Best Time to go: November – February (cool season) or year-around for the Southern islands.
Best For: Spectacular coastline, Island relaxation, Diving
About: Thailand hosts millions of visitors every year, drawn to its fantastic beaches and aquamarine seas, as well as its rich culture, glitzy shopping malls, chic boutiques and colourful markets crammed with bargains.
Bangkok is usually the first stop on a visit to Thailand, where you will encounter incredible traffic volumes, hordes of people, loads of hotels and plenty of shopping centres.
Located over 700 km northwest is Chiang Mai, also a dynamic and modern city, but retaining a cultural atmosphere with temples in abundance and much in the way of handicraft shopping. Chiang Rai is pretty much Chiang Mai on a smaller scale with a more relaxed ambiance, where smokey hills and huts catch the eye.
Thailand`s most popular island is Phuket, a world famous dream destination with miles of sandy beaches and resorts and some of the best golf courses you`ll find anywhere. Other much-visited islands include Ko-Pha-Ngan, Ko Samui and Ko Phi Phi Don.
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Native Name: Muang T`hai
Official Name: Kingdom of Thailand
Capital: Bangkok (BKK)
Currency: Baht (THB)
Language: Thai. English is widely spoken.
Dialling code from SA: +66
Time Zone: UTC/GMT +7 hours (5 hours ahead of South Africa)
Side of the Road: Left
Plugs: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Flat and round two-pin plugs are used.
Drinking Water: All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Bottled water is available. Milk may be unpasteurised.
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended.
Customs: Public displays of affection should be avoided. Dress is informal. Swimwear should be reserved for the beach and topless sunbathing is frowned upon. Public displays of anger and drawing attention to the mistakes of others is considered extremely impolite. Shoes should be removed before entering homes or temples.
Local Offences / Laws: There are severe penalties for the possession and trafficking of drugs, and drug traffickers risk the death penalty.
Travel Tips / Warnings: Check the local political situation before finalising travel plans and abide by any curfews imposed by the government. Avoid any political demonstrations. Travel to towns near to the Malaysian border should be avoided. Pickpocketing and bag-snatching is frequent in the main towns, avoid obvious displays of wealth and secure valuables in the hotel safe. Avoid accepting drinks from strangers.
• 200 cigarettes or 250g of cigars or tobacco.
• 1L of alcohol.
• Goods to the value of ฿10,000.
Prohibited Imports: Prohibited imports include obscene and pornographic objects and publications, goods displaying the Thai national flag, narcotics, counterfeit currency, fake Royal/official seals, and pirated and counterfeit goods. Restricted imports include drugs, food, weapons and ammunition, antiques and artworks, and endangered species. Any drug-related offences are severely punished and may result in life imprisonment or even the death penalty.
Prohibited Exports: There are restrictions on the export of illegal drugs and all firearms and ammunition. The export of archaeological items or anything with historical value, religious artefacts and images of the Buddha requires a certificate of authorisation from the Department of Fine Arts in Thailand. Radio transceiver equipment, plant and living materials, live animals or products, medicines and chemicals also require a permit from the relevant government agency.