VISITING THAILAND: Travel Guide
Officially Name: The Kingdom of Thailand
Currency: Thai baht (THB)
Population: 66,720,153 (2011 estimate)
Language: Thai, minority languages
Religion: Buddhism (mainly Theravada), Islam in the south
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz (American and/or European plug)
Country code: +66
Time Zone: UTC +7
Climate: Thailand's climate is tropical, so it's hot and humid all year round with temperatures in the 28-35°C range (82-95°F) there are three distinct seasons – the hot season from March to May, the cool season from November to February and the rainy season from about June to October.
The best time to visit Thailand is from November to February, the weather is cool and dry air. During this cool season, the temperature ranges from 18 to 32 degrees Celsius in Bangkok. While the weather quite cool in the morning temperatures as low as eight to 12 degrees Celsius in northern and northeast Thailand.
March to June is summer period or hot and dry season. The temperatures average around 34 degrees, but can often reach 40 degrees with humidity levels of 75%.
The monsoon is July to October the humidity averages just under 90%, with temperatures averaging around 29 degrees Celsius in a very wet and rainy Bangkok.
The hottest month across the country is on April try to avoid it.
Location: Located in the continent of Asia, Thailand covers 510,890 square kilometers of land and 2,230 square kilometers of water, making it the 51st largest nation in the world with a total area of 513,120 square kilometers. Nearby Countries Cambodia, Viet Nam, Laos, Myanmar, and Malaysia.
Language: The official language of Thailand is Thai, a Siamese language closely related to Lao, Shan in Burma, and numerous smaller languages of southern China and northern Vietnam. It is the principal language of education and government and is spoken throughout the country. The standard is written in the Thai alphabet, an abugida that evolved from the Khmer script.
Several other Tai languages exist: Southern Thai is spoken in the southern provinces, and Lanna is spoken in the provinces that were formerly part of the independent kingdom of Lanna.
Culture: Thailand is separated into four distinct regions. Despite the overarching strength and unity of Thai culture, each region has its own unique cultural and geographic features. The most important influences on Thai culture has been Buddhism. Hinduism has also made important contributions to Thai culture. The cultures of nearby Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and China have also played an important role in forming the traditions of Thailand, as have indigenous belief systems such as Animism.
Northern Thailand shares its border with Myanmar and Laos. Its culture is heavily influenced by Burmese culture and it carries strong influences from the historical Lanna kingdom.
Northeastern Thailand, also known as Isan, is largely isolated from the rest of Thailand by a large mountain range. A Lao-speaking majority, as well as a primarily agricultural society, characterize this culturally distinct region.
Southern Thailand, located on the Malay Peninsula, is home to many of Thailand’s pristine beaches and resorts. With a more tropical climate, this narrow land mass is home to many fishing communities.
It is the region of Central Thailand that is predominant, though. This region is the seat of Thailand’s modern-day capital city, Bangkok. With its fertile plains, it has also long been the economic center of the country, producing the majority of Thailand’s rice. Central Thailand is also the area that has the greatest population density, and the greatest concentration of the ethnic Thai majority. It is the political, economic, and cultural center of Thailand.
Religion: Culture is strongly influenced by religion in Thailand and it’s important to respect the religious customs and beliefs of Thai people as you travel through their beautiful country. As an overview, Buddhism is deeply ingrained in Thai culture, with 95% of the population practicing this religion. Islam accounts for approximately 4% and Christianity for less than 1%.
Money: Thai baht (THB)
Electricity: In Thailand, the power sockets are of type A, B, C, F and O. The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Below you find pictures of the applied power sockets and corresponding plugs.
Accommodation: When you’re in Southeast Asia, Agoda is pretty much the best booking site. While they offer accommodation around the world, their coverage and reviews are best in SEA. Backpackers can also use Hostelworld, although consider that accommodation is often cheap enough that you can swing for a budget guesthouse and private room. If you need some more help on navigating where to stay each night, check out my detailed guide to finding good places to stay.
Food: Thailand has food habits different depending in each part of the country. Northern Thai meals usually feature sticky rice, Nam Prik (spicy chili paste), fresh vegetables, and soup, northeastern Thai meals are famous for their spicy and sour dishes and an essential condiment Pla Ra (fermented fish sauce), while traditional southern foods are well-known for their herbs and spices.
There is also a lot of Chinese influence. Many Chinese restaurants and fusion foods exist in Thailand side by side with the authentic Thai cuisine restaurants. The secret to Thai food is a balance of five flavors: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy. Some Thai dishes have a careful blend of all these tantalizing tastes. Others are served with something to help deal with the overpowering spiciness and rice is always part of a Thai meal. Fish sauce is often used in a similar way salt is, as it mellows the taste, many herbs and spices also used in Thai food.
Entering to Thailand: Primary Airports: Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), Chiang Mai (CNX), Phuket (HKT). Land borders: Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Myanmar.
Visa Information: Generally, the U.S., UK, and EU passports are given a free 30-days as a tourist if you enter by air, and 15 days if you enter overland. Check your visa requirements here. And below I outline how many travelers stay for longer on double-entry and student visas.
When to go: Remember that there are three seasons: summer, winter, and the wet season. The rainy season runs from May until November in most of the country, meaning Thailand travel during that time will bring rainy days. In the South, however, the monsoonal rains fall from April to October along the Andaman Sea coastline, and from September to December along the Gulf of Thailand coast