Below some factual information about Thailand. Click on each button for details.
Bangkok International Airport
- Suvarnabhumi Airport is since 28 September 2006 the new international airport serving Bangkok. The airport is using the old IATA airport code BBK. The airport is located about 25 kilometers east of Bangkok.
- The new airport Suvarnabhum (pronounce: soo-warn-nah-boom) consists of 1 large terminal for both international and domestic flights. Upon arrival you can collect your luggage, pass customs and you will arrive in the arrival hall. When you have booked a transfer to your hotel then our driver will wait for you and take you by airconditioned minivan to your hotel. From Suvarnabhumi Airport to down town Bangkok is about 26km / 16 miles. The drive will take about 45 minutes, as traffic allows.
- Fixed prices are the norm in department stores, but at most other places bargaining is to be expected. Generally, you can obtain a final figure of between 10-40% lower than the original asking price or even 50-70% lower in the busy tourist areas. Much depends on your skills and the shopkeeper's mood (probably your own mood as well). Check prices on various places and be prepared to walk away if you don't want to buy at the indicated price. But remember, Thais appreciate good manners and a sense of humor. With patience and a broad smile, you will not only get a better price, you will also enjoy shopping as an art.
Climate & seasons
- Thailand enjoys a tropical climate with three distinct seasons – hot and dry from February to May (average temperature 34 degrees Celsius and 75% humidity); rainy with plenty of sunshine from June to October (average day temperature 29 degrees Celsius and 87% humidity); and cool from November to January (temperatures range from 32 degrees Celsius to below 20 degrees Celsius with a drop in humidity). Much lower temperatures are experienced in the North and Northeast during nighttime especially at higher altitudes. The South has a tropical rainforest climate with temperatures averaging 28 degrees Celsius almost all year round. Wear light cool clothes. Shorts (except knee length walking shorts), sleeveless shirts, tank tops and other beach-style attire are considered inappropriate dress when not actually at the beach or in a resort area. For formal meetings and for dining in top restaurants a jacket and long trousers are needed.
- The Thai unit of currency is the Baht, divided into 100 satang. Note are in denominations of 1,000 (brown), 500 (purple), 100 (red), 50 (blue), 20 (green) and 10 (brown) baht. Coins consist of 25 satang, 50 satang, 1 baht, 5 baht and 10 baht.
- Any amount of foreign currency may be brought into the country. Visitors may take foreign currency out of Thailand, but no more than the amount stated in the customs declaration made on arrival. Travellers leaving Thailand may take out no more than 50,000 baht per person in Thai currency. Major currency bills and travellers cheques are cashed easily at hotels, tourist shops, all provincial banks, shopping centres and money changers. Travellers cheques are best changed in banks or authorised money changers (you will need your passport) where rates of exchange are better than those at hotels and department stores.
Custom regulations & Visa
- For up to date information check the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If you want to overstay your visa then you need to apply to the immigration division of the police department in Bangkok.
Do's and don'ts
- Thailand is a Buddhist country where Buddha images are held sacred. Everyone is expected to respect this. Sacreligious acts are punishable by imprisonment even if committed by foreign tourists. Do not disrespect Buddhist objects and do not sit on Buddha images.
- Thai people hold their King and Queen and their Royal family in highest reverence and therefore will not tolerate anyone talking or acting about them disrespectfully. Do not step on Thai money or anything that has the King's or Queen's image on it.
- Generally Thai women sare very conservative so do not touch them without their consent.
- Dress properly when entering a Buddhist temple. This is especially valid in the Wat Phra Keow near the Grand Palace where you will be refused entry if you have bare shoulders or shorts. Take off your shoes before going inside the hall of worship. Ladies must not on any account touch a Buddhist monk, give or receive things directly from him.
- Take off your shoes when entering a Thai household.
- Intimacies between a man and a woman should not be shown in public. Sunbathing in the nude is prohibited.
- Greeting is done by making a "wai" gesture, not by shaking hands. A "wai" is done by placing the palms of both hands together in front of the chest or face (like praying) and bending the head slightly.
- Call Thai people by their first names, using the title "Khun" for adults. Thai people smile to express pleasure and happiness, to thank for small services, to return the wai of children and to excuse small inconveniencies.
- Never touch Thai people on the head as it is regarded as a special part of the body. Touching children on the head is generally allowed.
- Never point your feet or the soles of your feet directly at a Thai person or at a sacred object (such as Buddha images). This is considered an insult in Thai culture. Also don't point at something with your feet.
- Facilities for Children: the majority of luxury and resort hotels offers some sort of babysitting services and children can normally waived from hotel expenses. They also provide children pool and playground areas, but parents must provide their own supervision.
- Disabled Travelers: the awareness of the needs of disabled travelers has not been fully developed in Thailand and few special facilities are provided, even in luxury hotels. Entrance ramps and elevator lifts are available at every luxury and mid-ranged accommodations.
Facts about Thailand
- The Kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Indochina, Myanmar and Southern China. Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions: the mountains and forests of the North; the vast rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-arid farm lands of the Northeast plateau; and the tropical islands and long coastline of the peninsula South. The national language is Thai. English is widely understood in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya. In other areas English is much less understood. Buddhism is the most important religion (95% of the population) followed by Muslim (4%). Thailand has adopted the western calendar to divided the year into days, weeks and months, using Thai names for these units. Years are numbered according to the Buddhist era (BE) which commenced 543 years before the Christian era. Therefore 2004 AD is BE 2547. Thailand has a population of approximately 62 million people, of which 80% are ethnic Thais, 10% Chinese and 4% Malays, plus Lao, Mon, Khmer, Indian and Burmese minorities. Such diversity reflects the country’s long history as an important crossroads of Southeast Asia. Thais are a friendly and easy-going people with a great reverence for the Buddhist faith. The electric current is 220 volt AC (50 cycles) throughout the country. Many different types of plugs and sockets are in use. Travellers with electric shavers, hair dryers, tape recorders and other appliances should carry a plug adapter kit. The better hotels will make available 110-volt transformers. Tap water is clean but drinking from it directly should be avoided. Bottled water is recommended. The time in Thailand is seven hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+7 hours GMT).
- Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or King Rama IX, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, the present king. The King has reigned for more than half a century, making him the longest-reigning Thai monarch. Thailand embraces a rich diversity of cultures and traditions. With its proud history, tropical climate and renowned hospitality, the Kingdom is a never- ending source of fascination and pleasure for international visitors.
- As in most countries, vaccination certificates are not required for people unless coming from or passing through a designated contaminated area. Some border areas of Thailand are malarial and appropriate precautions should be taken if visiting there. Bangkok, major cities and resorts have excellent medical facilities and most hotels have doctors on 24-hour call. Thailand has altogether 455 private hospitals throughout the country. Visitors can be assured of round-the-clock international standard medical services.
Import restrictions & drugs policy
- One litre each of wine or spirits may be brought in duty free. Cigarettes, cigars, or smoking tobacco, each or in total, must not exceed 250 grammes in weight. Cigarettes must not exceed 200 in quantity. It is probibited by law to bring any of the following items into Thailand: narcotics (e.g. marijuana, opium, cocaine, morphine, amphetamine, heroin), obscene literature or pictures, firearms or ammunition (unless a permit has been obtained from the Police Department or the local Registration office). Certain species of fruits, vegetables and plants are prohibited. Please contact the Agricultural Regulatory Division, Bang Khen, Bangkok, Tel: 0 2579 1581, 0 2579 3576. Thailand is strict on drugs and punishments for drug delicts include life imprisonment and death penalty.
Tipping and Gratuities
- Tipping is not usual in Thailand. The Thai themselves seldom give tips. In food stalls and open restaurants on the side of the road no tips are expected. In the better open restaurants (non airconditioned, with better decoration such as wood or tiled walls and decorative furniture) a tip of 20 - 50 Baht is sufficient. Airconditioned restaurants usually add a service charge of 10%, in which case tipping is not necessary. Taxidrivers do not need to be tipped, but usually the amount is rounded upward to 10 or 20 Baht. For porters in smaller hotels a tip of 10 or 20 Baht for each large suitcase is sufficient. In larger hotels the porters, bellboys and concierges do not need to be tipped. For the room cleaning maids it is a nice gesture to leave a 20 Baht note on the bed from time to time. In shops you do not need to tip. If, after a tour, you are happy with your tourguide then you can tip approximately 100 - 200 Baht per day. Round upward as you feel appropriate.
Tips for the arriving visitor
- Taxis : Look for the taxi desk located in the arrival hall of each terminal. There you can obtain a metered taxi. Because of airport regulations on taxis, an additional 50 Baht surcharge will be added to the total fare. Passengers are responsible for the expressway fees. A tip of 10-20 Baht is a gesture of appreciation for the taxi driver's service.
- Airport Limousines : The desks for making such requests are usually adjacent to the taxi desks at all terminals. A uniformed chauffeur will drive you to your destination while seated comfortably in a sedan or luxury car. A flat fee of between 900 and 1100 Baht (luxury car, ex. Benz or Volvo) is charged for pick-up and delivery to any venue within the perimeter of Bangkok. Though priced higher than a metered taxi, you're still responsible for the expressway fares, but no subcharges. The limos are well maintained and are all white in color. Tipping 10% of the fare is the norm.
- Hotel Limousines : Most hotels offer complimentary limousine or minibus service if you have bookings with them. The drivers would meet you in the arrival hall, holding up poster cards with your names written on it.
- Money exchange: Once you passed the customs area and enter the arrival hall then there are plenty opportunities to change your money into Thai Baht. There are ATM machines and exchange booths. Traveler cheques, credit cards and the major cash bank bills are accepted. You need to show your passport. Generally it can be said that it is far more recommendable to exchange your money into Thai Baht upon arrival in Bangkok than already back home, where exchange rates are much more unfavourable.
Tips for the departing visitor
- The airport is located 25 km (16 miles) east of the center of Bangkok. Road travel time from your hotel to the airport depends on the traffic conditions. During peak rush hours, the simple journey can take as long as 3 hours. Most hotels offer limousine services for transportation to the airport. You can also take a taxi from any location. Take the highway or tollway, this will cost you around 60 Baht and will save you significantly in transfer time.
- There is a passenger service charge of 500 Baht for international flights. Make sure that you minimally have this amount available in cash for each departing person. On top of that you may want to have some additional cash for shopping, dining or killing time at the airport.
- The export of antiques, religious and art objects and Buddha images is probibited. Permission must be obtained from The Fine Art Department (Na Phra That Road, Bangkok). The shop you deal with can provide this service to you. Import and export of gold other than jewellry is subject to licencing by the Ministry of Finance.
- Some journeys depart just after midnight (01:00 or 02:20 hr or thereabout), take care that you be at the airport on the day before departure.
- We recommend that you take as little valuables to Thailand as possible. Leave jewelry, gold, diamonds etcetera at home because places that are sufficiently safe to hide or store these items are not available everywhere. Valuables that you do take to Thailand are best stored in a hotelsafe or, if that is not possible, on your body. Such valuables include, but are not limited to, photo and video cameras, mobile phones, computers, creditcards, passports, flighttickets, cash money, cheques, documents with security codes etcetera. Make photocopies of your passports and carry these copies with you, while the original documents are in the hotelsafe. Take as little cash money with you as necessary. You can always change or withdraw from ATM machines if you need more. Put the documents that you carry on your body in plastic bags, so that they don't get wet if it rains or if you sweat much. Carry a few more plastic bags with you, to store for instance mobile phones or cameras in case it rains. Thailand is a relative safe country, yet we recommend to be careful and use common sense.
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