Situated in the heart of mainland Southeast Asia, Thailand serves as a gateway to the emerging economies of the Greater Mekong Sub region. With its well-developed infrastructure, political and social stability, and consistent openness to foreign investment, it has been a magnet for overseas companies looking for a strategic location to set up or expand business.
Thailand has a land area of 513,115 sq.km. (approx. 127,008 acres) bordered by Malaysia (South), Myanmar (West & North), Laos (North & East) and Cambodia (Southeast). The country's east coast borders the Gulf of Thailand and the west coast abuts the Andaman Sea. The country is divided geographically into four main zones -- the fertile central plains, dominated by the Chao Phraya River; the 300-metre-high northeast plateau, the kingdom's most barren region; the mountainous North; and the tropical southern peninsula.
Largest provinces is Nakhon Ratchasima 20,493 sq. km., Chiang Mai 20,107 sq. km., Kanchanaburi 19,483 sq. km.Largest islands is Phuket 543 sq. km., Chang 429 sq. km., Samui 247 sq. km. Highest peaks Doi Inthanon 2,565 m., Doi Pha Hom Pok 2,285 m., Doi Chiang Dao 2,195 m. Principal rivers , Chi 765 km., Mun 750 km., Nan 740 km., Chao Phraya 370 km. or 1,110 km. if the Nan, its main tributary, is included. Major agricultural exports rice, tapioca, rubber, maize, pineapples, durians, longans, palm oil and herbs.
There are three seasons in Northern, Northeastern and Central Thailand - hot (March to May), rainy (June to October), and cool (November to February). And there are two seasons in the South - rainy (April to November) and hot (December to March).
In the North and Northeast in winter, the temperatures are much lower during night time, especially on the mountains, with temperatures lower than 10°C.
The temperature varies from 38°C to 19°C with the annual average at about 29°C. The humidity is from 66% to 82.8%.
Capital : Bangkok Local time : GMT +7 hours.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy headed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej or King Rama IX. The country comprises 76 provinces, each sub-divided into amphoe (district), tambon (sub district) and muban (village).
People & Society
75% Thais, 11% Chinese, 3.5% Malays, and others are Mons, Khmers, Burmese, Laotians, Indians and a variety of hill tribes.
Thai is the national language. English is widely understood in Bangkok and big cities.
Buddhists 94.2%, Muslims 4.6%, Christians 0.8%, others 0.4%
The red, white and blue horizontal bands symbolize the nation, religion, and the monarchy respectively.
Major manufactured exports
Computer and computer accessories, integrated circuit, textiles, electronics, cars and spare parts, gems and jewelry, televisions and television accessories.
Highlights of Thailand
One of the world’s most vibrant and intriguing cities, Bangkok is both a destination in itself and the perfect base from which to explore the central region. From the stately Grand Palace and myriad temples to the hustle and bustle of riverine life and colorful street markets, the capital is a wonderland waiting for you to discover.
Excursions away from the city lead to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya and the legendary Bridge over the River Kwai. Add a round of golf or a spa treatment into your personalized holiday programme and you have the base for a memorable vacation.
The Central Plains
Tracing these myriad waterways by boat takes one into Thailand's true heart, not visible from roads and highways. The picturesque river landscape is a 'living museum' of Thai tradition and way of life. It explains nearly everything Thai, from food to festivals, to basic values. It is on the waterways that one discovers the real Thailand.
The waterways are the stage for Thailand's principal festivals. At Loy Krathong -- 'festival of lights', on the November full moon night -- candle-lit banana-leaf boats are floated on water to whisk away bad luck. The grandest celebration of all is the Royal Barge Procession -- held only on auspicious occasions, when 51 barges accompany the Royal Family to present robes to monks at Wat Arun -- Temple of Dawn.
Gulf of Thailand
Water sports, golf, island hopping, shopping and entertainment - or if you prefer, a hammock under a palm tree on a sandy beach, where you can laze away the day with a cool drink and a good book - the beach resorts on either side of the Gulf of Thailand have them in abundance.
Pattaya and Rayong make up the ‘Asian Riviera’ adding a vibrant nightlife with superb dining, discos and cabarets to fun in the sun; while Hua Hin and Cha Am, on the ‘Sunshine Coast, offer beach life at a more relaxed pace with tours to a Summer Palace, golf on championships courses and a world-renowned Spa in which to revitalize yourself. Choose the options that suit you and you’ll have a holiday to remember forever.
The Mountainous North
The region that is now Northern Thailand was once the centre of an ancient kingdom known as Lanna -- 'land of a million rice fields'. Cocooned from the outside world by mountains, the Lanna Thai kingdom was able to develop at leisure, undisturbed by the wider world.
The North developed its own art forms, music and dance which enchant and their gracefulness. Lanna Thai cultural splendour permeates all aspects of the Northern Thai lifestyle including traditional architecture, arts and crafts -- religious and secular, costumes, folk crafts and entertainment.
I-San - Northeastern Thailand
Bounded by forested escarpments in the west and south, and the Mekong River in the north and east, I-San boasts large cities but has a rural heart. Farming is the predominant means of sustaining a livelihood in this part of Thailand.
Village life still follows the seasons, the rhythms of agriculture and their related festivals. Sandstone temple complexes and monuments, so called “Palaces of the Gods”, are built in the Khmer architectural style found throughout I-San.
Beaches chosen for Hollywood movies, limestone towers jutting from azure seas, and bays speckled with uninhabited islands, the South offers all this and more. Island hopping, scuba diving, snorkeling, parasailing, canoeing, there’s action aplenty for the whole family.
But, if you just want to "get away from it all", there are thousands of tiny coves and islands where you can listen to the waves lapping your own deserted beach on a starlit night, without a care in the world.
The “Par-fect” Time in Thailand
For the golfer, there are challenging courses across Thailand designed by such luminaries as Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones Jr, Pete Dye, and Greg Norman. No matter what your handicap, we guarantee you’ll have a fun day out.
Spa Capital of Asia
Thailand offers travelers some of the finest spas in Asia and there are sufficient spas in Bangkok to meet every need, whether it is simply for a massage or for a far more rejuvenating and complex treatment. The wide availability of Thai massage helps ease pentup stress. There is also pampering and holistic healing at some of the planet's best spas.
Enjoy a professional spa therapy or a day of unequalled pampering and allow your body and mind to relax with a soothing massage or aromatherapy in an atmosphere of solid comfort with soft, beautiful music. You will leave with renewed strength, enhanced beauty and a refreshed spirit.
The contemporary City of Angels brims over with world-class attractions, shopping and entertainment. At some of Asia's biggest malls, the stores stock brands both global and homegrown.
The individualist character of every Thai (a word that means 'free') leads not just to myriad hawkers, but to stand-alone boutiques and venues popping up in the most unexpected places.
Kitchen of the World
Building on the remarkable popularity of Thai gastronomy abroad, Bangkok restaurants cook up both authentic and innovative versions of local delicacies. In an incredibly diverse dining scene, celebrated chefs bring culinary skills from all continents to this gourmet paradise. Chinese, Japanese and Italian restaurants number in the hundreds, alongside dozens of other national cuisines.
One of the world’s most exciting cities, Bangkok is an irresistible place to visit, full of wonderful sights to see, amazing culture and the best dining, shopping and entertainment in Asia. Tourists love it as there is so much to do and see, all at amazing value for money according to the Country Brand Index.
From the stately Grand Palace and myriad temples to the hyperactive River of Kings, Bangkok is a wonderland waiting for you to discover. In Old Bangkok, the Grand Palace and its royal chapel, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, display both royal grandeur and wonderful architecture. Nearby is ancient Wat Po, home of the giant reclining Buddha and a renowned school for traditional massage. Across the river, the spires of the Temple of Dawn glitter in the sun. Vimanmek Mansion is the world’s largest golden teak building, built in 1910 as the residence of King Rama V, reflecting the royal lifestyle at the turn of the century. For glimpses of everyday Thai life, ride a boat along the city’s canals or simply catch the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat to discover the city’s riverside landmarks.
Learn more about Bangkok’s amazing attractions at www.bangkoktourist.com
Bangkok’s diverse nightlife features everything from excellent live music, to good jazz clubs, ultra cool bars, exuberant dance venues and great restaurants. Like any great city, bars and pubs are everywhere. However, Bangkok offers a much wider range of attractive entertainment - dinner cruises along the Chao Phraya River, jazz clubs in many hotels, romantic rooftop cocktail spots, exciting nightclubs along Sukhumvit Road, regular concerts at the Thailand Cultural Centre, outstanding cultural show at Siam Niramit, the amazing Joe Louis Puppet Theater and classical Thai performances at Chalerm Krung Royal Theater.
Spa Capital of Asia
Thailand offers travelers some of the finest spas in Asia, with Bangkok renowned for the high quality of its spas and their gentle, friendly therapists who are experts on pampering. Within superbly relaxing atmospheres, Thai spas offer a wide variety of treatments, from simple massage to complex rejuvenation. Don’t forget to try the unique Thai traditional massage, which provides excellent relief from stress as well as aches and pains.
Some of the great things to do while visiting Bangkok:
- See fight nights of Thai kick boxing (muay thai) or learn its boxing skills.
- Discover the exquisite performance of Thai classical dance.
- Experience a traditional Thai massage.
- Take Thai cooking lessons and amaze your friends.
- Practice blissful meditation.
- Discover the traditional Thai lifestyle by boating along canals and the Chao Phraya River.
There are exciting events and festivals all year round in Bangkok: Chinese New Year in February, Songkran in April, Thailand Grand Sale in June, Bangkok Film Festival in September, Loy Krathong in November and a brilliant New Year Countdown on December 31.
Traveling within Bangkok
Although traffic can be heavy at times, getting around Bangkok is relatively easy thanks to a well-integrated and inexpensive transport system of public buses, taxis, limousines, motorcycle taxis, tuk-tuks and mass transit.
A large number of taxis ply Bangkok’s streets 24-7. Look for the Taxi Meter sign on top and make sure the cabbie turns on the meter. Fares begin at 35 baht (roughly US$ 1) and increase according to distance traveled.
The city’s mass transit system consists of an elevated and underground rail service through the downtown area, providing links to city hotels, shopping malls, entertainment areas, business districts and the river. Both are air-conditioned, with signage and directions in Thai and English, and operate from 6am to midnight daily. Both systems are linked with change-over stations at three locations. As yet there is no common ticket.
Elevated electric trains transport Bangkok's commuters in wide air-conditioned carriages, running every 3-5 minutes at peak times and slightly longer off-peak, providing a quick, reliable and efficient service. The Skytrain has two routes, the Sukhumvit Line and Silom Line, with a changeover station at Siam Square. Fares are based on distance traveled.
The underground rail system complements the BTS Skytrain in moving commuters around central Bangkok through a special tunnel system. Lifts and escalators provide access to the trains. The MRT system has 18 stations running from Hua Lamphong railway station to the northern bus terminal at Mor Chit.
Tips for Business Travelers
Especially Bangkok, is easy to navigate. Transport and accommodation infrastructure are international-class, and numerous professional services cater to every need. Most signs and information are printed in English as well as Thai, and Thai people are always ready to help visitors with directions or assistance. Here are some quick tips to help you get around.
Official banking hours are from 9.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m., Monday to Friday, closed over the weekend and public holidays. Licensed banking outlets in department stores and malls stay open until 8.00 p.m. every day. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign exchange and Thai currency that may be brought into the country, and you may freely take out of the country all foreign exchange brought in. Thai currency taken out of the country may not exceed 50,000 baht per person, or 100,000 baht to Thailand's bordering countries.
Government offices open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Most department stores operate from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. all week, while some pharmacies open throughout the night.
Thailand has a tropical climate with three seasons: hot and dry (March through May), hot and wet (June through October), and cool and dry (November through February). The average temperature is 28C (83F), with summer highs at 37C and winter lows of 20C.
International roaming from your home country usually works in Thailand. However, if you plan to make many local calls, you can save money with a pre-paid SIM card inserted into your phone (if compatible). True Move, AIS, DTAC are the leading service providers. SIM cards are also available at any convenience store.
Major stores and restaurants readily accept American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard and Visa cards. Major banks and ATMs also recognize these credit cards.
Currency changers are available at the airport and provide the same rates as in town and better rates than hotels. Paper denominations consist of 1,000- (gray), 500- (purple), 100- (red), 50- (blue), and 20- (green) baht notes. Coins consist of ten-, five-, two-, and one-baht disks, as well as 50- and 25-satang brass disks.
Customs Related Information
The ATA Carnet allows the temporary import of exhibition and advertising materials, commercial samples, and scientific equipment without payment of duty. ATA Carnet holders should contact Customs officers at the Red Channel upon arrival. Carnets may also be obtained for temporary duty/tax free export of goods from Thailand to a foreign country.
Please contact the International Chamber of Commerce for application details.
For more information: www.customs.go.th
Electrical outlets are 220 volts, 50 cycles and usually accept flat-pronged and roundpronged plugs.
There are about a hundred diplomatic missions in Bangkok, and you can access a list at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For more information : www.mfa.go.th
Health standards in Thailand are relatively high for Southeast Asia, with excellent private health care and low incidence of communicable disease outbreaks.
IDD (International Direct Dialing)
IDD (International Direct Dialing) is available from most hotels for a surcharge. Costs vary with the time of day and charge for a minimum of 1 minute. Dial 100 for Operator-Assisted Overseas. For IDD dial 001 followed by country and regional codes. International payphones at the airport and most tourist areas use credit cards or international phone cards which can be bought at most convenience stores.
Most hotels now have Internet access either directly from the room or in their business centers. Charges vary from around 100 baht for the first 15 minutes with lower charges afterwards. There are also Internet cafes in most shopping areas, and an increasing number of Wi-Fi spots such as Starbucks Coffee.
Thai is the national language. English is widely understood in the cities, and Lao and certain Chinese dialects are also spoken in certain places.
Tipping is not the usual practice in Thailand. Most hotels and nicer restaurants add a 10 percent service charge to the bill. Taxi drivers do not require a tip but rounding up to the next 10 in the meter is common.
Useful Telephone Numbers
Tourist information 1672, Tourist police 1155
Citizens of most nations can get a 30-day visa upon arrival. Two-week extensions can be obtained by going to the Immigration Department, located near the Silom business district (507 Suan Plu Road; Tel: 0-2287-3101-10 # 2264-5) with a photocopy of your passport (every page), two photographs, and the extension fee of 500 baht. Agencies can facilitate this process, with pickup and delivery service to your hotel room.