Country name: Royal Kingdom of Thailand
Population: 64.1 million ( UN, 2005)
Land Area: 513,115 sq km ( 198,115 sq miles)
Main language: Thai
Main religion: Buddhism
Life expectancy: 66 years ( men), 74 years ( women)
Monetary unit: 1 bath = 100 satangs
Main export: Food, love animals, official equipment, textiles and clothing, rubber
GNI per capital: US$ 2,540 ( WB, 2005)
International domain: .th
International dialling: + 66
The kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Indochina, Myanmar and Southern China. Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions : the mountains and forests of the North; the vast rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-arid farm lands of the Northeast plateau; and the tropical islands and long coastline of the peninsula South.
The country comprises 76 provinces that are further divided into districts, sub-districts and villages. Bangkok is the capital city and centre of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities. It is also the seat of Thailand's revered Royal Family, with His Majesty the King recognised as Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, Upholder of the Buddhist religion and Upholder of all religions.
Thailand enjoys a tropical climate with three distinct seasons-hot and dry from February to May (average temperature 34 degrees Celsius and 75% humidity); rainy with plenty of sunshine from June to October (average day temperature 29 degrees Celsius and 87% humidity); and cool from November to January (temperatures range from 32 degrees Celsius to below 20 degrees Celsius with a drop in humidity).
Much lower temperatures are experienced in the North and Northeast during nighttime. The South has a tropical rainforest climate with temperatures averaging 28 degrees Celsius almost all year round.
Thai (80%), Chinese (10%), Malay (3%), and the rest are minorities (Mons, Khmers, hill tribes) Ethnic Thais form the majority, though the area has historically been a migratory crossroads, and has thus produced a degree of ethnic diversity. Integration is such, however, that culturally and socially there is enormous unity.
Spoken and written Thai is largely incomprehensible to the casual visitor. However, English is widely understood, particularly in Bangkok where it is almost the major commercial language. English and some European Languages are spoken in most hotels, shops and restaurants in major tourist destinations, and Thai-English road and street signs are found nationwide.
Theravada Buddhism, the form of Buddhism practiced in Sri Lanka, Burma, Cambodia, and Laos, was the religion of more than 80 percent of the Thai people in the 1980s. These coreligionists included not only the core Thai, but most other Tai speakers, as well as the Khmer, the Mon, and some members of other minorities, among them the Chinese. Relatively few Thai were adherents of Mahayana Buddhism or other religions, including Hinduism, Christianity, Taoism, animism, and Islam. Of these only Islam, largely identified with but not restricted to Southern Thai of Malay origin, was a dominant religion in a specific geographic area.
Holidays & Festival:
New Year's Day : Jan 1
Makha Bucha Day : late January to early March
Chakri Day : April 6
Songkran Day : April 13
National Labour Day : May 1
Coronation Day : May 5
Visakha Bucha Day : May
Asanha Bucha Day : July
Khao Phansa (Buddhist Lent) : July
HM the Queen's Birthday : August 12
Chulalongkorn Day : October 23
HM the King's Birthday : December 5
Constitution Day : December 10
New Year's Eve : December 31
Thai food offers a variety of flavours and tastes. The subtle mixing of herbs and spices and market-fresh ingredients makes dining a special culinary experience. Thai food differs from region to region.
Unlike the North and Northeast, where glutinous rice is popular, Central Thais like the fragrant plain variety, most commonly steamed. In addition to fresh-water fish, there is seafood from the Gulf of Thailand, as well as a wide range of fresh vegetables. Chinese-Thai food is popular in cities like Bangkok, particularly in the form of numerous noodle dishes.
The Central region also has what is called the Royal cuisine, a more sophisticated version of the regional cuisine. Influenced by the kitchens of the Royal Court, the dishes are elaborately put together, making it as much of an art form as a culinary masterpiece
As a general rule, any foreigner seeking entry into the Kingdom of Thailand for business, investment, study, medical treatment, mass media, religion, employment and other purposes is required to apply for a visa from a Thai Embassy or Consulate-General. To do so, a foreigner must possess a valid passport or travel document that is recognized by the Royal Thai Government and comply with the conditions set forth in the Immigration Act B.E.2522 (1979) and its related provisions.
For international departure airport tax: $US14 or 500 Thai Bath
Business hours :
Most commercial concerns in Bangkok operate on a five-day week, usually from 8 am to 5 pm. Many stores open seven days a week from 10 am to 10 pm. Government offices are generally open between 8.30 am and 4.30 pm with a noon to 1 pm lunch break, Monday to Friday except on public holidays. Banks are open Mondays to Fridays from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm except on public holidays.
As in most other countries, visitors do not require vaccinations unless coming from or passing through a designated contaminated area
Postal Services :
Thailand's mail service is reliable and efficient. Major hotels provide basic postal services on their premises. Provincial post offices are usually open from 8.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
International Roaming Mobile Phone : A Subscriber Identity Module Card (SIM Card) is now available for Thai and foreign customers who are travelling around for work.The SIM Card must be used in conjunction with a Digital GSM mobile phone within the 900-MHz range or a Digital PCN mobile phone within the 1800-MHz range.
Currency and Currency exchange : The Thai unit of currency is the baht 1 baht is divided into 100 satang. Note are in denominations of 1,000 (brown), 500 (purple), 100 (red), 50 (blue), 20 (green) and 10 (brown) baht. Coins consist of 25 satang, 50 satang, 1 baht, 5 baht and 10 baht.
Major currency bills and travellers cheques are cashed easily at hotels, tourist shops, all provincial banks, shopping centres and money changers. Travellers cheques are best changed in banks (you will need your passport). Rates of exchange at banks or authorized money changers are better than those at hotels and department stores.
Any amount of foreign currency may be brought into the country. Visitors may
Take foreign currency out of Thailand, but no more than the amount stated in the customs declaration made on arrival. Travellers leaving Thailand may take out no more than 50,000 baht per person in Thai currency.
The electric current is 220 volt AC (50 cycles) throughout the country. Many different types of plugs and sockets are in use. Travellers with electric shavers, hair dryers, tape recorders and other appliances should carry a plug adapter kit. The better hotels will make available 110-volt transformers.