traveltips

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

Thailand experiences moderate to high temperatures throughout the year. The best time to visit is from October to March, when there is less rainfall. The most moderate climate occurs during December and January, while the hottest time of year is April, when the country celebrates Songkran, the Thai New Year. Rainy season occurs from May to October, when short bursts of rainstorms refresh the green paddy fields once more.

Arrival and Departure Formalities

The following nationals may enter without a visa for up to 30 days when arriving via an international airport, or 15 days when entering via a land border checkpoint: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, UAE, UK, USA and Vietnam.

The following nationals may enter without a visa for up to 90 days: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and South Korea

The following nationals may apply for a visa on arrival at the airport or at the land border checkpoint for stays of up to 15 days: Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan and Vanuatu.

Please prepare the following documents when applying for a visa on arrival:

  • A passport valid for more than six months with at least two blank pages
  • One recent passport-size photograph (4x6 centimeters or 2×2 inches). Please note that passport photos cannot be made upon arrival at the border or at the airport.
  • A completed visa application form (the form can be obtained on the aircraft)
  • Return ticket or proof of onward travel
  • Visa fee of THB 2,000 per person in cash
  • You may also be asked to provide proof of financial means while traveling in Thailand, so it is recommended to carry a cash amount equivalent to USD 300 per person or USD 600 per family.
  • You may also be required to provide proof of address in Thailand, so we recommend that you have a print-out of your hotel reservation handy.

While we do our best to provide the most up-to-date information, visa requirements may change at short notice. Obtaining the correct visa is the responsibility of each passenger and the company will not be held accountable for any refusal upon entry. Therefore, we recommend that you check with your consulate or embassy for current visa information before leaving home.

Money Matters

Major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, JCB and American Express, are readily accepted at most hotels, airlines, restaurants and upscale merchants. Traveler's checks are widely accepted and can be cashed at all banks and most major hotels. 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 in Thailand. You are traveling on an independent itinerary and the cost of your program does not include gratuities. Tipping is a very personal matter and should only be considered when the staff have gone above and beyond for you. Should you feel you would like to acknowledge their service, please consider the following as a rough guide, per person per day.

Type of Service / USD ($)

Group Size (Number of People)

1

2

3

4

5-9

10+

Tour Director

15.00

12.00

10.00

8.00

6.00

5.00

Guide

15.00

12.00

10.00

8.00

6.00

5.00

Driver

8.00

6.00

5.00

4.00

3.00

2.50

The above tipping guidelines are recommendations only and are not compulsory. Please use your own discretion in tipping, based on quality of service.

Restaurants: Most restaurants add a 10% service charge and 7% government tax to your bill. You may wish to add about 10% to the bill to show appreciation for the service, however this is not required or expected.

Taxis: Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped but they appreciate the fare being rounded up.

Porterage: If you are being transferred by our representative to a hotel, then porterage and tipping of porters is already included. You are not expected to tip the representative.

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 often a requirement to cover shoulders and knees. Visitors may be refused entry if not dressed appropriately. A long skirt or trousers is recommended. Avoid short skirts, shorts, sleeveless tops and see-through clothing. A shawl or scarf is not enough to cover the shoulders, so a light jacket or a shirt with sleeves is preferred. You may also be required to remove footwear, so sandals may be more convenient. Thailand is a tropical country and prone to occasional downpours. So you may want to pack a light waterproof jacket. 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

Staying up-to-date with your vaccinations is a crucial part of your pre-holiday planning and it is important to seek professional medical advice for your specific requirements. If you are traveling to remote areas, you may also consider preparing a medical kit. 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. We supply clean bottled drinking water when you travel by private vehicle. 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

Thailand offers fantastic value for the Western traveler and visitors will be spoilt for choice with shopping malls, department stores and bustling street markets. The vibrant night markets in Bangkok and Chiang Mai are an excellent showcase of local food and products. In Bangkok, the weekend market at Chatuchak is a sight to behold, with stalls stocking almost everything one could ever wish to buy. Good buys include Thai silks and cottons, leather goods, batiks, precious and semi-precious stones (in particular rubies and sapphires which are indigenous to Thailand), masks, painted umbrellas, lacquerware and bamboo artefacts. Tailor-made clothes are also good value and are usually of a high standard.

Local Food

Thai food can be an eclectic mix of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavors, although most tourist restaurants tend to tone down the heat for the more fragile Western palate. Thai food is characterized by fresh ingredients and herbs such as lemongrass and coriander. Rice is commonly eaten with most meals. 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). Popular fruits are papaya, jackfruit, mangosteens, rambutans, pomelos (similar to grapefruits) and the strong smelling durian fruit which foreigners either love or hate. The local whisky of Mekhong is very popular, as is the locally made beer, Singha.

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