Fact file: Thailand

Did you know?
Chiang Mai has over 121 temples within its municipal limits and there are over 300 in the Chiang Mai Province.
Language
Thai.
Visas
No visa required for a visit of less than 30 days.
Getting there
There are regular flights from Thailand's other major cities, and seven daily flights from Bangkok. There are currently direct international flights from Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Kunming, Vientiane, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Dusseldorf via Abu Dhabi and Mandalay via Yangon and a number of domestic airports. Buses also ply the route between Bangkok and Chiang Mai several times a day. The trip takes between 10 and 12 hours. Trains also connect Chiang Mai to her southern capital.
Flying time from London
Fourteen hours. (To Bangkok)
Getting around
By bike – the city is small enough. It's also easy to hire a bicycle from the guesthouses. Hitch a ride on a songthaew (usually a small pickup vehicle), but make sure you are not overcharged. You can also hire a tuk-tuk or ride on a samlor (3-wheeled bicycles) – a lot of them are still operating in the city. Cars and motocycles are available to hire, and it's possible to get a taxi at the airport, which is only 2 to 3km from the city centre.
Currency
US dollars are the most readily acceptable for buying baht and travellers cheques get a better rate than cash. British pounds are the next-best option. You can use credit cards in quality shops, hotels and restaurants. Visa is the most useful, followed by MasterCard.
Costs
Things vary between resorts but as a guide: a local beer £2, roll of film £1.60, moderate restaurant meal £4, litre of petrol 20p, short taxi ride £1.50.
Weather
It's best to visit from October to April as it's monsoon the rest of the time and apt to get very wet.
Time difference
Seven hours ahead of GMT.
International dialling code from the UK
00 66 (53)
Voltage
220 volts, 50Hz. Local electrical shops will stock suitable adaptors.
Opening hours
Shops usually open 10am to 6.30/7pm, though small ones may open earlier and close later. Bangkok banks open 10am to 4pm Mon-Fri, but some banks in tourist areas are open longer.
Health - Before you go
No jabs compulsory but hepatitis A, polio and typhoid are recommended. Malaria precautions also recommended in rural parts (depending on area — check in advance with your GP).
Health - When you are there
Drink bottled water and don't eat unpeeled fruit bought in the street. If you get scratched, wash with boiling water, apply antiseptic and protect until healed.
Warnings
Be careful of the water, including ice. If you don't know for certain that the water is safe, assume the worst - although most water served in restaurants or to guests in a restaurant, office or home in Thailand will be purified.
Emergency
Tourist Police, tel 1699. British Embassy, 1031 Th Withayu, Bangkok, tel 02 253 0191/9.
Customs
Thai social behaviour is more genteel and refined than in the west. Skimpy dress, speaking loudly or losing your temper are all definite no-nos. Thai people will be ceaselessly polite, respectful and good-humoured to you, so reciprocate and you will not cause offence. Never insult the monarchy or Thai religion.
Tipping
Tipping is not normal practice in Chiang Mai, although they're used to it in expensive hotels and restaurants; don't bother elsewhere. The exception is loose change left from a largish Thai restaurant bill; for example, if a meal costs THB488.00 and you pay with a THB500.00 note, leave the THB12.00 coin change on the change tray.
Tourist office
Tourism Authority of Thailand, 3rd Floor, Brook House, 98-99 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6EE. Brochure line: 0870 9002007 (national rate) or for general enquiries: 09063 640666 (60p a min).
Did you know?
Thailand was known as Siam until 1939.
Language
Thai.
Visas
No visa required for a visit of less than 30 days.
Getting there
Flights from London to the capital Bangkok are regular and package tours are increasingly popular flying into Phuket.
Flying time from London
Fourteen hours.
Getting around
The domestic flight network is good, but so are the buses and trains. Thai buses are so fast it's scary, but well serviced and air-conditioned. Trains are punctual and comfortable but on the slow side. Locally, use tuk-tuks and samlors (motorised and bicycle rickshaws) and taxis.
Currency
Baht.
Costs
Things vary between resorts but as a guide: a local beer £2, roll of film £1.60, moderate restaurant meal £4, litre of petrol 20p, short taxi ride £1.50.
Weather
Most of Thailand is very humid but it rains between November and February and then the heat isn't too bad. April in Bangkok is like roasting alive (around 35C/95F). Pack waterproofs in October. South Thailand is best in March to May, north from mid-November to early December.
Time difference
Seven hours ahead of GMT.
International dialling code from the UK
00 66.
Voltage
220 volts, 50Hz. Local electrical shops will stock suitable adaptors.
Opening hours
Shops usually open 10am to 6.30/7pm, though small ones may open earlier and close later. Bangkok banks open 10am to 4pm Mon-Fri, but some banks in tourist areas are open longer.
Health — before you go
No jabs compulsory but hepatitis A, polio and typhoid are recommended. Malaria precautions also recommended in rural parts (depending on area — check in advance with your GP).
Health — when you are there
Drink bottled water and don't eat unpeeled fruit bought in the street. Avoid coral cuts when swimming over reefs as they can become infected. If you get scratched, wash with boiling water, apply antiseptic and protect until healed.
Warnings
Beware friendly strangers on trains and buses offering you cigarettes or drinks. Travellers have found themselves drugged and woken up with their valuables gone. The Cambodian and Burmese border areas are best avoided.
Emergency
Tourist Police, tel 1699. British Embassy, 1031 Th Withayu, Bangkok, tel 02 253 0191/9.
Customs
Thai social behaviour is more genteel and refined than in the west. Skimpy dress, speaking loudly or losing your temper are all definite no-nos. Thai people will be ceaselessly polite, respectful and good-humoured to you, so reciprocate and you will not cause offence. Never insult the monarchy or Thai religion.
Pets
Not allowed back into Britain without going into quarantine.
Tipping
Tipping is not normal practice but it's courtesy to leave any small change from a large bill.
Tourist office
Tourism Authority of Thailand, 3rd Floor, Brook House, 98-99 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6EE. Brochure line: 0870 9002007 (national rate) or for general enquiries: 09063 640666 (60p a min).
Did you know?
Thailand was known as Siam until 1939.
Language
Thai.
Visas
No visa required for a visit of less than 30 days.
Getting there
Flights from London to the capital Bangkok are regular and package tours are increasingly popular flying into Phuket.
Flying time from London
Fourteen hours.
Getting around
The domestic flight network is good, but so are the buses and trains. Thai buses are so fast it's scary, but well serviced and air-conditioned. Trains are punctual and comfortable but on the slow side. Locally, use tuk-tuks and samlors (motorised and bicycle rickshaws) and taxis.
Currency
Baht.
Costs
Things vary between resorts but as a guide: a local beer £2, roll of film £1.60, moderate restaurant meal £4, litre of petrol 20p, short taxi ride £1.50.
Weather
Most of Thailand is very humid but it rains between November and February and then the heat isn't too bad. April in Bangkok is like roasting alive (around 35C/95F). Pack waterproofs in October. South Thailand is best in March to May, north from mid-November to early December.
Time difference
Seven hours ahead of GMT.
International dialling code from the UK
00 66.
Voltage
220 volts, 50Hz. Local electrical shops will stock suitable adaptors.
Opening hours
Shops usually open 10am to 6.30/7pm, though small ones may open earlier and close later. Bangkok banks open 10am to 4pm Mon-Fri, but some banks in tourist areas are open longer.
Health — before you go
No jabs compulsory but hepatitis A, polio and typhoid are recommended. Malaria precautions also recommended in rural parts (depending on area — check in advance with your GP).
Health — when you are there
Drink bottled water and don't eat unpeeled fruit bought in the street. Avoid coral cuts when swimming over reefs as they can become infected. If you get scratched, wash with boiling water, apply antiseptic and protect until healed.
Warnings
Beware friendly strangers on trains and buses offering you cigarettes or drinks. Travellers have found themselves drugged and woken up with their valuables gone. The Cambodian and Burmese border areas are best avoided.
Emergency
Tourist Police, tel 1699. British Embassy, 1031 Th Withayu, Bangkok, tel 02 253 0191/9.
Customs
Thai social behaviour is more genteel and refined than in the west. Skimpy dress, speaking loudly or losing your temper are all definite no-nos. Thai people will be ceaselessly polite, respectful and good-humoured to you, so reciprocate and you will not cause offence. Never insult the monarchy or Thai religion.
Pets
Not allowed back into Britain without going into quarantine.
Tipping
Tipping is not normal practice but it's courtesy to leave any small change from a large bill.
Tourist office
Tourism Authority of Thailand, 3rd Floor, Brook House, 98-99 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6EE. Brochure line: 0870 9002007 (national rate) or for general enquiries: 09063 640666 (60p a min).
Did you know?
Thailand was known as Siam until 1939.
Language
Thai.
Visas
No visa required for a visit of less than 30 days.
Getting there
Flights from London to the capital Bangkok are regular and package tours are increasingly popular flying into Phuket.
Flying time from London
Fourteen hours.
Getting around
The domestic flight network is good, but so are the buses and trains. Thai buses are so fast it's scary, but well serviced and air-conditioned. Trains are punctual and comfortable but on the slow side. Locally, use tuk-tuks and samlors (motorised and bicycle rickshaws) and taxis.
Currency
Baht.
Costs
Things vary between resorts but as a guide: a local beer £2, roll of film £1.60, moderate restaurant meal £4, litre of petrol 20p, short taxi ride £1.50.
Weather
Most of Thailand is very humid but it rains between November and February and then the heat isn't too bad. April in Bangkok is like roasting alive (around 35C/95F). Pack waterproofs in October. South Thailand is best in March to May, north from mid-November to early December.
Time difference
Seven hours ahead of GMT.
International dialling code from the UK
00 66.
Voltage
220 volts, 50Hz. Local electrical shops will stock suitable adaptors.
Opening hours
Shops usually open 10am to 6.30/7pm, though small ones may open earlier and close later. Bangkok banks open 10am to 4pm Mon-Fri, but some banks in tourist areas are open longer.
Health — before you go
No jabs compulsory but hepatitis A, polio and typhoid are recommended. Malaria precautions also recommended in rural parts (depending on area — check in advance with your GP).
Health — when you are there
Drink bottled water and don't eat unpeeled fruit bought in the street. Avoid coral cuts when swimming over reefs as they can become infected. If you get scratched, wash with boiling water, apply antiseptic and protect until healed. Be aware there has been considerable damage to the underlying health care in the areas of Phuket, Krabi and Pangna following last December's tidal waves (tsunami). Those in affected areas are advised to purchase bottled water, as local water sources may be contaminated.
Warnings
Beware friendly strangers on trains and buses offering you cigarettes or drinks. Travellers have found themselves drugged and woken up with their valuables gone. The Cambodian and Burmese border areas are best avoided.
Emergency
Tourist Police, tel 1699. British Embassy, 1031 Th Withayu, Bangkok, tel 02 253 0191/9.
Customs
Thai social behaviour is more genteel and refined than in the west. Skimpy dress, speaking loudly or losing your temper are all definite no-nos. Thai people will be ceaselessly polite, respectful and good-humoured to you, so reciprocate and you will not cause offence. Never insult the monarchy or Thai religion.
Pets
Not allowed back into Britain without going into quarantine.
Tipping
Tipping is not normal practice but it's courtesy to leave any small change from a large bill.
Tourist office
Tourism Authority of Thailand, 3rd Floor, Brook House, 98-99 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6EE. Brochure line: 0870 9002007 (national rate) or for general enquiries: 09063 640666 (60p a min).


Telephone

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