In this extract from Lonely Planet India’s Thailand travel guide, we look at some of the very basic information you need while planning a trip to this amazing country.
Time: 1 ½ hours ahead of IST
Currency: Thai Baht (B)
Mobile phones: Inexpensive pre-paid SIM cards, 3G and Blackberry SIM cards available.
Internet access: Wi-fi is widespread and sometimes free. Internet cafes common in tourist centres.
Tourist information: Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT; www.tourismthailand.org).
When to go
Thailand enjoys tropical climate with spells of rain. It has both a wet and dry season. Make your vacation plans accordingly.
November–March: A cool and dry season follows the monsoons, meaning the landscape is lush and temperatures are comfortable. Christmas and New Year’s holidays brings crowds of tourists from around the world and inflated rates to the beaches accounting for Thailand’s high-holiday season.
April–June, September & October: The mid-season sees hot and dry (April–June) all over, but less so in higher elevations of the northern mountains. Beaches aren’t crowded and the ocean provides natural air-con. Tail-end of rainy season (Sept & Oct) is ideal for visiting the north and the Gulf Coast.
July–October: Monsoon season can range from afternoon showers to multi-day drenchers making it a low-season for holiday makers. Some islands shut down and boat service is limited during stormy weather. Be flexible with travel plans (keep lots of buffer days) and you might be rewarded with blue skies.
What to pack
• Light wash-and-wear clothes.
• A pullover or jacket for air-conditioned places and cool mountain areas. Slip-on shoes, slippers or sandals.
• A small torch, hats, glares, sarong, waterproof money/passport container, insect repellent and sunscreen (high SPFs are not widely available).
• Carry shirts or tops which are full-sleeved and trousers or pants that cover the ankles to be worn while visiting temples.
Air: Domestic routes from Bangkok are plentiful.
Bus: Inter-city buses are convenient, affordable and comfortable but should be booked at bus stations to avoid unscrupulous agents.
Hired transport: Bangkok has metered taxis, elsewhere tuk-tuk and motorcycle taxis have negotiated fares; motorcycles and cars are easily rented.
Public transport: Bangkok has plenty of public buses, an elevated train system (BTS) and a subway (MRT).
Train: Slow but scenic travel, popular for the overnight trip between Bangkok and Chiang Mai and Bangkok to the southern islands.