Thailand Travel Guide

Fast Facts

 

Basic Facts

Basic Information

Capital: Bangkok (Krung Thep in Thai)
Population: Approx. 61 Million -
Language: Thai (official), English (business)
Main religion: Buddhism. Muslim in the far south.

Climate

Tropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); Southern isthmus always hot and humid.

Local Time
GMT +7

Currency
Thai baht

Banks
Money can be changed at currency exchanges which operate at all the major tourist resorts. Travellers cheques, VISa and major credit cards are accepted but it isn't possible to cash a personal cheque. ATM machines are now widely available throughout the country.

Business hours
Monday-Friday; 9.30 am-3.30 pm (Banks),
9.00 am-5.00 pm (Businesses),
10.00 am-9.00 pm (Most department stores)

Electricity supply
220V, 50Hz

Tipping
It is customary to tip porters and hotel personnel who have given good personal service. A 10%-15% tip is appreciated in restaurants, particularly where service charge does not apply.

Nightlife
Bangkok's colourful nightlife is generally safe, but avoid seedy bars and live-show joints where drinks may turn out to cost more than one thinks. The Thai Dinner with Classical Dances is a popular evening tour. Large hotels usually offer their own entertainment.

Photography
International film manufacturers operate photo-finishing services with standard prints ready within an hour. Films are available countrywide at reasonable prices.

Tourist Information
Tourism Authority of Thailand's information centre at Tel: (66-2) 694-1222 (80 lines), Fax: (66-2) 694-1220/1.

Public Holidays (2003)
January 1 New Year’s Day
February 1 Chinese New Year
February 16 Makha Puja - Commemorates the Spontaneous Gathering of 1,250 Enlightened Disciples of the Lord Buddha
April 6 Chakri Day - Commemorates the Establishment of the Royal House of Chakri
April 13-15 Songkran Festival (Thai New Year)
May 1 National Labour Day
May 5 Coronation Day
May 15 Visakha Puja - Commemorating the Birth, Enlightenment and the Maha Parinirvana or Death of the Lord Buddha
July 13 Asalha Puja - Commemorating the Lord Buddha’s First Sermon
July 14 Khao Phansa - Beginning of Buddhist Lent
August 12 Birthday of H.M. the Queen
October 23 Chulalongkorn Day
November 8 Loy Kratong Day - Thailand's candle festival floats past transgressions away.
December 5 Birthday of H.M. the King
December 10 Constitution Day
December 31 New Year’s Eve

Background Info.

Thailand is at the heart of South East Asia and one of the main aviation hubs in the region. You can fly into Bangkok and out to virtually anywhere in the world. North America is 18 hours away, Europe only 10 hours, Australia 8 hours, Japan 5 hours and Singapore 2 hours and all of South East Asia's major cities are within 2 - 3 hours flight from Bangkok. Thailand offers itself as one of the best destinations for short haul trips within Asia. Domestic airlinks within the country are also very good with frequent flights to Phuket, Chiang Mai and Samui.

Thailand has a unique blend of tropical and sub-tropical climates from north to south. Temperatures vary from around 35 degrees to - 8 degrees in the high northern mountains. It also has a stunning geographic diversity ranging from 2,600 kilometres of beaches to teak forested mountain peaks soaring over 2,000 metres above steep valleys and plains. An extremely fertile country, Thailand produces rice, corn, sugar and a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

 

The north, which shares its borders with Laos and Burma, offers cool mountains and steep valleys. In the north-east, a large plateau makes an area of flatlands, with smaller hills extending towards the central region. The edge of the north-east plateau contains Thailand's first National Park at khao Yai. As you descend to the central part ceplenty of central part of Thailand is mainly flat with mountain ranges extending down the western side seperating Thailand from its neighbour, Myanmar (Burma). The northeastern plateau descends south into the eastern semi mountainous area, become progressively flat as you approach the centre of the country. The central plains are the prime rice cultivation area.

As you venture south the country stretches into a long isthmus with dramatic coastline on both sides. To the west is the Andaman Sea; on the east, the Gulf of Thailand. Characterised by sandy beaches, coves and further south, the unusual limestone karst scenery which stretches from the land into the sea in Phang Nga Bay and Krabi. The isthmus stretches down to the Malaysian border becoming hotter and more humid as you travel closer to the equator.