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Thailand for beginners

The country in a nutshell


Thailand's currency is called the Thai baht (THB). It's around THB30 to US$1. International access ATMs can be found across the country. You will be expected to use Thai baht for all cash purchases. Credit cards are widely accepted, though small businesses may not accept them.


Thailand is quite a safe country. Petty theft is a problem in tourist centres, and violent crime against foreigners, while rare, does occur. Use your common sense when out in the evening and stay in control. If you feel threatened, especially in a bar or club environment, leave. A long-running civil disturbance has blighted the far southern provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani. Foreigners at no stage have been particularly targetted, but these provinces should not be considered as safe for extended touring in remote, rural areas. The area is considered safe to travel through through. Theft on private minibus and bus services is a major problem and we suggest you do not use such services where possible.


While very visible, local police may not speak much English. The Thai Tourist Police can be of more assistance -- 1155 is a 24-hour hotline they can be reached on. Thai police are not paid much, so corruption remains a problem.


Thailand boasts some of the best medical care in the region -- it is truly world class. It's not cheap though, so we hope you have travel insurance.


Thailand has a comprehensive public transport system. Much of the country is served by a rail network and the bus network is nationwide. Transport is cheap and safe. The country is also well served by low cost airlines. Theft can be a problem on private minibus services provided for foreigners -- we suggets you do not use such services and use the government network where possible.


Most nationalities get 30-days on arrival visa free is arriving by air, 15 days if arriving by land. Thailand's visa system is complicated and for more information see our Thailand visa page.

Thai language

The Thai language can be quite challenging for newcomers. It uses a non Roman script and is tonal. Getting the basic (counting, hi and thakyou etc.,) are easy, but you'll need a bit of time to get a good grounding in the language. In tourist centres many Thais will speak some English, but a lot will speak none. Don't expect taxi drivers to speak English.


There are two seasons -- the hot dry season and the hot wet season. Chances are if you're from anywhere outside the tropics, you'll find Thailand to be very hot -- and sweaty. Southern Thailand is affected by two different monsoon seasons meaning different islands have good weather at different times of the year. For detailed weather info, see our Thailand weather page.

Thailand is almost developed

It's not rough and ready like Cambodia and Laos, but it's not Singapore either. Thailand is currently at a mid level of development. The urban and tourist centres are very well developed, but in the countryside, things change far slower. This has a great appeal to travellers as they can experience first world vacationing in Phuket and Samui and third world rural travelling in north and northeast Thailand.

Thailand is the land of smiles

Despite the recent dramas and political infighting, overall Thailand remains a very friendly, reasonably safe place to travel in. Prices are low -- even for luxury hotels you get a tremendous bang for your baht in Thailand. Try to get off the tourist trail if time affords -- the countryside, old style Thailand, remains it's biggest drawcard.

  • Geographical names in Thailand

    Geographical names in Thailand

    Look up Chiang Mai province in a guide or on a map and you’ll see the same Thai place names cropping up over and over again: Doi this, Mae that and so on. So what do they all mean? ... Read more.


Thailand for beginners

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