Capital: Bangkok (Krung Thep in Thai)
Population: Approx. 61 Million -
Language: Thai (official), English (business)
Main religion: Buddhism. Muslim in the far south.
Tropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September);
dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); Southern
isthmus always hot and humid.
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.
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)
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.
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.
International film manufacturers operate photo-finishing services
with standard prints ready within an hour. Films are available
countrywide at reasonable prices.
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 Years 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 Buddhas
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 Years Eve
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
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.