Top events in Thailand

July
30

Commemorates Buddha's first sermon and the beginning of Buddhist Lent. It also traditionally marks the beginning of the monsoon season.

August
01

Thousands of visitors from all over the world travel to Hua Hin and Cha-Am to enjoy local and international artists performing in this sunny...

August
12

The birthday of Queen Sirikit, the present Queen, is celebrated throughout Thailand but nowhere more so than in the capital, and particularly...

Long tail boat, Leonardo Bay
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Long tail boat, Leonardo Bay

© www.123rf.com / Ingus Rukis

Thailand Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

513,115 sq km (198,115 sq miles).

Population

67.5 million (2013).

Population density

131.5 per sq km.

Capital

Bangkok.

Government

Constitutional monarchy.

Head of state

HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) since 1946.

Head of government

General Prayuth Chan-ocha since 2014.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Flat and round two-pin plugs are used.

The jewel of the Southeast Asian travel circuit, Thailand offers astonishing diversity and a truly fascinating and accessible culture that, along with the revered Thai hospitality, makes it an incredibly popular destination.

With an enticing mixture of established destinations such as Phuket and Hua Hin, and out-of-the-way palm-fringed islands, Thailand has a very exotic appeal. It caters for grungy backpacking types wanting to party into the wee hours through to those who prefer white tablecloth dining and clinking wine glasses. From staying on a converted rice barge, clambering into a jungle tree house or bedding down in a hill tribe village, the country offers a wealth of choice for all tastes and budgets.

For divers, snorkellers, and those who just like swanning around on white-powder sand there are postcard-perfect beaches, and the extraordinary metropolis of Bangkok in the south, while the north offers the sublime delights of culture-packed Chiang Mai with its temple-studded old town, and cooling forests and mountain retreats.

One of the best ways to access Thai culture is through a 'Monk chat' session in a local wat (temple) in Chiang Mai, where you get the opportunity to quiz the dignified saffron-robed monks about anything you like. And in the early morning, all over the country, the monks leave the sanctuary of their wats to receive alms from the people, be it in a dusty village or on crowded city streets. Buddhism is a way of life here and the Thais are also strong supporters of their monarchy.

And don't forget the food! A culinary adventure awaits with tempting morsels on virtually every street corner, from traditional Royal-project run restaurants to delicious piping hot street food. Eating is as much a part of the culture here as anything else and definitely the key to local hearts. If you're lucky enough to catch a local festival, it will probably be dominated by food.

The most welcoming of countries, despite being inundated with tourists and expats, it's the gentle hospitality of local people that is the strongest memory of Thailand for many visitors. And what a wonderful memory it makes.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 29 July 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla on the Thai-Malaysia border. On 10 April 2014 the Australian authorities indicated that extremists may be planning to target westerners in the southern border provinces.

The FCO advise against all travel to the Preah Vihear (Khaoi Pra Viharn in Thai) temple area and the Ta Krabey/Ta Moan temple area located on the Thai-Cambodian border due to the presence of troops in the area and the risk of outbreaks of fighting.

On 22 May the Chief of the Royal Thai Army announced that the military had taken control of government. Martial law is in place and provides an enabling framework for the Royal Thai Army to take action it deems necessary to enforce law and order. Instructions can change rapidly. An information desk is available at Bangkok International Airport.

A curfew was imposed on 22 May. It was lifted in all parts of the country on 13 June.

A number of media outlets have been taken off air and some internet sites have been blocked. It’s illegal to criticise the coup and you should be wary of making political statements in public. You should monitor local news and social media for developments.

Over recent months there have been large-scale planned demonstrations, and spontaneous protests, in Bangkok and other cities. Some of these have turned violent. You should avoid any protests, political gatherings, demonstrations or marches.

Before travelling to Thailand check with your insurance provider that they will continue to cover for claims arising from the current situation. Some travel insurance policies exclude cover following a military coup or the imposition of martial law, and your insurance may be invalid.

The Tourist Authority of Thailand’s website and call centre (1672 - press ‘9’ for English) are able to provide some general advice to tourists in English.

There is a high threat from terrorism.

The majority of road traffic accidents in Thailand involve motorcycles, but accidents involving other vehicles including cars, coaches and mini-buses also occur.

By law you must carry your passport with you at all times. Tourists have been arrested because they were unable to produce their passport.

Penalties for possession, distribution or manufacture of drugs are severe and can include the death penalty.

Over 800,000 British nationals visit Thailand every year. Most visits are trouble-free, but incidents of crime (sometimes violent) can affect visitors.

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