THAILAND

See our selected itineraries in Thailand

GENERAL INFORMATION

CAPITAL CITY

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand.

AREA 

Area : 513 000 km2

Length : 1770 km

Width: 805 Km at the widest point

GEOGRAPHICAL SITUATION  

Thailand, covering an area of 514,000 square kilometres, lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, roughly equidistant between India and China. It shares borders with Myanmar to the west and north, Lao P.D.R. to the north and northeast, Cambodia to the east and Malaysia to the south.

Thailand is divided into four distinct areas: the mountainous North, the fertile Central Plains, the semi-arid plateau of the Northeast, and the peninsula south, distinguished by its many beautiful tropical beaches and offshore islands.

POPULATION

Thailand has a population of about 68 million. Ethnic Thais form the majority, though the area has historically been a migratory crossroads, and thus strains of Mon, Khmer, Burmese, Lao, Malay, Indian and most strongly, Chinese stock produce a degree of ethnic diversity. However, integration is such that culturally and socially there is enormous unity.

LANGUAGE

Thai is the official language. There are also many speaking dialects of Chinese and increasingly English.

CURRENCY

Thai currency is the Baht, divided into 100 Satang. At the time of writing exchange rate is exchange Rate is approximately 35 Baht for 1 US$ and 38 Baht for 1 Euro (January 2017). Thai notes are in denominations of B1000, 500, 100, 50, and 20. Coins are of B10, 5, 2, 1 and S50 and 25.

Cash and Travelers Cheques can be exchanged freely, with banks or money changers giving other rates than hotels. Major international credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants and shops.

Banking hours are generally 9h30 to 15h30, Monday to Friday. Some Bangkok banks have shorter hours in an effort to lessen the rush-hour traffic problems.

Exchange booths are often open daily, early until late. As well as providing day-to-day banking services, the major banks can also organize international money transfers. Most banks, especially in cities, have an associated ATM.

CLIMATE

Thailand lies within the humid tropics and remains hot throughout the year. Average temperatures are about 29oC, ranging in Bangkok from 35oC in April to 17oC in December. There are three seasons: the cool season (November to February), the hot season (April to May), and the rainy season (June to October), though downpours rarely last more than a couple of hours.

Most of Thailand - with the mountains in the North and the Khorat Plateau of the North-East notable exceptions - is very humid, with and overall average humidity of 66% to 82%, depending on the season and time of day. The hot part of the dry season reaches its hottest along the north-east plain, and temperatures easily soar to 39 C in the daytime, dropping only a few degrees at night. The temperature can drop to 13 C at night during the cool season in Chiang Mai. If you're visiting the North during the cooler months, long sleeved shirts and pullovers would be in order.

RELIGION

Thailand is one of the most strongly Buddhist countries in the world. The national religion is Theravada Buddhism, a branch of Hinayana Buddhism, practiced by more than 90 % of all Thais.

The remainder of the population adheres to lslam, Christianity, Hinduism and other faiths - all of which are allowed in full freedom of expression. Buddhism continues to cast strong influence on daily life. Senior monks are highly revered. Thus, in towns and villages, the temple (Wat) is the heart of social and religious life.

Meditation, one of the most popular aspects of Buddhism, is practiced regularly by numerous Thai as a means of promoting inner peace and happiness. Visitors, too, can learn the fundamentals of this practice at several centres in Bangkok and elsewhere in the country.

LOCAl TIME

Thailand is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. It is the same time zone as Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

ELECTRICITY

The electric current is 220 Volt AC (50 cycles) throughout the country. There are many plugs and sockets in use. Travelers with shavers, tape recorders and other appliances should carry a plug-adapter kit. The better hotels will make available 110 Volt transformers.

WATER

It is advisable not to drink water from the tap unless it is boiled properly.

TELECOMMUNICATION

The telecommunications network includes satellite, terrestrial, mobile, Internet, radio and GSM (please check with your operator if the "roaming" coverage works). International calls can be made from the main post offices, private business centers and hotels. Public telephone booths are also available in the main post offices, hotels and restaurants.

HEALTH & MEDICAL FACILITIES

All Tourism destinations and provincial capitals have hospitals and clinics staffed by well-trained doctors and nurses. In case of emergencies, ambulances can be summoned from any private hospital.

TRANSPORT

There are two international airports in Thailand: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Phuket Airport. The country has more than 20 domestic airports, often with several flights a day: there are several airlines including Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways, with a very recent fleet.

The country also has a very good but slow train network including access to the northern region. Night trains are cheap and comfortable: the second class has 4 beds per cabin, the first class cabin with 2 beds (for a small fee).

DRIVING

In Thailand they drive on the left.

The International Driving Permit is required. However, car hire is strongly discouraged in both cities than in the countryside, because of little guidance.

It is possible to rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai, Phuket and Koh Samui. For safety reasons is highly discouraged.

COOKING

Thai food is internationally famous. Whether chili-hot or comparatively bland, harmony is the guiding principle behind each dish.  Thai cuisine is essentially a marriage of centuries-old Eastern and Western influences harmoniously combined into something uniquely Thai. The characteristics of Thai food depend on who cooks it, for whom it is cooked, for what occasion, and where it is cooked to suit all palates. Originally, Thai cooking reflected the characteristics of a waterborne lifestyle.  Aquatic animals, plants and herbs were major ingredients. Large chunks of meat were eschewed. Subsequent influences introduced the use of sizeable chunks to Thai cooking.

With their Buddhist background, Thais shunned the use of large animals in big chunks. Big cuts of meat were shredded and laced with herbs and spices. Traditional Thai cooking methods were stewing and baking, or grilling. Chinese influences saw the introduction of flying, stir frying and deep-frying. Culinary influences from the 17th century onwards included Portuguese, Dutch, French and Japanese. Chillies were introduced to Thai cooking during the late 1600s by Portuguese missionaries who had acquired a taste for them while serving in South America.

Thai food is eaten with a fork and spoon. Even single dish meals such as fried rice with pork, or steamed rice topped with roasted duck, are served in bite-sized slices or chunks obviating the need for a knife. The spoon is used to convey food to the mouth.

TIPPING

Major hotels and restaurants add ten percent service charge to bills, otherwise tip around ten per cent. The tip for Hotel porters and bag boys is B20-40. Taxi drivers tipped to next 10 Baht above meter fare shown, if you have not already bargained the fare.

Porters, hairdressers and barbers also often expect tips. A service charge of ten per cent is common on up-market restaurant and hotel bills, even if they also charge government tax.

VISA AND PASSEPORT 

A 30-day visa will be issued free upon arrival in the Thai territory. Rapidly changing information, it is your responsibility to check the input and output area depending on your nationality.
Before anything else, you must first ensure the validity of your passport for at least 6 months after your return date.

Clothing

If you are travelling to Thailand, light and loose clothing, especially made of natural fibres, is appropriate. Nylon should be avoided. A jacket or sweaters are useful during Cool Season evenings or if visiting mountainous areas and remote national parks.

Jackets and ties are required in certain restaurants and night clubs.

PHOENIX VOYAGES WISHES YOU A PLEASANT TRIP