Thailand is a wondrous kingdom, featuring Buddhist temples, exotic wildlife, and spectacular islands. Along with a fascinating history and a unique culture that includes delectable Thai food and massage, Thailand features a modern capital city, and friendly people who epitomize Thailand’s “land of smiles” reputation.
Located just 15 degrees north of the equator, Thailand has a tropical climate and temperatures typically range from 19 to 38°C (66-100 F). The weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid: typical of its location within the tropics. Generally speaking, Thailand can be divided into three seasons: “hot” season, rainy season, and “cool” season, though Thailand’s geography allows visitors to find suitable weather somewhere in the country throughout the year.
More than 92% of the population speaks Thai or one of its regional dialects. While the Thai language is the official language of Thailand, as a result of its cosmopolitan capital city and established tourism infrastructure, English is spoken and understood throughout much of Thailand.
The currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht. Baht come in both coin and banknote form. The size of Thai currency, both coins and bills increases with value and varies in color.
Thailand Standard time is GMT +7 (5 hours ahead of South Africa). Thailand does not observe daylight savings.
Electrical outlets in Thailand are charged to 220v at 50 cycles per second, which is compatible with appliances from the U.K. but not those from the US and many other nations. While most computer cables have adaptors for voltage, visitors from the U.S. and those not on the 220/50 v. will have to bring adapters to run most other appliances. Outlets in Thailand generally feature flat, two pronged plugs, though some feature holes for round plug ends. Few outlets feature three holes (grounded outlets) so it is often necessary to have a three to two prong adapter for using notebook computers in Thailand.
Thailand hotels are some of the finest in the world, whether they are five star luxury spa retreats or quaint family-run beachfront bungalows. There is a hotel in Thailand for every type of traveler on every budget. That said, the best prices are during Thailand’s off-peak season (May – Aug), while the most expensive prices are typically during the cool season (Dec – Feb). Whether your accommodation choice is a homestay with local villagers, a guesthouse in a backpacker district, a beach bungalow, or a five star hotel in Thailand, unless you have booked ahead, settle for nothing less than the warmest “land of smiles” hospitality.
The Thailand cell phone coverage is widespread, with reception available in all areas except at the most remote islands and isolated mountainous regions. Many overseas cell phones will work in Thailand, provided they are GSM compatible, as Thailand features both GSM 900 and 1800 networks. While it may be convenient to have friends and family call Thailand to reach you on your “home” cell phone number, receiving and sending calls is likely to be quite expensive. If your cell phone has a slot to insert a SIM card, such cards are available for a few dollars, either at the airport or in IT markets throughout the country. These SIM cards are funded by prepaid phone cards that are available at nearly all convenience stores in the country. If your phone doesn’t have a slot for a SIM card, a Thailand cell phone can be picked up at the airport for a reasonable rate or an inexpensive new or second hand cell phone can be easily obtained at locations such as MBK shopping mall in Bangkok.
Please ensure that you check the following before embarking on your holiday or business trip to Thailand.
- Travel insurance is a must, it is as important as your plane tickets.
- Valid SA passports are required and your passport must be valid for 6 months after you return with at least 2 blank visa pages therein.
- Please check that your visas are in order. This remains your responsibility to ensure that you have the necessary documentation before travel. (SA passport holders do not require visas – subject to change. Please reconfirm prior to travel).
- Please reconfirm all your flights directly with the appropriate airline, 72 hours prior to departure, at each point of departure.
- Are you travelling with children – please check that you have all the required documents for leaving the country e.g. unabridged birth certificates.
- International baggage allowances (excluding infants under 2 years of age) are generally 20 kg per person (Economy class) for checked baggage and 5 kg per person for cabin baggage. Please check these allowances with your consultant prior to travel.
- Duty Free Allowance for South Africans (per person over 18 years of age) is 1L alcohol, 250 gm of tobacco or 200 cigarettes. Other goods purchased overseas or bought duty-free or tax free must not exceed the value of R3,000 per person. Duty free allowances will vary from country to country.
- Don't assume that you can buy more medication while on your trip; make sure you carry sufficient amounts with you to easily cover the trip with a bit left over in case of emergencies. Ask your doctor whether your particular medication is legal in the countries you intend to visit. If your medication requires a prescription, make sure you carry a copy of your prescription, or if it is unreadable, a letter from your doctor. Make sure you keep all your medication in its original packaging to make it easy for officials to identify. Please ensure that any chronic medication, or medication that you require during your flight, is kept in your hand luggage and not in your checked in luggage.
- Check with the Foreign & Commonwealth office before booking any travel, to view any travel warnings - your travel insurance may not be valid if there is a warning issued for the country you are visiting.