 baht (approx ВЈ2) a day you get unlimited travel on
the whole Skytrain network – information booths show details of
discounted tourist passes and provide network maps. You may wish to
equip yourself with 5B and 10B coins as these are needed if using the
automatic ticket machines, although change is readily available from
manned booths from 6am until midnight.
Taxis
Taxis are without doubt the cheapest of any major city in the
world and it is virtually impossible to spend more than 100
baht (less than ВЈ2) on any journey of half an hour or less!
There is a minimum meter charge of 35 baht. Getting a taxi
is usually quite easy apart from during peak commute hours
and when bars are closing between 1am and 2am.
Underground
Bangkok’s underground system – or Metro as it’s called by
the Thais - offers a comfortable environment in which to get
from one side of the city to the other. Trains run from 6am
until midnight and are cheap at 15 to 40 baht depending on
the journey. You buy a magnetised coin (available from the
ticket window or from an automated dispenser) and put this
into the gate slot to exit.
Tuk tuks
Tuk tuks cost twice as much but are an experience that must be tried at
least once! It can be difficult getting a fair price for a ride in one of these
open-ended three-wheeled motorised rickshaws as their drivers are
experts in the art of spotting innocent tourists and will often quote a high
fare, or alternatively insist they take you on a very cheap sightseeing tour
which will result in your purchasing overpriced goods for which they’ll
receive a commission from the shopkeeper. But providing you keep your
wits about you and agree a sensible price before you get in (if you know
the normal taxi fare for the journey, that will help in your bargaining) you’ll
Thailand Travel Guide
certainly have a memorable journey as you weave in and out
of Bangkok’s chaotic traffic jams, accompanied by the �tuk
tuk’ sound of the engine and the suffocating exhaust fumes!
Three people can fit into a tuk-tuk quite comfortably, but any
more than that and it becomes a bit cramped. By the way,
however tempted you may be for comfort’s sake, don’t rest
your feet on the rail near the driver’s head as this is
considered to be very disrespectful.
Page 6
Enjoying yourself
Food
Thailand offers a sheer cornucopia of culinary excellence.
If you like good food and fantastic service then you won’t be
disappointed with the choice available throughout the country. Most
hotels will have at least three restaurants offering Thai and
International cuisine and all will have the ubiquitous steakhouse
serving, as the name suggests, the most succulent meats. Away
from the hotels there is every conceivable type of restaurant to be
found, serving Thai, Indian, Chinese, French, Italian, Vietnamese
....the list really is endless.
Whatever your own culinary preferences, as you’re in Thailand
you’ll really want to sample the country’s own cuisine, which has in
recent years become one of the world’s favourites. You could start
by trying some of the sizzling dishes you’ll see at the local street
markets – this is Thai food at its most original, eaten fresh from the
vendor’s cart amid the hustle and bustle of the real Thailand. It’s
what the locals do. Street stalls abound in Bangkok and in Chiang
Mai the night markets provide a quite incredible choice of eating
experience. You may worry about the hygiene aspect of the
open-air street cooking, but by and large standards are good, and
you can at least see what is being cooked and how!
The Thais have a very sociable approach to eating, and rarely eat
alone, making mealtimes a communal experience whenever they
can. This is why all the dishes are normally served at the same
time, as people dip in and help themselves and others to samples
of all that’s on offer. Also of course, given the range of spices and
herbs used in the cooking, a wonderful blend of sweet, sour, spicy
and delicate flavours can be combined to create a magnificent
meal.
Once you sample Thai food you’ll be hooked on it, so what better
thing to do during your holiday than spend a day at a Thai cookery
school? Short courses are on offer in both Bangkok and Chiang
Mai and are becoming increasingly popular, giving travellers the
opportunity to return home able to recreate a taste of Thailand in
their own kitchen!
Nightlife
If it’s nightlife you require then look no further! From a simple night
at the cinema to world class music venues Thailand has it all.
Wherever they are, visitors young and old can always find something to suit their mood and activity levels.
There are regular appearances by many of the world’s top
individual performers and bands in both the capital Bangkok and
other resorts around the country .Bangkok abounds with dance
clubs, local Thai bars, jazz bars, chic hotel cocktail lounges – in
fact, whatever your preference, you’ll find it here. If culture’s more
your scene, there are excellent theatres offering traditional dance
and drama productions. Cinemas show the latest films and are
high-tech and usually air-conditioned, providing VIP areas with
reclining seats and table service (don’t forget to stand for the Thai
National Anthem played before each film). And whilst in Bangkok,
try a romantic dinner cruise on the magnificent Chao Phraya - �The
River of Kings’ - where this wonderful city glides by as you eat
sumptuous food aboard an old wooden rice barge; this is a truly
amazing experience.
Outside the capital, there are bars and clubs galore in all major
resorts and towns. Why not take in one of the many Full Moon
parties that take place on different islands around the coastline or
sample the world famous Go-Go scene of Patpong or Pattaya? No
visit to the Kingdom of Thailand is complete without a night at a
Ladyboy show - words cannot describe the grandeur of the
performances and it must be seen to be believed! Or opt perhaps
for a traditional Thai evening watching a classical dance show at
one of many authentic Thai restaurants. Whatever your choice you
will find it somewhere in this amazing kingdom.
Thailand Travel Guide
Page 7
Shopping
Shopping in Thailand is an experience that cannot properly be described, but we’ll try!
Forget for a moment that any fashion label that you care
to think of is probably represented at two or three outlets
in Bangkok alone, and that every conceivable "top name"
in everything from gems to high technology to designer
goods appears in every shopping mall (and there are
plenty of those) – after all, that’s just for starters.
Spend many hours meandering through street markets
that are not contrived tourist scenes but are actually Thai
people living their daily lives, and you get a real feel for life
as it is for the local population. You can buy local produce,
local handicrafts, and even fish (cooked or raw) caught the
same day. Why not sit for an hour and eat and drink "a la
local" for just a few baht before wandering on to browse
the Boss shirts, Rolex watches and Christian Dior
dresses? Unlike the shopping malls not the real thing, but
a wonderful way to pass a few hours as you haggle over
how much your next Louis Vuitton bag will cost! Thais
respect a good haggler and items sold in markets and in
many shops are negotiable. You can usually get an
immediate discount from the first price by just asking �is
that your best price?’……it works wonders, is good fun,
and makes your spending power go quite a lot further! And
if it’s too hot for you to wander in the daytime try the same
thing after dark at one of the numerous Night Bazaars
dotted around. Here the atmosphere intensifies amidst
twinkling lights and the increased activity around the open
food stalls with their sizzling pans and tempting smells.
For something different take a trip out to the weekend
floating market of Damnoen Saduak with all its colour and
exotic fragrances. About 100kms outside Bangkok, it’s
easily accessible by a 2 hour bus trip. You can see the
locals selling a vast array of souvenirs, together with their
fresh produce, from their small flat bottomed boats just as
their ancestors did centuries ago.
Outside Bangkok, whilst there are not the same array of
designer shopping malls, the markets, bazaars and small
shops are aplenty and teem with local goods, handicrafts,
ceramics, jewellery, woodcarvings, antiques and fabrics.
Serious shoppers and browsers alike will be captivated by
the sheer volume and choice of goods – and the fact that
service comes with a smile!
There are variations, but typically department stores are
open 7 days a week from 10am to 8pm, whilst smaller
shops usually trade from 10am to 5pm and often close on
Sundays.
Sightseeing
Details of recommended sightseeing excursions for various areas of Thailand can be found at
www.dreamofthailand.co.uk/thailand-tours.html but no Thailand Travel Guide can be considered complete without
reference to the country’s most prized assets:
Temples
If you can go a mile without seeing a temple you are in the wrong country!!
To the Thai people, temples are the most important part of their everyday life and
thus visitors to the country need to respect this and pay attention to the temple
etiquette given in the Customs (Religion) section of this guide. All the temples are
open to the general public and many, in Bangkok in particular, need to be visited
to experience a taste of centuries gone by and the development of Buddhism
within Thailand. The Thai word for temple is wat and among the many "must see"
temples with their dazzling array of colours and exotic smells are the Temple of
the Emerald Buddha and The Golden Buddha at Wat Traimit. The Reclining
Buddha at Wat Po is an enormous Buddha covered in gold leaf and lying on its
side - a truly incongruous yet magnificent sight. Don’t miss the Grand Palace with
its golden domes, fluted spires and glittering temples, situated close to the banks
of the Chao Phraya - �The River of Kings’. This is a perfect example of an ancient
Siamese court and houses the aforementioned Emerald Buddha. This most
precious image of the Lord Buddha is believed to have supernatural powers and
is dressed in robes according to the season by the King of Thailand himself.
All of the above are in Bangkok, but in Chiang Mai there are 121 temples within
the city boundary alone (with another 200 in the area!), and throughout the whole
country you can at any time come upon Thais making their way to the local
temple as part of their daily routine. Nothing is more important to them, and
whatever your own beliefs their spiritual conviction and commitment are
thought-provoking and somewhat humbling.
Thailand Travel Guide
Page 8
Spas
Spas abound in Thailand, combining cultural heritage with
all modern amenities. Traditional Thai massage houses
co-exist happily with western-style luxury day spas and
residential spa retreats in a country where pampering is
seen rather more as an essential than a treat.
You may opt for the rejuvenating techniques of a traditional
Thai massage – considered to be an act of compassion in
which the therapist practices the physical application of
metta (loving kindness) and bestows a healing touch in the
spirit of giving. This has been practised and learnt through
the centuries and is a luxury that you should experience
during your visit. If you choose to treat yourself to this in
one of the low-key local (usually family-run) establishments,
you’ll often be able to have additional beauty treatments
such as manicures and pedicures, and usually receive
excellent value for money.
However, if you fancy splashing out and indulging
yourself a little more lavishly, head for one of the more
modern and totally splendid day or residential spas
which abound in all the popular areas . Some adjoin or
are part of the country’s luxury hotels, whilst others are
totally separate commercial enterprises. Either way
you’ll be thoroughly spoilt for choice as you select from
treatments which include a huge range of massages in
addition to normal Thai massage, steam baths, sauna
treatments, mud body wraps, facials, footbaths ……the
list is endless. Private treatment rooms are the norm,
with some spas offering special romantic pampering
packages for couples. Relax and enjoy!
Sports
Thai Boxing - entertainment rather than sport, but not to be missed!
The national sport of Thailand is of course Muay Thai (Thai boxing) but it is recommended for visitors to watch rather
than participate! There are regular bouts all around the country and an enjoyable afternoon/evening can be spent
attempting to understand the rules of engagement!
Muay Thai is both a sport and a means of self defence. Contestants may use almost any part of their body: feet,
elbows, legs, knees, and shoulders are all weapons. The accompaniment of traditional music during the boxing
provokes even greater excitement within the cheering Thai crowds.
Water sports
Golf
Alternatively why not have a relaxing round of golf on
one of the numerous courses – more than 200 in total dotted around the whole country, many of which are
full championship courses that are regularly played by
the top professionals in world golf. Courses are
well-maintained and offer excellent facilities, and can
be found within easy distance of most major resorts.
Green fees are extremely reasonable by UK standards
and it is mandatory to hire a local caddie (often a
smartly-clad female with an excellent knowledge of the
course) which is likely to add all of 200-300 baht
(approx ВЈ3-5) to your costs! The best time to take your
golf break is during the less humid time from November to March but it is a pleasant experience no matter
what time of year you decide upon.
Thailand Travel Guide
Think Thailand, think water sports. With some of the
best beaches anywhere in the world, if you’re feeling
energetic the crystal clear waters and coral provide the
perfect environment in which to use your diving and
snorkelling expertise. For the experienced diver there
are few better places than Thailand with its underwater
mountains, rock formations and coral gardens to
explore, and with visibility in places of up to 30 metres
the experience is truly stunning. There could also be
no better location for the beginner to have their first
attempt at diving or snorkelling - all the equipment can
be hired without breaking the bank as the costs are
relatively cheap, and a professional diving organisation
(PADI) oversees all training so everything is really
safe.
As well as diving and snorkelling, other water sports on
offer at the major beach resorts include windsurfing,
waterskiing, surfboarding, kite boarding, and jet skiing.
Or you may prefer to just recline on your lilo!
Page 9
Useful phrases
No overseas holiday is complete without attempts to communicate with the locals in their own language. We’ve compiled just a
few phrases which you may find helpful during your stay. The Thai people you encounter on your travels will be delighted that
you’re making the effort and will be keen to help you perfect your pronunciation, but a word of warning – it can be tricky!
Hello
Goodbye
sa-wat dii
laa kawn
Please
Thank you
No thank you
ka-ru-naa
khawp khun
mai ao khawp khun
Yes
No
chai
mai chai
Excuse me
Sorry
khaw a-phai
khaw thoht
Today
Tomorrow
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
wan nii
phrung nii
wan jan
wan ang-khaan
wan phut
wan pha-reu-hat
wan suk
wan sao
wan aa-thit
How much?
Too expensive
Smaller
Bigger
thao rai?
phaeng pai
lek kwaa
yai kwaa
Beer
Tea
Coffee
Drinking water
Orange Juice
bia
chaa
kaafae
naam deum
naam som
A final point to remember is that to be polite, if you’re a man you should end your sentence with the word khrap, and if you’re
a woman, with the word kha. You can also use these same words to answer yes to a question or to show agreement with what
is being said.
В© Dream of Thailand 2008
Thailand Travel Guide
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