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What to expect
First time visitors to Thailand are usually struck by the chaotic and fast-paced nature of daily life. Traffic, over-crowding and noise are often a traveller’s first impressions of Thailand as they arrive in the busy hub Bangkok. With time, this fast-developing and modern city will share her unique culture. Leaving the city and heading out into rural area is likely to reveal an entirely different side to Thailand. In fact, a deeper exploration of this incredibly beautiful country can divulge an array of scenery from majestic mountain ranges, verdant jungle waterways and endless beaches. It is this wild diversity in terms of geography, culture and history which draw visitors back to Thailand again and again.
approximately 12 hours
Banks, public offices and some tourist sites will be closed on the holidays listed below. As major holidays are set according to the lunar calendar, dates change every year. Please check with our UK-based Asia specialists for details.
1 January is New Year's Day
, a public holiday. While the international rather than Thai new year, it is nevertheless celebrated with food promotions and fireworks displays, such as those along the banks of the Chao Phraya River.
February (full moon, 3rd Thai lunar month) is Makha Bucha Day
, a Buddhist holiday commemorating Buddha's teaching of the Ovada Patimokkha.
6 April is Chakri Memorial Day
, commemorating the establishment of the Chakri Dynasty, the current ruling royal family.
13-17 April is Songkran
, the traditional Thai new year and the year's major holiday. Many Thais return to their family home during this period, and it is marked by celebrations and throwing water on the streets.
1 May is National Labor Day
, commemorating the contribution of workers to society.
5 May is Coronation Day
, marking the coronation of Thailand's current king, known as Rama IX, in 1946.
May (astrologically determined) is the Royal Ploughing Ceremony
, where the country's farmers are blessed.
May/June (full moon, 6th Thai lunar month) is Visakha Bucha Day
, a religious holiday commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing of Buddha.
July/August (full moon, 8th Thai lunar month) is Asarlha Buch Day
, a religious holiday remembering Buddha's first discourse.
July/August (first waning moon, 8th Thai lunar month) is Vassa
, the start of Buddhist Lent.
12 August is National Mothers' Day
and a holiday celebrating the birthday of Queen Sirikit in 1932.
23 October is Chulalongkorn Memorial Day
, commemorating the passing of King Chulalongkorn in 1910.
5 December is Fathers' Day
and a holiday celebrating the current King's birthday (born in 1927).
10 December is Constitution Day
, marking the introduction of the first permanent constitution in 1932.
31 December is New Year's Eve
, which is celebrated in Thailand as it is in much of the world.
Health & Fitness
Travellers to Thailand should take precautions as they would elsewhere in Asia. In remote areas medical facilities can be particularly basic. Some of the diseases known to exist in Thailand include malaria, hepatitis A & B, typhoid, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, dengue fever, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rabies and HIV/ AIDS. We recommend you take adequate preventative measures to minimise your risk of exposure to these health risks.
We are a travel company and we are not qualified to provide detailed medical information appropriate to your individual needs; it is recommended you consult with your local doctor or a specialist travel medical centre for current health information on vaccinations and medicine for your trip at least one month prior to departure.
Of all the countries in which we operate tours, Thailand is perhaps the most visitor-friendly in terms of arrival. Holders of passports from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, UK and Canada do not need visas for stays of 15 to 30 days in Thailand.
Note: Thai visa regulations do change from time to time. We strongly advise that you check with your closest Thai consulate or embassy before you travel. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the appropriate visa for your travels.
Safety and security
Touristed areas in Thailand are safe by world standards, but the usual commonsense safety precautions should be adhered to.
In most major centres, taxis are plentiful, metered and inexpensive and a good way to get around, especially at night. Always take a hotel address card with you so you can show the drive where to take you. Often covered in the Australian media, Thailand has extremely strict laws relating to drug use. Use your judgement but as a guideline, it can be a good idea to be vigilant with regards to strangers offering drinks and sweets.
Keep a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers in a safe place separate from the originals. Most hotels have in-room safes for storing your valuables.
Read our safety guidelines for further information.
‘Gentlemen of the Parlour’ by Somerset Maugham
is an interesting account of the author's travels on foot and elephant-back through parts of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. It provides an idea of how much the Thailand and Indochina area has changed over the past century.
‘Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind’ by Carol Hollinger
is a delightful read by an American woman who made Thailand her home and worked as a frustrated English teacher at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University.
‘Travels in Siam, Cambodia, Laos and Annam’, by Henri Mouhot
. Written in 1860, this is an intriguing account of travels through Indochina and Thailand by the Frenchman who rediscovered Angkor in Cambodia. It reveals lots of interesting information on the Thailand of yesteryear.
‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ by Pierre Boulle
is a fictional account based on historical fact, focusing on the construction of the Burma Railway in Kanchanaburi by prisoners of war during World War Two.
‘Letters from Thailand’, translated by Susan Fulop Kepner
is an English translation of a Thai book telling the story of a Chinese migrant to urban Thailand, post World War Two. It reveals how he found adapating to his new surrounds and culture.
‘Thailand: A Short History’ by Joseph Wright Jr
is a readable guide to the history of the ‘land of smiles’.
Useful words & phrases
Hello (or hi)
Sa wat dee
How are you?
Khun sabai dee mai
I'm fine, thank you
Chan sabai dee
What is your name?
Khun chue are rai
My name is…
How old are you?
Khun are you thao rai
I am …years old
Chan are you ... Pee
How much is ...?
Ra ca thao rai
It's too expensive!
Mun Phaeng mak
Excuse me /I'm sony
Khor tod/ chan sia jai
Mai jam phen
Arrival and departure transfers
Arrival transfer: If you have booked an arrival transfer for your Thai holiday, you will find your driver waiting for you in a Travel Indochina t-shirt and carrying a signboard with your name on it.
Road: Most roads in Thailand are well paved and in good condition. When travelling by road we generally use late model air-conditioned minivans or minibuses.
Air: Some tours involve domestic flights. Thai Airlines operates a modern fleet.
Boat: Some Small Group Journeys and independent travel arrangements involve boat journeys. These are great experiences and provide you with terrific photo opportunities. Toilets on boats, where available, are generally of the Asian squat-style.
Internet: Internet services are widely available in main urban centers, and rates are usually minimal. Most of the larger cities and towns' restaurants, cafes, hotels and bars have complimentary Wi-Fi.
Phone: Fixed line phone calls and faxes, most often found in hotels, can be the most expensive, usually from 4 USD to 6 USD per minute. It is possible to use your cell phone in Thailand, although you may need to organise roaming with your service provider prior to travel. Coverage will be less consistent in rural regions.
Mail: It usually takes 7-10 days for international post to reach its destination, with rates similar to those in Western countries. Ensure you send mail on a registered basis, or delivery times will be much longer..
Food & drink
Thai cuisine is an exotic mix of the best ingredients and flavours that Asia has to offer. Fresh produce and seafood is plentiful, of good quality, and affordable. Thai food is renowned for being spicy and incorporates lots of garlic, chilli, lime, and lemon grass. Vegetarians are generally well catered for. Lunch should cost around 4-10 USD and dinner approximately 10-15 USD, depending on the restaurant.
If you are happy with the services provided by your local guides, drivers and your tour leader, a tip is appropriate and appreciated. While it may not be customary to you, tipping inspires great service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across Asia. You are free to tip as much or as little as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip.
Should you be dissatisfied with the services provided by your Local guide, driver or Tour leader, please let us know.
Most hotels in Thailand have swimming pools. There are no required safety standards such as secure fencing so it is imperative that children are supervised near and around the pool areas. As all beaches around the world always enter the ocean with caution, not all beaches are patrolled by lifeguards in Thailand, even though the water may look calm rips, currents and other obstacles may be present.
Insider Journeys practices a thorough, realistic responsible travel policy. We believe that travel should entail an exchange of knowledge and perspectives, a sharing of wealth, and a genuine appreciation of Asia’s beautiful natural environments. This philosophy underpins the heart and soul of our style of travel. It drives all that we strive to deliver to our travellers, and shapes the contact we have with our supplier colleagues in Asia. We recognise that poorly planned itineraries or poorly informed tourists contribute less to cross-cultural understanding and less to the livelihoods of local people. We also recognise that we largely work in a developing part of the world.
Read more about our approach to responsible travel in Asia.