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Thailand Travel Information - Vital Information for the First-Time Visitor

Visas, Currency, Holidays, Weather, What to Wear

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Buddhas in Wat Pho, Bangkok.
Jon Bower at Apexphotos/Moment Open/Getty Images

Visa and Other Entry Requirements

Before planning your trip, consult our Thailand Profile page for basic information about the country.

You’ll only be allowed into Thailand if your passport is valid for at least six months after arrival, with enough pages for embarkation stamp upon arrival, and must show proof of sufficient funds and onward or return passage.

American, Canadian, and UK citizens do not need to acquire a visa for stays not longer than 30 days. For more details, you can visit the Kingdom of Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs page on entry requirements.

For the extension of visa need to apply to one of the Thai Immigration Offices. For details, contact the Immigration Bureau Head Office: Soi Suan-Plu, South Sathorn Rd, Bangkok, Thailand Phone: 66(0)2 287 3101 until 287 3110; Fax: 66(0)2 287 1310, 66(0)2 287 1516

Customs.You may bring these items into Thailand without paying customs duty:

  • 200 cigarettes, or no more than 500 grams of smoking tobacco
  • One liter of spirits / wine / malt liquor.
  • Up to 10,000 Baht worth of cosmetics, perfume, soaps, toothpaste, and other personal effects – assuming these are for personal use only
  • Film: a reasonable amount for personal use

The official Thai Customs Department page can fill you in on what you can and can’t bring in.

Drug trafficking in Thailand carries the death penalty – under no circumstances should you ever get caught carrying any on your way in!

Airport Tax.You will be charged an airport tax of 500 Baht upon departure on any international flight. Passengers of domestic flights will be charged 40 Baht.

Health & Immunizations

You’ll only be asked to show health certificates of vaccination against smallpox, cholera, and yellow fever if you’re coming from known infected areas. More information on Thailand-specific health issues are discussed at the CDC page on Thailand and at the MDTravelHealth webpage.

Safety

Thailand is largely safe for foreign visitors, although the country is located in a region with an elevated risk of terrorism. The Thai police have been largely effective in safeguarding the safety of their tourists.

Because of the ongoing crisis in Thailand’s southern provinces (Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla), travelers are advised not to visit these areas, or travel overland through the Malaysian border with Thailand.

Violence against tourists is thankfully rare, but visitors may be vulnerable to pickpocketing, fraud, and confidence tricks. One common ruse involves fooling tourists into buying fake “smuggled Burmese jewels” at extremely low prices. Once the tourist discovers they’re fake, the vendors have usually skeltered away without a trace.

Sexual assaults on women have been known to occur, so female travelers should remain vigilant. Be careful about accepting drinks from strangers, keep an eye on your passports and credit cards, and don’t carry too much cash or jewelry.

Thai law shares the draconian attitude to drugs common in Southeast Asia. For more information, read: Drug Laws and Penalties in Southeast Asia - by Country.

Money Matters

The Thai unit of currency is called the Baht (THB), and it is divided into 100 satang. Notes come in 10-baht, 20-baht, 50-baht, 100-baht and 1,000-baht denominations. Click here to see the Baht’s exchange rate against the US dollar. Currency can be exchanged at the airport, banks, hotels and accredited moneychangers.

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa credit cards are generally accepted, but not universally. Cheaper guesthouses and restaurants do not accept plastic.

ATMs are in most (if not all) cities and tourist areas, including Phuket, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Samui, Ko Tao, Ko Chang, and Ko Phi Phi. Depending on the bank, the withdrawal limit may range from 20,000B to 100,000B.

Tipping. Tipping isn’t standard practice in Thailand, so you’re not required to tip unless asked. All major hotels and restaurants exact a service charge of 10%. Taxi drivers don’t expect to be tipped, but won’t complain if you round the meter fare out to the next five or 10 baht.

Climate

Thailand is a tropical country with a warm and humid climate throughout the year. The country is at its warmest between March and May, with an average temperature of around 93°F (34°C). From November to February, the northeast monsoon quickly lowers temperatures down to 65°F-90°F (18°C-32°C)centigrade in Bangkok, and even lower in the northern areas of the country. The weather in Thailand is at its best from February to March; the weather is at its mildest and the beaches are at their best.

When/Where to Go. Thailand is best experienced between November and February, owing to the northeast monsoon’s cool, dry winds. Chilly nights – and sub-zero temperatures at high altitudes – are not unheard of.

From March to June, Thailand undergoes its hot, dry summers, with temperatures topping out at 104ºF (40º C). Avoid Thailand during the summer – even the locals complain about the heat!

What to Wear. Wear light, cool, and casual clothing on most occasions. On formal occasions, jackets and ties on men are recommended, while women should wear dresses.

Don’t wear shorts and beachwear outside the beach, especially if you’re planning to call on a temple or other place of worship.

Women would be wise to dress respectfully, covering shoulders and legs covered.

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