When to go
The best time to visit Thailand in terms of climate is between November and April. During this period it rains the least and it is not too hot. It is best in the South between April and June, when the rest of the country is crushed by the heat, and the North is preferable from mid-November to February. Know that you will cook in Bangkok in April and will splash about there in water in October. Choose April, May, June, September or October if you wish to avoid the crowds and take advantage of low season discounts offered in the hotels. Know that, even in high season, it is still possible to find solitude and tranquility simply by avoiding the tourist hotspots notably Chiang Mai, the islands, and the beaches.
Visas: a passport valid for at least three months from the date of entry to Thailand is obligatory. Thailand allows 56 countries, including France, Belgium and Switzerland, to stay for 30 days without a visa, nor entry fee. To stay in the country longer, a visa valid for two months is required.
Health: precautions should be taken to guard against hepatitis, cholera, mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria, snake bites, and jellyfish stings. Don't forget your mosquito repellent! Koh Lanta has never had a case of either Malaria or Cholera.
Jet lag: Thailand is 6 hours ahead of France (GMT+7)
Weights and measures: Thailand uses the metric system, with one exception being the units of measurement used agriculturally (waa, ngaan, râi)
Electricity: 220 V 50 Hz. 2 flat prongs. Adaptors are available in Thailand.
Thai Calendar: the official calendar is based on the beginning of the Buddhist faith, 543 years before J.C. The year 1999 = the year 2542 in Thailand.
Accepted Methods of Payment :
Banks with ATMS and money changing facilities : 9h30 - 16h
Visa and Mastercard are accepted throughout the country, with an applicable surcharge of 3 to 5%.
Dont forget to pack :
Light cotton clothing, a raincoat , sunglasses, hat or cap, sunscreen, sandals or lightweight shoes.
The Thais are very hospitable and friendly by nature. However, it is advisable to respect the customs and local traditions. You should never put your feet up on the table or show the bottom of your feet, and touching the top of someones head is also disrespectful. Show courtesy and respect while in Thai villages (no strolling in your bathing suit!) and avoid sunbathing topless on the beach.
International Country Calling Code: + 66
English Embassy in Thailand:
14 Wireless Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan Bangkok 10330 Thailand
tel: (0) 2 305 8333 ext. 2334, 2318 fax: (0) 2 255 6051
Thai Embassy in England:
29/30 Queens gate London SW75JB
Tel: 020/7589/2944 Fax: 020/7823/7492
Feasts and festivals
There are festivals all year long in Thailand! Here are some of the most important:
The That Phanom Festival (last week in January), is an annual week-long feast held in honour of the most sacred Buddhist stupa (Wat Phra That Phanom), in the province of Nakhon Phanom. The pilgrims come forth to celebrate from all over the country, as well as from Laos.
The Magha Puja (Makkha Buchaa), (February) is held on the full moon of the third lunar month, in memory of the Buddha's sermon to 1,250 illuminated monks. This national feast ends with a torch-lit procession.
The Chinese New Year (February or March dependant on the Chinese calendar), trut-jinn in Thai, is celebrated by all Chinese in Thailand. Various activities punctuate this festive week. The most spectacular demonstrations take place in Nakhon Sawan.
The Songkhran Festival, or feast of the New Thai lunar Year (April 13-15), is characterized by water in any capacity - basically, water is thrown on everything that moves.
The Rocket Festival (mid-May to mid-June) Throughout the northeast of the country, namely Yasothon, Ubon Ratchathani and Nong Khai, villagers prepare big rockets of bamboo which they ignite in hopes of coaxing rain to the rice fields.
The Khao Phansaa, (mid-July), is a national feast and marks the beginning of the three month Buddhist fast. It is the time when young people enter the monastery during the monsoon season.
The Loy Krathong (November) is a typically Thai feast which is especially celebrated in the North. On the night of the full moon, small baskets in the shape of lotus flowers (containing flowers, incense, candles and a bit of money) are set adrift on the waters of all rivers, lakes and canals.