Thailand is a must-see and perfect for a family holiday. Popular destinations include Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi and Hua Hin. Before you head off do a bit of research and learn the do’s and don’ts from various sources, read this to help you plan your trip!
Population: 68 million
Religion: Around 95% of the population is Buddhist
Emergency number: 191
• The town of Kanchanaburi is home to the famous “Bridge Over the River Kwai”, part of the BurmaSiam railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people died constructing the project.
• It is strictly against the law to criticise the monarchy.
• Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that has not been colonised by Europeans.
• At 127 metres high, Phra Pathommachedi in Nakhon Pathom is the tallest stupa in the world.
• A nuclear family is rare in Thailand as many live in large extended families.
• Bangkok was once called “the Venice of the East” due to buildings being built on stilts above the Chao nimon Phraya River.
The key dates
- 13 to 17 April: Songkran Festival. The Thai New Year is celebrated in boisterous fashion (put it this way: you will get wet!).
- 13 October: The anniversary for the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Thailand’s much-loved king of 70 years died in 2016, aged 88.
The hot spots
The five World Heritage Sites include the historic towns of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai.
Some itinerary ideas
• Beach Break: Bangkok – Koh Samui – Koh Phangan – Phuket
• Highlands: Bangkok – Lopburi – Sukhothai – Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai
• Heartland: Bangkok – Kanchanaburi – Ayutthaya
How to stay healthy
• The usual mosquito-borne diseases are common enough in Thailand, so make sure you’ve sprayed and covered up.
• Cutaneous larva migrans sounds awful but it’s very easily treated with medication; the rash, caused by dog hookworm, is quite commonly contracted on Thailand’s beaches.
• There are snakes around – we’ve seen some ourselves – so tread carefully when you’re off the beaten track.
While you’re there, please don’t…
• Wear your shoes into a temple or someone’s home.
• Raise your voice unnecessarily; anger and aggression are signs of disrespect in Thailand.
• Touch a Thai person on the head.
• Use your feet to point at anything.
Before you go, read …
- A Child of the Northeast by Kampoon Boontawee – written in 1976 and set in the 1930s, this is the story of a family from the Isan region of Thailand.
- Bangkok 8 by John Burdett – the seamier side of Thailand is represented in these pages (namely, the bars and brothels) but it’s a suspenseful and entertaining read.
Before you go, watch …
- Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, this film centres around the last days of the title character.
- The Legend of Suriyothai – the story of Queen Suriyothai who died in courageous fashion in 1548 in a battle against Burmese invaders.
They said it
“In Thailand’s history there have been dissensions from time to time, but in general, unity has prevailed.” – Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand (1946-2016)
“Bangkok is a rejuvenating tonic; the people seem to have found the magic elixir. Life, a visitor feels, has not been wasted on the Thais.” – Bernard Kalb, author
“Sanuk is the Thai word for fun, and in Thailand anything worth doing, even work, should have some element of sanuk. This doesn’t mean Thai people don’t want to work or strive. It’s just that they live more in the moment, and do their best to enjoy it.” – Anonymous
Do I need a visa?
Passport holders from 41 countries, including Australia, the UK, the US and Canada, do not require a visa for stays not exceeding 30 days. Visit thaiembassy.sg for the full list.
How long will it take me to get there?
2 hours (Phuket), 2.5 hours (Bangkok), 3 hours (Chiang Mai) from Singapore. Thailand is 7 hours ahead of GMT and 1 hour behind Singapore.
What’s the money situation?
The official currency of Thailand is the Thai baht (THB). Foreign currency and travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks and Thai baht withdrawn at ATMs throughout the country. Credit cards are widely accepted.
When’s the best time to visit?
The weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid across most of the country throughout most of the year. Avoid Bangkok and the inland areas in April when the weather is scorching. Beach lovers should be aware that the weather varies on the east and west coasts. On the west coast (Phuket, Phi Phi and Krabi), the southwest monsoon brings heavy storms from April to October. On the east coast (Koh Samui, Koh Phangan), most rainfall is between September and December.
What’s the lingo?
Thai is the official language, but most locals have at least a rudimentary understanding of English.
Here are some phrases to get you started:
Hello Sawadee ka (female) / Sawadee krab (male)
What is your name? Khun cheu arai?
My name is __ di-chan chuh __ (female) pom chuh __ (male)
How much? Tao rai ka? (female) / Tao rai krub? (male)
Thank you Khorb khun ka (female) Khorb khun krab (male)
No, thank you Mai ao ka (female) / Mai ao krab (male)
Is there anything I should know about meeting the locals?
To say hello in Thai, perform a wai: place your hands together close to your chest and dip your head in a slight bow.
What’s a must-try dish?
Pad Thai: rice noodles stir-fried with eggs and chopped firm tofu, flavoured with tamarind pulp, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic or shallots, red chili pepper, palm sugar, and served with lime wedges and chopped roasted peanuts.
What should I buy as a souvenir?
Thai silk, spa products, Thai cookbooks.
Where to stay
In Chang Mai…
If you’ve done the Thai beach holiday and want something different then head north to this boutique villa retreat Rice and Zen on the lush outskirts of Chang Mai. Consisting of two luxury villas, located far from the tourist crowds. You’ll love the views to the rice paddies and the mountains. Locally, you can explore the area by bicycle or get the in-house driver to take you further afield; fun and interesting trips include waterfalls and hot springs, plus the night market and nightlife of Chiang Mai.
For more information (including frequently asked questions) and bookings, visit riceandzen.com
For more ideas on where to stay
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