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Thailand

Thailand travel information

Thailand map C = Chanthaburi

1 = Chiang Rai (northernmost province)
2 = Mae Song Son
3 = Chiang Mai
4 = Sukothai
5 = Tak
6 = Kanchanaburi
7 = Bangkok (capital)
8 = Nong Khai (bridge across Mekong river to Vientiane)
9 = Khon Kaen
10 = Ubon Ratchathani
11 = Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat)
12 = Buri Ram
13 = SaKaeo
14 = Rayong
15 = Koh Chang island (in Trat province)
16 = Chumphon
17 = Ranong (across river/sea to Kaw Thaung)
18 = Koh Samui island (in Surat Thani province)
19 = Surat Thani
20 = Phuket island
21 = Narathiwat
22 = Satun

M = Mekong river
S = Salawen or Thanlwin river
A = Ayeyarwaddy river (in Myanmar)

For more information please go to Trek Thailand web site.

Location
Thailalnd extends over 513, 115 square kilometers about the size of France. It shares borders with Myanmar to the west and north, Laos to the northeast, Cambodia to the west, and Malaysia to the south. It is around 1600 km from north to south and 780 km along its broadest, east-west stretch.

Geography
Thailand could be divided into six geographic regions: the northern mountains, the central plain, the mountainous west, the south-east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, the north-east plateau, and the southern peninsula sandwiched between Andaman sea and the Gulf of Thailand.

Climate
Thailand receives tropical climates, protected by geography from the heavy stroms and other climatic extremes. The monsoon alternately blow in the south-westery and north-easterly directions over the country.

The south-west monsoon carries moisture from Indian ocean, normally from May to mid-October. Then from the mid-October to mid-February, the north-east monsoon brings in dry, cool air from China. It causes a cool, dry season for the most parts of the country. This monsoon arrives eastern side of peninsular Thailand, after picking up moisture across south China. Therefore southern Thailand's wet season is extended until January or later.

Time
7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

People
People inhabiting Thailand today comprise of rich ethnic diversity. They are Thai, Mon, Khmer, Laotian, Chinese, Shan, Myanmars, Malay, Persian, Indian, and many hilltribes with the result that there is no typical Thai physiognomy or physique. There are petite Thais, statuesque Thais, round-faced Thais, square-faced Thais, dark-skinned Thais and light-skinned Thais, and so on.

Large percentage of the population is connected in some ways with agriculture which, in varying degrees, have influences on their life style along with the religions. Now-adays a substantial portion of urban population work in kinds of service industries such as tourism, and marketing.

Religion
Theravada Buddhism is the religion of more than 90% of population, and casts strong influnces on daily life. Around 5% are Muslims, most of whom inhabit the southern region. The rest of the population are Christian, Hindu, Sikh, and so on. Hilltribes practice animism but many tribes have been converted to Christianity.

However todays consumerism, rapid growth of tourism and investment-driven economy have dramatically changed the lifestyle of people, which is obviously visible everywhere.

Language
Spoken and written Thai are largely incomprehensible to the casual visitor. However English is fairly widely understood, particularly in large cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui where there are large numbers of expatriates and foreign tourists.

English and other European languages can be used at Large international hotels, shops and restaurants. Thai-English road and street signs are found nationwide.

Thai embassies abroad
To know the locations and contact details of Thai embassies and consulates abroad, please go to Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site.

Health regulations
No inoculations or vaccinations are required unless you are coming from or passing through contaminated areas.

Traveling with children
Children can travel with their parents safely in Thailand. However when doing village home stay, or cheap guesthouse stay in towns, make sure the children do not get mosquito bite. Get a good mosquito net.
Sun is quite strong especially during the afternoon times of summer (February to July). Use a hat and / or apply good sun block lotion.
Do not let children wander into a long quiet side road alone. The dogs may be waiting for strangers.

Entry and exist points
Most visitors arrive through Bangkok International Airport which is connected by daily flights to all major airports in Asia, Europe, North America, Australia.

Flights from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Penang (Malaysia) and Hong Kong land on a regular basis at Chiangmai, Koh Samui, Phuket and Hat Yai.

Charter flights land in Bangkok, Phuket, and at U-Taphao airport near Pattaya.

Regular rail service links Singapore and Bangkok with intermediary stops at Kuala Lumpur, Butterworth, Penang and major towns in southern Thailand.

Overland entry and exist points with Malaysia
  1. Sadao district (Songkhla province) to Changlun in Malaysian.
  2. Betong (Yala province) to Keroh in Malaysia.
  3. Su-Ngai Golok (Narathaiwat province) to Kota Baru in Malaysia.
  4. Tak Bai sub-district (Narathiwat province) to Kota Baru in Malaysia.
Buses run between Hat Yai, a major city in the south, and Alor Setar in Malaysia.

Overland border check points with Cambodia
  1. Ban Hat Lek (Trat province in the east) to Kong Kaob Kont in southern Cambodia, by boat crossing sea.
  2. Aranya Prathet (Sakaeo province in the east) to Poipet in Cambodia, by land.
Visa on arrival to Cambodia are possible at the border immigration. Please check with the respective embassies.

Overland border check points with Laos
  1. Chong Mek (Ubon Ratchathani province in the north-east) to Vaeng Tao and Pakse in Laos, by land.
  2. Mukdahan (Mukdahan province in the north-east) to Savannakhet in Laos, by ferry boat across Mekong river.
  3. Nakhon Phanom (Nakhon Phanom province in the north-east) to Thakhet in Laos, by ferry boat across Mekong river.
  4. Nong Khai (Nong Khai province in the north-east) to Vientiane in Laos, by bridge over Mekong river.
  5. Chiang Khong (Chiang Rai province in the north) to Huayxai in Laos, by ferry boat across Mekong river.
Only at no. (4) and (5) foreign tourists can get visa on arrival to Laos.

Overland border check points with Myanmar
  1. Ranong (Ranong province in the south) to Kaw Thaung (southern tip of Myanmar), by boat ferry crossing sea.
  2. Mae Sot (Tak province in the north-west) to Mya Waddy, by a bridge over Mong river.
  3. Mae Sai (Chiang Rai province in the north) to Tachileik, by a bridge over Mae Sai river.
There is a land check point at Sangklaburi (Kanchanaburi province) to the opposite Mon state in Myanmar. But it is possible for tourists to make day return trip only. At the time of writing (2003, 2004) it is possible to enter eastern Shan state of Myanmar through Mae Sai - Tachileik check point. You will get a border pass that allows you to travel up to Kyaing Tone only. The traveling inside Myanmar via a land check point is a complicated matter. Please consult a local travel agency in Myanmar.

There are no regular steamship connection. Cargo ships calling at Bangkok's Khlong Toei port sometimes have passenger cabin facilities. Luxury cruise ships frequently visit some sea ports in Thailand.

Important phone numbers in Bangkok
North and Northeastern Bus Terminal (Moh-Chit-Mai): 02-936 2841-48
New Southern regular Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai): 02--435 1200, 435 5605, 434 7192
Eastern Air Conditioned Bus Terminal or (Ekemai): 02-382 2098, 391 8097
Bangkok International Airport Information: 02-535 1111
Bangkok International Airport Arrival: 02-535 1149, 535 1310
Bangkok International Airport Departure: 02-535 1254, 535 1123
Bangkok Railway Station or Hua Lam Phong: 02-223-7461, 223 7010, 223 7020
Bus Route In formation in Bangkok Metropolis: 184

Electricity
Electrical outlets are rated at 220 volts, 50 cycles.

Food and water
Contrary to popular myth, all Thai food is not fiery hot (althouth some dishes from the northeast and the south could be extremely spicy) and wonderful meals can be enjoyed without worrying about the ubiquitous chilli. The beauty of Thai cuisine is in its variety and wonderful assortment of flavours: rich curries and tangy soups, tart salads, stir-fred dishes of meats and vegetables and succulent seafood. All eaten with liberal heapings of fragarant rice.

As in any country there are wonderful regional specialities. In Chiang Mai for instance a "Khan Toke" or formal northern dinner consists of five dishes served in elegant bowls on a low lacquer table with guests sitting on the floor. And in Phuket and Pattaya fresh Lobsters and crabs are the order of the day.

The traditional ending to a Thai meal is normally fruit and here again the variety is everything from tender young pineapples and banana to the exotic tastes and textures of mango, durian and pomelo.

In most tourist destinations you will also find a commendable range of international cuisines: so you are never far from a taste of home.

It is advisedthat you drink only the bottled or boiled water.

Currency
The Thai baht is divided into 100 satangs. Bank note denominations include 1,000 (gray), 500 (purple), 100 (red), 50 (blue), 20 (green), and 10 (brown) baht notes.

Ten-baht coins are brass discs encircled by a silver frame. Five-baht coins are silver with copper rims. There are three silver one-baht coins but only the small one will fit in a public telephone. There are two types of 50 and 25 satang coins.

Most newspapers list daily exchange rates between Thai Baht and major world currencies. You can also check the exchange rates at Bangkok bank web site.

ATM machines are found in all cities and towns, normally close to the banks and department stores. Many of them accept major credit cards. The maximum amount that you can take out within one day vary, but it could be assumed as 20000 Thai Baht. Most ATM machines provide instructions in both Thai and English.

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