Best time of year to go
To get the best of the weather, it’s best to visit between November and March, the months immediately post monsoon (July to October) see the country at its most beautiful and lush. The monsoon season itself is best avoided as some islands shut up store and the boats run on a limited service.
For the heat lovers, the shoulder season – the time between the high and monsoon seasons, namely April to June and September and October – may be the time for you. Hot and dry with quiet beaches, you’ll avoid the crowds and high season prices.
Flights from London
Flight time is 11 hours and 50 minutes from London to Bangkok.
Thailand operates on GMT +7 and does not have daylight saving hours.
Air travel in Thailand is very affordable and is ideal if your trip is time poor. Most routes operate from Bangkok to smaller towns but Phuket, Chiang Mai and Ko Samui also fly to some smaller towns. THAI, Bangkok Air, Orient Thai and Nok Air are the main flight operators.
Buses are reliable in Thailand: a great way to see the countryside and meet locals. The most dependable are the government-subsided BKS buses and tickets can be bought in advance at any BKS terminal.
With a rail network of 4500km, the train system in Thailand is extensive. This makes it a great option for long distance trips from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or Surat Thani and day trips to the likes of Ayutthaya. You can buy tickets at any train station and be sure to book sleeper trains ahead, especially in tourist high season.
Long-tail boats are a popular choice for navigating Thai rivers and canals or seeing the floating markets. Ferries and speedboats connect the mainland with the islands and can be easily booked at a travel agency – recommended during high season, especially to or from Ko Phagnan around Full Moon party time.
The iconic Thai mode of transport is the famous three-wheeled tuk tuk and no trip to Thailand is complete without bumping along in the back of one. Agree the price and destination with the driver before you get in.
Dos & Don’ts
Wear long pants, cover shoulders and take off your shoes when visiting temples
Rise for the national anthem, played daily at 8am and 6pm. Respect for the king is extremely important in Thailand
Take a leaf from the locals’ book and smile a lot!
Eat with a spoon – use your fork to push food onto the spoon.
Avoid public displays of affection
Touch people on the head as it’s considered sacred in Thai culture.
Try not to point your feet at others, especially when in a temple – sit with your feet crossed in front of you or tucked under you if possible.
Tie your shoes to the outside of your backpack or luggage in case they brush against somebody.
Raise your voice or lose your temper.
Visa / entry requirements
British passport holders can stay in Thailand for 30 days without obtaining a visa beforehand when arriving by air or 15 days at land borders. If you plan to stay longer, then you’ll need to get an extension of stay or a valid visa.
Make sure your passport is valid more than 6 months from your date of entry into Thailand and also that you have enough free pages in your passport – countries in Southeast Asia usually require up to one and a half pages.
There is an immigration office in Bangkok and one in Chiang Mai if you need to address any visa issues – remember to dress formally and if extending your visa, bring two passport-sized photos and copies of the visa page of your passport.
Bangkok was named the hottest city in the world with an annual mean air temperature of 28 degrees Celsius.
Bangkok was once christened the Venice of the East because its buildings stood on stilts above the Chao Phraya River.
The film The King and I is banned from being played in Thailand as it is seen as insulting to the King Mongkut, who was extremely cultured and intelligent – contrary to what the film depicts.
Thailand was called Siam until 1939 when it was renamed and now means Land of the Free.
Thailand has some of the most Guinness world records per person in the world and is home to the world’s largest Gold Buddha, the largest crocodile farm, the man with the world’s longest hair and the world’s smallest mammal, the bumble bat.
Hello: sa-wat-dii (informal), sa-wat-dii, khráp (polite, male speaker), sa-wat-dii, khâ (polite, female speaker)
How are you?: sabaai-dii rue?
Fine, and you?: sabaai-di láe khun lá, khráp/khâ
What is your name?: khun chue aria?
My name is…: phŏm/dì-chăn cheu…
Yes/No: chai/mai chai
Goodbye: laa kon
I’m sorry: kho thot
Thank you: khop khun
How much is this?: nîi thâo rài?
Currency & Money
The currency in Thailand is the baht, and money can be withdrawn at ATMs using your debit or credit card in most areas of the country, excluding particularly rural parts. US Dollars, British sterling and Euro can be changed for Thai baht in most major banks.
What to pack
Depending on the time of year you’re visiting, lightweight clothes are always a good idea if you plan on moving around. Long pants and sleeved tops are essential for visiting temples and a light raincoat almost always comes in handy. Comfortable shoes and a hat are a must if you plan on hiking or trekking and obviously swimwear is a prerequisite for trips to the coasts or islands.
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