Our Thailand Travel FAQ aims to give you all you should know if you take a holiday in Thailand; visas, language, money, food, climate, places to see and the time difference.
What time zone is Thailand in?
Will I manage if I only speak English?
Is there a reliable Internet Service?
Will my mobile phone work?
Should I arrange travel insurance?
Will Thailand be a culture shock?
What is food like in Thailand?
What clothes should I pack?
How much luggage should I take?
What is the electric current in Thailand?
What is the best currency?
Can I use credit cards everywhere?
How expensive is travel?
Should I tip in Thailand?
Passport & Visa
Do I need a visa?
Are there any passport requirements?
Is it safe to drink the tap water?
Is it safe to travel in Thailand?
Why is it important to avoid drugs?
Is it safe to drive?
What do I do in an emergency?
How do I report a crime?
What are the common scams?
Will I enjoy the shopping?
Things to do
What sightseeing options should I have?
Where are the best beaches?
What is the best alternative to arrive in Thailand?
How should I get around in Thailand?
What is the traffic like?
What is the climate like?
Q. What time zone is Thailand in?
A. Thailand is 3 hours behind Australia, 7 hours ahead of London and 12 hours ahead of New York.
Q. Will I manage if I only speak English?
A. Thailand has a well-developed tourist industry so you should have little difficulty finding someone speaking English, especially in tourist areas. Many signs are in English and Thai. It is nice and always appreciated if you know a few local words such as Hello, goodbye, Thank you etc. If you have an organised Thailand holiday you will have a guide to help in the event of any problem.
Q. Is there a reliable Internet Service?
A. The Internet is widely available, even in small towns. You should be able to get internet in medium range hotels and better although there may be a small charge.
Q. Will my mobile phone work?
A. SIM Cards can be bought though coverage in remote regions is non-existent.
Q. Should I arrange travel insurance?
A. It is advisable to have suitable insurance so that you are covered for any medical problem, delay, disruption of your holiday or loss of belongings and important documents.
Q. Will Thailand be a culture shock?
A. It is worth reading about local culture before you travel. Thai people are very hospitable people who do not easily take offence but that is as long as you respect their culture. There are several simple things to remember:
• Dress appropriately at religious sites which means no bare shoulders, mini-skirts or shorts. You will need to remove your shoes at times, for example when entering a temple. At no time should you have your back to a Buddha image or statue.
• It is rude to point in any way with your feet or touch anyone’s head.
• Don’t take close-up photographs of anyone without permission. That certainly applies when you are in a temple.
• Bow forward slightly with hands together when introduced to someone. This formal greeting is not required on every occasion.
Q. What is food like in Thailand?
A. Thai cuisine is now extensively available worldwide. There is huge variety in the dishes you can expect. Thais use plenty of flavour, sweet, sour and their curries can be very hot. The range of vegetables is extensive with rice playing a major role both in sticky rice as a side dish, fried and noodles. Soups are common. Tom Yang Goong is a typical dish with prawns, lemon grass and galangal, sweet yet spicy. You will be asked if you want a particular dish hot and if you say yes, be prepared. Vegetarian food is readily available but much of Thai cooking includes fish sauce so you must ask. Expect salads to have fish sauce, lime and chilis in the dressing. Thailand also has an impressive list of desserts. Alcohol is readily available and cheap by western standards. Rice wine is popular with the locals, as are coffee, tea and juices.
Q. What clothes should I pack?
A. Pack according to the season. You may need some warm clothing at night in some areas but generally temperatures are fairly high. Light cottons that dry quickly are ideal and some clothes that are necessary if you are going to visit temples etc.
Q. How much luggage should I take?
A. You should never need more that the standard airline allowance of 20 kgs. and remember you want some space for souvenirs. A basic medicine kit will be a useful item to put into your case. Remember if you are on a Thailand tour package and constantly on the move, you have your luggage to take with you so don’t pack too much unless you are certain you will be it.
Q. What is the electric current in Thailand?
A. 220 Volts
Q. What is the best currency?
A. The local currency is the Baht. There is limited use for the US Dollar and tourists will generally be expected to change their money to Baht.
Q. Can I use credit cards everywhere?
A. You can use credit and debit cards to withdraw money and cards for purchases. Cards can be used to settle accommodation or restaurant bills in all tourist areas. It is only in real remote rural areas, you that you may have a problem.
Q. How expensive is travel?
A. Travel is fairly inexpensive in relative to western standards.
Q. Should I tip in Thailand?
A. Tipping is not mandatory but it will not be refused.
Passport & Visa
Q. Do I need a visa?
A. Many nationalities are not required for short term visits varying from 14, 30 and 90 days. You should check the details that apply specifically to you. You should not overstay your welcome but can apply to stay longer than the initial period before your time is up.
Q. Are there any passport requirements?
A. Your passport must be valid for 6 months when you enter Thailand in common with what is now standard worldwide.
Q. Is it safe to drink the tap water?
A. It is advisable to drink bottled water which is cheap and readily available. Be cautious about having ice in drinks in all but the best restaurants and hotels.
Q. Is it safe to travel in Thailand?
A. Thailand is a relatively safe country and stories of tourists having any physical problems are very rare. There may be pickpockets in popular tourist areas so be on your guard and keep documents and any expensive electronics in a safe place at all times.
Q. Why is it important to avoid drugs?
A. The authorities are very intolerant of recreational drugs. You may be carrying prescription drugs for medical conditions and it is worth having documents to support that.
Q. Is it safe to drive?
A. It is far more convenient and sensible to use taxis and tuk tuks to get around cities and public transport for longer journeys. The roads are fairly good and there is 4,000 kilometres of rail track. Domestic flights are regular and not too expensive. It all adds up to it not being worth driving yourself in most cases. Beware of motor cycles; the most deaths on the road are bikers on narrow twisting roads in rural areas.
Q. What do I do in an emergency?
A. In the event of a problem, you should contact your Embassy if accessible. That is especially the case for things like loss of passport. Here are some useful numbers to make a note of:
• Emergencies: 191, 123, 999 (112 on GSM mobile networks)(expect to change to 911 soon)
• Fire: 199
• Tourist Police usually have English speakers available: 1155
• Highway Patrol 1193
• Traffic control 1197
• Police Headquarters 1196
Q. How do I report a crime?
A. The above numbers are of help in the event of a problem. You should take care not to get into confrontation with locals for any reason.
Q. What are the common scams?
A. Tourists can be victim to attempts to overcharge for such as taxis and accommodation. If anyone offers you a service of any kind, establish the final price before you accept. The airport is the primary place where taxi scams can exist. Drivers know that you are unlikely to be familiar with the country and can therefore sometimes see that as an opportunity. Tourist areas are the prime ones for scams, especially the popular resort towns.
Q. Will I enjoy the shopping?
A. There are modern shops in the Cities with Bangkok being a shopping paradise but tourists are often keener on local souvenirs. You should bargain at markets but be careful not to cause offence for the sake of what will usually be a small amount of money. There are some lovely crafts in Thailand and you will help village economies by buying from them rather than in towns and cities.
Things to do
Q. What sightseeing options should I have?
A. If you are on an organised Thailand tour package, all the arrangements will be made for you. Bangkok is a hectic city and to get around, it is often worth taking to the water taxis. It has several important landmarks including the Royal Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, the temple with the reclining Buddha, Wat Arun, Wat Pho and Wat Traimit with a solid gold Buddha weighing 5.5 tonnes. Add the attraction of the night markets, the early morning floating markets, the shopping and fine cuisine then you should spend some time there before heading on. Your choices are Chiang Mai in the Northern Highlands from which you can find a completely different Thailand than the one you have seen in Bangkok by visiting the Golden Triangle near the borders with Laos and Myanmar. The other choices revolve around the extensive coastline and wonderful beaches.
Q. Where are the best beaches?
A. Phuket and Pattaya are two names that are well known on he tourist map. Ko Samui developed around the same time, initially in the 70s as tourist numbers grew. All are busy, and parts are overdeveloped. You can find quiet stretches on Phuket Island and Pattaya away from the crowds if you wish. There is accommodation for every budget in the resorts, and indeed throughout the Country.
Q. What is the best alternative to arrive in Thailand?
A. Most arrivals in Thailand fly into the Airports of Bangkok and Phuket. There are border crossings with all neighbouring countries.
Q. How should I get around in Thailand?
A. The transport infrastructure is well developed. There is an extensive domestic flight schedule. Taxis and tuk tuks to get around cities and public transport for longer journeys. The roads are fairly good and there is 4,000 kilometres of rail track.
Q. What is the traffic like?
A. Bangkok is frankly chaotic and you won’t be able to imagine driving once you see it. Keep your eyes open if you are crossing the road.
Q. What is the climate like?
A. The monsoon months are low season which means fewer crowds and often cheaper prices. However, there are two distinctly different regions. In most of Thailand, that season starts around May and lasts until October inclusive. It does not mean heavy rain for long periods every day incidentally. Nights can be cold at altitude but temperatures are fairly good though it may feel colder than it really is when it is raining. Some lightweight rainwear and umbrella are useful if you are travelling in the monsoon season. In the south east, the exact reverse applies with the driest months being May to October.