The Kingdom of Thailand is home to a varied range of exotic and exciting destinations ranging from the misty mountains of the north to secluded sandy beaches and emerald oceans of the south. An established metropolitan megacity, Bangkok sits centrally and blends the old with new as glittering temples, meandering canals and bustling markets merge with gleaming skyscrapers, fusion restaurants and luxury hotels. Chiang Mai has long been known as the ‘Rose of the North’, owing to its deep rooted cultural heritage. Located in a valley on the banks of the Ping River, the city is a subdued alternative to Bangkok and for many guests finds a special place in their heart. Thailand’s beaches deliver the idyllic characteristics often associated with a tropical paradise. Its southern coastline receives worldwide media attention, luring in visitors from all over to experience spectacular beaches in a welcoming and relaxed ambiance.
Thailand’s climate is ruled by monsoons that produce three seasons in Northern, North Eastern, Eastern and Central Thailand, and two seasons in Southern Thailand. The three season zone, which extends roughly from Thailand’s northernmost point and reaches to Phetchaburi province of the Southern Peninsula, experiences a ‘dry and wet monsoon’ climate, with the south-west monsoon arriving between May and July and lasting into November. This is followed by a dry period from November to May, a period that begins with lower relative temperatures until mid-February, followed by much higher temperatures from March to May.
The currency in Thailand is the Baht. Banks, which are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 15:30, give the best exchange rates. In tourist areas there are also foreign exchange kiosks that stay open later, usually until around 20:00. All major Thai banks offer ATM machines and most of these will accept foreign ATM cards. Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
Citizens of 56 different countries can enter Thailand without a visa and be granted a free visa for a 30 day stay. Next in length of validity is the tourist visa which is good for 60 days and costs approximately 15USD, depending on the country of application. Three passport photos must accompany all applications.
Textiles are possibly the best buy in Thailand and Thai silk, considered the best in the world, is very inexpensive. The Thai shoulder bags known as yâam are generally well made and come in many varieties, some woven by hill tribes. Other items to look out for include gems and jewellery, silverware, bronze ware, woodcarvings, lacquerware, celadon pottery, leather goods and tailoring.
Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in these developing nations. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped a small amount for their troubles.
January 1: New Year’s Day
February 17: Makha Bucha Day
April 6: Chakri Memorial Day
April 12-14: Songkran Festival (Thai New Year)
May 1: National Labour Day
May 5: Coronation Day
May 15: Wisakhabucha Day
July 14: Buddhist Lent Day
August 12: Queen’s Birthday
October 23: Chulalongkorn Day
December 5: Constitution Day
December 10: King’s Birthday
December 31: New Year’s Eve
The most widely spoken language in Thailand is Thai, a complicated language with a unique alphabet. Beside the numerous hill tribe dialects, the non-Thai languages include Lao, Khmer and Chinese.
– HELLO : Sawat dee
– THANK YOU : Khop Khun