Basic and useful information for first-time visitors to Thailand
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Basic, useful information for first-time visitors

 
F A C T S    A B O U T     T H A I L A N D

Geography
Thailand has a land area of 513,115 sq.km.and is bordered by Malaysia (South), Myanmar (West & North), Laos (North & East) and Cambodia (Southeast).

Climate
Temperature varies from 38o C to 19o C and the humidity from 82.8 % to 66%.

Seasons
Hot (March to May), rainy (June to October) and cool (November to February).

Population
About 60 million. Of which, 9.45% live in Bangkok.

Language
Thai is the national language. However English is widely understood in the major cities.

Religion
Buddhist 94.82%, Muslim 4.00%, Christian 0.55%, others 0.63%

Thailand has Government
A constitutional monarchy headed HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, The country is divided into 76 provinces, each sub-divided into amphoe, tambon and muban.

National Flag
The red, white and blue bands symbolize the nation, Buddhism and the monarchy respectively.

Largest Provinces Highest Peaks
Nakhon Ratchasima 20,493.96 sq.km. Doi Inthanon 2,565 m.
Chiang Mai 20,107.06 sqkm. Doi Luang 2,175 m.
Kanchanaburi 19,483.15 sq.km. Phu Soi Dao 2,102 m.
Largest Islands Principal Rivers
Phuket 543.00 sq.km. Chi 765 km.
Samui 239.90 sq.km. Mun 750 km.
Chang 212.09 sq.km. Nan 740 km.
  Chao Phraya 370 km.*

*or 1,110 km. if the Nan, its main tributary, is included.

Clothing
Thin cotton is the best. A jacket or sweater may be necessary in the cool season, especially in a mountainous area in the North or Northeast.

Electricity
220 volts 50 cycles throughout the country.

Water
Drink only bottled or boiled water.

Dining
You can find places to eat 24 hours a day, but it may be better avoid sidewalk stalls where, though food is cheap and palatable, hygienic conditions may not be up to standard.

Shopping
You have wide range of good buys to choose from. They are beautiful b because Thais are gifted artists, and inexpensive because the labour cost is low.

T I P S & F A C T S

Custom

  • Thailand is a Buddhist country where Buddha images are held sacred. Sacrilegious acts are punishable by imprisonment even if committed by foreign visitors.
  • Thai’s have great respect for Their Majesties The King & Queen and members of the Royal Family. Failing to show respect for the monarchy or making a rude remark about them is an act of less majeste for which the punishment is imprisonment. Even to crease a Thai bank note is an offense as it has an image of HM The King.
  • Generally Thai women are conservative. So don't touch them without their consent.
  • Dress properly when entering a Buddhist temple. Mini-skirts and shorts are not allowed. Take your shoes off before going inside the hall of worship. Ladies must not on any account touch a Buddhist monk, give things direct to him or receive things direct from him.
  • Intimacy between men and women should not be displayed in public. Topless sunbathing is not approved.

Thais address each other using the title Khun and their first name. John Smith would be addressed as Khun John and not Khun Smith.

  • A smile is the Thai unspoken communication for happiness and pleasure. A wai is gesture of recognition of a senior person when the hands are put together in a praying position, raised to the nose and the head lowered slightly forwards. A younger person wais to an older person.
  • Don't touch a person's head, nor ruffle his hair. The head is the noblest part of the body. A sincere apology should be offered immediately if you touch someone's head unintentionally.
  • Avoid placing your feet on the table while sitting. Never use your foot to point things out or to touch any part of the body of anyone, which is considered rude.
  • When entering a Thai house or a temple you are expected to remove your shoes.


Currency

  • There is no restriction to the amount of foreign currency visitors can bring into Thailand and take out of the country.

    There is no restriction to the amount of Thai currency that can be brought into the country, however the amount is limited to Baht 50,000 without prior approval from the Bank of Thailand.

  • Foreign visitors may bring in an unlimited amount of Thai currency. For travellers leaving Thailand, both Thais and foreigners, the maximum amount permitted to take out without prior authorization is 50,000 baht per person or, if they are going to one of Thailand's neighbouring countries, 500,000 baht per person.
  • The basic monetary unit in Thailand is the Baht. A baht is divided into 100 satang. The following coins and notes are currently in use:

Coins: 25 and 50 satang; 1, 5 and 10 baht.

       Bank notes: 20 (green), 50 (blue), 100 (red), 500 (purple) and 1,000 (grey) baht.

  • Major foreign currencies can be exchanged for Thai baht with banks and authorized money changers. Major credit cards are also widely accepted in tourist centres.


Customs Regulations

  • Exports of Buddha images (except small ones carried on person), antiques and genuine works of art require export licenses from the Fine Arts Department. The shop you deal with can provide such service for you.
  • Foreign tourists are allowed to takeout gold ornaments free. But import and export of gold other than jewelry are subject to licensing by the Ministry of Finance.
  • It is prohibited by law to bring any of the following items into Thailand:
1. Narcotics (e.g., marijuana, hemp, opium, cocaine, morphine, heroin)
2. Obscene literature or pictures
3. Firearms or ammunition -- unless a permit has been obtained from the Police Department or the local Registration Office
4. Piranha and certain species of fruits, vegetables and plants. (Contact the Agricultural Regulatory Division, Bangkhen, Bangkok for details.)
  • One still camera with 5 rolls of unused film, one movie-camera with 3 rolls of unused film and used household effects may be brought in free of duty.

Dining

  • Most Thai food is already cut into small pieces before serving or made soft enough to be cut with a spoon or fork; thus, a knife is unnecessary.
  • Salt-shakers are rarely found on Thai dinner tables, so add a little cararnel-colour fish-sauce (called nam-pla in Thai) instead, if you find your food not salty enough. 0 English is spoken in large restaurants in tourist provinces; and most establishments have menus in Thai and English, except street-side food stalls and some small restaurants.
  • Beckon waiters with a wave of a hand. Don't clap, snap fingers or hiss.
  • Normally, a tip of 10-20 baht or 5-10% of the bill should be left when dining in a middle or high-class
  • Bargaining is an art long practised in Asian countries including Thailand. So feel free to ask for a proper discount when shopping in places where prices are not
  • Receipts should be obtained for the goods you buy. For jewelry you must get a certificate of guarantee
  • Some shops can offer a money-back guarantee but you should clearly determine all conditions with the
  • Nationals from 56 countries can now stay in Thailand for up to 30 days without an entry visa, according to a new regulation adopted by the Immigration Division in early February 1995. For visitors from 76 other countries, visas valid for 15 days may be obtain( on arrival at any of the four airports at Don Muang (Bangkok), Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hat Yai.
  • Categories of visas in Thailand are : Transit, Tourist, Non-Immigrant, Immigrant and Non Quota Immigrant.
  • Holders of Transit Visitor Transit and Tourist visas are not allowed to work in Thailand.
  • A tourist who wants to overstay his visa must apply to the Immigration Division of the Police Department with the following :

(1)The duplicate copy of his or her passport

(2) One photograph
(3) The medical certificate (only in the case of being sick)

Others

  • Clothing --Thin cotton is the best. A jacket or pullover may be necessary in the cool season, especially when you are in mountainous areas in the North or Northeast.
  • Electricity -- 220 v 50 cycles throughout the country.
  • Measurement of area -- Thailand has its own system of area measurement. The basic units are square wa (=4 sq.m.) and rai (=400 sq.wa or 1,600 sq.m. or 0.16 hectare).

AIRPORT INFORMATION

  • Don Muang, Bangkok's international and domestic airport, lies 25km north of the city. Facilities include: currency exchange, post office, left luggage and hotel booking agency. International flight information: (66 2) 535 1254 (departures), (66 2) 535 1301 (arrivals). Domestic flight information: (66 2) 535 1253.

Departure Tax

  • International 500 bath. Domestic - no payment (included in air ticket)

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