Top events in Thailand

April
25

ANZAC was the name given to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, early on the...

April
29

This popular sailing event is a week-long programme of races and activities which each year attracts keen mariners from all over the sailing world...

May
10

To ensure the arrival of the monsoon, the Buddha statue from Wat Chedi Luang is paraded through the streets and showered with scented water by...

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

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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

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra since 2011.

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: 22 April 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.

There is a high threat of terrorism.

Political demonstrations continue in and around Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand. Some of these have been violent, including the use of firearms and grenades, and there have been casualties and deaths. The situation is unpredictable and further protests are expected. You should avoid protest sites.

Protest action in central Bangkok since 13 January has caused significant disruption to roads in affected areas, with knock-on effects across the city. The main protest site is at Lumpini Park. There are smaller protest sites at Ratchadamnoen (from Phan Fah to Royal Plaza), the government complex at Chaeng Watthana, Government House and the Ministry of Interior. There are also sporadic rallies to government offices and private companies.

There have been indiscriminate attacks involving weapons and explosives at protest sites and at protest marches. Attacks have taken place during the daytime and at night.

During the evening of 21 March there were bomb attacks at three locations in Chiang Mai: a PTT Petrol station in tambon Nong Hoi Muang district; Boonrawd Brewery in tambon Yang Nerng of Sarapee district; and the Andamon Seafood restaurant in tambon Pa Dad, Muang Chiang Mai district. The attacks injured 4 people and caused damage to property.

You should take extra care and avoid all protests, political gatherings, demonstrations and marches. Monitor local news and social media for developments.

Tourist’s Friend Centres, which provide information for tourists, are located at the Sport Authority of Thailand in the Bangkapi district of Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports, four BTS Skytrain stations (Siam, Phya Thai, Ekkamai and Wong Wian Yai) and Hua Lampong MRT station. You can also contact the Tourist’s Friend Centre by telephone on +66 (0)2 314 1212 (in English – 24 hours).

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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