Welcome to Thailand! Our renowned hospitality and legendary smile is just the beginning of your unforgettable holiday.
I hope my website will provide you with some interesting and useful information on our charming country.
Thailand is a sovereign country located in the heart of Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Laos and Burma, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and Burma.
The Kingdom of Thailand covers approximately 514,000 sq km (198,000 sq mi), and has a population of approximately 63 million, 80% of which are Thais. Other nationalities include Chinese (10%), and Malay (3%). The rest are various minorities such as Mons, Khmers, and various hill tribes.
The capital and largest city is Bangkok, which covers an area in excess of 1,500 sq km and has a population of approximately 10 million. It is also the political, commercial, industrial and cultural centre of Thailand. Bangkok is known in Thai as “Krung Thep Mahanakorn”, or “Krung Thep” for short.
Thailand is one of the most strongly Buddhist countries in the world. The national religion is “Theravada Buddhism” which is practiced by more than 95% of Thais. Other religions include Islam (3%) and Christianity (1.5 %). Historically, the culture and traditions of Thailand have been significantly influenced by neighboring India, China, and Cambodia, and to a lesser extent other Southeast Asian countries.
Respect for elders is an essential component of Thai spirituality and is reflected in the day to day lives of Thai people. Thais are also well-known for their friendliness and hospitality, leading to the country’s reputation as the “Land of Smiles”.
“Thai” is the official spoken and written language. However, English is a mandatory school subject, although the number of fluent speakers remains low, especially outside the prinicple cities. English is widely understood in Bangkok and other major tourist cities.
The Thai language was adopted and modified from the Khmer script in 1283 by King Ramkhamheang the Great which he inscribed on to stone for perpetuity.
The Thai Alphabet is composed of 28 vowels, which are divided into 2 groups — short vowels and long vowels. The 44 consonant letters are divided into 3 classes — high, mid and low class.
The Thai language uses 5 distinct tones, which cannot be represented in the Greco-Roman alphabet. Tone changes the meaning of words. For example, Khao (low tone) means “News”, while Khao (rising tone) means “White” and Khao (falling tone) means “Rice”.
Non Thais wishing to learn Thai are encouraged to seek instruction from a native speaker.
Politics & Administration
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy. The king is recognised as the Head of State, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, the Upholder of the Buddhist religion and the Upholder of all religions in Thailand. By the grace of the Monarch, Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia not to have succumbed to European colonization.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or King Rama IX (the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty) is the present king. His Majesty has reigned for more than 60 years, making him the world’s longest-reigning monarch.
Thailand is divided into 5 principal regions which together comprise 75 provinces. Each of these includes “Amphoe” or Districts, “Tambon” or Sub-districts and “Moo-Ban” or Villages. There are also 2 separately governed districts in Pattaya and Bangkok (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon), which is often counted as a 76th province.
Climate & Seasons
Thailand has 2 distinct climatic regions — tropical savannah in the north and tropical rain forest in the south.
There are 3 seasons: hot [March – May], rainy [June – October] and cool [November – February].
Temperature varies from 38c to 20c. The average temperature is about 29c. Humidity is high throughout the year (66%-82%), particularly during the hot season. The cool season is pleasantly warm in the south, but in the north, especially in the hills around Chiang Mai, it can be quite chilly.
The cool season is the peak season. Prices are often twice as high then as in the low seasons, yet hotels can often be fully booked.
Smart Travel Tips
Etiquette & Behavior:
- Thailand is a Buddhist country where the Buddha image is held sacred. Sacrilegious acts are punishable by imprisonment, even if committed by foreign visitors.
- The royal family is held in great respect by Thai people and is protected by lèse majesté laws which allow for persons responsible for acts of disrespect to be jailed for between 3 to 15 years.
- The traditional Thai greeting, the wai, is generally initiated by the younger of the two people meeting, with the hands pressed together at the chest, usually accompanied with the spoken word “Sawasdee krup” (Hello) for male speakers, and “Sawasdee ka” for female speakers. The elder then responds in the same way.
- People are expected to dress respectfully when entering a Buddhist temple. Mini-skirts and shorts are not allowed. Shoes and hats are to be removed before entering the hall of worship. It is not permissible for women to touch a Buddhist monk, or to give objects to or receive objects directly from a monk.
- When entering a Thai house, you are expected to remove your shoes.
- Do not step over a seated person or a person’s legs, and never touch a person’s head or ruffle the hair. The head is considered sacred.
- Thai people disapprove of public nudity and crass displays of public affection.
Light cotton is best. A jacket or sweater may be necessary in the cool season, especially in the mountainous areas in the North or Northeast.
220 volts / 50 cycles (AC) throughout the country. Power outlets will accept European and American plugs. Otherwise, an adapter may be required.
Bottled or boiled water are highly recommended for drinking.
Thailand is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +7), 12 hours ahead of New York, 15 hours ahead of Los Angeles, 7 hours ahead of London and 2 hours behind Sydney.
Most offices open from 8:30am – 5:30pm, Monday through Friday. General banking hours are 8:30am – 3:30pm, Monday through Friday.
The basic monetary unit in Thailand is the “Baht”. One baht comprises 100 satang. The following coins and notes are currently in use:
Coins: 25 and 50 satang; 1, 2, 5 and 10 Baht.
Bank notes: 10(brown), 20(green), 50(blue), 100(red), 500(purple) and 1000(grey) Baht.
24 hour automatic teller machines (ATMs) are widely available throughout Thailand. Some Thai ATMs accept Cirrus, some accept Plus and some accept both. 150 THB will be charged as international fee of money withdrawn.
Major foreign currencies can be exchanged for Thai Baht at banks or authorized money changers (highly recommended rather than in the hotels). Major credit cards are also widely accepted in tourist centers, such as restaurants, hotels and shops.
Taxes & Service charge:
A 7 % value added tax is built into the price of all goods and services, including restaurant meals, and is essentially non-refundable. A 10% service charge is subject to most hotels and many more restaurants.
In Thailand, tips are generally given for good service, except when a price has been negotiated in advance. A taxi driver is not tipped unless hired as a private driver for an excursion. Hotel porters expect at least B20 tip, and hotel staff who have given personal service are usually tipped. A 10% tip is appreciated at a restaurant when no service charge has been added to the bill.
Measurement of area:
Thailand has its own system of area measurement. The basic units are the “wa” (1 wa = 4 sq metres) and the “rai” (1 rai = 1,600 sq metres or 0.16 hectare).