Travelers can make their way into Thailand by plane, boat,
or train. Most people enter Thailand by air, via Bangkok's
modern Don Muang Airport. The airport has restaurants, an
inoculation center, banks, and shops. There are also international
airports at Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, and Chiang Rai.
Travelers are advised to use only authorized baggage handlers
and taxis to get to town. In addition to the air-conditioned
airport bus and limousine service, shared-seat mini-buses
operate between the airport and hotels. Taxi fares are quite
reasonable, and rates between Don Muang and Bangkok are fixed.
Entry by sea is likely to be via the Eastern Gulf of Thailand
into Pattaya, the resort island off the southern tip of the
country. Passenger ferries connect Bangkok with Samui and
Songkhla and hydrofoil service with Pattaya, Hua Hin, Chumphon,
Samui, and Songkhla. Cruise passengers are expected to be
transported in small craft for sightseeing excursions in Bangkok
or for relaxing on Pattaya's beaches. Cunard Line, Cunard/NAC,
Royal Cruise, and Royal Viking Line often schedule port calls
The Eastern & Oriental Express (Tel. +1 (800) 524-2520)
offers luxury service linking Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and
Bangkok. Fares for the complete three-day/two-night trip include
all meals. Shorter trips can also be booked.
Local transportation in Thailand ranges from good to bad and
can be tricky. There is excellent transportation from Bangkok
to other parts of the country via bus, train, or domestic
plane service, and within the cities via taxi, three-wheeled
motorized tuk tuks, bicycle-powered samlors (rickshaws), or
songthaews (pick-up trucks with benches for seats).
Taxi drivers keep the meter running, so each new passenger
must bargain over the fare before the journey begins. Bangkok
in particular, has a crazy traffic system, with noise, fumes,
and heat at every curve. Many hotels suggest that their guests
use the hotel taxi system. It's relatively expensive but not
a bad idea for a short visit, and the air-conditioning provides
a break from Bangkok's heavily polluted air. The city's thousands
of tuk-tuks are less expensive than taxis.
Buses operate regularly from the city to Pattaya (21/2 hours),
and to the north, east, and south. There are three different
bus terminals, so make sure you have the right one for your
destination. Fares are very reasonable.
Trains in Thailand are well-run and usually on time, and
they're an excellent way to see the lush landscape. Three
classes of service are offered on lines that run to the north,
northeast, east, and south. Fares are relatively reasonable,
especially in second class.
For local flights, Thai Airways is one of the best carriers
in Southeast Asia, offering frequent daily flights between
the capital city and popular tourist areas.
Rivers and klongs (canals) are a vital part of life in Thailand.
Many picturesque klongs that once crisscrossed the country
have been sacrificed to modernization, but plenty of interesting
river trips are still available to visitors. In Bangkok, these
trips embark mainly from the pier beside the Oriental Hotel,
which operates the posh Oriental Queen riverboat on daily
trips to Ayuthaya and on dinner cruises every evening.
Touring the klongs by hang yao (long-tailed motorized boats)
is one of the highlights of anyone's stay, for you can view
a lively panorama of typical Thai life and the daily floating
markets. The price of a seat is only a few baht per person,
or you can charter your own by the hour. These craft are not
especially seaworthy, so children should be safely guarded.
Expect to be splashed.
Water tours outside Bangkok are also popular but may be
slightly dangerous. The United States State Department advises
that travelers do not venture unaccompanied along the waterways
of the Golden Triangle area because bandits have been known
to harass and rob tourists. It is also advisable to stay away
from the Cambodian border.
Most businesses, government offices and shops usually open
from 7:30AM to 4:30PM, Monday through Friday and half days
on Saturday. Many offices close for an hour or two at lunch
time. Some shops and markets close at 9:00PM.
Nationals from 56 countries can now stay in Thailand for up
to 30 days without an entry visa,according to a new regulation
adopted by the Immigration Division in early February 1995.For
visitors from 76 other countries,visas valid for 15 days may
be obtained on arrival at any of the four airports at Don
Muang,Bangkok,Chiang Mai ,Phuket and Hat Yai.
Categories of visas in Thailand are : Transit,Visitor
Transit Tourist,NonImmigrant and Non Quota Immigrant.
A tourist who wants to overstay his visa must apply to the
immigration Division of the Police Department with the following:
The duplicate copy of his or her passport,one photograph
and a medical certificate only in the case of being sick.
Thin cotton is the best. A jacket or pullover may be necessary
in the cool season, especially when you are in mountainous
areas in the North or Northeast.