T h a i l a n d

Climate || People || Religion || History || Customs || Visas || Health regulations Travel to Thailand ||
Travel within Thailand || Banks || Business hours || Car hire || Thai currencyTravellers cheques ||
Currency exchange || Airport tax || Clothing || Electricity || Postal service Taxis ||
Telephone & Fax || Tipping || Sightseeing

Thailand Profile
The Kingdom of Thailand, covering an area of 514,000 square kilometers, lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, roughly equidistant between India and China. It shares borders with Myanmar to the west and north, Laos to the northeast, Kampuchea to the east and Malaysia to the south. Topographically the country is divided into four distinct areas: the mountainous North, the fertile Central Plains, the semi-arid plateau of the Northeast, and the peninsula South distinguished by its many beautiful tropical beaches and offshore Islands.

Country and Travel Information for other Provinces in Thailand
Central Bangkok  Kanchanaburi Ayutthaya Petchaboon
North Chiang Mai Chiang Rai  Mae Hong Son Nan Tak
South Phuket Koh Samui  Krabi/Phi Phi  Chumphon
Phang Nga Trang Satun Hat Yai
East Coast Pattaya Rayong
West Coast Cha-Am  Hua Hin 
Northeast Ubon Ratchathani

Climate
Thailand has a tropical climate with three distinct seasons: Hot (March-May), Rainy (June-October) and Cool (November-February). Average temperatures are around 27° c.

People
Thailand has a population of about 60 million. Ethnic Thais form the majority, though the area has historically been a migratory crossroads, and thus strains of Mon, Khmer, Burmese, Lao, Malay, Indian and, most strongly, Chinese stock produce a degree of ethnic diversity. Integration is such, however, that culturally and socially.

Religion
The national religion is Theravada Buddhism, practised by more than 90 percent of all Thais. The remainder of the population adheres to Muslim, Christian, Hindu and other faiths, all of which are allowed full freedom of expression. Buddhism continues to cast a strong influences on daily life.

History
The Thai people originated in Southeastern China where, in 650 AD they founded the independent kingdom of Nanchao which thrived for 600 years. However, invasions and an unwillingness to be incorporated into mainstream Chinese society led to waves of migrations southward into what is now Thailand. Eventually several groups of Thai migrants united and established Sukhothai as their capital in the mid 13th century.

Although other civilizations had existed on Thai soil much earlier,Sukhothai was the first sovereign kingdom of Thailand. It flourished for over 100 years during which time the distinctive forms of Thai art, architecture and culture were firmly implanted.

At approximately the same time, King Mengrai, an ally of Sukhothai, was establishing the northern Lannathai Kingdom, centered on Chiang Mai which was founded in 1296.

In the mid 14th century a new and more powerful dynasty arose at Ayutthaya, an island city in the Chao Phraya River 85 kilometers north of present day Bangkok.

Quickly gaining in wealth, military might and prestige, Ayutthaya absorbed the former kingdom of Sukhothai and remained Thailand's capital for 417 years,holding sway over most of the country except the North.

Ayutthaya prospered steadily, reaching the height of its power in the 17th century when diplomatic relations with the West were established and trade agreements made with the leading European powers of the day. Weakened by internal conflicts, Ayutthaya fell to the Burmese in 1767.

After fleeing south the survivors of Ayutthaya were rallied under king Taksin who founded a new capital at Thonburi and eventually succeeded in expelling the Burmese from Thai soil.

On the death of Taksin in 1782 Chao Phraya Chakri was proclaimed king and as Rama I was founder of the present Chakri dynasty. For strategic purposes he moved his capital across the Chao Phraya River to Bangkok.

Under the Chakri Kings the borders of Thailand were consolidated and other parts of the country were gradually brought under the full control of the central government. Rama VI (King Mongkut, 18511868), secured ties with the West, especially with France and Britain, while at the same time, assuring his country's independence and avoiding the colonial fate of all Thailand's neighbours.

King Mongkut's successor, Rama V (King Chulalongkorn, 1868-1910), brought about many social and political reforms that firmly guided Thailand into the 20th century.

The absolute monarchy was to continue through the reign of Rama IV (1910-1925) and into that of Rama VII (1925-1934). But in 1932 a coup d'etat succeeded in bringing about a change to a constitutional monarchy. Rama VII accepted the situation although he abdicated two year after the coup.

The throne passed to the young King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) who was succeeded by his brother King Bhumipol (Rama IX), the present monarch.

Useful Information
Customs

One litre of alcoholic beverage and 200 cigarettes, plus reasonable personal effects(such as one still camera, one movie or video camera, personal jewellery etc) may be brought in duty free and taken out on departure.

Narcotics, drugs, pornographic material and firearms are strictly prohibited.
Unlimited foreign currency, traveller's cheques, money orders etc may be brought into the country, but any amount over US$10,000 must be declared on entry. Amount taken out of the country may never exceed that declared upon entry.

Visas
Most nationalities do not require a visa for a stay of up to 30 days provided they have a ticket for onward travel. Longer visits require a visa obtainable from Thai embassies and consulates. Tourists visas permit stays up to 90 days. For full details, contact your nearest Thai embassy or consulate.

Do I need a visa?
Temporary visitors who are exempted from applying for entry visa must be of the nationality of and holding valid passport or traveling documents issued by :

Americas  : Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, U.S.A.
Asia : Bahrain, Brunei, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, 
  Myanmar, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, *Republic of Korea, 
  Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkey, United Arab Emirates
Pacific : Australia, Fiji, *New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, 
  Vanuatu, Western Samoa.
Africa : Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, 
  Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, Yemen.
Europe : Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, 
  Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, 
  Portugal, Slovene, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K.

Persons meeting the above conditions are exempted from visa and are permitted to remain in the Kingdom for a period not exceeding 30 days, except for the nationals of the Republic of Korea and New Zealand, who are permitted to stay in Thailand for maximum 90 days from the days of entry.

Note : Please check the period of stay stamped in your passport upon entry into the kingdom

For more details contact :
The Immigration Division, Soi Suan Phlu, Sathon Tai Rd., Bangkok 10120
Tel : (662) 287-3101 to 10
Fax : (662) 287-1740

Health regulations
No inoculations or vaccinations are required unless you are coming from or passing through contaminated areas.

Travel to Thailand
Most visitors arrive through Bangkok's Don Muang International Airport which is connected by daily flights to Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. Flights, from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Hong Kong, land on a regular basis at Chiangmai, Koh Samui, Phuket and Hat Yai. Charter flights sometimes land in Bangkok, Phuket, and at U-Taphao for Pattaya.

Regular rail services link Singapore and Bangkok intermediary stops include Kuala Lumpur, Butterworth, Penang and major southern Thai towns.

Overland entry to Thailand is restricted to three road crossings on the Thai- Malaysian border, and the bridge spanning the Mekong River between Laos and Thailand at Nong Kai.

There are no regular steamship connection with Thailand. Cargo ships calling at Bangkok's Khlong Toei port sometimes have passenger cabin facilities. Cruise ships, such as Cunard's Queen Elizabeth II, periodically visit Pattaya.

Travel within Thailand
Thai Airways International (THAI) operates a wide domestic network with daily flights linking virtually all major towns with Bangkok. Ground transportation is extremely comprehensive and comparatively inexpensive. There are convenient rail connections with the North, Northeast and South, while air conditioned coach and government bus services are operated from Bangkok to all town throughout the country. Rental cars are also readily available.

Banks
Banks provide standard services nationwide, Monday through Friday, except public and bank holidays, between 10.00 AM. and 3.30 PM. Bank currency exchange centres operate from 7.00 AM. to 9.00 PM, seven days a week including holidays.

Business hours
Most commercial concerns in Bangkok operate on a five-day week. Government offices are generally open between 8.30 AM and 4.30 PM with a noon to 1.00 PM lunch break, Monday through Friday, except on public holidays Private businesses maintain much the same hours -perhaps 8.00 AM to 5.00 PM with certain exceptions. Many stores open 12 hours a day, seven day a week.
There are also efficient business centres available if you are in business in Thailand for a few days.

Car hire
The Bangkok Yellow Pages lists local and international automobile rental companies Self-drive and chauffeur-driven automobiles are widely available. Car hire companies also operate in Pattaya, Hat Yai, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Those possessing valid International Driver Licenses may prefer to hire automobiles.

Thai currency
The baht is divided into 100 satang. "Copper" coins are valued at 25 and 50 satang. Silver coins are in denominations of 1,2 and 5 baht. Banknotes are valued at 10 baht (brown), 20 baht (green), 50 baht (blue), 100 bath (red). 500 baht (purple) and 1000 baht (khaki)

Travellers cheques / credit cards
US dollar travellers cheques can be conveniently cashed at all provincial banks and authorized money changers. Travellers cheques in other currencies are best changed in Bangkok where better rates prevail.

Major international credit cards, such as American Express, Diners Club and VISA are accepted by major banks, restaurants, hotels and shops.

Currency exchange
Exchange facilities for cash and traveller' cheque are available in banks, hotels, and foreign exchange booths located in tourists areas.

Airport tax
Outgoing passengers on international flights from Bangkok's Don Muang airport must pay 500 baht. 30 baht per person is collected for Domestic flight except Samui flight, at baht 400 per person is collected at Samui Airport.

Clothing
Light, loose cotton clothing is best. Nylon should be avoided. Sweaters are needed during cool season evenings or if visiting mountainous areas and remote national parks.

Electricity
Thiland operates exclusively on 220 volt, 50 cycle AC power

Postal services
To send letters or packages to any desired destinations is very convenient for visitors to Thailand. Post offices as well as most hotels offer good postal services.

Taxis
Hotel taxis have fixed tariffs. Taxis cruising the streets of Bangkok have meters.

Telephone & Fax
In Thailand, you can contact virtually any city in the world without difficulty International phone calls, telegraph, telex, and bureau fax services are available at International Telecommunication Services Center, near Bangkok's Central Post Central as well as in most hotels.

Tipping
It is customary to tip hotel personnel who have given good personal service. A 10% tip is appreciated in restaurants, particularly where service charge is waived.

SIGHTSEEING

For additional information on the following sights, contact:
Tourism Authority of Thailand
Tourist Assistance Center
4 Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue
Bangkok 10100
Tel (02) 281-5051 or (02) 282-8129
Fax: (02) 280-1998

Ancient City
(Muang Boran)
This outdoor museum is filled with replicas of Thailand's most magnificent monuments and temples.
Samut Prakarn
Bangkok
Tel (02) 224-1057

Crocodile Farm and Zoo
This is the world's oldest and largest crocodile farm.
Bangkok
Tel (02) 387-0020

Emerald Buddha
(Wat Phra Keo)
This is the most respected Buddha image in Thailand, carved from green jade. The King himself visits here 3 times a year to change the Buddha'ss gold clothing.
Maharaj Rd.
Bangkok
Tel (02) 222-8181

River Kwai Bridge
The River Kwai and an infamous prisoner- of- war camp in which thousands of allied troops died following their capture by occupying Japanese forces. Many of these soldiers are buried in Kanchanaburi's Commonwealth War Cemetery.

Floating Market
The most colourful of Thailand's floating markets is the one at Damnoen Saduak in Ratchaburi Province, about 104 kilometres southwest of Bangkok.



Rose Garden Country Resort

Thai cultural village with dance performances, elephants at work and Buddhist ordination ceremonies.
Petkasem Rd.
Tel (02) 253-0295

Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo
Filled with elephants and numerous other forms of animal life.
117 Moo 6 Petchakasem Highway
Samphran
Nakhon Pathom
Bangkok Office: Tel (02) 284-0273

Temple of Dawn
Wat Arun
This is the tallest tower in Thailand.
Arun Amarin Rd.
Bangkok
Tel (02) 282-1143

Temple of the Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho ( click for postcard )
This temple is the oldest center of learning in Thailand with a 145ft (46m) long, 49ft (15m) high, gold-plated, reclining Buddha.
Chetuphon Rd.
Bangkok
Tel (02) 222-0933

Thailand Cultural Center
This is the center for domestic and international cultural exchange. It is often the venue for art shows by the country's leading artists.
Ratchadaphisek Road
Bangkok
Tel (02) 245-7711

Vimanmek Palace
This is the world's largest building made entirely of golden teak. Rachvithi Rd.
Tel (02) 222-0859

Ocean World Amusement Park
Kids will enjoy the water-oriented activities in this amusement park.
Beach Rd.
Bang Saen

Nao National Park
This beautiful park has caves, waterfalls and assorted flora.
Phetchabun
Northern Thailand

Phuket Orchid Garden and Thai Village
Acres of lush greenery and breathtaking orchid gardens.
5/11 Moo 6 Thepkasattri Rd.
Phuket
Tel (076) 214-860

Phuket Butterfly Garden and Aquarium
A large display of different kinds of butterflies and fish.
71/6 M. 5 Soi Paneang
Phuket
Tel (076) 210-859

Siam Park City
This is a water world, theme park and fair rolled into one.
101 Sukhapibarn 2 Rd.
Bangkapi, Bangkok
Tel (02) 517-1032

Sukhothai Historical Park
Among the attractions here are the remains of the Royal Palace, several Buddhist temples and a system of canals and ponds.
Sukkothai
North Thailand

Kamthieng House
Ethnological Museum
Preserves the traditional technologies and folk arts of Northern Thailand.
131 Soi 21 (Asoke) Sukhumvit Road
Bangkok
Tel (02) 258-3491

Museum of Forensic Medicine
This is one of the more unusual sights in Thailand. On display are preserved bodies of infamous murderers and a bisected head with a bullet lodged in the brain.
Sirirat Hospital
2 Prannok Road
Thon Buri
Bangkok
Tel (02) 411-2003 or (02) 411-0241

National Museum
Artifacts here date back to the Neolithic times. Guided tours are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
4 Na Phrathat Rd.
Bangkok
Tel (02) 224-1396

Prasat Museum
This is a private collection of Thai arts.
Bangkok
Tel (02) 253-9772

SPORTS

The Thais have adopted a number of modern forms of recreation such as golf, tennis, ice skating, and bowling. But the local sports of boxing and kite fighting are still very much the preferred spectator sport in Thailand.

Thai Boxing is the most popular and exciting spectator sport in Thailand, as well as a means of self-defense for the Thai people. It also holds the prestige of being the largest spectator "ring sport" in the world. Unlike the Western-style of boxing, Thai Boxers are allowed to use their feet, elbows, legs and shoulders. Bouts are held at the Ratchadamnoen Stadium and Lumpini Stadium. Thai Boxing may also be seen on television every day, usually in the evening. This is truly an unbelievable sport to see in person, yet the squimish probably should not attend, as it is quite violent.

An ancient local sport played and patronized by the Kings of Thailand for centuries is kite fighting, a contest which is held from March to April at the Sanam Luang in Bangkok. The Thais make kites in hundreds of different forms and colors. Each kite is huge in size and requires a number of people to fly it. Kites are classified as "chulas" (male) or "pukpaos" (female). The object of the contest is to force the opposition's kite to land in your half of the field while thousands of people cheer.

Takraw is another traditional Thai game. It involves the use of a takraw ball, five to six inches in diameter, made of rattan. Using their head, feet, knees or elbows, players hit the ball over a net to another team.

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