The Southeast Asia Travel Specialist
ABOUT THAILAND
TRAVEL TIPS
THE COUNTRY
CLIMATE
POPULATION
LANGGUAGE
RELIGION
CURRENCY
CURRENCY EXCHANGE
ELECTRICT CITY
TAP WATER

WEIGHTS MEASURES

CLOTHING
LOCAL TIME
BUSINESS HOURS
TIPPING
SOCIAL CUTOMS
GETTING TO THAILAND
ENTERING THAILAND

VISAS

IMMIGRATION
CUSTOMS

HEALTH REGULATIONS

EXCHANGE CONTROL
BAGGAGE CLEARANCE
AIRPORT

VAT REFUNDS

THE COUNTRY

Thai National FlagThe 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 visitors.

CLIMATE

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.

POPULATION

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.

LANGGUAGE

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.

RELIGION

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.

CURRENCY

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.

CURRENCY EXCHANGE
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.

ELECTRICT CITY

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
Tap water is clean but drinking from it directly should be avoided. Bottled water is recommended.

WEIGHTS MEASURES
The metric system is used throughout Thailand. Numerals on vehicle speedometers, highway markers and speed limits all indicate kilometers.

CLOTHING
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 area.

LOCAL TIME
The time in Thailand is seven hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+7 hours GMT).

BUSINESS HOUR
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
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.

 
SOCIAL CUSTOMS

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.

 
GETTING TO THAILAND

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 Singapore.

 
ENTERING THAILAND

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 2003.

VISAS
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

IMMIGRATION
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.

CUSTOMS
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 required.

HEALTH REGULATIONS
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.

EXCHANGE CONTROL
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.

BAGGAGE CLEARANCE
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.

AIRPORTS
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 baht/person.
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.

VAT REFUNDS
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

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