Location – Thailand is situated in the heart of the Southeast Asian mainland, covering an area of 513,115 sq.km. and extends about 1,620 kilometres from north to south and 775 kilometres from east to west. Thailand borders the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the Union of Myanmar to the North, the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Gulf of Thailand to the East, the Union of Myanmar and the Indian Ocean to the West, and Malaysia to the south.
Capital – Bangkok
Central region: Ayutthaya and Chonburi,
North Eastern: Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen
Historical Background – There are conflicting opinions as to the origins of the Thais. Three decades ago it could be said with presumed certainty that the Thais originated in Northwestern Szechuan in China about 4,500 years ago and later migrated down to their present homeland. However, this theory has been altered by the discovery of remarkable prehistoric artifacts in the village of Ban Chiang in the Nong Han District of Udon Thani Province in the Northeast. These include evidence of bronze metallurgy going back 3,500 years, as well as other indications of a far more sophisticated culture than any previously suspected by archaeologists. It now appears that the a Thais might have originated here in Thailand and later scattered to various parts of Asia, including some parts of China. Siam is the name by which the country was known to the world until 1939 and again between 1945 and 1949. On May 11, 1949, an official proclamation changed the name of the country to “Prathet Thai”, or “Thailand”, by which it has since been known. The word “Thai” means “free”, and therefore “Thailand” means “Land of the Free.”
Climate – Thailand is a warm and rather humid tropical country with monsoonal climate. Temperatures are highest in March and April with average temperature of 28 degree Celsius to 38 degrees Celsius and humidity averaging between 82.8 percent to 73 percent
Population – the population in Thailand is approximately 67 million, of which around 8 million live in the capital city, Bangkok.
Language – The national and official language is Thai while English is widely spoken and understood in major cities, particularly in Bangkok and in business circles.
Religion – Buddhists 94.2%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.8%, other 0.4%.
Business Hours – Government and business offices are open from 8:30 to 16:30 hours, Monday to Friday.
Hot – March to May Average temperature is about 34 ºC
Rainy – June to October Average temperature is about 29 ºC
Cool – November to FebruaryThe temperature ranges from 20ºC to 32ºC
Clothing – Thin cotton is the best. Jackets or sweater may be necessary in a cool season, especially in the mountainous areas on the North or Northeast.
Foreign Currency Declaration – As from 24 February 2008, under the relevant Thai law, any foreigner who brings or takes an aggregate amount of foreign currency exceeding USD 20,000 or its equivalent into or out of the Kingdom of Thailand shall declare such amount of foreign currency to a Customs Officer. Failure to declare upon bringing foreign currency that exceeds the amount restricted by law or its equivalent out of or into the Kingdom of Thailand or making any false declaration to a Customs
Electricity – 220 volts 50 cycles throughout the country
Banks – Major Thai commercial banks include the Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Krung Thai Bank, Thai Farmers Bank and Thai Military Bank. Business hours are 08:30 – 15:30 hours, Monday to Friday. Several international banks also have offices in Thailand.
The Baht is the standard currency unit.
1 Baht = 100 satangs
Bank Notes : 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000
Baht Coins : 1, 5, and 10 baht
Changing money – Banks or the more rare private moneychangers offer the best foreign-exchange rates. When buying baht, US dollars are the most accepted currency, followed by British pounds and Euros. Most banks charge a commission and duty for each travellers cheque cashed.
Credit Cards – Major credit cards (American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Diners Club) are accepted at most hotels, restaurants, shops, malls and travel agencies.
ATMs – ATMs are plentiful throughout Thailand, and most will accept cards issued by any of the major international banking networks (Plus, Cirrus, etc.) ATM fees vary depending on a few factors. It is possible that the Thai bank may charge a small fee for using their machine although it is in fact far more likely that you’ll be charged by your own bank for using the ATM card in another country. Charges depend on your bank and can either be a percentage or the amount withdrawn or simply a standard fee. Thailand’s freedom of the press is considered the strongest in Southeast Asia as evidenced by hundreds of Thai-language publications on virtually every subject.
Health and Medical Facilities – Bangkok has numerous clinics and hospitals catering to a variety of needs. Major public and private hospitals are equipped with the latest medical technology and internationally qualified specialists. Almost all pharmaceuticals are widely available. Drinking of tap water should be avoided.
Regulations for Foreign Visitors to Thailand – Foreign nationals visiting Thailand must possess valid passports or accepted travel documents and appropriate visas before entering the country. Visitors from several countries are permitted to stay up to 30 days without visas, while visitors from some other countries are entitled to apply for visas on arrival with stay of up to 15 days, provided they possess tickets confirming departure within 15 days at all ports of entry (for lists of such countries, please see menu tab ‘Visas and Travel Documents’ above). Transit visas permit stay for up to 30 days and tourist visas for up to 60 days. Non-immigrant, diplomatic and official visas permit stay for up to 90 days.
Direct Assistance: 1133 (Bangkok) and 183 (upcountry)
Long Distance Service: 100
IDD: 001+country code+area code+phone number
AT&T USA Direct Service:001-999-11111
Telephones – Mobile coverage is very good throughout the country. For those have a compatible mobile phone, you may buy a pre-paid SIM card locally and use it with your phone. Check the GSM operators’ websites and also check your phone specification to find out if your phone is compatible to work in Thailand or not. Also check that you do not own a mobile that has a locked SIM card, SIM cards may be purchased to allow users to call within Thailand at local rates. Public phone booths are also plentiful. For more information, visit www.referbangkok.com/bangkok/telephone.php