Practical information

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

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.

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

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.

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).

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.

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.