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What to expect
Thailand offers something for everyone, from beach breaks to adventurous treks and interactions with wildlife, to shopping and dining in buzzing Bangkok. Tourism is well developed in Thailand, but there may be some aspects of travel that are different to what you are used to.
Facilities and accommodation outside the major tourists centres may be more basic, and English less widely spoken. Regardless, Thai people are famed for their warm hospitality, and your interactions with people may be one of the highlights of your trip.
It is important to remain patient and courteous in all your interactions in Thailand, as there is a cultural importance placed on remaining calm and 'keeping face'.
approximately 7 hours
From Sydney, Brisbane & Melbourne
approximately 10 hours
approximately 11 hours
Banks, public offices and some tourist sites will be closed on the holidays listed below. As major holidays are set according to the lunar calendar, dates change every year. Please check with our Australia-based Asia specialists for details.
, International New Year's Day.
, Makha Bucha Day. Held on the full moon of the third lunar month, this Buddhist holiday commemorates Buddha's teaching of the Ovada Patimokkha.
, Chakri Memorial Day. Celebrates the Chakri Dynasty, the current ruling royal family.
, Songkran (Thai New Year). For Thailand’s biggest party of the year, it’s all about the water. If you are in Thailand at this time, expect to be drenched!
, International Labour Day.
, Coronation Day. Marks the coronation of King Rama IX, in 1946.
, Royal Ploughing Ceremony. Held during the sixth lunar month, this event heralds the beginning of the rice planting season.
, Visakha Bucha Day. Buddha’s birthday, held on the full moon of the sixth lunar month.
, Asanha Bucha. Celebration of Buddha’s first sermon.
, Vassa. The start of Buddhist Lent.
, National Mothers Day. Celebrates Queen Sirikit’s birthday.
, Chulalongkorn Memorial Day. Commemorates the death of King Chulalongkorn in 1910.
, Fathers' Day. Celebration of King Rama IX’s birthday.
, Constitution Day. Marks the introduction of the Thai constitution in 1932.
, International New Year’s Eve. Not a public holiday but celebrated in Thailand as it is through much of the world.
Health & Fitness
You need to take precautions when visiting Thailand, just as you would in other parts of Asia. Some of the diseases known to exist in Thailand include hepatitis A and B, malaria, dengue fever, diphtheria, polio, tetanus, typhoid, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, rabies and HIV/AIDS. We strongly recommend you seek up-to-date health advice from your doctor, and arrange any necessary vaccinations, at least a month before leaving Australia.
In Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket medical facilities are of an international standard, however in more remote parts of Thailand, facilities can be basic.
Arriving by air: Australian citizens do not need a visa to visit Thailand for stays of up to 30 days. However, please have your return travel details ready at immigration in case you are asked to prove that you plan to leave Thailand within 30 days. Check with the Thai embassy or consulate in their country of residence.
Overland: If you enter Thailand at a land border your tourist visa will only be valid for up to 15 days. If you wish to stay longer, you should apply for a tourist visa in Australia before you leave; otherwise you will need to leave and re-enter Thailand within15 days.
Note: Thai visa regulations do change from time to time. We strongly advise that you check with your closest Thai consulate or embassy in Australia before you travel. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the appropriate visa for your travels.
Safety and security
Though Thailand is a relatively safe destination, having your wits about you and using common sense will improve your chances of having a trouble-free holiday. In busy tourist centres, petty theft can sometimes be a problem. It’s a good idea to keep your money secure and close to your body, and keep jewellery to a minimum, when you are out on the street.
In most major centres, taxis are plentiful, metered and inexpensive and a good way to get around, especially at night. Always take a hotel address card with you so you can show the drive where to take you. Often covered in the Australian media, Thailand has extremely strict laws relating to drug use. Use your judgement but as a guideline, it can be a good idea to be vigilant with regards to strangers offering drinks and sweets.
Keep a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers in a safe place separate from the originals. Most hotels have in-room safes for storing your valuables.
Read our safety guidelines for further information.
‘Gentlemen of the Parlour’ by Somerset Maugham
is an interesting account of the author's travels on foot and elephant-back through parts of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. It provides an idea of how much the Thailand and Indochina area has changed over the past century.
‘Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind’ by Carol Hollinger
is a delightful read by an American woman who made Thailand her home and worked as a frustrated English teacher at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University.
‘Travels in Siam, Cambodia, Laos and Annam’, by Henri Mouhot
. Written in 1860, this is an intriguing account of travels through Indochina and Thailand by the Frenchman who rediscovered Angkor in Cambodia. It reveals lots of interesting information on the Thailand of yesteryear.
‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ by Pierre Boulle
is a fictional account based on historical fact, focusing on the construction of the Burma Railway in Kanchanaburi by prisoners of war during World War Two.
‘Letters from Thailand’, translated by Susan Fulop Kepner
is an English translation of a Thai book telling the story of a Chinese migrant to urban Thailand, post World War Two. It reveals how he found adapating to his new surrounds and culture.
‘Thailand: A Short History’ by Joseph Wright Jr
is a readable guide to the history of the ‘land of smiles’.
Useful words & phrases
Hello (or hi)
Sa wat dee
How are you?
Khun sabai dee mai
I'm fine, thank you
Chan sabai dee
What is your name?
Khun chue are rai
My name is…
How old are you?
Khun are you thao rai
I am …years old
Chan are you ... Pee
How much is ...?
Ra ca thao rai
It's too expensive!
Mun Phaeng mak
Excuse me /I'm sony
Khor tod/ chan sia jai
Mai jam phen
Arrival and departure transfers
Arrival transfer: If you have booked an arrival transfer for your Thai holiday, you will find your driver waiting for you in a Travel Indochina t-shirt and carrying a signboard with your name on it.
Road: For six travellers or more, air-conditioned Hyundai with 25-40 seats are used. If you are travelling in a smaller group, travel will be by air-conditioned minibus or modern sedan car. Metered taxis are cheap and plentiful in all major tourist centres. Tuk tuks are prevalent and generally a safe and fun way of travelling short distances. Always agree to a price before you travel!
Air: You will most likely find yourself travelling on a modern Airbus, Boeing or ATR-72 plane if your itinerary includes any domestic flights within Thailand. Schedules have been known to change and your plans will need to be adjusted accordingly.
Boat: Your itinerary may include a boat journey along the Chao Praya River, or if you are travelling to Laos, from the Thai/Lao border. There are also longtail 'speedboats' that ply the canals around Bangkok – a fun, local way to travel the city.
Train: Bangkok’s Skytrain is a clean, efficient way to get around the city. Thailand’s railway network is extensive and overnight journeys make be taken in comfortable, air-conditioned sleeper compartments.
Other: Bicycles, elephants, canoes, and your feet!
Internet: Internet is widely available and generally affordable. In larger towns and cities, many cafes, restaurants and hotels may offer Wifi.
Phone: Mobile coverage is good in most areas. The cheapest way of calling overseas (or locally) is via a VOIP service such as Skype. International phone and fax charges are best made from a post office or by using a prepaid card at a Lenso payphone. Reverse charge phone calls can be made for a minimal fee.
Mail: Expect your mail to take 7-10 days to reach its destination. Postage rates are slightly cheaper than in Australia.
Food & drink
The cuisine is likely to be a highlight of your holiday in Thailand, especially if you love spicy and intensely flavoured food! Rice and noodles are a staple and there are distinct variations throughout the country. As well as the established favourites like red curry, Thailand has a plethora of dishes that range from region to region.
In the south, fresh seafood is a feature, whether it be a prawn curry or a whole fried fish. In the north, you are more likely to find sticky rice and other regional specialties such as khao soy, a must-try noodle dish. In the Isaan region in the east of Thailand, the cuisine bears some similarities to that of neighbouring Laos.Vegetarian curries, salads and noodle dishes are widely available, but in many cases include fish sauce.
It is best not to drink the tap water. Many hotels provide complimentary bottled water, and it is also cheap and easily purchased in most places.
You should never feel obligated to tip; it is a personal matter. However tipping can be an appropriate way to show your appreciation for great service.
If you are joining one of our Small Group Tours in Thailand, your Western tour leader or local guide or will ask for a small sum at the beginning of your stay to cover tips for hotel porters during your trip.
This helps to prevent over-tipping and also saves you from having to keep small change on hand. You may also choose to tip Travel Indochina tour leaders, guides, and drivers as a way of showing your appreciation for their services; however, it is not compulsory to do so.
If you travel to the south of Thailand, or to one of her many beautiful islands, you will likely find yourself swimming in the sea. Seas are generally clear and calm in this part of the world and beaches are not usually patrolled. Be aware that there may be rips and currents beneath the surface; you will need to remain vigilant.
Elsewhere, you might find yourself swimming in a waterfall, or in a hotel pool. Please remember to take common sense precautions and, if you are travelling with your children, always keep an eye on them around water.
Travel Indochina is committed to responsible travel in Thailand and supports a number of worthwhile causes here. You may also have the opportunity to support sustainable projects during your travels in Thailand, particularly around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the country’s north.
Himmapaan reforestation project: Travel Indochina has helped to fund the purchase of a block of land in Northern Thailand for reforestation.
Lisu Lodge and Lanna Farm: These lodges offer direct training and employment for members of local hilltribes, many of whom would otherwise have few opportunities. They are also wonderful places to stay and soak up the ambience of northern Thailand.
Read more about our approach to responsible travel in Asia.