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Thailand - Country Profile

Summary

Thailand is one of the worlds most popular destinations and justafiably so. Mainland Thailand offers an exotic blend of both ancient and modern temples, bustling cities, dramatic mountain scenery and endless rice fields. Further south there are lush tropical islands, with their stunning beaches and crystal clear water.

Thailand is also very accessible, with friendly people and a well developed transport system making it easy to get around compared with the rest of South East Asia. Thai cuisine is amazing - cheap and plentiful, with flavours as exotic as Thailand itself.

Whatever your tastes in travel, whether beach bum, adventure junkie, nature lover or temple buff, Thailand has something amazing for you.

Highlights

Weather and times to visit

Thailand has three seasons, governed by the monsoon winds. The northeast monsoon brings cool, dry weather Nov to Jan and this is the best time to visit the country, with temperatures in the low 30s. From February onwards the weather gets progressively hotter and more oppressive - it can be quite uncomfortable inland, although the southern islands are much more bearable. Between April and October the southwest monsoon brings wet weather to most of the country. The exception to this is the peninsular east coast - here the northeast monsoon brings rain when everywhere else is dry, and is mainly dry during the southwest monsoon.

Language

Thai is the official language, a tonal language which can be difficult for foreigners to grasp. English is widely spoken in the main towns and tourist areas, less so in rural areas. Learning a few simple phrases in Thai is greatly appreciated by the locals and can get you a much friendlier service.

Currency and money matters

Thai Baht is the only currency accepted - there are plenty of exchange booths in tourist areas and banks all over the country. There are 24 hour ATM machines everywhere making it easy to access cash anywhere.

Business Hours

Banks generally open from 8.30 to 3.30 or 4.30 but exchange kiosks are often open until 10. Most shops open from about 8am to 8pm, often 7 days a week.

Visas

Visitors arriving by air and staying less than 30 days do not need a visa to enter Thailand, overland visitors get 15 days. 60 day tourist visas are available from consulates and embassies across the region or at home.

Useful Travel Guides