Neighboring countries: Myanmar and Laos to the north, Myanmar to the west, Laos, and Cambodia to the east, and Malaysia to the south.
Area: 514,000 sq km (200,000 sq miles)
Population: 69,267,747 (2019)
Time Zone: GMT+7 hours
Religion: Buddhism (93.58%), Islam (4.94%), Christianity (1.20%), Hinduism (0.06%), other religions (0.11%)
Currency: Thai Bath – THB ($1 = 30.364 Thai Baht – Jan 2020)
Visa & Travel
Visa Exemption Rule
The rule allows tourists from 55 countries to enter Thailand without a visa. They are granted to stay a maximum of 30 days if they are entering Thailand via an international airport or entering through a land border checkpoint from neighboring countries.
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam.
Under the new provisions of the VISA EXEMPTION RULE and BILATERAL AGREEMENT effective December 31, 2016, passport holders of 55 countries are entitled to enter Thailand under this rule provided that they meet the following criteria:
1. The visit is strictly for tourism purposes.
2. They must have a confirmed return ticket to show that they are flying out of Thailand within 30 days of entry, as appropriate. Open tickets do not qualify. Traveling overland out of Thailand by train, bus, etc to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia (including en route to Singapore), Myanmar, etc may be accepted as proof of exiting Thailand. You may be asked to show your flight ticket on entering Thailand. If you do not possess a flight ticket to show you will be exiting Thailand within 30 days of entry you will be most likely refused entry.
3. It will also be necessary to prove that you have funds of at least 10,000 THB ($330) per person during your stay in Thailand.
Visa On Arrival
List of countries whose nationals may apply for a visa at the Immigration Checkpoints for the touristic purpose only and for a period not exceeding 15 days:
Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.
The VISA ON ARRIVAL allows passport holders of 21 countries to enter Thailand under this rule provided that they meet these requirements:
4. The visit is strictly for tourism purposes.
5. The passport must be genuine and should be valid for at least 30 days.
6. You must have a valid address in Thailand whether a hotel or apartment that can be verified.
7. You must have a confirmed return ticket to show that they are flying out of Thailand within 15 days of entry, as appropriate. Open tickets do not qualify. Traveling overland out of Thailand by train, bus, etc to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia (including en route to Singapore), Myanmar, etc is not accepted as proof of exiting Thailand. You may be asked to show your flight ticket on entering Thailand. If you do not possess a flight ticket to show that you will be exiting Thailand within 15 days of entry you will be most likely refused entry.
8. It will also be necessary to prove that you have funds of at least 10,000 THB ($330) per person and 20,000 THB ($660) per family during your stay in Thailand.
9. A fee of 2,000 THB ($64) is payable upon entry and is subject to change without notice. It must be paid in cash and Thai currency only.
Stay of Extension
Those who wish to stay longer or may wish to change their type of visa must file an application for permission at the:
Office of Immigration Bureau: Government Center B, Chaengwattana Soi 7, Laksi, Bangkok 10210
Tel. +66 214 198 89 or at http://www.immigration.go.th.
The extension of stay as well as the change of certain types of visas is solely at the discretion of the Immigration office.
TOURIST VISA FOR OTHER COUNTRIES
Nationals of certain countries are required to apply for a visa only at the Thai Embassy or Consulate-General in their home/ residence country or at the designated Thai Embassy. Therefore, travelers are advised to contact the nearest Thai Embassy or Consulate-General to find out where they may apply for a visa to Thailand before departure.
In case of overstay: There is a minimum charge of 500 Baht per day. This goes to a maximum of 20,000 Baht for overstays of 40 days or longer.
In addition, there is a risk of being held in detention, fined, deported at the owner’s expense, and black-listed from re-entering Thailand.
The only legal way of getting a new visa, entry permit, or extension of stay is from a Thai Embassy or Consulate, an Immigration Officer at a point of entry into Thailand, or one of the Immigration Offices around the country. Visas issued by visa shops, travel agents, or by any other means are likely to be illegal and can lead to criminal proceedings.
Buddha images or statues over 12 cm or 5 inches are at risk of being confiscated upon departure; that’s why the following guidelines must be followed:
The Buddha images must be a full image, not just a part like a hand or head.
One cannot take more than 5 Buddha images out of Thailand on a single trip.
If applying for an export permit, the permit should be planned 4 to 5 days before the process; apply at the local Fine Arts Department, and submit one permit for every image
The following is an extract from the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the export of images of Buddha:
Buddha images, Bodhisattva images, or related fragments, part of ancient monuments and prehistoric objects, are forbidden to be taken out of the Kingdom. Newly cast images of Buddha in complete condition can be exported for worship, cultural exchange, or educational purposes with licenses issued by the Fine Arts Department. Not more than 5 pieces per person shall be allowed.
Reproductions of antiquities can also be exported with licenses.
Procedures to obtain a license for the export of antiquities or Buddha images
The following documents should be produced together with the application form:
Two copies (3×5 inches) of front view photograph of the object(s), a photocopy of the applicant’s passport (in case of export of Buddha images the photocopy of the passport must be certified as a true copy by the related Embassy or Consulate in Thailand). Bring the object(s) and the documents to apply for a license at any of the following places:
Office of Fine Arts Department Locations
Office of Archaeology and National Museums, 81/1 Si Ayutthaya Road, Theves, Dusit, Bangkok, Tel: 0 2628 5032
Chiang Mai National Museum, Superhighway Road, Amphoe Muang, Chiang Mai, Tel: (053) 221-308
Songkhla National Museum, 13/1 Jana Road, Tambon Bohyang, Amphoe Muang, Songkhla, Tel: (074) 311-728, 311-881
Thalang National Museum, Tambon Si Sunthorn, Amphoe Thalang, Phuket, Tel: (076) 311-426
Best Time to Visit
The best to visit Thailand is during the cool and dry season between November and early April when temperatures range from 84°F-97°F. However, the climate varies throughout the country, so you can visit all year round.
Almost 70 foreign airlines have licenses from Thai authorities to serve the country and are respecting international standards. It includes Aeroflot, Air France, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Lufthansa, United Airlines, or Swiss Air. Thai Airways, which is one of the most consider airlines in the world, is offering the most destinations and the best services to and from Thailand.
Suvarnabhumi Airport of Bangkok is the most important international airport in the country, many flights to Thailand are leading to there. However, many flights from Asia are landing in other international airports of the country such as Chiang Mai, Phuket, or Hat Yai.
Thailand / Lao borders
Huay Xai/Chiang Khong
Muang Ngeun/Huay Kon
Nam Hueng/Tha Li
Tha Khaek/Nakhon Phanom
Vang Tao/Chong Mek
Thailand / Cambodia borders
Hat Lek, Thailand/Koh Kong, Cambodia
Chong Jom, Thailand/O’Smach, Oddar Meanchey, Cambodia
Chong Sa Ngam, Thailand/Anlong Veng, Oddar Meanchey, Cambodia.
Ban Pakard, Chantaburi, Thailand/Phsar Prom Pailin, Cambodia (Prom Checkpoint)
Ban Laem, Chantaburi, Thailand/Daung Lem, Battambang, Cambodia (Daung Checkpoint)
Thailand / Malaysia borders
Ban Ta Ba
Border crossings are only daylight hours open, except for Sadao and Pedang Besar. Boat crossing is usual between Thailand and Malaysia, the most popular crossing border are Kuala Perlis, Pedang Besar, Sadao, and Sungai Kolok.
Thailand / Myanmar borders
Mai Sai – Tachilek
Mae Sot – Myawaddy
Phunaron – Htee Kee
Ranong – Kawthoung
Sangkhla Buri – Payathonzu – the Three Pagodas Pas
Bangkok has a huge number of taxis for reasonable prices since they are equipped with meters. However, outside of the capital, it is rare to find taxis with meters. In this case, ask for the price and negotiate before entering the taxi.
Avoid taking a taxi near hotels and tourist attractions.
All the official taxis will have a yellow registration plate.
Make sure to have some small banknotes and change, in case the driver doesn’t have change.
A Tuk-Tuk is a classic vehicle in Thailand. They are easy to find, especially in Bangkok, due to their typical colors and the sound they make. It is a really good experience for tourists and a way to move quickly. It is better to ask the price before going in a tuk-tuk.
Metropolitan Rail Lines
Thailand has three primary metropolitan rail lines which are the BTS Skytrain, MRT underground lines, and airport rail link. All of these metropolitan rail lines are linked together.
Unlimited single-day and various multi-day passes can be purchased for both the BTS Skytrain and MRT underground, many of which are ideal for tourists wishing to explore the city, though such cards are not transferable between the two independently owned rail lines and must be purchased separately. The BTS Skytrain card can buy only at the BTS Skytrain station.
Bangkok Skytrain (BTS)
There are two types of railroads in Thailand. The first one is the BTS Skytrain composed of two lines (green), and the second one is the MRT underground (blue).
The first line of the BTS Skytrain is Sukhumvit Line and follows Sukhumvit road, a very busy street, with many shops, restaurants, and hotels. In the north, it leads to Mo Chit, near the northern bus terminal and the JJ Weekend Market, where it is possible to change for the MRT underground. Others changes on the Sukhumvit Line are located at Asoke station for the BTS and Sukhumvit station for MRT.
The second BTS Skytrain’s line is the Silom line. This line goes through the business district and ends at the Chao Phraya River, where you can find the public boat service to cross the river. It is possible to change the Sukhumvit line at Siam square and the MRT at Silom Station.
Soon, there are approval projects to build 2 more new routes and 2 extension routes on the old lines. Following the plans, there will be a new light red line and dark red line, which are suburban railway systems. These lines will reach some part of Pathum Thani province. The extension plan for both green lines will be finished in 2021, and these extended routes will reach some parts of Samut Prakan and Pathum Thani.
It is possible to buy single or multi-day passes to explore the city easily. However, a pass can only be used for the Skytrain or the underground. So, you have to buy two distinct passes for each railroad.
Bangkok Underground (MRT)
MRT underground line is a completely new line of the railroad network. It has 18 stops, from Bang Sue to Hua Lumphong, where you will find the train station that will allow you to go to the countryside.
It is possible to change from the MRT to the BTS at Mo Chit, Sukhumvit (Asoke for the BTS), and Silom (Sala Daeng for the BTS)
As for the BTS Skytrain, single-day and multi-day passes can be bought independently for the BTS and the MRT.
Soon, there are approval projects to build many more routes for MRT lines. According to the plans, there will be more than 4 new routes consisting of purple, orange, pink and yellow line and 2 more extended lines which are extended of light green (Sukhumvit line) and extended blue line. All of these new routes will reach many parts of other provinces which are Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, and Samut Prakan. Some parts of the construction plans have already been completed but many are still in progress and will be finished in 2016 and 2022 according to each plan.
Airport Railing (ARL)
The airport line is an express and commuter rail in Bangkok. The line provides an airport rail link from Suvarnabhumi Airport, via Makkasan, to Phaya Thai Station in central Bangkok.
The ARL operates daily from 06:00 to 12:00 midnight, with commuter City Line (blue) trains departing every 10 minutes during peak hours (06:00 to 09:00 & 16:00 to 20:00) and 15 minutes during off-peak season & weekends.
The extended route that links Suvarnabhumi Airport to Don Muang Airport should be finished by 2016. At the moment you can take advantage of a free shuttle leaving every half an hour or use public bus # 555 or taxi service.
In Bangkok, there are both public and private buses. As a consequence, buses can vary in size, type, and cost. Taking the bus in Bangkok can be as tiring as walking to your destination.
Long-distance buses are very common in Thailand, there are many bus stations in Bangkok to join destinations such as Pattaya, Hua Hin, Ayutthaya, Cha-am, or Kanchanaburi.
Passengers can travel by train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to the Laos or Malaysian borders and many places in between. Even though the journey on a Thai train generally takes longer and can be more expensive than a voyage by bus, trains are safer and are generally more comfortable. Popular train routes include Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Bangkok to Surat Thani, the launching point for boats to Koh Samui.
There are three classes of Thai train service, allowing even the most budget-conscious traveler to experience travel by train in Thailand. However, while first class is quite plush, featuring private cabins with twin sleeping arrangements and air conditioning on select routes, prices are often higher than flying the same route on a budget air carrier. On the other end of the spectrum, third class is cheaper than the bus but may not be the most comfortable way. Second-class prices on Thai trains are equivalent to first-class bus tickets, both in price and in comfort, though the train has fold-down beds and it’s easier to get up and stretch your legs on the train than on a bus.
Ladies and children’s carriage service was commenced in August 2014. These carriages are painted in pink and purple. The carriages are served only by female staff to ensure that the passengers will be protected from any risk of assault or harassment. One lady's and children’s carriage will be attached to the first class and second class train for many routes.
Thai trains depart throughout the day, though some are express and some make frequent local stops and comprise of only third-class seating. Train tickets sell out well in advance for some holidays and weekends, particularly the more limited sleeper cars and the wider, lower bunk, second-class sleeper seats. Traveling by train is not the best choice if you are in a hurry or have an exact plan because most trains do not arrive or depart according to the schedule.
You can check the price rates or find further information on the websites: http://www.thailandtrainticket.com/index.html or http://www.railway.co.th/checktime/checktime.asp?lenguage=Eng
A car is a good option to travel across the country, but driving can be difficult for foreigners. We advise you to rent a car with a driver or a guide, it is more expensive, but you‘ll avoid any kind of problem.
Song Thaews & Si Lors
In the outlying areas of Bangkok and many other towns and cities, the main form of transport is the ‘Baht Bus’, in the form of a ‘Song Thaew’ (two-row) – a converted Hyundai or Subaru pickup truck with two rows of seats along the sides of the vehicle, or ‘Si Lor’ (four-row).
Rivers & Canals
Many rivers, like Bang Pakong River, Mae Khlong River, Ta Chin River, or Kwae (Kwai) River are navigable. These rivers are perfect for boat trips, such as on the Chao Phraya River to discover the Koh Kret island and an authentic way of life on the river’s banks.
In the northeast of the country, it is possible to sail on the Mekong River, which marks the border between Thailand and Laos.
Dos and Don'ts
Thailand has some of the friendliest people you will come across. However, there are a few things to avoid to keep a smile on the Thai people’s faces. Even if travelers make a mistake, they will probably forgive you and act with understanding. These instructions will help your travelers to spare themselves of this situation.
“Buddha is not for decoration. Respect is common sense”
It is strongly advised that travelers should not buy Buddha images as souvenirs. Thailand Customs retains the right to confiscate any Buddha image that travelers may try to carry out of the country.
When Visiting a Temple
Do respect Buddhism – Religion is very important for Thai people, Buddhism in particular, because it is the most practiced religion in Thailand. This is why Buddhism is protected by the law.
Do dress conservatively
Do dress properly
Men and women must have their shoulders and knees covered. When you are entering a temple, it is better to remove your shoes.
Don’t touch the Buddha image
In Thailand touching a Buddha image may appear disrespectful. Even taking pictures or sitting next to it, are to be avoided. Women are not allowed to touch or to sit next to a monk, just wait in a sign of respect.
When Greeting a Thai
Do greet people with the traditional wai
The Thai way to greet people is the wai. To make a wai, press your palms together near your chest and bow a little bit. The more important the person is, the higher your hands and the lower your bow has to be. You don’t need to wait for receptionists, chambermaids, and children. To greet people women say “Sawadtii khaa” and men “Sawadtii khap”.
Do be open
Questions about marital status, age or wage are very common and are not perceived as intrusive.
Don’t shake hands
Physical contact with a person you don’t know well is not common in Thailand.
When Interacting with Thai
Do talk with kindness
In Thailand, the King and his family are nearly sacred. People have indeed a lot of respect for their King and their monarchy. Pay attention to do the same if you prefer to avoid being persecuted by the law.
The smile is a charming accessory of Thai personality and an unquestionable sign of respect. Use it to get out of embarrassing situations and ask for forgiveness for misunderstandings.
Don’t touch the head
According to Thai culture, the soul lives in the head. As a consequence, it is a sacred part of the body that only the close family can touch.
Don’t show the soles
Feet and soles must not be pointed or shown to people or Buddha figures. It could be considered an insult.
About a King
Don’t damage King images
The King’s image appears on many items like stamps or money, avoid damaging and stepping over them. It can be considered outrageous.
When Out in Public
Don’t have close contacts
It is better to avoid demonstrations of public affection. It could feel embarrassing for Thai people.
When in a Restaurant
Don’t be surprised
Chopsticks are less common than forks and spoons in Thailand.
Avoid making a wave or raising your finger to call a waiter.
When Invited to Someone’s Home
Do Bring a Gift
Flowers, liquors or candies are good presents to bring when you are invited to someone’s place.
Do take off your shoes
When you are entering someone’s house, it is respectful to remove your shoes.
Don’t step on the threshold
In Thai people’s culture, stepping on the threshold brings bad luck to the people that live in the house.
Follow ChildSafe Policy here
Money & Budget
Local currency: Thai Baht (THB)
The money in Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB). 1 Baht has 100 Satang.
You can find banknotes of 10 (brown), 20 (green), 50 (blue), 100 (red), 500 (purple) and 1,000 (grey or brown) Thai baht. Coins: 25 and 50 Satang; 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht.
ATM or bank cash machines are widely available throughout the country.
Banks and authorized money changers are allowed to change money and accept major currencies. The best exchange rate is from US Dollar to Bath, but cheques have an even better rate.
Hotels, restaurants, travel agents, tourist shops, or department stores accept the most common credit cards such as Visa, Master Card, Amex, or Diners.
First of all, make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.
World Health Organization recommends vaccinations against Hepatitis A and Typhoid that you risk getting through contaminated food or water, especially if you are an adventurous eater, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis if you plan to visit rural areas in Thailand or will be spending a lot of time outdoors.
Malaria and Dengue fever are diseases that can be transmitted by mosquitoes, especially during the rainy season. Travelers should protect themselves regularly with repellent by smearing themselves and their clothes with it. The most efficient repellents are composed of DEET.
The sale of medicines is less regulated than in Europe, counterfeit products are common in Thailand and pharmacies are selling drugs without medical prescriptions. We advise you to see a doctor before buying any medications and to buy them in licensed pharmacies and hospital outlets.
Food that is cooked and served hot
Fruits and vegetables you have washed in clean water or peel yourself
Pasteurized dairy products
Food served at room temperature
Raw or undercooked (rare) meat or fish
Unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables
Unpasteurized dairy products
”Bushmeat” (monkeys, bats, or other wild game)
Bottled water that is sealed
Water that has been disinfected
Ice made with bottled or disinfected water
Hot coffee or tea
Tap or well water
Ice made with tap or well water
Drinks made with tap or well water (such as reconstituted juice)
In an emergency, please call U.S. Embassy or Consulate-General directly:
Embassy Bangkok (Emergency): From inside Thailand: 02-205-4000.
From outside Thailand: +66-2-205-4000 (Thai number) or 202-640-2632 (USA number)
Mobile Police 191
Fire Brigades 199
Tourist Police 1155
Police General Hospital 0 2207 6000
Tourist Service Centre 1672
Highway Police 1193, 0 2354 6007″
Prepare to traveling
Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months before the expiry date. Don’t ignore trip, baggage, and medical insurance. For vaccinations and medicines visit your doctor before your travel.
Clothing should be lightweight and of the drip-dry variety. You will be in the sun a lot so long sleeves and a wide hat would be more suitable.
Underwear should be synthetic and easily washable.
Shirts should be long-sleeved and lightweight with lots of closed pockets.
T-shirts, short-sleeved and again with pockets.
Cool evenings necessitate the need for pullovers or a lightweight jacket.
Long trousers made from a lightweight, quick-drying fabric should have multi-pockets for day trips. Long trousers that turn into shorts are ideal.
For trekking lightweight long shorts (for modesty purposes) are acceptable.
The bathing suit should be modest so as not to offend the locals.
Hat for protection from the sun. Should have a wide brim and a strap.
A sturdy poncho or parka will help to keep your gear dry in case of rain or waterfall spray.
Footwear: You will need some sturdy comfortable boots for trekking or just walking around. They will need to support your ankles as well as having a non-slip sole.
Waterproof sandals for those short trips and boating.
Some smart casual clothes for the evenings and visiting restaurants.
Insect repellent with the percentage of DEET recommended by your travel medicine physician. You must bring an ample supply of good quality repellent.
Antiseptic wipes for handwashing and emergency toilet paper.
Personal First Aid Kit (bring in small amounts and in small containers)
Cold-symptom relief tablets, antihistamine, cough drops. Adequate quantity of sweat-resistant sunscreen with at least an SPF 15 rating or higher, and lip balm with sunscreen.
Prescription medicines in their original bottles. Acidophilus enzyme (available in capsules in health-food stores). This often helps your digestive system get in shape for “new” flora.
Immodium, Lomotil, or similar anti-diarrhea medicine. Pepto-Bismol.
Vaccinations are not obligatory (visitors coming from countries with yellow fever risks are an exception) but are highly recommended. To not being ill during your trip, check all of your vaccinations, especially Tetanus, Polio, and Diphtheria. Other vaccines are recommended, such as Hepatitis A and B (for a trip of more than 3 months), Typhus, Tuberculosis, Rabies, Japanese encephalitis.