Thailand Quick Introduction
Thailand is a traveller’s paradise with amazing beaches and islands, Buddhist temples and the metropolis of Bangkok.
The rapid economic development is due in many respects to the tourist trade in the region so the country is full of contrasts and contradictions.
• Bangkok has sucked in so many other cultures it’s a clash of architectural styles. It is the cultural and political centre of the nation and is a bustling city that will always surprise you.
• It is famous for Ayuthaya, which was the Thai capital built between 1350 and 1767 with its elaborate temple ruins, each distinct and fascinating. Chiang Mai has temples but is best to go for the bazaar. You can see the floating market in Nakhon Pathom.
• The islands are perhaps the most controversial of Thai tourist attractions, from the debates created and highlighted by the film ‘The Beach’. Phuket, Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan are tourist resorts and have beautiful beaches and temples.
• If you want to go further than most you could always visit Chachoengsao (famous for its Buddha imagery) and Ko Si Chang with its hermit caves. There is the Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung Historical Park with its Khmer temple and Angkor architecture and Thaleh Ban National Park and the Meranti River.
• There are many festivals in Thailand, which follow the lunar calendar and the Buddhist and Brahman traditions. The rice planting season sparks off plenty of festivals in early May. In the Northeast in May there is a rocket festival. The harvest is celebrated in September and May with lots of local celebrations. Phuket has a vegetarian festival for nine days in late September and early August. The elephant roundup in Surin and the Hoi Krathong Festival of candle-lit floats happen in November.
Temperature and Climate
• It’s best to go between November and February, or to the South in March or May. November or December is the best time to go to Bangkok as gets extremely hot in April and October.
• The climate is controlled by the monsoons that fall in May, June or November. It’s dry and cooler between November and May. The heat rises in March to May. Travel
• It's expensive to fly to Bangkok as there is a tourist tax but you can visit via rail from Malaysia and Singapore on four border crossings. The Orient Express travels from Singapore to Bangkok but is very expensive. There are border crossings for foreigners on the Mekong River to China and Laos by ferry. The trains are good and comfortable and the buses are fast and well serviced. There are even women-only buses.
• For everyday transport there are taxis, motorised rickshaws (tuk tuks), bicycle rickshaws (samlors) and small pickups (songthoews) that use registered routes. Taxis are metered in Bangkok but unfortunately aren’t anywhere else. You will have to bargain and you’ll need to agree on the fare before you go. You can rent cars and jeeps in Bangkok and they travel on the left side of the road. Motorcycles can be rented in major towns but the motorcycles aren’t always up to scratch so check their condition.
Things you need to know before you go
• The population is 62 million and the currency is the Baht. £1 equals 74 Baht.
• You need a visa to stay
• You will probably need jabs for Rabies, Dengue Fever, and Japanese B Encephalitis, hepatitis and have medication for Malaria, but its best to check with your embassy to be sure.
• You should be wary of your personal security on public transport, especially unlicensed taxis (shown by their black and white plates) that should never be taken at night by women. The licensed taxis have black and yellow plates.
• Always lock hotel rooms and check for peepholes and get a receipt for valuables in hotel safes especially in Chiang Mai.
Phrases you can’t survive without:
Yes Chai/ krap /ka
Thank you Korp khun
Hello/goodbye Sa wat dee
Pleased to meet you Yindee tee ai roo jak
How are you? Sa bai dee reu Pardon Aria na
Sorry/excuse me Kor toht
Do you understand? Kao jai mai?
I understand Kao jai
I’m lost Long tahng
Do you speak English? Kun poot pah-sah argnit dai bahng?