Travel Information Thailand
On this page we have compiled the most important and current travel information for Thailand, as well as other useful travel tips that should give you an overview of this unique country and its people. Information about the entry requirements, currency, and optimum travel timed as well as information on required vaccinations can be found below.
Entry & Exit
To enter Thailand you will need a passport that is valid for at least six months. Canadian and American nationals are allowed to stay in Thailand for 30 days without a visa. Immediate re-entry without a visa (the so-called ‘Visa Run’) has not been possible for tourism purposes since May 2014.
Therefore, if you would like to stay longer than 30 days you will need to apply for a visa at the nearest Thai Embassy in your home country. Tourist visas can be renewed once for 30 days.
Travelers are required to carry their identification papers on them at all times. There are frequent identity checks in Thailand, particularly in the entertainment districts of the capital in Pattaya, Phuket, and Chiang Mai. A copy of your passport is sufficient as long as you have also copied the page with the Thai visa-entry stamp.
The export of certain antiques (i.e. Buddha statues or images) is only permitted with the express approval of the Fine Arts Department. For more information, please contact the nearest Thai embassy or the Thai customs authorities.
The export (and import) of certain leather products (i.e. elephant, crocodile, snake) and ivory are subject to CITES. We highly recommended that you inform yourself before purchasing any such products. For more information on tariffs and importing goods please contact the appropriate customs authorities. For information on importing into Canada please visit this website: www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/menu-eng.html. For information on importing into the USA please visit this website: www.cbp.gov.
Make sure to drink plenty of water as it is easy to get dehydrated with the high temperatures and the unfamiliar climate. Do not drink any tap water. Make sure that the drinking water you purchase from stalls or shops comes in plastic bottles and has an intact seal. The sun here is also very intense so make sure to wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. You may also wish to wear long sleeves. During the midday hours it is best to stay in the shade.
Bangkok is the best place to get medical care, and here you will often find English-speaking doctors who were trained in the West. You should avoid getting medical attention in rural areas unless absolutely necessary. Adequate, valid health insurance coverage and reliable repatriation insurance are strongly recommended.
Travelers are advised to bring a personal first aid kid. You should also consult with a doctor who is experienced and knowledgeable about tropical medicine before traveling to any tropical country.
Please note that we cannot accept liability for any errors or omissions that there may be in the medical information provided here. You are responsible for your own health.
Dates & Figures
Thailand is predominantly tropical. The average temperature in Bangkok is 25.7 ° C in December and 30.1 ° C in April. The best time to visit Thailand is between November and February, since it is dry and very hot for tourists, but cool by Thai standards. Temperature rise in March and the rainy season begins in May and lasts until November.
Thailand is either 6 or 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (depending on daylight savings time).
The official currency of Thailand is the Baht. There are 1000, 500, 100, 50 and 20 baht notes and 10, 5, 2 and 1 baht coins. You can get cash at almost any ATM using your debit card. There are many bank machines at the airport. There are also plenty of banks and exchange offices where you can exchange your currency from home.
The power supply in Thailand is usually very good and based on 220/240 V AC and 50 Hz. Some remote islands only have intermittent electricity (from sunset to midnight), which is produced by generators.
In Thailand you will need to dial 8-digits for national calls and make sure to dial 0 first. Public phone boxes are available almost everywhere. You can use calling cards with these boxes (tickets are available in 250 and 500 baht amounts). You can also make direct international calls from tourist centers and major hotels. Otherwise, you may be able to get a connection at a post office or private telephone agency. The telephone network in Bangkok is frequently overloaded.
There are fax services at the Communication Authority of Thailand as well as in larger hotels.
Make sure to discuss your roaming options with your cellphone provider before you travel to Thailand.
Bangkok has many high speed internet cafes. You can also get internet access at post offices.
EMERGENCY NUMBERS: Police and Ambulance 191, Fire Brigade 195, Tourist Police in Bangkok in 1699, Nationwide 11 55, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Call Centre 16 72nd
Country & People
Thailand has about 65 million inhabitants. The country has large cities and good infrastructure. Bangkok ("City of Angels") is primarily Thai speaking and has approximately 12 million inhabitants, making it the largest city in Thailand.
The country is predominantly ethnic Thai's, about 15% of the population are of Chinese descent, and 2% are Burmese. Additionally, there are approximately two million Malay's, 233,000 Chinese people, many Khmer, Vietnamese, Indians, Burmese, and Nepalese people living in Thailand. Many ethnic minorities have settled in Thailand’s Southern and Northern provinces.
The official language of Thailand is Thai (Siamese), which is spoken by about 91% of the population. Thai has its own special series of characters. Other common languages in Thailand are Malay and Chinese. English is the language of commerce and so it is widespread, particularly in Bangkok and other major tourist centers such as Pattaya and Phuket, as well as in most large provincial towns.
Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932. However, King Bhumibol (Rama IX), who has been ruling for more than 60 years, is seen with extreme reverence. You will find a portrait of King Bhumipol in almost every house, public building, square, restaurant, and shop. Foreigners should be very respectful of these images as well as during any royal processions. Travelers should also treat coins and banknotes with respect because they bear the portrait of the king. It is considered an act of ‘lese majeste’ to touch a coin or bank note with the foot. ‘Lese majeste’ offences are punishable by long prison sentences and other harsh punishments.
Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country. The majority of the population observes Theravada Buddhism, a denomination which adheres strictly to the traditional Pali scriptures. No matter where you go in Thailand, you are likely to encounter monks in saffron or orange robes and see Buddha statues and ornate, gilded temples. About 94% of the population is Buddhist, so it can be considered as a kind of state religion. However, in addition to the Buddhist tradition, Hindu and animist rituals tend to play a big role in people's lives. The Thai Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and even though the majority of the population is Buddhist, in Thailand, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and animists live in harmony.
It is important to learn about foreign customs before you travel to any new country. Here are a few things to keep in mind when traveling to Thailand. Buddhists believe that the head is a sacred part of the body so touching the foot to the head is considered ignoble. It is also inappropriate to rise above the head of a monk e.g. passing your luggage over a monk’s head on a bus or train. Women should not be surprised when monks hold them at a distance because they are forbidden to touch women.
Thailand is located in the center of Southeast Asia and is bordered by Myanmar to the West, by Laos to the North, by Cambodia to the Southwest, and by Malaysia to the South. The border region between Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos is known as the "Golden Triangle". Thailand has more than 2,600 km of coastline, mainly along the Gulf of Thailand in the East. On the West coast, Thailand is bordered by the Andaman Sea. Industry is concentrated around Bangkok and the Northern and Southern provinces are primarily rural. The largest river (370 km long) is the Chao Phraya which is composed of many small tributaries and canals.
The landscape of Thailand was once dominated by teak forests and roaming elephants but today it is mainly fields and gardens. The Northern part of the country experiences frequent droughts and dramatic weather fluctuations as a result of deforestation. In the South, however, there are still evergreen forests – rainforests, mangrove forests, and beautiful beaches with lush palm groves. This verdant landscape is perfect for active travel!
There are many islands off of Thailand’s Southwest and Southeast coasts. Koh Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Samet, and Koh Chang are some of the most well-known among these islands. Thailand also has 79 national parks which are home to many diverse plants and animals, including elephants, tigers, snakes, water buffalo, gibbons, macaques, and countless bird species. Thailand’s intertidal zones, coastal mangrove forests, and warm tropical waters form habitats for a variety of marine-life including fish, crabs, clams, sea anemones and corals.
Thailand has a wide variety of delicious and inexpensive food. There are many food stalls and restaurants offering a wide selection of local dishes. You will find plenty of foreign food choices as well, but make sure you try some of the native culinary specialties. Thailand in known for its curries – red, yellow, green, and Masaman Panaeng. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, you should let your server know when you order. Traditional Thai food is very hot. Rice is the most important staple food in Thailand and it is served with almost every meal. However, noodles are also very popular in Thailand. One of the most popular snacks is Pad Thai – fried noodles with vegetables, peanuts, egg or tofu. Vegetarians will find plenty of vegetable and tofu options. Seafood lovers will also have plenty of delicious dishes to choose from. Thai cuisine traditionally involves plenty of fruit, including pineapple, banana, durian fruit, guava, lime, lychee, mango, orange, and papaya. Durian fruit, known as the ‘king of fruits’ is well worth a try. You will either love or hate this strong smelling fruit. Hotels usually serve iced tea for free. Coffee in Thailand is also very sweet. The typical alcoholic drink in Thailand is a kind of rice liquor. Beer and wine are available but they are relatively expensive since they are usually imported. There are some locally made options such as Singha, the Thai beer. Thai wines are very sweet.
Particular to Bangkok
Bangkok is famous for its street food. Throughout the city you will find countless food stalls. Whether you are looking for fruit, freshly squeezed juices, fried corn, fried noodles, fish soup, or something else, you will always be able to find a tasty meal. "Mango Sticky Rice" is a particularly popular street food. This dish is a combination of sweet mango and sticky rice and can be enjoyed as either a snack or dessert. The pineapple in Thailand is also particularly delicious. Street stalls are the cheapest places to get food (you can often get a meal for just a few cents) but there are plenty of sit-down restaurants as well. There are plenty of great restaurants for tourists on the Khao San Road. Thai food is usually very spicy and includes a lot of onions so if you have an aversion to either of these things then let your server know when you order.
You may not wear shoes when you enter pagodas, other religious shrines, or the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The same applies to private homes. If you are unsure about whether or not you should take off your shoes, then take a look around the entranceway to see if there is a designated place to put your shoes.
The tuk-tuk is a typical mode of transportation in Thailand. You can hire a tuk-tuk driver for a whole day, but make sure that you agree on a price beforehand. Tuk-tuks are suitable for two people; it can be tight if you have luggage. There are variety of methods of transportation available in Bangkok. The Skytrain is the fastest way to get around. If you hire a taxi, make sure they use the meter. You should ask your hotel about which taxi companies are best for tourists. In some places taxis are not permitted to stop, such as along the Khao San Road (the main road for backpackers). If you find yourself in one of these spots, just head for the nearest intersection and get a taxi there, otherwise your taxi driver is likely to get a traffic ticket which he/she will insist you pay. You can also travel by tuk-tuk or public bus but the bus system can be rather complicated. You can also travel between the more famous temples by boat.
During your stay in Thailand, you should certainly get one of the famous Thai massages. These full body massages are very inexpensive and extremely relaxing. It is also customary to tip after a massage.
Travel and Security Information
There are a few guidelines that every traveller should follow in order to have the best vacation possible.
- Tourists are required to have a valid passport. This passport must be valid until after the last day of your trip. Visas are also required for some nationalities.
- Medical and travel insurance are strongly recommended for all tourists.
- Tourists are advised to travel in groups and should never walk alone after dark.
- Obvious shows of affluence can sometimes welcome unwanted attention from criminals. Tourists are advised to keep valuable belongings safely stowed in their hotel safes if possible. It's never a good idea to keep large amounts of cash or expensive jewellery where they are clearly visible and it's important to remember to never leave valuable items in unattended vehicles or any other public spaces, including on public transportation and luggage holds.
- It's essential that tourists keep emergency details on hand at all times. These include the numbers and addresses of nearby hospitals, ambulances, consulates, and contact details of their next of kin.
Exclusion of Liability
Those who choose to travel do so entirely at their own risk. SC Travel Adventures endeavours to inform tourists of the risks involved with travelling but cannot be held liable for any events which occur outside of their direct control. Tourists are advised to avoid areas considered unsafe, remain vigilant and cautious at all times throughout their stay, and heed the advice of local authorities.