Bangkok is a tropical metropolis that is also one of the most traveler-friendly cities in the whole of Asia. Bangkok is a fascinating, intoxicating and chaotic place, full of sights, smells, experiences, nice people, contradictions, cultures, cars, noise and bedlam. Its high-rise buildings, heavy traffic congestion, intense heat and naughty nightlife do not immediately give you a warm welcome — but don’t let your first impression mislead you. Check out the following tips!
- Thailand is the 50th largest country in the world.
- Time is GMT +7 (no daylight savings).
- The population of Thailand is about 65 million citizens, 7 million of them living in Bangkok.
- 94.6% of Thais are Buddhist, 4.6% of Thais are Muslim 0.7% of Thais are Christian.
Thailand is a very welcoming country, and the Thais themselves are generally very forgiving and laid-back. Historically, Thailand was called Siam. Informality and general friendliness in relationships of all age, economic and social groups characterize the Thai culture and people. Thai people are often incredibly friendly, and many do smile at you on the street. Thais are an extremely tolerant and forgiving people blessed with an easygoing approach to life, visitors would do well to observe proper social customs to avoid embarrassment and misunderstanding.
Always check appropriate visa requirements for your nationality. Passport holders from over 40 countries are not required to obtain a visa before entering Thailand for vacation and will be permitted to stay in the Kingdom up to 30 days on each visit. Visa or visa exempt is stamped on to your passport upon arrival at the border control in Thailand. If you do need a visa, or plan to stay longer than 30 days, you can usually easily obtain a 60 or 90 day visa at most Thai embassies and consulates. This can usually be done by mail if there’s no consulate in your city. Please note that when you are visiting Thailand for vacation, you are a tourist. A tourists are not allowed to work or conduct business in Thailand.
Thai people have a heightened sense of their personal image and believe strongly in the saving of face. They will go to great lengths to avoid confrontation and endeavor not to embarrass either themselves or other people. Thais do not traditionally shake hands, instead the “wai” is the usual greeting.
Estimates of time can be vague or even wildly inaccurate. Thais are often late for appointments, but nobody seems to mind waiting. If possible, avoid public displays of sexual affection. Thai people are extremely offended by public nudity even though this may seem very odd in certain circumstances.
The feet in Thailand are considered spiritually as well as physically the lowest part of the body. Do not point things out or pick things up with your feet. Shoes are not worn inside people’s houses, or in some guesthouses and shops. If you are not sure, watch other people. A pile of shoes at the entrance is your clue, in Bangkok this is not common issue. Totally the opposite is the head, which is the most sacred part of the body, so should not be touched. Do not insult the monarchy. Also, handle money carefully because it has pictures of monarchy. Thailand has no tipping culture but tips are appreciated.
Show respect for religious symbols and rituals, avoid touching spirit houses and household altars. Women must never touch a Buddhist monk or hand things directly to him. Remember always that every monk is looked up to and respected.
Thailand has a tropical climate and temperatures typically range from 19C to 38 C (66-100 F). The temperatures in Bangkok average around 32 degrees, but can often reach over 40 degrees. The climate can be as described as tropical and humid for the majority of the year. There are two or three seasons in Thailand, the cool and dry season between November and February, hot season between March and May and rainy (monsoon) season between June and October. The southern part of country has only two seasons, rainy and dry. The best months to visit Bangkok are between November and February which is also the tourist season in Thailand. The hottest time to go is from March through May.
The currency of Thailand is the Thai baht (bht/baht). The size of Thai currency, both coins and bills increases with value and varies in color. Major credit cards — Visa, MasterCard and American Express are well accepted at most hotels and restaurants. All major credit and debit cards are widely accepted in ATM’s. Most ATM’s charge extra 150 bht withdrawal fee. If the ATM offers to convert the charge to your home currency, do not accept it due poor conversion rate. Department stores and other large shops will also generally accept all cards. Smaller merchants may not accept any cards, or add on the credit card processing fee to the price of items bought.
There is no limit to the foreign currency that can be brought into Thailand but only $10.000 can be taken out unless you have declared else. At the time of writing, conversion rates are 1 EUR = 42 baht, 1 USD = 31.2 baht.
When exchanging currency, check beforehand all of the possible extra costs. Sometimes you can see a really good exchange rate but you have to pay some small fee for the exchange services. Most reliable and sages exchange booths are at the airports. Different banks have different reputations what comes to exchange rates. From the biggest banks, the Kasikorn (green colored booths) and Bangkok Bank are noted as best, then SCB Siam Commercial Bank and lastly TMB Thai Military Bank. Smaller exchange company Super Rich has usually best rates but their offices are located inconveniently for normal tourists. Thailand has no tipping culture but tips are appreciated.
Remember that money is highly appreciated because it has images of the respected King or his relatives. Therefore do not drop the money or otherwise handle it poorly in public. Do not step on coins or bills which you might drop accidentally.
The electricity in Thailand operates at 220/240 volts, 50 Hz. Some appliances such as Notebook adapters, chargers will likely support universal voltage (any system from 100 volts to 250 volts). However, please verify voltage requirement of your appliances before plugging them into the socket. Most parallel (rectangular or round) connectors will fit. Otherwise, an adapter is needed. In some hotels they are keycards which are used to open the door of the room as well connect electricity to sockets. Power cutoffs are not as common in Bangkok as they are in islands of Thailand.
Smoking is prohibited in all public areas and on public transports. Smoking is only allowed in designated areas of hotels, restaurants and bars. Police might fine you for smoking or littering. Violators can be fined as much as 2.000 baht. If any public places violate the rules Tobacco wares are not allowed to be displayed in public and advertising of them is forbidden. Smaller shops will usually sell cigarettes, the easiest places to buy tobacco are 7-Eleven stores scattered around Bangkok. The cigarettes are located just behind the counter, but as I mentioned, you will not actually see them displayed and must ask for them.
Trash cans are rare and carrying trash around can be bothersome. Most trash cans are located near Family mart or 7-Eleven stores, buss stops and shopping malls.