Thailand Travel Guide
Find the most important tips for your tour of this beautiful country in our Thailand travel guide.
Thailand offers something for everyone! Imagine lounging on an idyllic sun-drenched beach one day, exploring ancient ruins the next, gyrating to music at one of the many nightclubs the following day, trekking through tribal hill villages yet the next day and another day spent being pampered at luxury or beach-side spas.
Thailand boasts a strong cultural heritage, where traditions and customs are handed down through generations and the progressive society finds its roots in ancient wisdom. National sensibilities are closely interwoven with Buddhist religious sentiments. As a tourist destination, Thailand is a fascinating mix of glittering temples, incredible festivals, beautiful tropical islands and delicious cuisine.
On your Thailand tour, discover a rapidly growing economy that has long since progressed from being another developing nation, even as it has preserved its rich heritage and culture.
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Visa and entry
Visas are not required by all British, Australian, Canadian, US and EU nationals for a visit and stay of up to 30 days in Thailand. For those arriving by air, a 30 day visa is issued on arrival without a fee. However those arriving by land are issued a 15 day visa. If you plan to stay in Thailand longer than 30 days (for arrivals by air) or longer than 15 days (for arrival by land), you should apply for a 60-day tourist visa from a Thai consulate or embassy before you are due to arrive in Thailand. The visa application may be obtained from the nearest Thai consulate or Embassy in your country.
The WHO highly recommends certain vaccinations when visiting Thailand, such as Adult Diphtheria, Tetanus & Pertussis, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR), Typhoid and Varicella. For visitors staying over 30 days, vaccinations like Influenza, Japanese B Encephalitis, Rabies and Tuberculosis are recommended. HIV is rife in Thailand and caution needs to be exercised. Visitors are also advised to check with their doctor (or a medical clinic which specializes in overseas travel) about prudent health precautions before going. Tourists should always carry/use bottled water.
Pasteurized, homogenized, and powdered milk are safe. Stick to meat and fish that are well cooked, and avoid raw vegetables and unpeeled fruit. Also, beverages containing ice can be unsafe and are best avoided. It is also a good idea to carry some form of prescriptive drug or antibiotic to treat diarrhea.
Most large cities in Thailand now have clinics catering specifically to travelers and expats, and although these can be costlier than local facilities, they offer a superior standard of care. The capital city Bangkok is a major center for medical care, with some large private hospitals providing modern facilities. Those needing prescription drugs should bring renewal prescriptions if considered necessary.
Currency and cards
Carrying plenty of cash for tipping and purchases in local markets and shops is recommended. ATMs are commonly available everywhere in Thailand and are generally the best option for withdrawing Thai Baht during your trip. Credit cards are generally accepted at most hotels, restaurants and larger stores.
In Thailand, while tips are not expected, they are gladly accepted. Tips generally amount to about 10 – 20% of the bill.
Language and communication
The official language in Thailand is, naturally, ‘Thai’, however, there are regional variations. In addition to ‘Thai’, several minority languages such as Laotian (dialect of Isan), Yawi (dialect of Malay) and Teochew (dialect of Chinese), are spoken in Thailand. English is a mandatory subject in schools and is considered the language of the elite, but it is less frequently spoken outside the cities.
Local customs in Thailand
Thai people are generally relaxed, polite and tolerant. Nevertheless, it is advisable to acquaint yourself with the culture and social norms before you travel. About 90% of the people follow Theravada Buddhism (a subgroup of Himayana Buddhism), and Buddhist influence is felt in every aspect of Thai culture. Muslims are the second largest community in Thailand, followed by Christians, Hindus and people from other faiths.
Thai people generally do not shake hands with one another but fold their palms together in greeting when they meet. While in Thailand, avoid touching others heads. Touching people or objects with your foot is considered rude in Thailand. When you enter a private residence, be sure to take off your shoes. Public displays of affection are generally frowned upon.
Do not miss the country’s largest market, the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok where you could very well polish your bargaining skills while sporting a big smile on your face. Bangkok is also famous for its ‘after dark shopping’ which makes shopping more fun even after a long day of sightseeing. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the colorful Pak Khlong Talad Flower Market, which is famous for its unbeatable variety of fresh flowers. For those who prefer the mall experience, MBK, Siam Paragon, Central World and The Emporium are some of the worth visiting malls in Thailand.
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Chiang Mai is the cultural capital of northern Thailand and is enveloped by a ring of mountains.
Koh Samui, located off Thailand’s eastern coast, is an island oasis of natural beauty with its white sandy beaches, swaying coconut trees.
Chiang Rai is a quaint 13th century town, surrounded by two mountain peaks, Doi Mae Salong and Doi Tung.
Enchanting Travels made planning this vacation a breeze. I didn’t stress at all during the trip, especially since there was also someone there to help with international transfers. All of our guides spoke English well and were quite accommodating.
Enchanting Travels employs people who really know how to listen to their clients and provide an exciting itinerary that is also safe and flexible. Everyone we worked with, from Brenda and Lavina to our guides Mr. Pongthep and Sangay, and our chauffeur Kengua, were professionals who seemed to really enjoy showing us their beautiful and exciting countries.
Go to Bhutan now! We don’t believe it is really going to stay this way for long. And it really is unique right now. Building laws require that dwellings be built in the traditional fashion and this makes for the most beautiful and original vistas. No one goes to Bhutan for the cuisine.
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