Passports and Visas
All passengers require a machine-readable passport valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip, with appropriate visas. You should carry your passport with you at all times to ensure against its loss or theft in hotels. Check with the Thai Consulate to determine if any visas are needed. Securing required documents is the responsibility of the traveler. This information is a guide only and it is essential that you check all current passport and visa rules with your travel agent before departure.
It is good advice to always drink as well as brush your teeth with bottled water. You should only eat fruit that can be peeled, and be sure to wash it well in bottled water before eating. In restaurants, insist that they bring a sealed bottle to your table and avoid ice. Take extra care with hygiene and make sure you wash your hands before and after eating. It is a good idea to bring along hand sanitizer. Carry a kit of the basic emergency medicines you might need for diarrhea, fever, etc., plus mosquito repellent, band-aids and antiseptic ointment. We recommend you see your doctor for advice about local health conditions and precautionary medicines, as you may need to be immunized against certain illnesses.
Thailand uses the baht. Notes come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 baht. One baht equals 100 satangs. Coins are issued in 1, 5, and 10 satangs. You can change US dollars at banks and currency exchange agencies for the best rates, hotels and some shops can also change them for you, but the rate will likely be much higher. ATMs are also an efficient way to get money in the local currency. A passport is required when exchanging currencies.
Thailand has 220 V at 50 Hz, with a type A or C socket. America's electrical currents are 120 V at 60 Hz, with a type A or B socket, so you'll need a converter and an adapter.
Wireless and wired Internet access is available in major cities throughout Thailand. There are also Internet cafés in main cities that allow you access, usually for a small charge.
Phoning home from another country can be expensive. All hotels will add a service charge to the cost of any phone calls you make from your room. This charge can be very high. It is always cheaper for you to use public telephones (payphones) if your cell phone is not set for international calls. Your Travel Director can explain how to dial internationally if you are unsure.
In Bangkok you'll find everything from street markets to modern shopping malls. A fun experience in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai is an excursion to the night market.
What should you shop for? Some traditional items include Thai silks and cottons, leather goods, batik hangings, pottery with celandine green glaze, dolls, masks, painted umbrellas, bamboo and wood artifacts and lacquerware. Less traditional, but still a good value: precious and semiprecious stones including rubies, sapphires and pearls, silver, gold and tailor-made clothes.
There are duty-free shops in many cities. Purchases made at one of these can be delivered to the airport for your departure flight. Value Added Tax (VAT) can often be refunded. Look for a sign reading "VAT Refund for Tourists." There is usually a minimum purchase amount, you must complete the necessary forms at the time of purchase and show your passport. Your Local Travel Expert can assist you with the details.
We suggest the following tipping rates: Taxi drivers don't expect to be tipped, but rounding up the fare on the meter is appreciated, Restaurants and bars 5-10% of the total bill. Most employees in the hospitality sector don't earn much, so a little tip goes a long way.
Generally, casual jeans or slacks, shirts, sweaters, a jacket and comfortable walking shoes are all you'll need. If you plan on an evening at a nicer venue, dressier clothes may be called for. When visiting temples you may be asked to cover bare shoulders or to take off your shoes. Shorts, tank tops or halter tops are sometimes not permitted in temples. Don't forget to pack good outdoor shoes, a swimming suit, hat and sunscreen.