Kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of Southeast
Asia, making it a natural gateway to Indochina,
Myanmar and Southern China. Its shape and geography
divide into four natural region: the mountains
and forests of the North; the vast rice fields
of the Central Plain; the semi-arid farm lands
of the Northeast plateau: and the tropical islands
and long coastline of the peninsula South.
The country comprises
76 provinces that are further divided into districts,
sub-districts and villages, Bangkok is the capital
city and centre of political, commercial, industrial
and cultural activities. It is also the seat
of Thailand's revered Royal Family, with His
Majesty the King recognized as Head of State,
Head of the Armed Forces, Upholder of the Buddhist
religion and Upholder of all religions.
Thailand is a constitutional
monarchy with His Majesty King Bhumibol Aduyadej,
or King Rama IX, the ninth king of the Chakri
Dynasty, the present king. The King has reigned
for more than half a century, making him the
longest reigning Thai monarch. Thailand embraces
a rich diversity of cultures and traditions.
With its proud history, tropical climate and
renowned hospitality, the Kingdom is a never-ending
source of fascination and pleasure for international
Thailand enjoys a tropical
climate with three distinct seasons-hot and dry
from February to May (average temperature 34 degrees
Celsius and 75% humidity); rainy with plenty of
sunshine from June to October Zaverage day temperature
29 degrees Celsius and 87% humidity); and cool
from November to January (temperatures range from
32 degrees Celsius to below 20 degrees Celsius
with a drop in humidity). Much lower temperatures
are experienced in the North and Northeast during
nighttime. The South has a tropical rain forest
climate with has a tropical rainforest climate
with temperatures averaging 28 degrees Celsius
almost all year round.
Thailand has a population
of approximately 62 million people, of which 80%
are ethnic Thais, 10% Chinese and 4% Malays, plus
Lao, Mon, Khmer, Indian and Burmese minorities.
Such diversity reflects the country's long history
as an important crossroads of Southeast Asia.
Thais are a friendly and easy-going people with
a great reverence for the Buddhist faith.
Spoken and written Thai
is largely incomprehensible to the casual visitor.
However, English is widely understood, particularly
in Bangkok where it is almost the major commercial
language. English and some European languages
are spoken in most hotels, shops and restaurants
in major tourist destinations, and Thai-English
road and street signs are found nationwide.
The majority of Thais are
devout Buddhists. Muslims form the largest of
the religious minorities and are located mainly
in the four southern provinces. Other minority
groups include Hindus, Sikhs and Christians.
The Thai unit of currency
is the baht. One baht is divided into 100 satang.
Notes are in denominations of 1,000 (brown), 500
(purple), 100 (red), 50 (blue), 20 (green) and
10 (brown) baht. Coins consist of 25 satang, 50
satang, 1 baht, 5 baht and 10 baht.
Major currency bills and travelers cheques are
cashed easily at hotels, tourist shops, all provincial
banks, shopping centres and money changers. Travellers
cheques are best changed in banks (you will need
your passport). Rates of exchange at banks or
authorized money changers are better than those
at hotels and department stores.
The electric current is
220 volt AC (50 cycles) throughout the country.
Many different types of plugs and sockets are
in use. Travellers with electric shavers, hair
dryers, tape recorders and other appliances should
carry a plug adapter kit. The better hotels will
make available 110-volt transformers.
Tap water is clean but drinking from it directly
should be avoided. Bottled water is recommended.
The metric system is used throughout Thailand.
Numerals on vehicle speedometers, highway markers
and speed limits all indicate kilometers.
Light, cool clothes are sensible and a jacket
is needed for formal meetings and dining in top
restaurants. Shorts (except knee length walking
shorts), sleeveless shirts, thank tops and other
beach-style attire are considered inappropriate
dress when not actually at the beach or in a resort
The time in Thailand is seven hours ahead of Greenwich
Mean Time (+7 hours GMT).
Most commercial concerns in Bangkok operate on
a five-day week, usually from 8 am to 5 pm. Many
stores open seven day a week from 10 am to 10
pm. Government offices are generally open between
8:30 am and 4:30 pm with a noon to 1 pm lunch
break, Monday to Friday except on public holidays.
Banks are pen Mondays to Fridays from 9:30 am
to 3:30 pm except on public holidays.
Tipping is not standard practice in Thailand,
although it is becoming increasingly common. Many
larger hotels and restaurants add a 10% service
charge to the bill. Taxi drivers do not expect
a tip but the gesture is appreciated and 10-20
baht is acceptable for portes.
Being Buddhists, Thai are
tolerant people. Avoiding offensive behaviour
can generally be achieved through simple courtesy
and common sense. A few taboos do exist, though,
mostly in regard to the monarchy and Buddhism.
Visitors should not make any disparaging remarks
or gestures that denigrate the Royal Family or
any religion, and when visiting a temple or royal
palace, always dress appropriately.
Traditionally, Thais greet each other with a wai
(by pressing the palms together at the chest),
so if a Thai offers a wai then it is proper to
return it. Please avoid touching people on the
head as Thais believe the head to be the most
sacred part of the body. It is also inappropriate
to use the foot for pointing.
Thailand has always been
a popular destination and often the starting point
for exploration of the rest of Southeast Asia,
China and further points East. Thailand is served
by a total of over 80 international airlines landing
mainly in Bangkok, but also an increasing number
of international flights arrive in Phuket, Chiang
Mai and Hat Yai. Domestic airports have also grown
in number and all have connecting flights to Bangkok
and at least one other destination.
Thailand borders Myanmar to the north and west,
Laos to the north, Cambodia to the east and Malaysia
to the south; all of these countries have various
land and water access points where the visitor
may enter or leave Thailand. The train is also
a convenient mode of transport, with connections
from Chiang Mai in the north to Bangkok and then
south across the border to Malaysia and on to
Most people arrive in Thailand
via Bangkok's Don Muang International Airport,
situated approximately 20 kilometres north of
the city centre. There are two international terminals
at Don Muang Airport. Arrival terminals are dependent
on the airline flown. Currency exchange counters
and ATMs are located in the Arrival Hall. A second
international airport is currently under construction
in the south of Bangkok and is due to open in
Foreign visitors from 57 countries can enter Thailand
without a visa for a period not exceeding 30 day
; or get a Tourist Visa on Arrival for a period
not exceeding 15 days.
Transit Visas allow up to 30 days of travel in
the kingdom with proof of an onward ticket. Tourist
Visas permit a stay of up to 60 days and can be
extended once by 30 days. Non-Immigrant Visas
allow a stay of up to 90 days.
Retirement Visas, aimed
at encouraging foreigners aged 55 years and over
to stay longer in Thailand, can be applied for
a t Royal Thai embassies or consulates. For more
information, contact the Immigration Department
located at Soi Suan Plu, South Sathon Road, Bangkok.
Tel: (66) 02-2873101
Arriving passengers are required to fill out a
No. 6 (T.M. 6) immigration card Passengers without
entry visas from 90 plus countries can obtain
visas on arrival at International Passenger Terminal
1. A fee of 300 baht is charged and two 1"
passport pictures are required (Express Photo
Service fee, 120 baht for 4 photos). Permitted
length of stay is 15 days, including arrival day.
Passengers departing Thailand must have their
passport checked by an Immigration officer. The
boarding pass and a completed No. 6 (T.M. 6) immigration
card must also be presented.
All kinds of narcotics (hemp, opium, cocaine,
morphine, heroin), obscene literature, pictures
and articles are prohibited. Cigarettes, cigars,
or smoking tobacco, each or in total, must not
exceed 250 grammes in weight. Cigareettes must
not exceed 200 in quantity. One litre each of
wine or spirits may be brought in duty free.
Certain species of fruits,
vegetables and plants are prohibited. Please contact
the Agricultural Regulatory Division, Bang Khen,
Bangkok, Tel: 025791581, 025793576. Entry permission
for animals arriving by air can be obtained at
the airport. If arriving by sea, application for
entry must be made at the Department of Livestock
Development, Bangkok. Tel: (66) 02-251 5136,
02-252 6944. Vaccination certificates are
As in most countries, vaccination certificates
are not required for people unless coming from
or passing through a designated "contaminated"
area. Some border areas of Thailand are malarial
and appropriate precautions should be taken if
vising there. Bangkok, major cities and resorts
have excellent medical facilities and most hotels
have doctors on 24-hour call.
Thailand has altogether 455 private hospitals-121
in Bangkok, 165 in the Central region and East
Coast, 62 in the North, 57 in the Northeast, and
50 in the South. Visitors can be assured of round-the-clock
international standard medical services.
Any amount of foreign currency may be brought
into the country. Visitors may take foreign currency
out of Thailand, but no more than the amount stated
in the customs declaration made on arrival. Travellers
leaving Thailand may take out no more than 50,000
baht per person in Thai currency.
Arriving passengers are required to complete a
Customs Declaration Form before passing through
Customs. Passenger with nothing to declare should
proceed to the Green Channel. Those with articles
to declare should proceed to the Red Cannel with
a completed Declaration Form. Failure to declare
dutiable, restricted or prohibited articles may
result in their confiscation and a fine amounting
to four times their value.
Thailand currently has six international airports,
at Bangkok (Don Muang Airport), Chiang Mai, Chiang
Rai, Hat Yai, Ko Samui and Phuket.
Airport tax for international passengers is 500
Domestic airports are at Mae Hong Son, Nan, Lampang,
Phrae, Mae Sot, Phitsanulok, Udon Thani, Sakhon
Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Phetchabun, Khon Kaen,
Ubon Ratchasima, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat,
Krabi, Trang and Narathiwat.
Visitors entering the Kingdom on tourist visas
are entitled to refunds of the 7% value-added
tax (VAT) paid on goods purchased at shops, department
stores and other retail outlets displaying "VAT
Refund for Tourists" signs, where tax refund
application forms are available. Prior to airport
departure, visitors must present a completed VAT
refund form, plus passport information and purchase
receipts, to a customs officer. Certain luxury
goods must be shown to an excise official. Refunds
may be in bank draft form or credited to a credit
card. For more information, please contact the
VAT Refund for Tourists office, Tel: (66) 02-
272 9388 or VAT Refund Office at Bangkok International
Airport, Tel:(66) 02 535 6576-79