Thailand

An astonishing country filled with Buddhist temples, spectacular islands, lush green rice paddies and a pulsating capital city, Thailand has everything for the inquisitive traveller. With an intriguing history that spans thousands of years, a rural heartland that is home to villages and tropical forests teeming with wildlife and a beautiful coastline not matched anywhere else in the world, Thailand is truly the heart of Southeast Asia.

When to Visit

The best time to visit Thailand is between November and February, with low humidity, comfortable temperatures and clear skies. This is also the high/peak season so be prepared for a large number of tourists in the more popular spots and major cities and towns.

Highlights

BANGKOK A sprawling metropolis packed with high rise buildings, modern shopping centres, magnificent palaces, ancient temples, markets and delicious street food, Bangkok will overwhelm the senses in the best possible way.

CHIANG MAI Situated in the northern hills of Thailand, Chiang Mai is much more laid back than the southern cities and is home to some of Thailand’s biggest festivals along with the oldest and most beautiful Buddhist temples in the country.

AYUTTHAYA Now a modern city boasting ancient wonders Ayutthaya was once the capital of Siam and one of the greatest cities on earth. From the 14th to the 18th centuries the city flourished with palaces and temples, the ruins of which can still be seen.

BEACHES The coast and islands known throughout the world for their breathtaking beaches, serenity and, occasionally, parties. There’s so many to choose from you can immerse yourself with locals or tourists or have the beach to yourself.

THAI CUISINE Thai cuisine is famous and popular all around the world and is an important part of Thai culture. Built around the fundamental flavours of spicy, sweet, salty and sour, Thai cuisine is heavily influenced by its distinct regions.

KHAO SAK NATIONAL PARK One of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Thailand, Khao Sak National Park is filled with jungle forests and limestone cliffs. It’s home to the Asian elephant, barking deer, Malayan tapirs and various species of monkeys.

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Useful Information

Shopping

Thailand is one of the best places to shop in Southeast Asia. You will be spoilt for choice, with everything from huge, glitzy shopping centres, department stores, small shops and bustling street markets. In Thailand you'll find great Thai silks and cottons, leather goods, batiks, silver and gold, precious and semi-precious stones, painted umbrellas and more. Tailor-made clothes are also good value and high standard. Most shops and department stores are open seven days a week from 10am to 10pm. Markets have different opening hours depending on what they sell. The night markets usually open from sunset to anywhere between 10pm and midnight. Banks are usually open Monday-Friday from 9.30am to 3.30pm. Currency exchange booths are usually open on evenings and weekends.

Tipping

It is not customary to tip in Thailand and it is not expected but a small gratuity for good service is appreciated. Tipping in hotels is also not expected but a 20-50 baht tip for the porter or cleaner is welcome. It is customary in restaurants to leave behind loose change.

Getting Around

Travelling around Thailand is cheap and efficient however, unless you fly between cities, getting around can be a bit time consuming. Buses are fast, cheap and frequent. Trains are slower and offer a better chance to sleep on overnight journeys.

Language

The official language is Thai but many Thai people also speak and understand English.

Visas

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Customs

Pressing your palms together and bowing your head is a gesture you will encounter everywhere in Thailand. It is an important custom and denotes respect but is also used to say hello, thank you or goodbye.

The King is revered throughout the country and you'll see his image everywhere. You must always stand when the King's anthem is played and you should never make disparaging remarks about the King or the royal family.

Based on their Buddhist beliefs, Thai people believe the head is the most important part of the body, so touching someone's head is highly offensive. The feet are the least valued part so raising your feet or pointing them at people or religous objects is also offensive. You must also remember to remove your shoes when entering homes or religious buildings and structures.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a traveller's individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Thailand and vaccination against Typhoid should also be considered. Care with food and beverage selection is far more important. Malaria is present in some parts of Thailand, as such insect avoidance measures should be taken and Antimalarial drugs may be required. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Thailand should also ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. 

Electricity

Electrical Plug Type: European and American Voltage: 220 volts

Communications

Country Code for Thailand: +66

Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz

Emergency Services: Fire: 199 Police: 191 Ambulance: 1554. The emergency services may not have English speaking staff. To avoid delay it may be best to seek the assistance of a Thai speaker to call the emergency services.

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