Population : 67.2 Million
Capital City : Bangkok
People : Thai, Thai-Chinese and ethnic Chinese, Karen and Hmong tribes
Language : Thai, minority languages
Currency : Thai baht (THB)
Time Zone : GMT +7 Hours
International Dialing Code : +66
Passport and visa
A passport with at least six months validity from the date of entry is required.
The Visa exemption rule allows tourists from 52 countries to enter without a visa. They are granted a stay of maximum 30 days but only if entering Thailand via an international airport. Tourist Visa- valid for 3-6 months from date of issue for a period of 30 to 60 days travel, depending on your nationality.
With a multiple entry visa, the visa is valid for 6 months from date of issue and the maximum period of each stay is 60 days. The Multiple-Entry Tourist Visa holder may enter Thailand again as long as the visa is still valid.
Foreigners entering Thailand via border posts at Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Malaysia without securing a prior visa will be granted only 15 days of stay in the country. Extensions at Thai Immigration after the Visa on Arrival has expired remain at 7 days, after which you must leave the country or pay the penalty and other sanctions for overstaying the visa.
Please note that travellers may be asked to show their flight ticket on entering Thailand. If someone does not possess a flight ticket or other ticket for onward travel to show they will be exiting Thailand within 30 or 15 days of entry they may be refused entry.
Phones and Internet Service
The Thai postal service is very reliable and there are also courier services widely available. Calling abroad is easy but expensive. Internet access is available in all major tourist places and you will find WiFi in most cafes in more developed areas.
People, History & Culture
Originating from southern China, the people that now make up the majority of Thailand's population began migrating into modern-day Thailand around the 7th Century. Since then, the nation has been the center of a great deal of foreign conflict, but it remains the only country in Southeast Asia to have never been under European colonial rule. Instead, Thailand served as a neutral ground between the British and French during colonial times. This independence is a great source of pride for many Thai people.
An overwhelming 95% of Thailand's population are devout Buddhists. A "live and let live" mentality is beautifully interwoven into the fabric of Thai culture, lending to a wide perception of Thailand by outsiders as being an extremely warm and welcoming country, which it is. Even in areas of the deep south, where a significant proportion of the people are Muslim, a shared concept of "Thai-ness", which celebrates diversity and openness, binds people together. The harmony between cultures in Thailand, both local and foreign, and the welcoming nature of its people, have always been one of the country's biggest draws.
Nearly fifteen percent of Thailand's population live in and around metropolitan Bangkok, but a large percentage of Thailand's population still live in rural areas, relying mostly on agriculture. Most of these rural areas are in the northeast of Thailand, and visitors are likely to see the cultural impact that Thailand's place as the second largest exporter of rice has had on its people.
More than anything, visitors to Thailand will find the Thai people's relaxed and joyful attitude towards life vividly apparent. Locals cherish a cheerful and carefree lifestyle, and have a knack for making you smile even during the shortest of exchanges. So effervescent are some Thai locals that Thailand is sometimes referred to as the "Land of Smiles"!
Roughly resembling the shape of an elephant's head, Thailand is in geographic heart of Southeast Asia. It shares borders with Malaysia in the south, Myanmar in the northwest as well as Cambodia and Laos in the northeast, its central location has played a significant role in shaping the country's culture and history and continues to significantly impact it today.
The north of the Thailand is characterised by mountainous territory that increases in height as you approach the northern border. The northeast of Thailand, Isaan, is drier than the rest of Thailand, and is characterised by rolling plains and hills, with vast stretches of area cultivated by rice. Central and southern Thailand are decidedly tropical in nature, with jungle encompassing just about anything that isn't freshly manicured. The east coast of Thailand runs along the Gulf of Thailand while the west coast of Thailand runs along the Andaman Sea. Both coasts boast an astounding number of beaches that are ripe for holidays in paradise.
Transportation throughout Thailand is varied, chaotic and exciting. In the space of a single day one can buzz through bustling streets in a glowing tuk tuk, rub shoulders with a fellow traveller on an ornately-decorated transit bus with its own sound-system and churn through shallow tropical seas on a quirky-looking longtail boat en route to a palm-fringed island. No matter how you get to where you're going in Thailand, the trip there is, more often than not, part of the experience.
The major cities in Thailand often have train and bus terminals that offer convenient means of getting from one place to another over long distances. However, these same cities often offer domestic flights to the same places for prices that rival or sometimes beat those of buses or trains -so be sure to compare prices before booking anything. Although roads and trains are of reasonably high quality in Thailand, flying is easily the most comfortable and convenient way to get around. When travelling in coastal areas, the modus operandis for getting around over long distances is often by ferry.
Thailand's climate is decidedly tropical in nature. With the exception of areas in the far north, Thailand is warm throughout the year. Overall, there are three distinct seasons: a hot season, a hotter season and a rainy season. Weather in the south of Thailand varies considerably less than weather in central areas, and, because of the high elevation, a cool breeze can almost always be found in the northern mountains.
From November through February, rain is less common and temperatures are typically a bit cooler than normal. Consequently, this time of the year is considered to be "high season" for tourism. Expect tourist areas to be more crowded and the prices for travel and accommodation to be considerably more expensive than other times of the year.
March through June are typically the hottest months of the year in Thailand, with temperatures as high as 40°C not being out of ordinary. Be sure to bring plenty of sunblock, as the sun can be unforgiving during this time of the year.
Thailand's monsoon season, also known as rainy season, lasts from July through October, typically peaking in September. In recent years, partly to boost tourism, rainy season has begun to be referred to as "green season" by the Thai Tourism Authority. Although it may seem like a sales gimmick, there is some truth to it. Visitors during this time will notice that foliage is noticeably more vibrant than other times of the year. This gives the entire country a slightly more "tropical" feel. Consequently, when the weather is good during rainy season -which it can be- it's actually the most beautiful time of the year.
Festivals and National Holidays
The biggest holiday of the year in Thailand is Songkran, or Thai New Year. Based on the Thai lunar calendar, it's typically held mid-April and lasts from one to three days. The name "Songkran" comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “passing” or “approaching”. Water plays an important part during the holiday and symbolizes cleansing or renewal. Families traditionally spend the holiday together visiting local temples and enjoying quality time together. While the festival retains its genuinely spiritual roots, it has also taken on a slightly more raucous character in recent years. These days, Songkran is also characterised by a good deal of partying, and the practise of cleansing has turned into all-out water gun fights that take places on streets throughout Thailand. It's great fun, but be prepared for getting wet!
The next biggest holiday in Thailand is Yi Peng (in the north) and Loi Krathong (in the rest of the country). Together, these holidays comprise Thailand’s Festival of Lights, which is one of Southeast Asia's most photogenic occassions. During the Festival of Lights, which takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, people release khom loi (lit lanterns) into the night sky or krathong (small floating vessels made of banana stalks and decorated with flowers and candles) into bodies of water. The effect is extraordinary, as thousands of lit-up vessels float across the waters or up into the air.
Other important holidays include:
- Chulalongkorn Day, 23 October
- Constitution Day, 10 December
- Makha Buddha, 4 March
Bangkok has long held a reputation as being one of the world’s most dynamic and energetic cities. Serving both as a hub for travel in and around Thailand, and as a destination unto itself, Bangkok regularly vies for the title of “world’s most visited city.” Take one look at its spicy and diverse culinary scene, vibrant nightlife, countless temples and pagodas, and down-to-earth people, and it’s pretty easy to see why. Whether you’re just passing through or are planning an extended stay in this electrifying metropolis, you’re almost sure to find something that intrigues you.
A verdant valley on the banks of the Ping River, the northern city of Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. It seamlessly blends past and present, old and new. Within the space of a few hours you can go from misty mountains and colourful ethnic minority groups, to upscale shopping malls, charming alleys full of handicrafts, ancient temples and raucous nightlife. With a distinct northern “Lanna culture” that’s famous for hospitality, if the gorgeous countryside and vibrant city attractions don’t have you wanting to come back for more, the people will.
Pronounced “Poo-ket,” rather than the vulgar-sounding alternative pronunciation, Phuket is among the world’s most popular beach destinations. With omnipresent clear water, clean white-sand beaches, year-round warm weather and a plethora of options for day-trips to more secluded islands, there are plenty of draws to the “jewel of Thailand.” In terms of world-class hotels, resorts, dining and nightlife, no beach destination in Asia even comes close to Phuket for choices –making it the perfect place to go if you’re looking to splurge on a luxurious holiday.
Krabi’s is arguably the epicentre of Thailand’s abundant natural beauty -and rightfully so. With dozens of statuesque islands just off its shores, incredibly lush scenery and westward facing beaches that are host to some of Thailand’s best sunsets, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Krabi. Whether relaxing on one of Krabi’s trademark beaches, braving the world-famous rock-climbing walls, or enjoying a multi-day cruise around the islands, a holiday in Krabi is a perfect getaway destination.
A painless flight from Bangkok to the Surat Thani Province will take you to the Gulf of Thailand, home to a string of scenic islands that boast some of Thailand's best wilderness. Here you'll find the former hippie town of Koh Samui, which is now one of the most popular luxury getaway destinations in the area. Head to Koh Tao for some of Thailand's best snorkeling and diving, and explore Khao Sok National Park for a glimpse at Thailand's magical jungle scenery.
Explore the Cities of Thailand in a Tuk Tuk
Few terms are synonymous with Thailand than “tuk tuk”. Hopping on a tuk tuk while you’re in Thailand is a right of passage for first-timers, and they make for great cultural experiences while getting from A to B as well. Taking city tours in Thailand by way of a tuk tuk is a great way to explore another side of a city, since these adventures typically take travellers to areas that they would otherwise never see.
Go Island Hopping in the South
Island hopping is tropical indulgence at its finest. Thailand’s islands are spectacular destinations for any holiday-maker in search of dramatic coastal scenery. With two distinct coastlines running the length of Thailand, there are countless island destinations to choose from, each with a distinct charm and unique experience. Despite their diversity, nearly all promise translucent water and palm-fringed beaches that are perfect for lounging in the sun.
Visit Charming Floating Markets
Hardly anyone will pay a visit to Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, without experiencing a floating market. The rickety boats piled high with colourful local produce make the perfect backdrops for photos, and they tell a fascinating story about the city’s history and culture. Plus, a visit to Thailand’s floating markets make for perfect day trips, and most offer a glimpse at the country’s merchant culture that’s changed little over the decades.