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Thailand Travel FAQ


Thailand's natural wonders are matched only by its cultural marvels. You could spend years just doing experiencing the following attractions and activities: beaches, cruises, cultural events, Thai boxing, learning history, golf, medical tourism, meditation, shopping, Thai cooking classes, camping, trekking, and home stays with local villagers.

This Thailand Travel frequently asked questions are needed when you coming to Thailand.


Thailand's Weather
Will I need wet weather gear in Thailand?
What languages are spoken in Thailand?
Do I need a Visa to enter Thailand?
Are there dayrooms available at the Airport during my transit in Bangkok?
What is the baggage allowance on domestic flights in Thailand?
What is the currency of Thailand?
Credit Cards in Thailand
Do I need to tip in Thailand? How much to tip?
Some tips for shopping in Thailand?
Will I need to bargain for everything I want to buy in Thailand?
Thailand Litter
What is the food like in Thailand?
Is it safe to drink the water in Thailand?
What should I do if I lost my passport while traveling in Thailand?
Theft & Safety in Thailand
What are the chances I will be robbed in Thailand?
Can I trust the Thai police?
Should I buy gems I've been offered by a really convincing person I've met/been introduced to?
How do you do when you meet scammer, tuk-tuk driver in Thailand?
What are BTS and MRT in Thailand?
Are the beaches clean in Thailand?
I would like to bring some gifts for the local children – what do you suggest?
What are some of the local customs I should be aware of?
How should Foreigners Greet Thai people?



Thailand's Weather

Weather is a prime consideration for most people visiting Thailand. There are three seasons in Thailand.

Summer
The season runs essentially from March through May.
Temperatures can reach over 100 degrees F (38 C) with the heat index going as high as 120 F (48 C). It may not get below 80 F (27 C) at night. This is also the Dry Season, with very little rain. It is oppressively and dangerously hot for some people.

Rainy Season
This season runs from June through October.
Frequent heavy rains, most often at night. Temps from the 60s F (16 C) at night to the 90s (32 C) during the day.

Cool Season
Runs from November through February.
Temperatures from the 60s F (16 C) at night (can be much cooler - indeed cold - in the North) to the 90s (32 C) during the day. Not much rain.
Most years in Bangkok, the three seasons are, in effect, The Hot Season, The Hot and Rainy Season and The Hottest Season you've ever experienced in your life.
In terms of weather, the choice for most people is the Cool Season - November through February.



Will I need wet weather gear in Thailand?

Dong Travel do advise you bring wet weather gear however raincoats and umbrellas can easily be purchased in Thailand.


What languages are spoken in Thailand?

The main language spoken in Thailand is Thai. English is the most common second language, and many Thais have studied some level of English either at school or through practice with foreign friends.



Do I need a Visa to enter Thailand?

To enter Thailand you will need a passport with at least six-months validity and a tourist visa. Travellers on Australian, British, US, NZ and Canadian passports will receive a 30-day tourist visa on arrival when they arrive by air, or a 15-day visa if they arrive by land (or boat). For further details see our visa information page, speak to one of our experts or contact your local Thai consulate or embassy.

Do not overstay your visa in Thailand, even by a few hours. If you want to stay longer, get the visa extended or do a visa run before your visa expires. Some travelers may tell you that overstaying your visa by a few days isn’t a problem and that you’ll just have to pay a fine of 500 baht a day.



Are there dayrooms available at the Airport during my transit in Bangkok?

The airport has one attached hotel, the 4 star Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel which is only 5 minutes away via an underground walkway. It has all the facilities you'd expect as well may ease you during your transit.


What is the baggage allowance on domestic flights in Thailand?

The baggage allowance on Thai or Bangkok Airways domestic flights in economy class is 20kg (44 pounds) for checked luggage, plus one piece of hand luggage weighing no more than 5kg (11 pounds).


What is the currency of Thailand?

The currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht.

Currency Notes: Paper baht comes in denominations of 10 (brown), 20 (green), 50 (blue), 100 (red), 500 (purple) and 1000 (beige).



Credit Cards in Thailand

Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club are widely accepted for purchases and cash advances from ATMs or currency exchange locations.

Smaller business and those at markets, for example the Chatuchak Weekend Market, usually don't accept credit cards.

Be extremely careful with your credit card. Don't let it out of your sight.



Do I need to tip in Thailand?
How much to tip?


Tipping inspires great service and, while it is not generally expected in Thailand, it is appreciated. If you would like to tip, 10% of the bill is appropriate. If you are happy with the services provided by your guides and drivers, Dong Travel suggest a tip of 3-5 USD per person per day for guides and 2 USD per day for drivers. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality.

In hotels, restaurants and bars frequented by tourists, tipping is more common and even expected by some. This is particularly true of "high class" venues, common for Thai’s to leave the coins as a tip, though an additional 20-100 baht is not unheard of in nicer establishments (but it's depending on the service, 0-40 baht should be fine), particularly if the service is good. Remmeber, there is no reason to give a tip at all in an establishment that has a service charge, as that is supposed to be the tip.

A minority of Thais who deal with foreigners not only expect a tip, but hint or even ask for one. This is not Thai style and, in fact, it is rude.

The best thing to do in this situation is to smile and ignore it.



Some tips for shopping in Thailand?

Department stores and a number of shops in Bangkok have fixed prices, but at most of others bargaining is acceptable and expected; however, some department stores will even offer a discount on expensive items like jewelry and fine furniture. No fixed rules can be given on the process of haggling; it depends as much on the bargainer’s skill as the shopkeeper’s mood, but the final price may be reduced as much as 10% to 40% of the first quoted price.

An important point to keep in mind is that Thais admire good manners and a sense of humor and tend to be put off by a loss of temper. Providing you have the time, a good general rule is to make a survey of several shops selling the sort of items you want before coming to a final decision. Furthermore, sellers superstitiously believe that making their first sale early will portend a prosperous day. Consequently, you may get a lower price if you shop early (just after the night market has set up for example). The cash from your “lucky sale” will be tapped on the other merchandise to help those goods sell more quickly!



Will I need to bargain for everything I want to buy in Thailand?

Bargaining in markets is the norm in Thailand, however shops and boutiques normally mark items with price tags and therefore, prices are fixed. Bargaining should always be good-natured – a smile and friendly attitude are a must. In some cases (particularly in tourist areas) you may be able to get a 50% discount or more, at other times this may only be 10%. Once you start bargaining, if the vendor accepts the price, then you should buy the good. In most cases you will not need to bargain for basic items such as bottled water, toiletries and food.

Usually, fixed prices are the norm in department stores, while bargaining is expected at most other places. Generally, you can obtain a final figure of between 10-40% lower than the original asking price. Much depends on your skills and the shopkeeper's mood. But remember, Thais appreciate good manners and a sense of humor. With patience and a broad smile, you will not only get a better price, you will also enjoy shopping as an art.



Thailand Litter

Thailand has a problem with littering, but the situation is improving as litter ordinances are being enforced more routinely.

In areas frequented by tourists, you sometimes find "litter police." If they catch you littering - and note carefully that this includes throwing a cigarette on the ground - you can be fined up to Bt 2,000 on the spot.

Some expatriates claim that westerners are singled out and that the fine can be negotiated downward. It is best to avoid the problem altogether and look for a rubbish bin (sometimes difficult to find) to throw your garbage in. In the case of a cigarette, grind it out on the top of the bin, make sure it is out and then dispose of it.

It is probably unfair to generalize and claim that Thailand is dirty. Two particularly clean cities than come to mind are Mukdahan, in the Northeast, and Hua Hin in the South. The Thai government sponsors a Clean City Contest every year and both of these cities have won in the past.



What is the food like in Thailand?

Thai food is internationally famous. Whether chili-hot or comparatively bland, harmony is the guiding principle behind each dish. Thai cuisine is essentially a marriage of centuries-old Eastern and Western influences harmoniously combined into something uniquely Thai. The characteristics of Thai food depend on who cooks it and who it’s cooked for. Thai cooking also reflects the characteristics of a waterborne lifestyle. Aquatic animals, plants and herbs are major ingredients. Large cuts of meat have been eschewed. With their Buddhist background, Thais shunned the use of large animals in big chunks. Big cuts of meat were shredded and laced with herbs and spices.



Is it safe to drink the water in Thailand?

In restaurants, you will find the water to be generally safe. You can always buy small bottles if you like but make sure the seal has not been broken.

However, you should be very careful with street vendors and street food stalls. The biggest risk is actually from the cleanliness of the glasses themselves.

Don't worry too much about the ice that is served in cafes etc as they usually have the ice delivered to them from government inspected ice factories.

Dong Travel advise against drinking tap water in Thailand. Bottled water is provided on a complimentary basis by many hotels and is otherwise inexpensive and readily available.

Dong Travel advise you to use bottled water, even to clean your teeth. Always wash your hands thoroughly, particularly after handling local money. Ensure meats are thoroughly cooked. It is not necessary to avoid salads and herbs out of hand but remember uncooked foods do carry a greater risk. In general, water provided in restaurants will have been boiled. Ice is generally made from filtered water that is delivered in blocks from local factories and should be safe. If in doubt as to the origin of ice, it's a good idea to ask.



What should I do if I lost my passport while traveling in Thailand?

In case you lost your passport, make file a report at the nearest police station immediately. Take a copy of FIR report to your national embassy in Thailand in order to issue a new travelling document.


Theft & Safety in Thailand

Like the sign says in nearly every hotel in the world, "We are not responsible for valuables left in the room".

Does this mean that hotels will take responsibility for items left with reception? Usually, but nothing in life is certain and liability is limited.

Small items like tickets and passports (keep a copy of the pertinent pages of your passport with you) can be left in the hotel's safety deposit box or the room safe. make sure it is works properly. That is about as secure as you can get.

Leave bigger items like your laptop at reception. You may want to ask for a receipt.

Leaving bags with numerous items at reception is usually okay, but it is not a good idea to have valuables in them.



What are the chances I will be robbed in Thailand?

Like anywhere in the world, Thailand has thieves. Robberies do happen, though they tend to be snatch and grabs rather than muggings.


Can I trust the Thai police?

Thai Police are generally trustworthy; in fact, in 1982 the Tourist Police was set up to coordinate with the Tourism Authority of Thailand in order to provide safety for tourists. Its responsibilities are receiving and acknowledging claims and complaints, conducting subsequent investigations, and acting as co-coordinator of tourist security protection. At present, some 500 tourist policemen are stationed in major tourist areas around Bangkok, such as the Grand Palace, Pat Pong, and Lumphini Park. Bi-lingual Tourist Police are attached to Tourism Authority of Thailand offices in Bangkok, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Pattaya, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Phitsanulok, Nakhon Sawan, Surat Thani, Phuket and Songkhla to provide speedy assistance to visitors.



Should I buy gems I've been offered by a really convincing person I've met/been introduced to?

While that question seems blatantly obvious to be answered “NO!”.



How do you do when you meet scammer, tuk-tuk driver in Thailand?

Thailand has more than its fair share of scams, but most are easily avoided with a modicum of common sense.

More a nuisance than a danger, a common scam by touts, taxi drivers and tuk-tuk drivers in Thailand is to wait by important monuments and temples and waylay Western travelers, telling them that the site is closed for a Buddhist holiday, repairs or a similar reason.

The 'helpful' driver will then offer to take the traveler to another site, such as a market or store. Travelers who accept these offers will often end up at out-of-the-way markets with outrageous prices - and no way to get back to the center of town where they came from.

Always check at the front gate of the site you're visiting to make sure it's really closed.

For the same reason, avoid any tuk-tuks who propose their services without being asked, especially near major tourist attractions.

Don't buy any sightseeing tours at the airport. If you do, they will phone several times to your hotel in order to remind you about the tour.

During the tour, you will be shortly taken to a small temple, without a guide, and then one shop after another (they get commission).

They might refuse to take you back home until you see all the shops.

On your way back, they pressure you to buy more tours.

Scams: Tuk tuk drivers, especially those who congregate in tourist areas, are notorious for offering ‘tours’, even on occasion bringing you to the famous site of your choice for free, provided you stop off at look at a jeweler or suit shop along the way.

These scams are arranged with the owner of the shop and making purchases during such a trip is not a good idea as you will be paying far higher rates than you would normally and quite possibly receiving goods of dubious quality.

Gem scams are the most prolific and every week someone lodges a complaint about losing larges sums of money buying what they thought were cheap ‘illegally smuggled’ Burmese gems, only to discover the goods are fake and the shop gone when they return.

The solution to this one is simple; don’t be greedy, and imagine you are scoring a bargain illicitly.

These scammers will start up polite conversation, showing interest in the unsuspecting tourist's background, family, or itinerary. Inevitably, the conversation will drift to the meat of the scam. This may be something as innocuous as over-priced tickets to a kantok meal and show, or as serious as Bangkok’s infamous gem scam.

Once identified, the wary traveler should have no trouble picking out these scammers from a crowd. The tell-tale well pressed slacks and button down shirt, freshly cut hair of a conservative style, and late-model cell phone comprise their uniform.

Milling around tourist areas without any clear purpose for doing so, the careful traveler should have no difficulty detecting and avoiding these scammers.

Many visitors will encounter young Thai ladies armed with a clipboard and a smile enquiring as to their nationality, often with an aside along the lines of please help me to earn 30 baht.

The suggestion is that the visitor completes a tourism questionnaire (which includes supplying their hotel name and room number) with the incentive that they just might win a prize - the reality is that everyone gets a call to say that they are a winner, however the prize can only be collected by attending an arduous time-share presentation. Note that the lady with the clipboard doesn't get her 30 baht if you don't attend the presentation; also that only English-speaking nationalities are targeted.

Another recurrent scam involves foreigners - sometimes accompanied by small children - who claim to be on the last day of their vacation in Thailand, and having just packed all their belongings into one bag in preparation for their flight home, lost everything when that bag was stolen.

Now cash is urgently needed in order to get to the airport in a hurry and arrange a replacement ticket for his/her return flight in a few hours time.



What are BTS and MRT in Thailand?

BTS is an elevated electric rail service known as the “sky train” or “bee-tee-ess”.

You can easily travel around the main arteries of greater Bangkok by BTS; key attractions nearby BTS stations are MBK, Siam Paragon, Chatuchak Weekend Market, and Victory Monument. The While the BTS doesn’t reach Bangkok’s historic Rattakosin district, it links to the Chao Phraya River where boats can be taken to sights including the Grand Palace and Wat Arun. The BTS also links with the MRT in several locations.

The MRT is an underground electric train service. The attractions at various MRT stations in Bangkok include Suan Lum Night Bazaar (and Boxing Arena), Queen Sirikit Cenvention Center, Chatuchak weekend market, and the Thailand Cultural center. The MRT connects to Bangkoks Hua Lumphong Train station (which connects Bangkok to the rest of Thailand) near Chinatown. Both the BTS and MRT operate until midnight.



Are the beaches clean in Thailand?

Yes! Thailand is blessed with natural beauty and its islands are amongst the most scenic and beautiful in the world. Likewise, its beaches are simply stunning - clean sand, clear water, and wonderful scenery.


I would like to bring some gifts for the local children – what do you suggest?

Gifts such as text books and pencils are most appropriate and best given to organisations (such as schools or clinics) rather than to individuals, as distribution through a community channel is more likely to occur equitably, and with dignity. Dong Travel generally advise against giving gifts directly to children on the street, at home or in village communities. Gift giving creates inequality within communities and encourages children to start begging. Giving money (even to children who offer to act as guides) can also make children the primary income earners in their family, resulting in long-term school truancy.



What are some of the local customs I should be aware of?

Thailand is a devoutly Buddhist country people are generally very polite. The traditional greeting known as the wai, where you press your hands together as is in prayer and bow slightly, is still widely practised. Dress standards can be conservative outside the major cities and tourist areas. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong. At temples and in rural areas, women should try to keep your shoulders covered. It is illegal to show disrespect to the royal family. The head is considered to be the holiest part of the body so try to avoid touching people's heads. As a general rule, try to travel with patience and a sense of humour and try to resolve any difficulties in a calm, friendly matter.



How should Foreigners Greet Thai people?

Hello (Male speaker): Sawasdee Krup,

Hello (Female speaker): Sawasdee Kaa.

As Thais do not generally shake hands, foreigners can follow a simplified, albeit not technically exact, rule of returning the wai of anyone who wais them by pressing their hands together beneath their chin and slightly nodding their heads. In general the person of lower status should wai first, but foreigners are generally forgiven for not understanding the nuances of Thai greetings.