Thailand is called 'The Land of Smiles' and lives up to this. Thailand offers beaches, cities, mountains and culture. Thailand is one of the most family friendly holiday destinations in the world. It has a well developed tourist infrastructure that makes getting around the country, booking hotels and enjoying many adventurous activities easy and manageable.
Thailand has become one of the most loved travel destinations in the world. It is located about 9 hours flight time from the east coast
of Australia. Thailand has an area of 513,120 square kilometres. In the north you'll find mountainous regions, contrasting with the plains of central and northeastern
Thailand. Southern Thailand has some of the most attractive beaches and islands in the world. Bangkok, the capital, is a large, bustling city.
Bangkok's airport is the Bangkok International Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). It is located 36 km east of downtown Bangkok. Domestic airports are also located over Thailand, including Phuket and Chiang Mai.
The population of Thailand is 67 million people, and almost three quarters of the population is made up of the Thai group and the hill tribes that live primarily in the north. Previously known as Siam, it was renamed to Thailand in 1949.
Phuket offers beautiful white palm-lined beaches, superb hospitality and great value accommodation. Phuket is the largest island in Thailand. It is just over an hour's fight from Bangkok, and has daily connections to most major Asian airports.
The cuisine of Thailand is loved all around the world but is even more delicious in its native setting. Lime juice, lemon grass and fresh coriander give the food its
characteristic tang, while fresh chillies are used to add some fire to many dishes.
Thailand's climate is tropical, high in temperature and humidity, and dominated by monsoons. April and May are the hottest months of the year. The best time to visit Thailand is from November to the end of February, less humid and with cooling breezes.
Temples (wats) play an important part in Buddhist traditions. They are a unique part of Thailand. In Bangkok, the spire of Wat Arun is a world-famous landmark. Visitors are requested to respect the dress code when entering the temples.
There is something for every interest and every price bracket in Thailand, from beach front backpacker bungalows to some of the best luxury hotels in the world.
Waterfalls can be found all over Thailand. The Heo Suwat Waterfall in Khao Yai National Park and the 7-tiered Erawan Falls in Kanchanaburi are among the most visited. The limestone formations of the Phang Nga Bay shouldn't be missed - James Bond Island and Koh Panyee are two of the more famous spots in this bay.
Traditional Thai massage has a history of more than 2,500 years and many Thais believe that these massages are beneficial for ailing diseases and general well-being. There is usually an option for every budget, varying from extravagant spas in the five star hotels to the little massage shops found on many street corners.
Population: Around 67 million people live in Thailand.
Location: Thailand is a Southeast Asian kingdom almost equidistant between India and China. Thailand shares borders with Myanmar to the west and north, Laos to the northeast, Kampuchea to the West, and Malaysia to the south.
Economy: Thailand's economy is heavily export-dependent. Industries include tourism, agriculture, automobile manufacturing and electronics.
Language: Thai is the national language of Thailand.
Religion: Buddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.7%, other 0.1%
Climate: Thailand has a warm, tropical climate affected by an annual monsoon, with a rainy season from June to October and a dry season the rest of the year. The summer period, or hot and dry season, is from March to June. At this time temperatures in Bangkok average around 34C, but can often reach 40C with the humidity levels of 75%. The best time to visit Thailand is from November to February when the northeast monsoon is blowing cool, dry air which serves as a respite from the heat. During this cool season, the temperature ranges from 18C to 32C in Bangkok.
Currency: Baht. Bills come in denominations of 1000, 500, 100, 50 and 20. Coins are 10, 5, 1 and tiny satangs. Make sure you exchange money only with licensed money changers.
Time Zone: Thailand is 3 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time. There is no daylight saving time in Thailand.
Driving: There are many places to hire a car in Thailand, from small local businesses through to International companies. You will need an International driver's license. Once you get out of Bangkok, Thailand is actually a really pleasant place to drive. Highways are well maintained and serve most of the country, and road customs are not too difficult to understand. In Bangkok traffic can be bad and tailgating and cutting in rules are probably much different than you're used to. Driving is on the left hand side of the road.
Taxis: Taxis in Thailand are plentiful. It is always better to make sure the taxi driver uses the fare meter in the greater Bangkok area. Motorcycle taxis are very common in Thailand. They are fast, convenient and cheap. Somewhat like motorcycle taxis, tuk tuks are usually used by residents for short distances. Remember with tuk tuk's, you must negotiate the price before getting in.
Flying Times To Thailand: Approximately 9 hours from Australia's east coast.
Passports: All visitors to Thailand must have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity beyond the date of arrival.
VISAS: Australian tourists travelling to Thailand through one of the international airports on an Australian passport may currently enter Thailand for up to 30 days without obtaining a visa in advance. This is referred to as a "visa exemption". Australian tourists travelling overland into Thailand through a border crossing may enter Thailand for up to 15 days without obtaining a visa in advance. A visa is required for longer stays or for travellers intending to work or to travel for other than tourism purposes in Thailand.
Departure tax: Departure taxes from Thailand are included in the cost of your ticket.
Health: The standard of medical facilities throughout Thailand varies. While private hospitals with international standard facilities can be found in major cities, services can be limited elsewhere. Be sure you have good travel insurance. It is a good idea to have vaccinations before travelling. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea. Avoid unpasteurised dairy products. Drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food.
Electricity: Current is 220V, 50Hz. Outlets generally accept flat blade or two round pins plugs. Adaptors are cheap and for sale everywhere.
Departing: All departures at Bangkok Airport are handled at the airline check-in counters located on the fourth floor of the Departure Terminal. Always be prepared to arrive at least two and a half hours before international departures or 80 minutes before domestic departures. There are plenty of places to eat and shop in the departure hall.
Arriving: Suvarnabhumi International Airport is a grand vision of modern air travel, with its sophisticated design and facilities.
This gateway to the cosmopolitan heart of Bangkok is situated approximately 36km east of downtown, on a 32km sq plot of land.
Your arrival at the main terminal building may be through a terminal gate or bus gate, depending on your airline and flight route. For bus gates, you will be brought to within a
few hundred metres of Immigration whereas via the terminal gates, you may have to walk for quite a bit before getting to Immigration.
There are various ways to get into Bangkok from the airport. A metered taxi will cost you a total of 350-400 baht for the 40 minute drive. The Airport Express Bus, at 150 baht flat rate, is probably the best deal if you are heading to one of the destinations along the 4 available routes: Silom Road, Sukhumvit Road, Khaosan Road and Hualampong Railway Station. The journey should take about 45 minutes. The airport also has a rail link system that can get you to the city centre in 15 minutes. You can also take a public bus, airport limousine, public van or rent a car.
There are many airlines that fly regularly from Australia to Thailand. You can get a direct flight to Bangkok on Thai, Qantas, British Airways, Jetstar, Emirates and Virgin Australia. There are connections here to all airports in Thailand.
Thai, Jetstar and Virgin Australia also fly direct to Phuket. Phuket international Airport is the second busiest in Thailand and 10 airlines are on service here.
One of the world's most exotic and colourful cities. Known for its temples and palaces, floating markets and nightlife. Shopping is great in Bangkok from fashion, jewellery, electronics, fabric to bargains at Chatuchak Weekend Market. Food is a large part of your Bangkok experience, and the variety is vast.
Chiang Mai is a large and ancient city of northern Thailand. It is a great place for the adventurous with activities including elephant trekking, rafting, climbing, bicycling. There is fantastic handicraft shopping and delicious food. There are over 300 temples in Chiang Mai.
Koh Samui is the largest of the group of islands in the Gulf of Thailand, 450km south of Bangkok. With unspoilt beaches and popular diving spots, it is an ideal place for travellers wishing to enjoy quiet beach holidays in beautiful surroundings.
Phuket is Thailand's largest island and most popular holiday destination. This southern province is famous for its beautiful and white beaches, old temples like Wat Chalong, and beautiful scenery. Snorkelling, scuba diving and kayaking are among the water sports available. There is a great choice of restaurants and nightlife.
In Eastern Thailand, Pattaya is one of the most famous beach destinations in Thailand. Renowned for its nightlife with many go-go and beer bars. Its many hotels make it an ideal weekend getaway but probably not the best family-friendly destination.
The most popular destination on the Andaman Coast after Phuket. Pristine beaches, impressive cliffs, clear water and fascinating marine life. It's very laid back, affordable and there are no roads.
All over Thailand there are ecotours offering elephant trekking. Lumbering through the jungle on the back of a swaying elephant is an unforgettable experience.
Splash Jungle Water Park, Phuket
Splash Jungle at Mai Kao Beach offers a great day out on exciting water slides, rides and more - all in one themed water park. If you're looking for a place to take the kids for an exciting and invigorating day out, Splash Jungle is the perfect destination.
Sea Kayaking, Phuket
Phang Nga Bay is where some of the most spectacular sites for paddlers can be found. The strange and beautiful limestone scenery around this area contains a secret world of karsts, caves, tunnels and interior lagoons.
For an afternoon of fun the Phuket Aquarium is required viewing. Recently renovated and with thousands of tropical, colourful and exotic marine creatures, the Aquarium is a hit with youngsters. Located at Cape Panwa.
A show that combines disappearing elephants with an audio visual feast of acrobatics, spectacular fireworks, air ballet and special effects. This spectacular show combines visual effects with elements of Thai tradition. Located at Kamala Beach.
Dream World, Bangkok
Dream World is enormous, with 3 sections - Fantasy Land, Dream Garden and Adventure Land - a Hollywood action show, Colors of the World parade, an Animal show and a Seven Wonders of the World exhibit.
Chiang Mai Zoo
Set in a lush and hilly area on the road to Doi Suthep this is a fun trip for both adults and kids. There is a 1,442sqm area designed especially for kids with animal exhibits, a cognitive development centre, playground, sand area and lotus pond.
The major issues facing travellers to Thailand are those associated with local hygiene, safe water & food, diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and accidents.
Traveller's diarrhoea is the most common travel-related ailment. The cornerstone of prevention is food and water precautions. Avoid unpasteurized milk and any products that might have been made from unpasteurized milk, such as ice cream. Fruits and vegetables should not be eaten unless they have been peeled or cooked.
Thoroughly cooked food is usually safe as long as it has not been left standing or has been re-heated. Stick to the major resorts and popular and busy restaurants.
Tap water in Thailand should not be consumed unless it has been boiled, filtered, or chemically disinfected. Stick to bottled water and avoid ice in your drinks. Take care that bottled water that you buy is properly sealed and not just re-filled from a tap. Be sure to pack a medical kit when traveling with children.
Insect protection measures are recommended for all areas reporting malaria, including Phang Nga and Phuket. The recommended vaccinations for Thailand are - Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all travellers over 1 year of age; Typhoid vaccine is recommended for all travellers, with the exception of short-term visitors who restrict their meals to major restaurants and hotels, such as business travellers; Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all travellers if not previously vaccinated; currency of your basic immunisations such as Tetanus & Diphtheria should be checked.
Excellent medical care is available in Bangkok. Outside Bangkok, medical care may be variable, and it may be difficult to find an English-speaking physician. Medical services for the traveller can be costly so travel health insurance is recommended. For a public ambulance in Thailand, call 1669.
There are 4 main Thai languages spoken in Thailand - Central Thai, Southern Thai, Northeastern Thai and Northern Thai, but the language referred to as Standard Thai is close to Central Thai.
Thai is a very complicated language to learn with a unique alphabet to make it even more difficult. To master a few words is not difficult however and will be greatly appreciated by the locals.
Some of the more common Thai words and phrases are:
chai - yes.
mai-chai - no.
ka-ru-na - please.
kob-khun - thankyou.
kob-khun-mark - thankyou very much.
mai-pen-rai - you're welcome.
sa-wat-dee - hello.
lar-korn - goodbye.
sa-was-dee-torn-chao - goodmorning.
ra-tree-sa-was - goodnight.
sa-was-dee-torn-bai - goodafternoon.
dee - good.
mai-dee - bad.
chan-mai-kao-jai (f) pom-mai-kao-jai (m) - I do not understand.