THE LAND OF SMILES
Thailand has everything you could imagine in a country, from the most visited city on Earth, right through to isolated jungles. Whatever you are looking for, you should find it in the ‘The Land of Smiles’.
On our one month adventure around Thailand, we started in Bangkok and made our way north, so have yet to experience the islands of the south. However, this page gives a lot of general information about Thailand, alongside specific guides to Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai.
Hopefully you will find this useful if you’re planning your own trip, or will just enjoy reading about our adventure.
Places Of Interest In Thailand
Thailand Travel Guides
- Bangkok Travel Guide
- Lumphini Park | Here Be Monsters!
- Sampeng Market, Bangkok | From coffee to coffins & everything inbetween
- 6 Striking Photos of The Golden Buddha at Wat Traimat
- Wat Arun: Is this the most beautiful place in Bangkok?
- Wat Pho at Night
- Sunset at Wat Arun: Discover this FREE spot to get the perfect sunset photo
- Bangkok Grand Palace: A Place to Endure rather than Adore
- Terminal 21: See the World from Inside an Air-Conditioned Mall
- Temple of the Golden Mount and Loha Prasat
CHIANG RAI (AND SURROUNDING AREA)
- 8 Reasons Chiang Rai was our Favourite City in Thailand
- Chiang Rai Road Trip: 3 Day DIY Tour of Northern Thailand
- Phu Chi Fa | A Road Trip to Find the Ultimate Sunrise
- Is Chiang Rai Worth Visiting? 15 Reasons To Convince You It Is
- Walking Through The Treetops at Mae Fah Luang Gadens
KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK
- 5 Busy (and Slightly Luxurious) Days in Chiang Mai
- Inthakin Festival, Chiang Mai | Right Place, Right Time!
Useful Thailand Information
Information and Stats
Thailand is located in Southeast Asia, and is the 50th largest country by area in the world.
It has borders with Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia.
The population of the Thailand is around 86 million (April 2018) with around 30 million tourists visiting every year.
Thai, or more specifically, Siamese Thai, is the only official language of Thailand. It is spoken by over eighty percent of the country. Thai is closely related to Lao, the official language of Laos; Shan, which is spoken in Burma; and a number of less significant languages associated with southern China and northern Vietnam.
Thai is used in all official capacities in Thailand, including education, government and the media.
Around a quarter of the population speak English, and this is much higher in the main tourist areas and big cities.
The range of English speaking varies massively though, with at least half of the English speakers using it only in ’emergencies’.
Thailand is GMT +7.
The flag of Thailand is made up of 5 colours, mirrored from the centre. It was adopted on 28 December 1917.
Thailand’s flag stands for nation-religion-king, an unofficial motto that Thai people live by. The red stripes represent Thailand’s blood spilt in its bid to maintain independence; the white stands for purity and Buddhism (the country’sprimary religion), and blue symbolises the Thai monarchy. The blue stripe also has a double meaning as it stands in solidarity and honours Thailand’s World War I allies, namely Great Britain, France, the United States and Russia, which all have red, white and blue flags
The flag of Thailand was also designed so it cannot be flown upside down.
The story goes that in 1917, then King of Siam, King Vajiravudh saw the flag being flown upside down during a flood. To ensure that such a thing could never happen again, the King designed a symmetrical flag that would be right side up no matter how it was flown. The previous flag for the Kingdom of Siam was of an elephant with the royal crest on it.
Thailand has been a nation since 1238 when the Sukhothai Kingdom was founded, though some sources recognise the date as being 1767 when the Thon Buri period began and Bangkok was made the capital.
Thailand has also been known as Siam at various points in its history, and some Thais still refer to themselves as being Siamese, though generally only in central Thailand.
- Sukhothai Kingdom (1238–1438)
- Ayutthaya period (1351–1767)
- Thonburi period (1768–1782)
- Rattanakosin period (1782–present)
Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that was not colonised by Europeans. It was however very briefly invaded by Japan in the World Was II before signing a treating and allying with them through the rest of the war.
After WWII it allied itself with the United States, which helped keep it free of the communist revolutions which swept through Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
- 8 Facts You Might Not Have Known About Thailand
- Thailand History
- What do people in Thailand call Thailand?
When To Visit
High Season (Nov–Mar)
A cool and dry season follows the monsoons, meaning the landscape is lush and temperatures are comfortable.
Christmas in the West and New Year’s holidays bring crowds and inflated rates.
Mid Season (Apr–Jun, Sep & Oct)
April to June is generally very hot and dry, with an average Bangkok temperature of 30°C. Sea breezes in coastal areas provide natural air-con.
September and October are ideal for the north and the gulf coast.
Low Season (Jul–Oct)
Monsoon season ranges from afternoon showers to major flooding. Rain is usually in short, intense bursts.
Some islands shut down; boat service is limited during stormy weather. Be flexible with travel plans.
The currency of Thailand is the Baht.
At the time of writing (April 2018) you can get 44 Baht to the pound.
If you want it to be, Thailand can be a very cheap country to travel in.
You three biggest costs will be accommodation, travel and food.
There is a broad range of accomodation, from cheap hostels to luxury hotels.
Travel will be a toss-up between speed and cost. Buses are the cheapest way to travel long distances, but also take the longest time. Planes are the fastest but cost the most and mean you skip out the beautiful landscape. Depending on where you are visiting trains are a good middle ground, and if you use sleeper trains, can save you a night’s accommodation too.
Food can be incredibly cheap if you eat from street vendors or much more expensive if you choose to eat in restaurants. You will not save money by booking AirBNBs with kitchens and cooking at home as the street food is so cheap.
TRAVELING IN THAILAND
Traveling in Thailand is inexpensive and efficient, if not always speedy. Unless you travel by plane, long-distance journeys in Thailand can be arduous, especially if a shoestring budget restricts you to hard seats and no air conditioning.
The main international airport is in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), but there is also a smaller airport Don Mueang International Airport (DMK), which is mainly used for domestic of short-haul international flights.
There are also airports in the tourist hubs of Chiang Mai, Phuket and Krabi which are really convenient if you are pushed for time.
Thailand has a fairly well-developed rail network, that centres in Bangkok, and will get you to all the main tourist destinations. If you have the time it is much cheaper than flying, and will allow you to stop at a host of interesting places on route.
TAXI AND BUS TRAVEL
Taxis, tuk-tuks and buses are an easy way to get around the main cities, and most will take you out to more remote locations closely. They are inexpensive by western standards.
With taxis, specify that they turn the meter on, or you may end up in a big negotiation for a ride that will be more expensive than it should have been. This is not always easy, especially in tourist areas.
Tuk-tuks are more for fun than real transport. You generally get ripped off as a tourist, and it’s hard to get a decent price, especially in Bangkok. I would choose taxis wherever possible.
CAR AND MOTORBIKE RENTAL
Cars drive on the left-hand side in Thailand, which will be familiar to those of us from the UK.
We decided to take a road-trip whilst in Northern Thailand and found the roads to be well maintained and quiet. I would not have been brave enough to drive near the big cities though!
Be aware you need an international driver’s license if you want to drive a car in Thailand, so make sure you purchase one in advance.
Five different types of socket are used in Thailand, so it can get a bit complicated. A good travel adapter should allow you to deal with most situations.
For more information on the plugs and power sockets of Thailand, click here.
The dialing code for Thailand is (+66)
Wifi coverage is surprisingly good in Thailand, with most hotels and cafes offering a fairly fast connection. In some hotels you might have to pay extra.
We also took with us a TEP Wireless Hotspot which allowed us to use the local 4g networks to connect up to 5 devices to the internet.
Health & Emergency
The advice in Thailand is not to drink the tap water. Sticking to bottled water is your best bet.
Emergency Phone Numbers:
- Tourist Police 1155 (English speaking)
- Police 191
- Ambulance and Rescue 1554
- Fire 199
- Crime 1195
- Medical Emergency Call 1669
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
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