Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is one of the
world's most dynamic cities. Travelers satiated with Bangkok's hustle-and-bustle may head
north to Chiang Mai, which is very tourist-oriented. Lovers of water
Pattaya, a sophisticated beach resort; those who prefer a less hectic environment go to
|The shopping in Thailand is unmatched anywhere in
Asia. Bargains on silk, electronics, gold, and crafts abound among thousands of stalls
packing city sidewalks. Chiang Mai is home to perhaps the most prolific handicrafts trade
in the kingdom, and the island province of Phuket is worth a stop for its shops as well as
its quiet white beaches. Restaurants offer a break from shopping and touring. Students of
art and history might prefer to spend time investigating the architecture of the many
wats, or temples, inside which can be found the best examples of Thai sculpture.
Thailand is also known for the honesty and
generosity of its people. Thais seem to have an extraordinary capacity for giving.
Thailand is a wonderful place to visit on any East Asian itinerary.
The Grand Palace, Bangkok, 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
The country has seventy-six provinces that are further divided into
districts, sub-districts and villages. Bangkok is the capital city and
centre of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities. It is
also the seat of Thailand's revered Royal Family, with His Majesty the
King recognized as Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, Upholder of
the Buddhist religion and Upholder of all religions.
Photo Copyright © J. Donnellan
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
Thailand Geography: The Four
|1) The mountainous North, with
its profusion of multi-colored orchids, fascinating native handicrafts and
winter temperatures are sufficiently cool to permit cultivation of
temperate fruits such as strawberries and peaches;
2) The high Northeast Plateau, which still jealously guards its many
archaeological and anthropological mysteries;
3) The Central Plain, one of the world's most fertile rice and
fruit-growing areas with colorful traditional culture and way of life as
well as the sandy beaches of the East Coast and vibrant cosmopolitan
4) The peninsular South where the unspoiled beaches and idyllic islands
complement economically vital tin mining, rubber cultivation and fishing.
Thailand Travel Facts
Diversity in Thailand:
Thai (80%), Chinese (10%), Malay (3%), and the rest are minorities (Mons,
Khmers, hill tribes) Ethnic Thais form the majority, though the area has
historically been a migratory crossroads, and has thus produced a degree
of ethnic diversity. Integration is such, however, that culturally and
socially there is enormous unity.
Languages in Thailand: Spoken and written Thai is largely
incomprehensible to the casual visitor. However, English is widely
understood, particularly in Bangkok where it is almost the major
commercial language. English and some European Languages are spoken in
most hotels, shops and restaurants in major tourist destinations, and
Thai-English road and street signs are found nationwide.
Population of Thailand: Thais are well-known for their friendliness
and hospitality. A large majority of over 62 million citizens of
Thailand are ethic Thai, along with strong communities whose ethnic
origins lie in China, India and elsewhere.
About seven million people reside in the capital city of Bangkok.
Religion in Thailand: Buddhism (95%), Muslim (4%), others (1%)
Government in Thailand: Thailand has had a constitutional monarchy
since 1932. Parliament is composed of 2 houses, The House of
Representatives and the Senate. Both representatives and senators are
elected by the people. A prime minister elected from among the
representatives leads the government. The country is divided into 76
provinces. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration comes under an elected
governor. Appointed provincial governors administer the other 75 provinces
(Changwat), which are divided into districts (Amphoe), sub-districts (Tambon)
and villages (Mu Ban).
The Flag of Thailand: The red, white, and blue stripes symbolize
the nation, Buddhism, and the monarchy, respectively.
Time Zone in Thailand: The time in Thailand is seven hours ahead of
Greenwich Mean Time (+7 hours GMT).
The Grand Palace,
Photo Copyright © LukeTravels.com™
Climate in Thailand: 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. The South has a tropical rainforest climate with temperatures
averaging 28 degrees Celsius almost all year round.
Electricity in Thailand: The electric current is 220 volt AC (50
cycles) throughout the country. Many different types of plugs and sockets
are in use. Travelers 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. Also, the metric system is used
throughout Thailand. Numerals on vehicle speed ohmmeters, highway markers
and speed limits all indicate kilometers.
Communication in Thailand: Thailand has been expanding its
information service for residents and tourists alike through the Internet
system. Services are now available at Thailand's leading hotels and at the
many " Cyber-Cafes " that are cropping up in all major tourist
All of Thailand's leading hotels offer facsimile (fax) and e-mail
services. Numerous private businesses offer such facilities, most often in
conjunction with translation services.
Thailand's mail service is reliable and efficient. Major hotels provide
basic postal services on their premises. Provincial post offices are
usually open from 8.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
International Roaming Mobile Phone : A Subscriber Identity Module Card (SIM
Card) is now available for Thai and foreign customers who are traveling
around for work. The SIM Card must be used in conjunction with a Digital
GSM mobile phone within the 900-MHz range or a Digital PCN mobile phone
within the 1800-MHz range.
Tap Water in Thailand: Tap water is clean but drinking from it
directly should be avoided. Bottled water is recommended.
|Currency of Thailand:
The Thai unit of currency is the BAHT. One baht is divided into 100
satang. Notes 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.
Major currency bills and travelers
cheques are cashed easily at hotels, tourist shops, all provincial
banks, shopping centers and money changers. Travelers cheques are best
changed in banks (you will need your passport).
Rates of exchange at banks or authorized
money changers are better than those at hotels and department stores.
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. Travelers leaving Thailand may take
out no more than 50,000 baht per person in Thai currency. Credit cards are
Tipping: Tipping is not a usual practice in Thailand although it is
becoming more common. Most hotels and restaurants add a 10% service charge
to the bill. Taxi drivers do not require a tip, but the gesture is
appreciated and 10-20 baht is acceptable for porters.
Bargaining: 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.
Much depends on your skills and the shopkeeper's mood. 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.
V.A.T. (Tax) Refunds: Visitors entering the Kingdom on a tourist
visa are entitled to refund of the 7% V.A.T. on goods purchased at
registered retail outlets.