THAILAND Capital: Bangkok
Population: 67.5 Million
Time Zone: EST plus 11 hours
Currency: Thai baht (THB)
Fun Facts ● ● ● ●
Thailand is one of the most visited countries in southeast Asia. Thailand is the only country in southeast Asia that has never been under European power. The Mekong River is home to the rare Asian river dolphin. Boxing is the national sport in Thailand.
There’s a reason that so many adventurers seek out mystical Thailand – with experiences that tantalize all five senses and activities appealing to a wide variety of travel styles, Thailand is the perfect destination to witness an exciting blend of natural, cultural, historical and urban delights. Few places have the gorgeous beaches of Phuket, the wild enthusiasm of Bangkok, the 40,000-year-old history, and the natural appeal of the mountainous rural areas all packed into one country. Distinct surroundings remind visitors of Thailand’s rich Siamese influence, while the progressive civilization in the capital city propels it into modern age and the tribes' people in the north still preserve their ancient traditions. Bangkok Stepping off the plane in Bangkok you'll instantly feel the energy and excitement of this great city. The neverending parade of commotion in the streets, the bountiful colors of nearby museums, shrines and temples, and vivacious entertainment and cuisine, make for an exciting introduction to Thailand. This buzzing hub of Southeast Asia is positioned over the Chao Phraya River, dotted with klongs (canals). A float down this river is a great way to see the city before really digging into its culture and idiosyncrasies – homes, temples, and frenetically moving commerce overwhelm your senses and take you in with every glance. A centerpiece in the city, the Temple of the Dawn, features a 260-foot spire rising up over the waters and coloring the river bank. This ancient architectural wonder is decked out in ornate colors, intricate detailing, and surrounded by statues of Buddha – a classic enshrinement of the Thai civilization. Other sites you won’t want to miss are the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, perhaps the most sacred and esteemed temple in Thailand containing a Buddhist statue carved entirely of a single block of jade. Experience the reverence of this ancient religion that dwells in the city and is practiced by 95 percent of the population. Check out a performance of classic Thai literature as you savor local fare and the performer’s elaborate costumes. As night falls on this lively metropolis, a sense of fun bubbles to the surface as the nightlife here is world renowned and there is no shortage of things to do and see. Chiang Mai Chiang Mai is certainly a sought-after stop for visitors of Thailand. Named the “Rose of the North”, this city possesses perhaps the richest cultural vibe and flourishing agriculture in the country. Filling the mountainous ridges and cradled in the lush valleys, this city is a wonderful place to enjoy traditional cuisine and customs, get up close to the native tribes people, and feel a part of this extraordinary way of life. From the city it is possible to visit some of the colorful hill tribes, like the Meo, Karen, and Akha.
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Chiang Rai Somewhat in the shadows of Chiang Mai is its “laid back” neighbor, Chiang Rai. In recent years, Chiang Rai has gained more attention as a traveler’s paradise with a wide array of natural attractions, friendly locals, Buddhist shrines, and ruins of ancient settlements. Chiang Rai is also the perfect place to camp out in order to see the Golden Triangle. Here, the mighty Mekong and the Ruak Rivers converge and pull together the boarders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. This notorious confluence was once the center of the largest production and trade of opium in the world. A visit to the remarkable Hall of Opium will educate visitors about this influential and nefarious drug and serves as a tribute to the recovery of the region. Ban Thaton Ban Thaton sits peacefully on the banks of the Kok River, which is used by locals for transportation to villages along the way to Chiang Rai. Soak up the relaxed, small town atmosphere with a boat ride on the river, and enjoy the opportunity to view and experience some traditions of the more unique communities that reside in the hills. Learn from the long-necked women of Paduang whose necks appear stretched from the brass rings added around their necks at an early age, and visit with the women in the egalitarian hill tribe village of Akha who wear spectacular and elaborate headdresses of silver coins. Phuket To get an inspiring and tropical experience in Thailand, venture down the peninsula to stunning Phuket. Harboring waters of indescribable brilliance, soft sand beaches, and mystical landscapes – seemingly floating plant-covered spires in the ocean – Phuket will spoil the senses and make for a truly memorable vacation. If you can, enjoy your overnight stays parked in one of the beachside resorts and spend your days soaking in the iconic aqua-colored waters and sea breezes. Counter the relaxation of your resort with a visit to Phuket Town, where you can stroll around the local market and experience the notably pleasant but vivacious streets; take the opportunity to duck into one of the unique restaurants of the historical old quarter. Explore this breathtaking pocket along the coast and see a different side of the exuberant country of Thailand. Additional Places of Interest As you travel out of Bangkok there are several interesting cities and sights worth a visit. At Kanchanaburi, take a train ride over the famed River Kwai Bridge, built during WWII. Learn about this area’s history and those who suffered in the building of the railway at the Hellfire Pass Memorial. At Ayutthaya see Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Mongkol Phopit and Bang Pa In, all built in the 18th century as a summer residence for the Kings of Ayutthaya. Visit with resident monkeys at the Three Spires Pagoda & Sarn Parkan Temple in Lopburi, Or head further north to the atmospheric, moated Old Town of Sukhothai to visit Sukhothai Historic Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site,
VISAS, PASSPORTS, AND OTHER ENTRY REQUIREMENTS You are responsible for obtaining and paying for all entry documents (visas, etc.) and for meeting all health requirements (inoculations, etc.) as required by the laws, regulations, or orders of the countries you will visit. We cannot accept liability if you are refused entry onto any transport or into any country for failure to carry correct documentation. A visa for your visit to Thailand is not necessary for US citizens. If you hold a passport from another country, check with your local consulate about requirements for travel to Thailand. All passengers traveling internationally are required to have a passport. Most countries require that the passport be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the conclusion of your trip, so please check the expiration date carefully. It is also recommended you have a minimum of three blank pages in your passport when traveling, as many countries require blank pages. Please carry proper identification (your passport) on you and do not leave in your suitcase or hotel room. Most countries have laws that require you to carry your passport with you at all times.
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COUNTRY CODES The country code for Thailand is 66. When calling to Thailand from overseas, dial your international access code (011 from the US/Canada) followed by the country code, area code, and phone number. Phone numbers in Thailand are 8-9 digits in length. Dialing from the US/Canada: 011 66 # ### ####.
CURRENCY In Thailand the local currency is the Thai Baht. 1 Thai Baht = 100 satang ● ●
Banknote denominations: 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 Coin denominations: 25, 50, 1, 2, 5, 10
As a general guideline, bring a variety of payment means, particularly in the event that you have difficulties with your preferred method of payment. For initial convenience we recommend you bring some Baht with you from home in case you are not able to immediately access a money exchange or ATM. ATMs are the most convenient way to obtain money in Thailand as they are readily available throughout the country. For the most current exchange rates, please go to our website at globusfamily.com/currency. Credit Cards Credit cards are accepted in Thailand and you should have no problem using them in larger shops and restaurants in metropolitan cites. Visa and MasterCard are most accepted. Smaller shops most likely will ask you to pay in cash or have a minimum amount required to use a credit card. If you use a credit card for your purchase, you will be debited in the local currency, and your bank will establish the rate of exchange on the debit. Traveler's checks Although a secure means of carrying money, traveler's checks unfortunately are becoming very hard to use. Due to this we recommend you plan on using cash and credit cards only. Bank Hours: Thailand: Mon. - Fri. 8:30am - 3:30pm Sat. - Sun. Closed
BUDGETING AND SHOPPING The following budget guidelines are just approximate values or starting values for meals and are per person. Actual prices will vary widely by restaurant and city within a country but below are some averages as provided by our experienced personnel. ●
The approximate cost of a soft drink/mineral water/coffee is 60-70 Baht.
An average lunch consisting of a salad or sandwich and a soda or water starts at approximately 150-200 Baht. Dinner at a mid-range restaurant with dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage starts at approximately 750-800 Baht.
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Shopping Prices are as marked in department stores, though in markets it is customary to barter. Start negotiating with an offer at one-third or half the vendor's initial price. Please be warned that if you buy items on tour to be shipped to your home, customs import charges are hardly ever included in the price. Sales tax or GST (Goods & Services Tax) is normally already included on price tags; GST refunds, if applicable, are processed at the departing airport from the relevant country.
TIPPING Tipping is not common among the locals in Thailand. Some restaurants will add a service charge to the bill and this is considered the tip. If you wish to tip in Thailand, we recommend rounding up the bill to make it an easy amount to pay. This applies to restaurants as well as taxi service. Tipping hotel staff is not necessary or common.
ELECTRICITY AND ELECTRICAL OUTLETS Voltage for outlets is 220V. North American voltage is generally 110V. Some, but not all, hotels feature multi-region outlets that accept different types of plugs. Due to this, for dual voltage electronics, we still recommend you bring an adapter. If you have single voltage electronics (110V) a converter is also required. Bathroom outlets are usually for razors only. The outlets look like:
TEMPERATURES Thailand has generally warm to hot temperatures year round and, as with any tropical destination, rain is possible even on the sunniest days. In the far north near Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai it can be cool in the evenings from December to February. To help you plan, below are average low and high temperatures. Month
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To convert to Celsius, subtract 30, then divide by 2. While not exact, this simple formula will give a close estimation.
FOOD SPECIALTIES Thai cuisine is well known for is spiciness and use of fresh ingredients. The food is a blend of several traditions in Southeast Asia. Popular dishes include: Tom Yum Goong – soup with shrimp, lemongrass, lime leaves, and several other vegetables. It can be ordered with coconut milk as well; Panang Gai – Chicken in a red curry paste with coconut cream; Nam Tok Moo – Grilled pork with green onions, chili, and mint in a fish sauce. Drinking Water Tap water is generally not safe to drink throughout Thailand. For sightseeing and excursions, bottled water may be included; otherwise we recommend you bring bottled water with you from your hotel. Bottled water is also common in restaurants.
CUSTOMS AND CULTURE ● ● ● ●
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Try not to point with your feet. In the company of monks or elders, never cross your legs. Do not touch people on the head or upper body. When beckoning someone to come over do not flap your hand in the standard Western 'come here' motion; instead turn the hand round so that your palm flaps down towards yourself. Do not shake hands with monks or nuns as people in general rarely shake hands; rather smile and nod away. Ladies should never sit down next to a monk. Shorts and skirts should be longish (below the knee) for both sexes and it is okay to expose arms. Smoking is common in Asia so locals tend to be less sensitive to issues regarding smoking around others and often ignore “non-smoking” signs.
A FEW WORDS OF THE LOCAL LANGUAGE Thai: Good morning/day:Sa wut dee ton chaow, Good evening: Sa wut dee ton yen, Hi:Sa wut dee, Please: Daa prod, Thank you: Kop Koon, You're welcome: Yin dee, Yes: Chai, No: Mai chai, Do you speak English? Koon poot pa sa ungrit dai mai?, I don't understand: Mai khao jai, How much? Tao rai?, 1: Neung, 2: Song, 3: Sam, 4: See, 5:Ha, 6:Hok, 7: Jed, 8: Pad, 9: Khaow, 10: Sib, Where is...? Tee nai...?, Telephone: Tro ra sub, Bathroom: houng-num, Tea: Cha, Coffee: Ka faa, Bottled water: Nam deum (carbonated=soda, non-carbonated=nam plao), Cheers! Yin dee!, Have a nice day! Chok dee!
Last Updated 1/2/17
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