Thailand General Travel FAQ

Thailand General Travel FAQ

Is Thailand a difficult country to travel in ?

No, it's not. It's very safe, accommodation and food are cheap, transportation between destinations in Thailand is easy and many people can speak at least some English.

Are there places that should be avoided ?

While there are areas of Thailand that's it inadvisable to travel in, these aren't the kind of places that you wander into accidentally. They are mainly areas along the Thailand - Burma border and the Thailand - Cambodia border. Use common sense and you won't run into any problems.

What's the weather like in Thailand ? What time is sunset ?

It's hot, all year round day and night - Bangkok was actually recognized as the hottest city in the world by the World Meteorological Organization. This is mainly down to the fact that there's minimal variation between the daytime and nighttime temperature. Daytime temperatures will rarely dip much below 30 degrees and can go up above 40 degrees centigrade. The hottest months are April - June, and November - March are the coolest. The cool season is more pronounced in the north of the country, the south has little variation at any time of year.

There is a rainy season during July to October, but travel during this period is not so bad - see the Before you go FAQ.

Sunset is around 6.00 - 6.30pm all year round.

Is it safe ? How about for women ?

While not unknown, incidences of violent crime and rape of tourists are very rare in Thailand. Occasional cases are reported, but are often where tourists went into remote areas against current travel advice and struggled against their attackers. Take care if you go to Ko Pha-Ngan's Full Moon Party, as rumors of rape and crime persist here. If you do happen to get caught up in a violent incident, you're well advised to not fight back. Also bear in mind that any passing Thais who don't know the situation may well side with the other Thai person / people out of a misplaced sense of loyalty.

If you use common sense and check the safety of any suspect places you're heading to, you're likely to be much safer in Thailand than you would be in your home country.

While violent crime is not really a problem, you should keep an eye out for pickpockets and be wary of Bangkok's skillful con-artists. Thailand has an efficient Tourist Police service, who you should contact if you run into any problems (Tel: 1155, 24 hour, freephone).

Is Bangkok a safe place ?

In comparison to other major cities around the world, Bangkok is very safe and, in all probability, you will have no problem even if walking alone at night. Nevertheless, it always pays to use common sense and it's worth remembering you are likely a lot richer than the average Thai - don't flaunt it.

A bigger problem are the various types of scams and stealth crime that you will likely encounter - watch out in particular for smooth talking con artists and talented pickpockets that operate in crowded conditions such as markets and the Bangkok buses. Keeping your your wallet or purse in a money belt can be helpful at preventing the the thieves.

Where's a good place to stay in Bangkok ?

It's worth planning what you want to spend most of your time seeing and doing in Bangkok and staying near there, as Bangkok's traffic makes getting about a struggle to say the least.

Backpackers tend to head for Khao San road in Banglamphu, which has dozens of cheap guesthouses, cafes, and basically everything that you could need to buy. It's in a great location too, near the river and the top sights such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and others in Banglamphu and Ko Rattanakosin. It's completely dominated by foreigners and so it's hardly the most authentic place to stay in Bangkok though. Decent mid-range places in this area are scarce, pretty much limited to the Royal hotel and the Vieng Tai.

A lot of mid range and upper mid range hotels are across the city on Siam Square and Sukhumvit road, which is a good place for shopping and nightlife but a long way from the traditional sights and the river. They do have the advantage of being on the skytrain route, which makes getting about a lot quicker.

Some of the top hotels in Bangkok(e.g. The Oriental, the Shangri-La) are located by the river, and in business district around Silom road.

When's checkout time for accommodation in Thailand ?

For most places, it's at 12.00pm or sometimes at 11.00am. Staying until around 5.00pm will generally cost you half the price of a full night, and checking out after 5.00pm means you pay the full price.

What kind of entertainment and nightlife is there in Bangkok ?

There's everything that could be expected in a big city - Bars, discos, nightclubs, live music, cinemas, bowling etc... are all available. Bangkok's (in)famous adult-orientated nightlife is mainly concentrated at Patpong and the lower numbered sois on Sukhumvit. Going to see a Thai boxing (muay thai) match is also popular.

Where's the best place to watch Thai boxing ?

Though any Thai town of note will stage Thai boxing bouts, the top bouts are held at Lumphini and Ratchadamnoen stadiums in Bangkok. Ratchadamnoen stadium is on Ratchadamnoen Nok road, near the TAT office. Lumphini stadium is on Rama IV road, just past Withayu/Wireless road. Tickets vary from 220B up to 1200B for ringside seats at the best fights. The best atmosphere is in the cheaper seats, as this is where the Thai fans will mostly go - the ringside seats are basically reserved for tourists.

Bouts take place on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday (all at 6.00pm) and Sunday (2.00pm) at Ratchadamnoen. At Lumphini, they are on Tuesday (6.30pm), Friday (6.30pm) and Saturday (5.00pm and 8.30pm)all at 6.20pm).

Avoid the Sunday shows at Ratchadamnoen, which aren't proper bouts but just really tourist shows. You will also sometimes get people claiming all but the most expensive seats are sold out, but this is often not true - go to the counter and find out for yourself.

There is another stadium at Rangsit (not so far from Don Muang airport), but this not in a very convenient location for most tourists.

Where can I get a / learn traditional Thai massage ?

There are many places to get a traditional Thai massage around Bangkok - simply look for a massage parlor with a 'Traditional Thai Massage' sign outside. Massage parlors that offer 'modern' massages (ahp op nuat in Thai) also double as brothels. If you let a taxi or tuk-tuk driver take you to a massage, it will often be more expensive to pay for the commission a driver gets for bringing you there. To get round it, ask them to drop you off somewhere nearby and walk the remaining distance.

Wat Pho, the center of Thai massage in Bangkok, also run courses on Thai massage and is undoubtedly the best place to learn.

What scams should I look out for ?

Despite the fact that it's mentioned in every guide book and in posters put up by the Tourism Authority of Thailand throughout Bangkok, the gem scam is still going strong and it is essential to know about it before you go.

A more minor annoyance is tuk-tuk (and occasionally taxi) drivers taking you some where completely different to where you asked so that they can get a commission

People will try various ways to get you to go with them to shops (normally tailors and jewelers) so they get a commission, this often involves saying that Wat Phra Kaew (or whatever else you are about to visit) is closed, and why not go with them instead. Don't believe them, go to the entrance and find out for yourself.

The upstairs 'sex shows' at various Patpong bars are famous for telling you their is no cover charge to get you upstairs, and then producing an enormous bill when you try to leave. Try and negotiate, but if that fails simply pay up and head to the nearby Tourist Police station. Talk to them, and they will get your money for you (or a least a large proportion of it). As always in Thailand, if you don't shout or get angry you're much more likely to get a good result. The Kings Group of bars have built a reputation for not playing this game (they have the word King or Queen in the name of the bar).

There's a good place for left luggage ?

Almost all hotels and guesthouses that you stay at will store luggage for you, either for free or cheaply (around 10B a day). If you don't trust your guesthouse/hotel, it might be worth spending one night at a better one so you can benefit from this facility. The main Hualamphong train station is also has left luggage facility, and it's good value at 7B a day.

There's a left luggage facility at Bangkok Airport, but it's expensive.

What's the food like in Thailand ?

Thai food is one of the highlights of a visit to Thailand for a lot of people. Restaurants are everywhere, and prices for a average meal in Thai restaurants are around 30-40B, rising to 80-150B in more touristy places. The Tourism Authority of Thailand is a good source of information about Thai food.

International food is widely available also, and Bangkok has many branches of McDonalds, Pizza Hut etc...These are more expensive than Thai food, but still relatively cheap by western standards.

Is the Poste Restante of the GPO in Bangkok reliable ?

It works fine most of the time. Make sure the person writing to you clearly underlines your surname, or they may file it under your first name (surnames are rarely used in Thailand). Check both if you can't find a letter you're expecting. Don't send money this way, as it's easy enough for someone else to take your letter if they wanted to.

What's the cost, quality and availability of medicines and health care in Thailand like ?

Medical care is pretty good in Bangkok, but gets less so the more into rural Thailand you go. Many doctors were trained in America, and some of Bangkok's hospitals (rohng pa-yah-bahn in Thai), such as Bumrungrad,are rated the equal of anything in the west. The very top hospitals aren't cheap, but most others are very good value.

Pharmacies are widespread, but take care when using them. Many drugs that require a prescription elsewhere in the world can be got here without one, and they aren't necessarily kept in the best condition - check the sell by date and go to aircon pharmacies if you can.


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