Thailand - Practical Information

A natural portal to Indochina, Myanmar and Southern China. Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions: the mountains and forests of the North; the massive rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-bleak farm lands of the Northeast high land; and the equatorial islands and long shoreline of the haven South.

The country consists of 76 provinces that are distant into districts. Bangkok is the capital city and center of political, commercial, industrial, and cultural activities. It is also the ground of Thailand’s admired Royal Family, with His Majesty the King distinguished as Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, proponent of the Buddhist religion and advocate of all religions.

Thailand is a born sovereignty with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or King Rama IX, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, the present king. The King has administered for more than half a century, making him the longest reigning Thai supreme ruler. Thailand maintains a rich innovation of cultures and traditions. With its gratified history, tropical climate, and renowned hospitality, the Kingdom is a continual dawn of allure and gratification for international visitors.

Thailand embraced its current constitution following an August 19, 2007, referendum. The Puea Thai Party won a landslide dominion in free and fair elections July 3, 2011. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is now Thailand’s first female prime minister. Generally 95 percent of the population is ethnically Thai and Buddhist, with Muslim and Christian minorities. Standard Thai is the official language of Thailand and is spoken in every province, despite many areas also have a local dialect, and several of Malay is extensively spoken in the profound south. Most Thais working in the tourist industry and in other businesses commerce with foreigners can speak at least fundamental English. Thailand is a prominent travel destination, and tourist facilities and services are available throughout the country. At many tourist attractions, including national parks, foreigners are charged admission fees up to ten times higher than those charged to Thais.

First launch are made in Bangkok, a modern herculean of shrill traffic, glimmering shopping centers, and international affection connect with devoted Buddhism. Chiang Mai, the country’s contemporary center, is where the different and accurate elements of Thai culture become a classroom, for cooking courses and language lessons; while escalade into the mountain ranges around Mae Hong Son you’ll find spot peaks and villages of post-Stone Age cultures. Going down the coastal tail are the evergreen limestone islands of Ko Tao and Kho Phi Phi Don, abundant with tall palms aim over pearlescent sand. Thailand’s beaches are marvelous, decadent, and legendary among inhabitants of northern range.

Thailand is a marvelous kingdom, highlighting Buddhist temples, peculiar wildlife, and astonishing islands. Along with an incomparable history and culture that includes luscious Thai food and massage, Thailand peculiarity of a modern capital city, and friendly people who personify Thailand’s “land of smiles” distinction.

Religion

While 95% of the Thai people are advocate of Theravada Buddhism, the official religion of Thailand, religious open-mindedness is both acknowledge in Thailand and protected by the constitution. By its very nature however, Buddhism, which is based on the teachings of the Buddha, is a compassionate and tolerant religion, the purpose of which is the comfort of suffering. Thai people are very respectful of the religious trusts of others and are very open toward discussing their Buddhist values with visitors. There are many opportunities in Thailand to visit Buddhist temples to learn about or study Buddhism and to meditate.

Religion in Thailand spread through many aspects of Thai life and senior monks are highly honored; it is bizarre to see their images beautify walls of businesses or homes or upon decoration inside of taxi cabs. In many towns and villages the neighborhood Wat (temple) is the heart of social and religious life. Buddhist holidays occur regularly throughout the year (specifically on days with full moons) and many Thai people go to the Wat on these and other important days to pay respect to the Buddha and give alms to monks in order to make honor for themselves.

Concentration, involvement is one of the principal practices of Buddhism, is a means of self-reflection in order to realize the causes of individual longing and ultimately relieve ones suffering. Visitors can learn the essential parts of this practice at a number of Wats across the kingdom. Some temples, particularly in Chiang Mai, allow visitors to talk with monks in order to know more knowledge about Buddhism or to study Buddhism more seriously.

At the same time Theravada Buddhism may be considered a philosophy rather than a religion. Thai Buddhism is introduced with many spiritual persuasions which are likely the result of continual in most Hindu beliefs from centuries earlier. Most Thai homes and places of business feature a ‘spirit house’ just outside the building, where offerings are made to appease spirits that might otherwise dwell their homes or workplaces. Buddhist monks are often invited to new homes and businesses to ‘bless them’, and Thai people always light incense and make prayers to both Buddha images and a host of Hindu gods whose shrines are located throughout Bangkok and the countryside.

The next common religion in Thailand, Islam, is practiced by only about 4% of the population; many of Thai Muslims live in the most southerly provinces near the Malaysian border. Other religions in Thailand include Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Christianity, which are generally practiced by those living in Bangkok, where a multi-cultural population includes citizens of Indian, and Chinese, Japanese, and European descent.

 

Language

The official Thai language is widely spoken all over Thailand, many Thais also speak and identify English, though more so in Bangkok and the major tourist areas. Visitors to Thailand also include many Europeans and other Asians.  Thai people’s language skills often also include these other languages to differ degrees.  The Thai language is a test to ones learning capabilities, but Thai people are happy to help foreigners learn a few words to help them get around.  However, English is usually the common currency for cross-cultural conversation as Thailand hosts visitors from around the world.

Visitors may experience hard picking up the Thai language as it is significantly different from many foreign languages.  The Thai language features five tones: high, mid, low, rising, and falling, each of which changes the meaning of specific “words”.  With tonal languages it maybe sounds peculiar with visitors and often has difficulty pronouncing even the most basic terms when learning to speak Thai, but with some practice visitors find that Thai people love to help foreigners with the right pronunciation of the Thai language.

Written Thai is derived from an alphabet adopted from the Khmers of Cambodia and is enunciate to have become similar during the administration of King Ramkhamhaeng during the Sukhothai period.  The Thai alphabet consists of 44 consonants, 18 vowels, and 4 diphthong (tonal) notations.  Learning to read Thai can be more confusing than learning to speak it as the pronunciation of written words does not follow an honest progression of letters and written Thai does not place spaces in between words.  Luckily, road signs are written in both Thai and English, and many tourist areas provide maps, menus, and other written matter in both Thai and various other foreign languages.

One complication that does occur for foreigners trying to pronounce Thai words correctly is caused by the interpretations of Thai words into Romanized characters.  An example would be the island of Phuket, pronounced “poo-ket” instead of “foo-ket” as it would be pronounced in English.  There is no legitimate standard for the transliteration of words and in this matter many Thai words are spelled differently on different maps or street signs.

Moreover, while most Thai’s understand the central Thai dialect, there are different regional dialects, including those of Southern Thailand and Northeastern Thailand, the latest of which is basically just the Lao language. In northern Thailand, which had been the independent kingdoms of Lan Na and Chiang Mai from 1259-1939, a unique form of Thai is still spoken by the local incumbent, all of whom can also speak central Thai.  All derived from of Thai use the same alphabet.

 

Thailand Communications Network

Communications network in Thailand is both easy and useful for foreigners to avail.  Thailand features many public telephones, mobile phones are easy for visitors to acquire, internet cafes and wireless internet services are boundless, and there is a post office in every town in the Kingdom.  From telephones to the internet, the communications network in Thailand provides visitors to stay in touch with convenience and satisfaction.

Thailand telephone system is up to date and extensive, with dependable pay phones found throughout the kingdom and Thailand cell phone reception broadcast all but the most remote Thai islands.  Moreover, buying a previously owned Thai phone and a SIM card is both cheap and easy, and internet cafes in most rural areas and all tourist areas have Skype installed on their public computers.

It’s easy to use a Thai phone to call home or call Thailand from foreign land, both are very easy. International country code for calling Thailand from abroad is +66, and the code for placing a call to another destination’s from a Thai phone is 001 followed by the country code of the nation you are dialing, (though other long distances providers allow you to dial 007, 008, or 009 rather than 001, but at different, typically higher rates).  International operator assistance is available by dialing 110.

When you want to call Thailand from abroad or calling a Thai phone inside Thailand there is a slight difference. Phone numbers within Thailand begin with an area/city code or a cell phone prefix that is not always used when calling from overseas; For example, the city code for Bangkok is (0)2, the city code for Chiang Mai is (0)53, and the prefix for cell phones is (0)8.  When dialing from a Thai phone, one includes the 0, while those calling Thailand from foreign land should not include the 0.  Therefore, an overseas call to Bangkok would be +66-2…, whereas a call from within Thailand would begin 02….

Public Telephones

All Pay phones is coin operated and available all over the country and cost around 1 baht per minute for within Thailand calls.  Card phones, which operate with either prepaid phone cards or, less frequently, credit cards are also available, specifically in large urban and tourist areas; Card phones have different rates, but can cost up to 18 baht (50 USD) per minute.  Prepaid phone cards, which are always available in 300 baht denominations (just under 10 USD), you can purchased at any  convenience stores such as 7-11 and phones accepting these cards are painted yellow and are usually not far from the local 7-11 store. Public telephones that charge by the minute for local and overseas calls are also available at post offices throughout the kingdom.

Thai Cell Phones

Thailand cell phone network is all over, with reception available in all areas but unlikely at the most remote islands and isolated mountainous regions.  Many foreign cell phones will work in Thailand, as long as they are GSM compatible, as Thailand emphasizes both GSM 900 and 1800 networks.  As long as it may be convenient to have friends and family call Thailand to reach you on your “home” cell phone number, receiving and sending calls is quite expensive.  If your cell phone has a slot to insert a SIM card, such cards are available for a few dollars, at the airport or in IT markets all over the country.  These SIM cards can be used in prepaid phone cards that are available at nearly all convenience stores in the country.  If your phone doesn’t have a slot for a SIM card, a Thailand cell phone can be picked up at the airport for a reasonable rate or an inexpensive new or previously owned cell phone can be easily purchase at any locations such as MBK shopping mall in Bangkok

 

Nature

Thailand is a country with large in number of natural resources, contain a wide variety of flora and fauna, and distinctive ecological zones. There are over 100 Thailand national parks, including more than 20 marine parks, and each park features different attractions, state of the arts facilities, and opportunities to see animals in Thailand. Those fascinated in trekking, mountain biking, photography, birding, camping, scuba diving, or getting up close to mysterious animals in Thailand.

Thailand beach or one of the numerous Thailand islands is convenience for visitors to relax, experience fascinating marine life, or even learn to scuba dive. Moreover, across Thailand, either at a beach, island, or Thailand National Park visitors will learn a unique flora and fauna and distinctive ecological zones, from the calm forests of the northern mountains and the level land of central Thailand to the grassland of the northeast and the mangrove forests of the southern coastline. Animals in Thailand have many different kinds, not only elephants and monkeys but also bears and whale sharks, the world’s largest fish.

 

Money

Profuse travellers depend on credit or debit cards to get cash in Bangkok, where ATMs are always common. The basic unit of Thai currency is the baht. There are 100 satang in one baht the only place you’ll be able to spend them is in the 7-Elevens. Coins come in denominations of 25 satang, 50 satang, 1B, 5B and 10B. Paper currency comes in denominations of 20B (green), 50B (blue), 100B (red), 500B (purple) and 1000B (beige).

Prevailing banking hours are 8.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday, however some banks close at 4.30pm on Fridays, and almost every bank in Bangkok has at least one ATM. It’s legal to open a foreign-currency account at any commercial bank in Thailand. As long as the funds originate from abroad, there are no restrictions on their maintenance or withdrawal.

 

Changing money

Banks or legal moneychangers propose the best foreign-exchange rates. When buying baht, US dollars and euros are the easiest accepted currencies and traveller’s cheques receive better rates than cash. British pounds and Australian dollars are also widely accepted. As banks often charge commission and duty for each traveller cheque cashed, you’ll save on commissions if you use larger cheque denominations.

Various banks can change foreign money but it can at times take considerably more time than the specialty exchange places. In tourist areas, such as the Siam Square shopping district and Th Khao San, you’ll always find small exchange counters outside banks; these can change tourist money and travellers cheques in major currencies and are typically open from 8.30am to 8pm daily.

 

Taxes and Refunds

Traveller’s to Bangkok who leave by air and who haven’t consume more than 180 days in Thailand during the previous calendar year can apply for a VAT refund on purchases made at approved stores; look for the blue and white VAT Refund sticker. Minimum purchases must add up to 2000B per store in a single day, with a minimum total of 5000B. You must get a VAT Refund form and tax invoice from the shop. Most major malls in Bangkok will instruct you to a desk that will assist you with VAT refunds, where they will handle the suitable paperwork (takes about five minutes).

At the airport, excessive items should be declared at the customs desk, which will issue the suitable paperwork; you can then check them in. Smaller items (such as watches and jewellery) must be hand-carried as they will need to be inspected again once you’ve passed immigration. Either way, you actually get your money at a VAT Refund Tourist Office (0 2272 9384-5), which at Suvarnabhumi are on Level 4 in both the east and west wings.

 

Departure Tax

International flights700 Baht (US$20) travellers need to pay either in the airport or your travel agencies included it in your ticket purchased, it is much better that travellers clear it to your ticketing agent before flying to Thailand . Or dispensing machines (vending machine) at airports or a counter will issue the voucher. This tax need be paid before you check in. Domestic flight departure tax is mainly covered in the ticket.

  • Transportation
  • Bicycle

The scope of the surface is perfect for the active cyclist. There are course and lines to match people of any fitness standard.

  • Samlor

Three wheels is called the samlor is still one of the preferred local designed of transport in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Admitting a little moderate in speed than their motorised cousins the samlor is capable of passing the narrow lanes and streets of these cities. Rides start at 10 baht and maybe high depends to distance. You can use samlor many transport needs including carrying shopping, courier and delivery of goods. Local school children always have their favorite “private” driver.

  • Seelor / Songtaew

Pick up converted trucks with twin rows of seats in the back use the main direction getting for passengers. This is the main transportations at the cities and provinces. City rates start at an unbelievable 10 Baht (20c) for a local trip and might get high to around 20 Baht for long travel trips. Before getting or boarding make sure that you are not getting a private vehicle and negotiate the price. Thai’s are helpful people. Seelor means four wheels whilst songtaew means two rows of seats.

  • Tuk-Tuk

A loud adaptation of the samlor the tuk-tuk (called after the high hurl scream that it makes) can be seen all over the central cities. Tuk Tuk’s allowed only be used for trips around the city and visitors should be advice about the many scams operated by some of the drivers. Under no condition should you put an order a trip to the craft factories with a tuk tuk driver as they will always take you to the shops that offer the highest charge, and visitors who will be paying extra for the goods. Strong bargaining is critical before riding a tuk tuk. Rates start at 20 Baht for a very short trip but you will be lucky to get such a low price.

  • Taxi’s

If you sight any real taxi cabs in the North no doubt that they we hired from Bangkok by rich visitors. Metered taxis are not yet applicable in any city in Northern Thailand. The brag outside hotel lobbies and guest houses are against the law and should be prevented at all costs. The taxis at the airport are, nevertheless licensed, and the reasonable 80 Baht into Chiang Mai town is a good price.

  • Buses

The local bus service is contrary to be of use to most visitors for going around town. An thorough inter town bus services does move and long range buses to the North East, Bangkok and the South are in place. The updated information can be seen at main bus stations.

  • Trains

The State Railway of Thailand’s track system ends at Chiang Mai but can be avail for a number of interesting places. A short ride to a national park, ready for use only via train makes for a nice trip to the natural countryside. The itinerary, nevertheless, do not allow for the use of train as an appropriate way to travel around the area.

  • Health & safety Tips

Thailand is a free from harm country to visit from both the health and personal safety features. The following records can help you get ready but we do advice a visit to your doctor if you are in any apprehension.

  • Safety

Destructives crimes against tourists are so unusual in Thailand that they make international news. Many crimes are base such as pick-pocketing, credit card fraud and bag snatching. Alike these do not act a serious problem with a many majority of the visitors/tourist.

Some act does have been advice on trains and buses but guide books likely to accent these exceptional happening. Nevertheless, wise to reject candy and drinks from person who is unfamiliar and carefulness is encourage when talking to by over-friendly person. A good common rule is to consider why a totally stranger unexpectedly come nearer you and starts a conversation then they are just being curious and are after information on you. So the general rule of DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS STILL APPLIES FOR YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEARTS visitors.

Solo women travellers should not go to beaches at night and take extra careful to secure that they are not left exposed to attack.

Disclaimer: The above information is not signifying, in any way to be a complete study of travel health or safety. Look for possible occurrences warnings from fellow travelers or authorized officials as important and superior.

 

Important Calls Embassies & Consulates & Telephone Services

 

  • Directory Assistance: 1133 (Bangkok), 183 (upcountry)
  • Long Distance Service: 100
  • IDD: 001 + country code + area code + phone number

 

Emergency Numbers

  • Mobile Police: 191
  • Fire Brigades: 199
  • Tourist Police: 1155, 0 2281 5051
  • Ambulance (Bangkok): 0 2255 1133 to 6
  • Tourist Service Centre: 1672
  • Tourist Information (TAT Head Office): 0 2250 5500
  • Tourist Information (TAT Airport Office): 0 2504 2701, 0 2504 2703, 0 2535 2669

 

Other Useful Numbers

  • Suvarnabhumi Airport (Call center): 0 2132 1888
  • Departure Info: 0 2132 9324 to 7
  • Arrival Info: 0 2132 9328 to 9
  • Help Desk: 0 2132 3888
  • Public Transportation Centre: 0 2132 9100
  • Emergency / Security Service: 0 2132 1911
  • Airport Medical Center: 0 2132 7777
  • Immigration Division: 0 2287 3101 to 5
  • Port Authority of Thailand: 0 2269 3000, Hotline 1573
  • General Post Office: 0 2614 1000
  • General Post Office: 0 2614 1000
  • BTS Hotline: 0 2617 6000
  • Subway: 0 2246 5733, 0 2246 5744

 

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

  • Head Office: 0 2250 5500
  • Airport: 0 2504 2701, 0 2504 2703, 0 2535 2669
  • Ayutthaya: 0 3524 6076 to 7
  • Cha-am: 0 3247 1005 to 6
  • Chiang Mai: 0 5324 8604, 0 5324 8607, 0 5324 1466
  • Chiang Rai: 0 5371 7433, 0 5374 4674 to 5
  • Hat Yai: 0 7424 3747, 0 7423 1055, 0 7423 8518
  • Kanchanaburi: 0 3451 1200, 0 3451 2500
  • Khon Kaen: 0 4324 4498 to 9
  • Lop Buri: 0 3642 2768 to 9
  • Nakhon Nayok: 0 3731 2282, 0 3731 2284
  • Nakhon Phanom: 0 4251 3490-1
  • Nakhon Ratchasima: 0 4421 3666, 0 4421 3030
  • Nakhon Si Thammarat: 0 7534 6515 to 6
  • Narathiwat: 0 7351 6144
  • Pattaya: 0 3842 8750, 0 3842 7667
  • Phitsanulok: 0 5525 2743
  • Phuket: 0 7621 1036, 0 7621 7138, 0 7621 2213
  • Rayong: 0 3865 5420 to 1, 0 3864 4585
  • Surat Thani: 0 7728 8817 to 9
  • Tak: 0 5551 4341 to 3Trat: 0 3959 7255, 0 3959 7259 to 60
  • Ubon Ratchathani: 0 4524 3770 to 1
  • Udon Thani: 0 4232 5406 to 7

Thai customs: what you need to remember when entering Thailand

Smiling
It doesn’t take long time to realize why they call Thailand “The Land of Smiles”. Thais smile all the time. You might get impression that everyone likes you, but the reality is that Thais will smile, even if they are far from having any positive feelings towards you. Thais will smile when they like you, but they will also smile when they are angry, embraced or pretty much any reason. Virtually anything. It seems to be essential part of greeting, apologizing and so on. Smiling in Thailand is simply considered the proper way. To make things more complicated, you are also expected to smile or otherwise Thais will think that you are simply rude. For us, westerners, limbering up facial muscles when we are not in mood for it may prove to be difficult; however, making this extra effort will benefit your relationships with Thais, which subsequently will lead to better experience on your holiday.

Wai

As soon as you enter Thailand, you will quickly realize that on numerous occasions, people put their hands together in front of chest and bow. Most of Thais know that we, foreigners, do not do it, therefore it is ok to skip that part in places like Bangkok or Phuket; however, once you enter smaller city off the tourist path, people will consider you rude if you do not wai them. A lot of them have never been abroad or even met a foreigner before, so they simply do not realize that waing is something very Thai. When to wai? It is important part of greeting, so any time you say hello, you should do it. Wai is also shown as sign of respect and to show gratefulness. Thais always wai monks to show their respect. They also wai parents and teachers as well as older people. You do not wai children, younger people or generally people of lower status, so bear in mind that showing respect to bargirl from go go club will make you look silly. Waing can be frustrating at times, because you are sometimes expected to do it, but if you do it wrong, Thais will laugh at you. Generally as higher you put your hands, as more respect you pay, but if you go above level of your head, it already means “please do not beat me”. Just stick your hands to the chest, no higher, and you will be ok.

Showing affection in public

Thailand is a country of contradictions. Right next to red light districts full of bawdyhouses and strip clubs, you are likely to meet a girl who will be too embarrassed to hold your hand in public. In general, you are not supposed to do it and some people follow it, these days however, it’s nothing uncommon to see a couple holding hands in Bangkok. Yet still, many girls might be worried that someone will think they are prostitutes if they are seen with a foreigner. You will be also better off if you do not touch your Thai girlfriend next to her family, even if she does not mind doing it elsewhere.

Do not touch anyone’s heads or point your feet at anything

Head in Buddhism is considered a holy place and you are not supposed to touch it. On other hand, feet are opposite to head and pointing anything with your foot is considered very rude. In fact, when Thais sit, they tend to place their foot in the position, so it doesn’t point at anyone.

A word on Thai toilets
Thai style toilet is basically a hole in the ground and on numerous occasions during your stay in Thailand, you will encounter this unique design. Other than that, even in western style toilets, you are not likely to find a toilet paper anywhere around. Instead, there is a kind of shower hose provided and you can wash up when needed.

Cutlery
Thais use fork and spoon for eating, where fork stands for knife and spoon for fork. Generally all the meals are already cut into small pieces, so you do not really need fork for other proposes than pushing your food on the spoon. I would suggest following this eating pattern. Not only it makes sense, but also eating with fork will cause confusion among Thais and they are likely to ask you why you are doing it. When it comes to Chinese sticks, sometimes they are provided for noodle soup, but generally Thais don’t use them.

Removing shoes
It is a common practice in Thailand to remove shoes before entering home and temple, sometimes office, and every now and then, you will notice people removing their shoes before entering a shop. Simply observe this pattern and follow it every time Thais do.

Showing respect to HM the King
It is very important to not disrespect royal family. If you do so, not only Thais will get very upset as all of them genuinely love their king, but you will also end up in jail for 10 years or so. It is not a joke, one bad sign towards the picture of the king and you put yourself in tremendous trouble. Stories of foreigners serving their sentences for this felony are not uncommon.

Drugs
Thailand and Asia in general is very strict when it comes to drugs. Thailand’s government has unveiled plans for an ambitious crackdown on drugs long time ago. Trafficking is punished by death penalty and possession can bring you even life sentence. Drug consumption is also illegal and police can ask for urine sample to test it for presence of narcotics.

 

The above information is subject to change without notice.

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