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Thailand Planning Tips and Fast Facts

Tickle Your Senses in this Land of Spice, Sunshine, Sapphire Seas and Sensational Beaches

Our Expert Opinion

Phuket is the gateway to the magnificent Andaman Sea with its breath-taking karst formations, turquoise waters, and idyllic postcard beaches. The gentleness of the people, the scent of its cuisine, and richness of its marine life add to its allure.

What is Destination Known For?

Mystical Buddhist heritage, gorgeous beaches, land of smiles, sapphire-hued seas, ancient sea gypsy villages, Thai spices, flamboyant nightlife, fire dancers, underwater wonderland

Location and Size

Located in the Southeast Asia, Thailand covers 197,256 sq. miles (510,890 sq. kms) of land and 861 sq. miles (2,230 sq. kms) of water. It is the 51st largest country in the world. It shares land borders with Malaysia, Burma, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Cambodia.

History

Little is known about Thailand until the 13th century, but archaeological evidence suggests that the first agriculturists and metal workers in the world were from the region of present day Thailand. It is believed that early Thais were nomads who migrated from southwest China over 10,000 years ago.

Like most of southeast Asia, Thailand was heavily influenced by India, it is believed that Theravada Buddhism may have entered here between the 3rd or 2nd century BC – during the reign of the Indian emperor Ashoka. Several regional empires ruled over Thailand including the Khmer and Srivijaya empires.

The 14th and 15th centuries saw the rise of the Ayutthaya kingdom. It grew into the greatest and wealthiest kingdom in Asia and had a flourishing commerce until its fall to the invading Burmese army in 1767. Thai control was re-established for a brief period from 1768-1782 with the formation of the Thonburi Kingdom under Taksin the Great. General Chao Phraya Chakri toppled Taksin in a coup and found the Chakri Dynasty in 1782 centered on Bangkok. The country was named Siam.

European colonial powers threatened the region in the 19th and early 20th centuries, yet Thailand was the only Southeast Asian country that avoided colonial rule. Instead, France and Britain deemed it a neutral territory to serve as a buffer between their respective colonies, and Siam was ruled by an absolute monarchy.

The year 1932 witnessed a revolution which replaced the country's existing absolute monarchy with constitutional monarchy having a parliamentary government. In 1939, Siam was renamed 'Thailand', meaning 'Land of Free'. Despite the moniker, Thailand shifted between democracy and military rule throughout the 1900s, and today it is ruled by a military junta.

Getting There

Phuket International Airport (HKT) is the major gateway. Directs flights are available from Australia & several other Asian countries. Connecting flights are available from the US, UK & New Zealand.

Best Time to Go

Thailand is a year-round travel destination. The dry season is November-April and is the best time to visit Thailand

Local Customs to Observe

The wai (traditional Thai greeting) is used to say hello, goodbye or thank you. It is indicated by pressing the palms together near your chest with a little head nodding. Never disrespect the Thai king or his images, including currency. Take off your shoes before entering a temple or someone's home.

Helpful Fast Facts

Currency: Baht (THB) Time Zone:

Thailand Time Zone (UTC+07:00) Local language: The official language of the nation is Thai, but English is also widely spoken.

Population: 68,107,417 as of April 15, 2016

Airport: Phuket International Airport (HKT)

Entry Requirements: All nationals are required to have a passport with 6 months validity beyond the duration of stay. Citizens of Australia, UK, Canada, the USA & other EU countries don’t need a visa for touristic stays of up to 30 days. 

Departure tax: THB 700 (payable in THB only)

Legal Drinking Age: 20 years Smoking Regulations: Smoking is banned in all indoor public places, indoor workplaces, and public transports.

Staying in touch: Network connectivity is good in Thailand. International roaming agreements exist with numerous telecom companies. Internet coverage is also good across the country.

Medical Information: Healthcare facilities are good in Thailand. Several private and public hospitals exist across the nation. Dial 1669 or 1155 for emergencies.

Public Holidays: (January – 1) New Year's Day; (January – 11) Makha Bucha Day; (April – 6) Chakri Day; (April – 13) Songkran (Thai New Year); (May – 1) Labor Day; (May – 5) Coronation Day; (May – 20) Visakha Bucha Day; (June – 19) Asarnha Bucha Day; (July – 1) Mid Year Bank Holiday; (August – 12) HM The Queen's Birthday; (October – 23) Chulalongkorn Day; (December – 5) HM The King's Birthday; (December – 10) Constitution Day & (December – 31) New Year's Eve Tourist Office: For details on Thailand's sightseeing places and tourism, check http://www.tourismthailand.org/home.

Shopping Information: Phuket is a mecca for all kinds of shopping – upscale malls, posh boutiques, and bustling markets. Local specialties include silk items, pearls, coconut oil, handicrafts and wood carvings.

Top Ten "Must Do's"

  • Explore the history and grandeur of The Grand Palace in Phuket.
  • Scuba dive to discover the underwater heaven on Koh Phan Ngan Island.
  • Spend an evening on the picturesque coastline of Ko Tao Island.
  • Enjoy kayaking on the gorgeous Koh Samui Island.
  • Visit the colorful floating markets brimming with freshest local produce.
  • Pamper yourself with a relaxing Thai Massage.
  • Lively it up at one of Loh Dalum’s pulsating beach bars.
  • Kayak in emerald green seas under the limestone cliffs of Phang Nga Bay.
  • Splurge on some South Sea pearls on Kho Naka Yai.
  • Tee off at the Blue Canyon Country Club in Phuket.

Major Local and Regional Events

  • Phuket International Marathon (June) – the race attracts runners from around the world.
  • Hua Hin Jazz Festival (August) – tourists from around the world travel to Cha-Am and Hua Hin to enjoy performances of international & local artists.
  • Bangkok's International Festival of Dance & Music (Sep - Oct) – annual performing arts festival.

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