The Kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of Southeast
Asia, roughly equidistant between India and China. Thailand receives
visitors with a smiling warmth, the hallmark of the East. Bangkok is the
final successor to capital cities through history that were located in this
region, on either side of the Chao Phraya River, known as the "Rice Bowl of
Asia". It is the location of virtually all major business, government,
culture, trade and also where most of the religious monuments are. Vast
forests of bamboo and hardwood trees, sheltering varieties of wildlife,
spectacular water-falls and great rivers such as the famous River Kwai,
characterize the western region. Beach resorts, such as Hua Hin and Phuket
are located in the west and southwest.
Area: 517,000sq km
Capital City: Bangkok
Religion: 95% Buddhism, 4% Muslim, Christian, Hindu and others (1%).
Time: GMT +7 hours (Oct - Mar) BST +6 hours (Mar - Oct)
Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz
Currency: Baht; Symbol: Bht or Bt; Subdivision: 100 stang
Government: Democratic constitutional monarchy
The mountainous north offers cool retreats and is great for rafting &
trekking. The nort-east is a huge, mainly agricultural area, which has
separate culturally defined festivals, cuisine, and dances. Local dialects
resemble neighbouring Laos and Kampuchea. The east coast offers some of the
finest beaches in South East Asia. The south has thick jungles, steep
mountains, and countless islands with its own economic, ethnic and political
characteristics. Thailand offers good sightseeing, gourmet cuisine,
variegated shopping, pulsating nightlife and a long, colourful history, in
dramatically diverse natural splendour.
Seasons to Visit:
The best overall time for visiting most of Thailand vis a vis climate is
between November and February - during these months it rains least and is
not too hot. The south is best visited when the rest of Thailand is
miserably hot (March to May), and the north is best from mid-November to
early December or when it starts warming up again in February. If you're
spending time in Bangkok, be prepared to roast in April and do some wading
in October - probably the worst two months, weather-wise, in the capital.
The peak tourist months are December and August, and the least crowded
months are May, June and September.
Most visitors can stay for 30 days without a visa, unless your stay is
longer than 21 days. A valid visa is necessary for most business purposes
except for certain restricted cases. All visas are issued according to the
stated purpose of visit, which must be clearly stated by the applicant.
Light, loose cotton clothing is best. Nylon should be avoided. Sweaters are
needed during cool season evenings or if visiting mountainous areas or
national parks. Jackets and ties are required in a few restaurants and
nightclubs. Neat clothes are required for entering temples or palaces. Shoes
should be removed when entering a private Thai home.
Thai food is distinctive. The combination of spices, herbs and fresh
ingredients makes dining a special experience in Thailand. Thai meals are
heavily based on rice accompanied by soup, curry and a number of side dishes
followed by dessert. Dessert would most likely consist of fresh fruits. The
most popular spirit among Thais is Mekhong, a local cane whiskey that you
can drink straight or with mixers.
Bangkok is a shopper's paradise. You can literally overdose on cheap, copy
watches, jeans, T-shirts, luggage & computer parts as well as buy the 'real
thing' at a fraction of the price back home. Keep receipts for purchases
over Bt5, 000 for reclaiming VAT at the airport on departure. Thai silk is
justifiably renowned as the best in the world.
Pantip Plaza is the place to go for computer technology. Located on
Petchburi Road, it comprises a large shopping mall selling everything from
chips to mainframes. Pirate software is also available here. Central
department stores, with fixed prices, are located at various points around
the city, selling everything from houseware & baby clothing to cosmetics.
Emporium on Sukhumvit Rd is an upmarket shopping mall selling authentic
Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Fendi, Versace & others. For antiques & collectables,
try River City shopping centre adjacent to the Royal Orchid Hotel & for bags
& luggage of all brands, shapes & size, check out the nearby Silom Village
on Silom Rd.
Don Muang International Airport is located 25 km north of the city centre.
There are two adjoining international terminals linked by a covered walkway
(10 mins) to a domestic terminal. The most international flights arrive in
Bangkok, flights from Kuala Lumpur take you direct to Phuket, Hat Yai, and
Chiang Mai, while flights from Singapore fly to Phuket, Hat Yai, Chiang Mai,
and Ko Samui. Laos, Burma (Myanmar), and Southern China are also connected
by regular flights to Chiang Mai.
An efficient rail system links major northern and northeastern towns with
the capital. A southern route permits the visitor to travel by train into
Malaysia and Singapore. Domestic express trains include first, second and
third class cars.
in Thailand is fast, clean and reasonably comfortable for shorter journeys.
Most buses provide reclining airline-style seats and video movies. Both
air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses are available on major routes.
Thailand is an outstanding country to tour with rented transport. Traffic is
moderate and manageable, except in Bangkok. Highways are in good condition,
and directional signs are often in English. Less expensive rentals are
available from local agencies, but make sure to check the condition of the
car thoroughly before handing over your money.
Visitors should not drink tap water. Boiled or filtered sterilised water, or
bottled water is always freely available in the main hotels and restaurants.
Rabies is indigenous to Thailand and visitors, particularly those travelling
up-country, should avoid dogs in the streets and take anti-rabies
precautions if bitten. AIDS, cholera, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis,
and malaria are the other.