Travelling in Thailand
Visitors to Thailand will discover a land of contrasts between old and new, modern and ancient. To illustrate this point it would be adequate to say that there seems to be an appropriate form of transport for almost every situation in Thailand wherever one travels.
Getting around Bangkok
For example, to wiz across Bangkok to a dazzling shopping mall where glitz is the order of the day, you can jump on the Skytrain or go underground to the subway to travel in air conditioned comfort in the most modern of conveyances. Alternatively if you need to explore some of the older areas in Bangkok you may be whisked away at speed in a long tail boat powered by huge engines to venture into Thonburi canals where stilted houses line the waterways and kids frolic in the water still in scenes from days gone by.
Moving further afield across Thailand is easy as the main tourist areas are well serviced by air, road and often rail. There is a choice of service for everyone depending on time and budget. Thailand’s provincial airports are all around one hour flying time from Bangkok making it convenient and time effective to fly. Those who yearn for a more romantic way of traveling may decide to take a train ride during the day to see the countryside or overnight and wake up at your destination after sleeping to the sound of train wheels on tracks and whistles in the night.
Overlanders will find an excellent system of roads across Thailand which has probably the most advanced system of highways and by-ways in South East Asia. Traveling by road offers another element to traveling in Thailand in that it would be more flexible and offer the opportunity to stop along the route at points of interest such as beautiful scenery or one of a myriad of roadside sellers selling their fares.
Rustic Transport Variations
Local styles of travel also vary in Thailand and there is nothing better than to try something different at the ‘grass roots’ level to personally experience various forms of transport used by millions everyday across Asia. For example the simple ox cart performs many functions for local communities in days gone by such as taxi, truck or even as mobile advertising cart complete with battery operated loudspeakers. Elephant, buffalo and bamboo raft are other examples of forms of transport while the famous orange buses which meander the back roads across the country allow the traveler to come face to face with the people.
Traveling in Thailand has never been easier with all the local forms of transport combined with Destination Asia’s excellent network of cars, mini vans and coach with experienced guides and drivers makes your travel a pleasure rather than a task.
Where to go in Thailand?
That depends how long you've got, what you want to see and what you want to do? Hopefully the guide below will help you make those decisions.
If you want to really discover Thailand you should set aside a couple of weeks to travel, meet the people and get some kind of understanding for this beautiful and fascinating country. Our shortest tours are half day excursions and while the longer you've got the better, at Global Travel & Tours we pride ourselves on being able to fill everybody's travel plans with just the right mix. It will be our pleasure to make the suggestion and arrangements to allow you to make the most of your precious leisure time. After all, our team of Thai and Western staff enthusiastically work, live and travel all over the country and we would be happy to share our new discoveries with you.
Some Facts on Thailand
Thailand, officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand, covers an area of 514,000 square kilometers. It is similar in size to France and has a population of about 60 million. Approximately 95 percent of Thai citizens are Buddhists. The remainder of the populace is comprised of Muslims, Christians and Hindus.
Geographically, Thailand is divided into four main regions: the Central Plains, the North, the Northeast and the South. The majority of the population lives in the fertile Central Plains, where the capital city of Bangkok is located. The Northern region, dominated by Chiang Mai (Thailand's second largest city), is an area of mountains and fertile valleys. In contrast to the Central and the Northern regions, the Northeast has harsh climatic conditions and is the least fertile region of Thailand. The South is famous for its fine beaches and idyllic limestone islands.
Thailand proudly proclaims that it has never been colonised. One positive aspect of this fact is that the country has retained its unique culture, traditions and language. With a long, rich heritage and abundant natural resources, Thailand is without doubt one of the most exotic countries in Asia.
When to Travel?
Thailand’s climate is tropical, and is largely affected by the North-East Monsoon and the South-West Monsoon, which bring changes in weather patterns on a cyclical basis. The central, northern and north eastern areas have three seasons while the Southern peninsula areas and the deep south of Thailand are subject mainly to two seasons based on the monsoons.
Cool Season: Late November – February This season correlates with the high season for tourism. In the Northern and North Eastern regions of the country, temperatures range from a cool 8°C to a daily high of 23°C. There is usually no rain and the skies are cloudless. In the Central Plains, which includes Bangkok the weather is perfect with clear skies and daily temperatures in the range of 16°C and 28°C.
Hot Season: March – June
At this time of the year Thailand will experience its hottest and most dry period. At times the weather can become oppressive. And is often referred to as the #8216; hot dry season#8217; and continues until the rains in June or July. At this time of year Thailand receives less visitors and rates at hotels are lower than at other times, so it can be a favourable time of year to visit.
Summer Season: July – October
July through October is known generally as the green or wet season, this is when Thailand receives the annual rains brought along by the South-West Monsoon. This time of year is a perfect time to see Thailand covered in a lush green cover, with rice fields, streams and rivers brimming.
Passports & Visas
Many nationalities, including the citizens of Australia, Canada, South Africa, the USA and most European countries, do not need a visa for stays of up to 30 days. A passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry, return ticket or onward travel arrangement needs to be presented upon request at your arrival in Thailand. These requirements are subject to change. Please check with the embassy or consulate in your home country before departure.
Importation of all kinds of narcotics (opium, heroin, cocaine, etc.) and pornographic media are strictly prohibited. Firearms and ammunition can be imported only after a permit has been obtained from the local police department. A reasonable amount of clothing for personal use, toiletries and professional instruments can be brought in free of duty. In addition, 200 cigarettes or smoking materials in total of 250 grams, one litre of wine or spirits, one video camera, five rolls of still film, three rolls of video film, and one item of electrical goods per person are allowed in duty free. Buddha images, antiques or fragments thereof are not allowed to be taken out of Thailand without authorization from the Fine Arts Department.
Traveler health is an important issue for all people as no-one wishes to be ill during their travels. Basic pre-cautions will help prevent many common traveler complaints. Generally, the most common complaint for visitors would be traveler’s diarrhea, however most cases pass within a few days. Adequate hydration is important at all times especially if sick. Sunburn should be prevented at all times. Mosquito bites can be avoided by wearing appropriate clothing and repellants.
Medical facilities in Thailand are very good in the major centres. Bangkok in particular is a major regional centre for medical care, with some large private hospitals providing modern facilities. Travel insurance is essential when traveling in Thailand. Those needing prescription drugs should bring renewal prescriptions if considered necessary.
There are many websites with worthwhile Travel Health Information and it is also highly recommend that travelers visit their local Travel Medical Centre for professional advice well in advance of departure. For example see websites of The travel Doctor or the World Health Organisation.
Thailand is a very safe country to visit. Visitors should just follow the same simple rules of common sense as followed at home. Thailand has an efficient and helpful Tourist Police Service, whose officers are evident in most areas where tourists visit. Look out for them with their special badge and beret. For further information on dangers, annoyances and Government travel advisories you may check the information as provided on the following or other websites:
UK Government site www.fco.gov.uk
Australian Government site www.dfat.gov.au
U.S. Government site travel.state.gov/travel/warnings_current.htm
Flavours of Thailand
Thailand is blessed with an abundance of foods of different types, flavours, textures, colours and aromas. The cooking process, like many things in Thailand can be a creative and fun process. By blending the five primary flavors that the human tongue is able to discern, many of the dishes to be found in Thailand present the consumer with a tantalizing dining experience. The ingredients providing the flavours in Thai food, often work together in unexpected ways to present tastes both rich and delicate.
Fresh Spicy Variety
Thai food presents in a huge variety of ways from simple fare such as steamed rice and dried fish with a spicy sauce, to complex soups brimming with flavours and goodness. There are endless varieties of starter foods, sweets and deserts, not to mention an amazing array of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Drinks are made from freshly picked or dried flowers, fresh and dried fruits as well as herbs and are often available on the streets wherever food is served.
Rice & Noodles
Rice would be the staple of most Thai diets closely followed by noodles which are available in many forms ranging from hair like ‘sen mee’ to ribbon like ‘sen yai’ for your noodle soup. There are crispy noodles, rice noodles, yellow noodles, fried noodles and more.
Due to Thailand’s geographical location, it is possible to find influences from neighbouring or nearby countries such as Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. Thailand is a real mixing pot of cuisines. A visit to Chinatown will introduce the visitor to not only Chinese fares but for the adventurous, a quick visit down Sampeng Lane might bring you to a small cafe offering thin crispy Indian pancakes with spicy vegetable filling and sweet tea, a delight for breakfast. Or a visit to almost any evening food market will overwhelm the visitor with choice such as sumptuous satay skewers with peanut sauce and a relish of vinegar with chilli and cucumber to balance the palate.
Tastes from Home
Thailand is host to a large expatriate population and burgeoning middle class which has lead to an increase in the demand for international quality foods and today it is easy to find trendy cafes or restaurants offering fusion cuisine blending western and eastern foods in a mouthwatering explosion of tastes. Food is truly one of Thailand’s highlights!