INPACT 2016 WORLD CONFERENCE
JW MARRIOTT HOTEL BANGKOK
19 - 22 OCTOBER 2016
Thailand travel guide
Thailand is one destination that you definitely won’t want to miss from your Asian travel itinerary. You can do it all here – from soaking up the rays with a Pina Colada on the beaches of Phuket or trekking through the mountainous region of Chiang Mai, to bartering in the bustling Bangkok markets or partying hard at the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. Whether your vice is shopping, partying, sunbathing, the outdoors, eating or site seeing you’ll be able to indulge yourself in Thailand.
History & Society of Thailand
The history of Thailand is considered to have begun in 1238 when Sukhothai was established as the capital in the central northern region.
In 1350 King Uthorn established another Thai capital at Ayuthaya, just north of present-day Bangkok, which eventually overshadowed Sukhothai and prospered for over two hundred years. However, neighbouring Burma eventually destroyed Ayuthaya after a prolonged history of warfare in 1767.
The new capital was founded on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River at Thonburi and in 1782 moved to its present site, Bangkok, or Krung Thep as it is known to the Thai’s.
During the 19th century, while the rest of Southeast Asia was being colonised, Siam (as Thailand was formerly known) managed to remain independent. Thailand’s rulers managed to obtain many of the material benefits of colonisation, including the expansion of the road network, introduction of railways, and other western-based reforms.
Culture and society of Thailand
While you’ll find Bangkok to be a crazy mish-mash of traditional temples and modern Western-style buildings, beyond the capital many of the regions still maintain their cultural roots. The women of the long neck Karen villages in Northern Thailand continue the tradition of wearing rings around their neck and curious tourists to this area provide a main source of income.
The majority of the population is still made up of farmers and the predominant form of agriculture is wet-rice cultivation. Others cultivate tapioca and jute (in the North East), vegetables (in the North), rubber (in the South) and a large variety of fruit and coconuts.
Thailand is predominantly Buddhist and you’ll find shrines and temples dotted around the cities and countryside dedicated to the religion. A must-visit is the largest Buddha in Thailand, the reclining Buddha, housed at Wat Pho in Bangkok.
Thailand’s climate is tropical with a mean annual temperature of 28°C and high humidity. There are three distinct seasons – the hot season from March to May, the cool season from November to February and the rainy season from about June to October.
Thai money is called the baht. To find the most up to the minute Thai currency exchange rates, go to XE.com Currency Converter. The basic unit of Thai currency is the baht. There are 100 satang in one baht. Coins include 25-satang and 50-satang pieces and 1B, 2B, 5B and 10B coins. The 2B coin is similar in size to the 1B coin but is gold in colour. The two satang coins are typically only issued at supermarkets where prices aren’t rounded up to the nearest baht.
Paper currency is issued in 20B (green), 50B (blue), 100B (red), 500B (purple) and 1000B (beige) denominations.
Tipping isn’t necessary but since everything is often such a bargain and the service generally very high, it is the norm to tip around 10 percent in restaurants and hotels.
Thailand holiday Visa
Your nationality will determine whether you need to get a visa and how long you can stay. Citizens from a large list of countries can visit Thailand visa-free for up to 30 days – plenty of time for most.
Have a blast on your trip but don’t forget to respect the local culture in Thailand. Check out the Thailand travel tips and advice:
Thai people have a deep respect and reverence for the monarchy and it’s important to show respect for the King, the Queen and the Royal Children.
Religion in Thailand
Dressing neatly in religious shrines is a must – otherwise prepare to be refused entry. Some places, such as the King’s Palace, will allow you to hire appropriate dress but you can expect hot and heavy sarong-type clothing so it’s best to turn up wearing something appropriate and comfortable from the outset. Shoulders, midriff and knees should be covered and you should wear neat footwear. Shoes are acceptable when walking around the compound of a Buddhist temple, but you’ll need to remove them before entering the chapel where the main Buddha image is kept.
Each Buddha image, large or small, ruined or not, is sacred to the Thai people. Never climb onto one to take a photograph or do anything that might be deemed as a lack of respect. Buddhist monks are forbidden to touch or be touched by a woman, or to accept anything from the hand of one. Ladies – if you’d like to give anything to a monk, you’ll need to hand it to a man to present instead.
Most Thai's will accept a handshake but their traditional form of greeting is the wai – a prayer-like gesture where the palms are pressed together. Generally a younger person will wai an elder, who returns it.
Thais regard the head as the highest part of the body (literally and figuratively) so avoid touching people on the head and try not to point your feet at people or an object. It is considered very rude. You’ll also need to remove your shoes before entering a private Thai home.
Attractions in Thailand
All too often just a place of transit but it’s well worth taking a few days to explore Bangkok. There are countless things to do and you’ll find extraordinary people and places to visit around every corner. Barter for all sorts of goodies at the largest outdoor market in the world, the Chatuchak weekend market, or get along to MBK, an air-conditioned shopping haven. The King’s Palace is also well worth a visit, along with any number of temples including Wat Pho and the Temple of the Dawn.
Dubbed the ‘Pearl of the Andaman’, Phuket remains one of the most popular beaches for tourists – and with good reason. Beautiful white sand, palm trees, and clear blue water create a great atmosphere for some prime R & R. Get away from the hoards in Patong and head along to one of the gems of Phuket – the beaches of Kata or Karon. There is plenty to see in Phuket – jump on one of the day tours (deep link to a tour) to explore the islands and caves, go diving, visit the wildlife sanctuary or simply grab a table at a restaurant to sample the delish seafood.
Situated in Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is quite a mountainous region and great for those more adventurous travellers keen to trek through forests, visit waterfalls and discover the wildlife. Jump on a tour to visit a hill tribe – including the long neck Karen tribes in a nearby province. Your visit to Chiang Mai isn’t complete until you’ve paid a visit to Doi Suthep – Chiang Mai’s famous temple situated high in the mountains and giving you a great view of the city in the distance. If you’re feeling fit there are 290 steps to take you to the temple – or you can take a rail car.
A rock climber’s heaven, you’ll find stunning limestone cliffs and rock formations in Krabi. You should also head along to the National Park located about 40 km outside of town to be at one with nature and soak up the rivers, caves and amazing natural scenery. Krabi is also home to some great beaches including Ao Nang and Hat Rai Leh, which offer numerous diving trips, restaurants and shops.
Despite the fast pace of development, Koh Samui has been able to maintain its image of a tropical beach resort fringed by coconut trees. Hit the beach or tour the surrounding islands by day and sample the bars and clubs at night. Koh Phangan, home to the full moon party, is also only an hour away by boat, making Koh Samui a great place to take a break from the craziness.
Speak like a Thai
Have a go at the ten Thai phrases & words below to get you started. Keep in mind that to make a request or greeting sound more polite, male people should add 'khap' to the end of a sentence and female 'kha'.
Bangkok Area Guide
There are numerous areas of interest to travellers in Bangkok – here are key highlights of each Bangkok area to help you figure out where to go
The Chao Phraya River is the heart of Bangkok and the riverside one of its most charismatic areas – explore the city from the water or watch the world go by on the riverbanks
Home to some of Bangkok’s most impressive attractions, including the stunning Grand Palace and Wat Pho, Rattanakosin is Bangkok’s historic district. Due to Rattanakosin’s significance in Thailand’s history, it’s home to the majority of Bangkok’s most impressive temples and cultural attractions, including the Grand Palace — the residence of the King of Siam until 1925. Rattanakosin is also home to a range of markets, museums and its wide pavements are ideal for walking by the river between attractions.
Khao San Road
Khao San Road itself is a short street located near Ratchadamnoen Avenue, a major avenue linking the area with Bangkok’s historical temples and palaces. Although Khao San Road itself is small, its backpacker culture of cheap guesthouses, bars and restaurants has spilled over into almost all of the surrounding streets.
Throughout the day (and most of the night) Khao San Road is a noisy circus of activity. Some of its surrounding streets, such as the relaxed Soi Rambuttri and hip, arty neighbourhood of Phra Athit Road, are a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Khao San.
Chatuchak is home to Bangkok’s biggest and most popular outdoor market – the truly gigantic Chatuchak Weekend Market – and several of its most peaceful parks.
Although the Chatuchak area is a several kilometres from downtown Sukhumvit and Silom, it’s easy to access using the BTS Skytrain or MRT. Visit on Saturday or Sunday when Chatuchak Market is open to get the most from this part of Bangkok.
Lower Sukhumvit – Nana And Asoke
Stretching from the start of Sukhumvit Road to Asok Station is Lower Sukhumvit, one of Bangkok’s most popular business and nightlife districts. Home to a wide range of markets, restaurants and some of the city’s most popular nightlife, Lower Sukhumvit is a mix of work and play.
Lower Sukhumvit is the centre of Bangkok nightlife – Sukhumvit Soi 11 has some of Bangkok’s most famous nightclubs, while Soi Nana (aka Sukhumvit Soi 4) and Soi Cowboy at Asoke intersection are two of the city’s infamous red light districts. By day Lower Sukhumvit is a bustling mix of shopping centres and street stalls.
Central Sukhumvit – Thonglor, Ekkamai And Phrom Phong
Central Sukhumvit (running from Sukhumvit Soi 21 to Soi 67) is Bangkok’s upmarket dining and entertainment area, and one of the city’s most desirable places to live. Home to world-class restaurants, shopping malls, and some of Bangkok’s best nightlife, Central Sukhumvit is a great place to shop, relax and unwind.
Thonglor, Ekamai, Phrom Phong and Asoke districts make up Central Sukhumvit, which is one of the most popular areas of Bangkok for tourists to visit. Thonglor and Ekamai offer a huge selection of bars and restaurants to explore, while Phrom Phong and Asoke mix state-of-the-art shopping malls and cinemas with condos and offices, all interspersed with yet more eateries and watering holes.
Upper Sukhumvit – On Nut, Phrakanong, And Beyond
Upper Sukhumvit – particular the On Nut and Phrakanong districts – might be more laid back than Mid and Lower Sukhumvit, but it’s quickly becoming one of Bangkok’s most interesting areas.
Upper Sukhumvit covers the area from Phra Khanong BTS all the way to Bang Na. Although the action is mostly found around On Nut, this entire area is full of great places to eat, trendy local bars and a huge selection of mid range and budget hotels.
Siam Square, Ratchaprasong and Ploen Chit
Ratchaprasong is Bangkok’s shopping capital, home to the city’s biggest shopping malls and most exclusive designer boutiques. It’s also home to Siam Square – a fashionable shopping area aimed at teens and 20-somethings – as well as some of Bangkok’s best hotels.
Silom And Sathorn
Financial district by day, party hotspot by night, Silom is one of Bangkok’s busiest areas. Home to some of Bangkok’s most expensive luxury hotels and the beautiful Lumphini Park, Silom also contains some of the city’s best bars and restaurants.
Silom is like a large village with lots of nightlife and eateries to explore that are relatively close to one another. Silom covers the area between the south side of Lumphini Park and the Chao Phraya River. It’s home to two of Bangkok’s most important roads, Silom and Sathorn. Sathorn itself is the financial district which loosely forms one edge of Silom.
Equal parts upscale residential area and hipster hangout, the Ari neighbourhood is home to a selection of great restaurants and cafés. Although it’s off the typical Bangkok itinerary, Ari (also sometimes spelt Aree) has a lot to offer for visitors to Bangkok seeking a quieter side of the city.
Excellent cafés and restaurants are plentiful in Ari, as are boutique shops. La Villa, an outdoor shopping mall located beside BTS Ari, is home to an international shopping mall and a typical assortment of Thai chain restaurants and cafes.
Victory Monument isn’t Bangkok’s most beautiful area, with endless concrete overpasses and bus stations. Despite its lack of natural beauty, it’s home to some great restaurants and a mix of interesting bars on Soi Rangnam.
The Victory Monument area is also where you’ll find King Power, Bangkok’s biggest duty-free shopping mall, as well as a variety of small shopping malls, clothing shops, street food stalls and other quintessential aspects of everyday Bangkok life.
Located north of Siam, Phaya Thai is a mixed residential and commercial district with cheap shopping and a great range of local restaurants. It’s also where you arrive if you catch the Airport Rail Link into town.
Ratchadaphisek (or Ratchada, as it’s known) is an entertainment, business and residential district that’s largely unvisited by most tourists in Bangkok. Home to Royal City Avenue (RCA), one of Bangkok’s biggest nightlife districts, Ratchadaphisek is a fun area to explore.
Food & Drink in Thailand
Thailand's cuisine is regarded by many people as one of the best in the world. And, if variety is the spice of life, you can literally have a different meal every day of the year.
Almost all Thai food is cooked with fresh ingredients, including vegetables, poultry, pork, fish and some beef. Lime juice, lemon grass and fresh coriander give the food its characteristic tang, while liberal helpings of fresh chillies are used to add some fire to many dishes. Other common seasonings include black pepper, ginger, tamarind, and coconut milk which is often added to curries.
Beers, wines and spirits are readily available but the imported items can be a little expensive. A big favourite among Thai people is rice whisky of which Mehkong is the leading brand. It has a sharp, sweet taste similar to rum. Several brands of beer are produced in Thailand, most popular is the local Singha beer.
Some of the more popular dishes
General Information about Thailand
Most government offices open from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm, Monday to Friday, but close from 12 noon to 1 pm for lunch. Banks open at 8.30 am and close at 3.30 pm Monday to Friday. However, in major tourist areas currency exchange offices will open every day from 9.00 am until around 6.30pm, with some staying open until late evening.
Shops and large department stores open every day from around 10.00 am and until 9.00 or 10.00 pm. In large towns and cities you will find convenience stores and some services stations open 24 hours.
Thailand is seven hours ahead of GMT so 12 noon in Bangkok is 5 am in London, 1 am in New York, 10 pm the previous day in Los Angeles, and 3 pm in Sydney.
Electric current is 220 volts, 50 cycles. Many large hotels will also have 110 volt sockets. Most modern appliances such as shavers etc. are suitable for a range of voltages, but if in doubt check before leaving home.
The telephone system is modern and efficient, and you can dial direct to most international destinations from larger hotels. Public phones (which accept a card) are readily available, but not all are capable of making international calls. Cards can be purchased at most hotels and news stands etc. Local calls, on land lines, are generally charged at 3 Baht per connection, there is no time charge, though there are moves to introduce a time charge.
The country code for Thailand is 66
When calling a number in Thailand it is necessary to dial the whole number, including the area code, even if you are in the same area. All area codes are prefixed with a 0. The 0 is dropped if you are dialing from outside Thailand.
Most mobile phones can be used in Thailand whilst you are on holiday, check with your local company before leaving home. If you are planning a long trip here it may be worth considering buying a pre-paid Thai SIM card for your phone, all major providers offer this service. This will give you a local phone number in Thailand and also allow you to phone home without the rather high roaming charges that most companies require. A SIM costs around 50 Baht and you can buy credit at mobile phone shops and many convenience stores. Local calls are cheap. Overseas calls are charged at the standard rates with no surcharge. Re-charge cards come in denominations like 100, 200, 300, 500 Baht.
Internet facilities are available throughout the country. Even the smallest town will boast an Internet Cafe of some sort and charges are very low, less than 30 Baht per hour.
5 star hotels may offer a broadband connection, but the costs are quite high. 3 and 4 star hotels often have free Internet access. In the large cities like Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai you will also find many Wireless Hot Spots.
If you plan to stay for several weeks or longer a convenient way to get Internet access is to purchase an AirCard. This is a USB dongle that plugs into your PC. They cost around 500 to 1000 Baht including a SIM card. You then need to purchase air time. Packages are available from 1 to 5Gb and last one month. They cost from 300 to 1000 Baht and will give you a 7.2Mb connection. Actual speed depends on your location but in major cities is usually around 5Mb download and 1 to 2Mb upload. Once your prepaid amount of data is used up the speed drops to 384Kb unless you purchase a top up.
The postal service is generally very efficient and inexpensive. Most post offices are open on weekdays from 8:30 am to 4.30 pm. However, those in major tourist destinations may be open until 8 pm. Poste restante services are usually very reliable, but you may encounter some confusion between surnames and given names. Ask people who are writing to you to print and underline your surname, this should ensure letters are filed correctly. You will need to produce your passport before you can claim your letters.
TV and Newspapers
Thailand has five Thai language TV channels, plus several cable services in both Thai and English. At least one of these cable services will be offered by many medium sized hotels and all large establishments.
There are two excellent English language daily newspapers, the Bangkok Post and The Nation. Larger tourist venues have their own local magazine.
Major credit cards are accepted in all larger hotels and shops. You may be able to use your card at some ATM machines to withdraw cash. Check with your bank or card company before leaving home.
Credit Card (Visa, Master Card) phone: 256 7326 to 7327 if you are in Bangkok or 02 256 7326 to 7327 from outside Bangkok
Emergency Telephone Numbers
To have comprehensive information about Thailand’s spectacular destinations and most popular interests and activities, please browse the website of Tourism Authority of Thailand and click on the following link http://www.tourismthailand.org/Multimedia/E-Brochure
for their featured E-Brochures and use the search window on the left to find E-Brochures that match your preferred destinations, interests, or keywords.
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