Travel guide to Thailand

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» Thailand
Long white beaches combined with the city pleasures of Bangkok have made Thailand a hugely popular destination. No other Asian country has as many temples and historical ruins as does Thailand, and they are all begging to be explored.

Facts

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Local name
Muang Thai
Capital
Bangkok
Size
514.000 km2
Principal Languages
Thai
Principal Religion
Buddhism
Inhabitants
61.230.874 (July 2000)
Government
Constitutional Monarchy
Geography
Thailand is much longer than it is wide. From the south to the north there are 1770 kilometres and only about half that from the east to the west. 38% of the country is covered by forest, and towards the north and the west there are large chains of mountains. The country boarders up to Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

When to visit depends mostly on what part of the country you want to go to. In general it is best to go between November and February. In these months it rains less and is not as hot as it is the rest of the year.

Literature

Lonely Planet Thailand Fommer's Thailand Culture Shock! : Thailand

Local conditions

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Currency

Baht (B) 1B = 100 satang

Net cafes

There are a lot of Internet cafés in Thailand. They are primarily in the larger cities and are not hard to find. Due to all the backpackers that travel in the country having an Internet café is good business.

Tipping

Although a service fee of 10% is added to all hotel and restaurant bills, it is expected that tourists give a little extra in tips. Taxicab drivers do not expect tips.

Timezone

When the time is 12:00 in the UK it is 19:00 in Thailand. Thailand does not change to summertime so during the summer there is only a five-hour difference.

Weight and Measures

In Thailand they use the metric system.

Photography

It is pretty much allowed to take pictures anywhere in Thailand, but in some temples it is prohibited. If you would like to photograph the local population you should always ask first and respect a "no".

Drinking water

You should not drink the tap water, and you should try to avoid ice cubes. In many restaurants the water is filtered so you can eat the ice cubes. Bottled water can be bought all over the country.

Electricity

220 Volts / 50 Hz

Behaviour

Thais are a very friendly and indulgent race, but one must remember to show respect for their customs and religion. For example you must never touch a Thai on the head, and you should always take your shoes off when entering a temple. Women should avoid touching the Buddhist monks.

Business Hours

Banks: 8:30-15:30 Monday thru Friday. Shops: 8:00-21:00 all days of the week. Public Offices: 8:30-16:00 Monday thru Friday.

Food and drink

Thailand's food is hot and spicy. The most important ingredients are chilli - both red and green - lime leaves, coriander, ginger, lemon leaves, and garlic. Thais serve everything from vegetable soup to fish dishes, and the most important accompaniments are rice or noodles. Wine and spirits are very expensive and Thai beer is very strong. They do serve many good kinds of lemonade, and you can get coffee and tea in every variety imaginable.

Disabled travellers

At the large hotels there are fairly good facilities for the elderly and the disabled - with many lifts and low thresholds.

Holidays

New Year's Day, January 1st Chakri Day, April 6th May Day (only banks), May 1st Coronation Day, May 5th Midyear's Day, July 1st The Queen's Birthday, August 12th Chulalongkorn Day, October 23rd The King's Birthday, December 5th Constitution Day, December 10th New Year's Eve, December 31st Moreover there are some Buddhist holidays that alternate from year to year.

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

Most of the camping grounds in Thailand can be found in the nature parks. Camping is not allowed everywhere, so it is a good idea to ask the local authorities first.

Hotels

You can find all types of hotels in Thailand, from the big luxury hotels with swimming pools and 24-hour room service to modest and cheap hotels. The less expensive hotels can be found especially outside of Bangkok and in the big tourist areas.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

Bed & Breakfasts are not common in Thailand. On the other hand you will find a number of very nice guesthouses that all have really good facilities, and they also often have an arrangement with a really good restaurant.

Hostels

All of Thailand is filled with cheap places to stay. Some of the country's hostels have dormitories and in almost all of them you have to share the bathing and toilet facilities. YMCA and YMWA can be found all over the country.

Local transport

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Planes

The domestic flights are fine, and from Bangkok there are daily departures to all the larger tourist cities in the country.

Bus

The bus network in Thailand is well organized and it is the cheapest form of transport. There are two different kinds - with and without air-conditioning - of which the latter is of course the most expensive.

Trains

There are train connections to all of the larger cities except for Phuket. There are several scheduled departures, but still the trains are the slowest way to travel. The trains in Thailand are of a good standard.

Taxi

There are a lot of taxis in Thailand, and almost all of them have a meter. But it is not always turned on, so it is a good idea to negotiate a price in advance. Not all taxi-cab drivers speak English, so make sure you have the destination written on a piece of paper in Thai.

Car rental

You can rent cars and motorcycles all over the country, but you should be aware of the fact that the traffic in Bangkok is impossible - though for what it is worth they do drive on the left hand side of the road.

Boat or Ferry

Sailing trips on Thailand's rivers can be arranged and are popular, among other things you can enjoy your dinner on board a riverboat. Boats and ferries of course also connect Thailand's many islands with the mainland.

Other Transport

Tuk Tuk. A Tuk Tuk is a combination of a moped and a bicycle. They are good for going short distances, and you should indulge yourself in a ride on this unique form of transport despite their at times fairly hazardous driving. Rickshaws Bicycle taxis are good for short distances and are also cheap.

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