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The Gulf of Thailand lies to the east of Thailand and is separated from the Andaman Sea by the Thai peninsula. It is home to some of the most stunning sailing waters in the world. Under soaring limestone cliff islands, there are hundreds of anchorages, hidden coves and beaches with waters teeming with tropical marine life.
Combine sailing with a land tour and you'll see that a major part of Thailand's culture is its food, - a unique, delicious mix of sweet and spicy flavours. For the shopaholics, there is a good mix of huge shopping malls, floating markets and riverside shops where you can buy anything from Thai silk, to the latest designer handbags, or just stock up on the freshest fruit from the floating market in Bangkok. If you're interested in history, then Thailand is built around distinctive temples, magnificant palaces, beautiful monasteries and museums.
Thailand has six international airports, in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Krabi, Phuket and Ko Samui. The vast majority of travellers fly into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.
There are no direct flights from North America to Thailand and stops are made in European cities or in Hong Kong, Shanghai or Singapore. Thai Airways, Cathy Pacific, American Airlines, Delta, Air Canada and all major airlines fly to these destinations for connecting flights to either Bangkok or Phuket International airport.
Flights from many European cities such as London, Frankfurt and Paris are available with British Airways, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and all major airlines.
Generally speaking, it is a safe for tourists in Thailand. Although the crime threat in Bangkok remains low, non-confrontational crimes of opportunity, such as pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, and credit card fraud does occur. Gun crime is on the increase and an increasingly common technique is the motorcycle-assisted drive-by “snatch-and-grab”. This crime is generally non-violent but it is prudent to be aware of your belongings at all times in busy tourist streets. Cities and islands outside of Bangkok experience very low crime rates.
In recent years, anti-government activities and general public unrest is on the increase in Bangkok so it is always wise to check travel advisories at the time of travel.
There are no travel visas required by North American or European visitors to Thailand with 30 days granted upon arrival. Guests traveling from outside North America or Europe or not holding valid US, Canadian or European passports, must check with their nearest Thai Consulate. You require a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond your stay.
It is advisable to check that your tetanus shot is up to date and a certificate of vaccination against tetanus, hepatitis A and B is recommended (but not compulsory) to all travelers. A yellow fever vaccination is compulsory for travelers coming from zones known as infected. There is a decent medical system in Bangkok and the surrounding islands. Most islands have medical clinics, dispensaries, and a few private practitioners. Pharmacies are available to dispense a large range of over the counter treatments including antibiotics.
The currency used in Thailand is the Baht. ATMs are available in most major banks where major cards within the Cirrus/Maestro system are accepted. There are currency exchange centres that operate from most banks and also mobile currency exchange centres operating in the evening in major resorts. Visa/Mastercard is accepted by all banks and local stores. AMEX is not acceptable in many places including banks. Most major hotels will exchange money but at a less favourable rate than the banks.
The electric current is 220 volts AC 50Hz. The plugs in Thailand are not standardised -- there are at least three different types, some two pin and some three, so be sure to either bring a universal adapter or buy one once you arrive in Thailand.
Supermarkets and markets of varying sizes are found in all islands and the shopping is great! Markets are good to visit in the mornings or evenings when it's a little cooler and less frantic. In the heat of the day, shop in air-conditioned malls.
Thailand's country code is +66. It's a good idea to purhcase a local SIM card, which costs less than 900 Baht. Long distance or overseas calls can also be made for a fixed price per 5 minutes from roadside stands often set up outside convenience stores. Local calls can easily be made from public phones but you will need to check whether it's a card or coin phone. Telephone cards are available from various places such as 7-Eleven convenience stores, some stationery stores and pharmacies, the Post Office and telephone authority offices. Internet cafes are located in all the main tourist areas and offer reasonable rates.
It is not customary to tip in Thailand, but even if a tip is not required a small tip will be appreciated as workers in the service industry earn small salaries.