All you need to know about travelling to Thailand

18/07/2014

Pattaya BeachThailand is a fantastic country to visit on holiday, offering a wonderful mixture of culture, history, exotic wildlife and spectacular scenery. We all know that travelling to far-flung destinations isn’t quite the same as popping to Spain for a week in the sun, so we’ve come up with some handy tips and information to ensure you’re fully prepared for your holiday in Thailand and can enjoy the getaway of a lifetime.

 

Do I need a visa to get into Thailand?

The short answer is no... You don’t need to apply for a visa before travelling to Thailand and, on arrival by air, you will be granted a free 30-day entry stamp. Do note that if you cross a land border, you are only allowed a 15-day entry stamp though. This applies to British passport holders - you should also make sure you have a minimum of six months remaining on your passport when you travel.

Do I need any vaccinations to travel to Thailand?

There are no compulsory vaccinations for travelling to Thailand, but there are several that are recommended, including diphtheria, tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis A and B, tuberculosis and cholera. However, it’s advisable to speak to your GP or local travel health centre at least eight weeks before your trip to check what you may or may not require. 

What about malaria in Thailand?

There is little to no risk of malaria in the majority of Thailand, with its most popular destinations - Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and Pattaya, among others - considered to be malaria-free. The only high-risk area in the country is in the rural, forested regions around the borders with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. If you’re not planning to head that far north, you should be fine.

Can I drink the tap water?

It’s generally advisable to avoid the tap water in Thailand and stick to bottled water for the duration of your stay, to reduce the risk of you picking up a stomach bug. Ice in many of the cafes and bars in the cities will be delivered from government-approved ice factories and should, therefore, be safe, but if you’re in any doubt, simply avoid it.

What currency do I need in Thailand?

Thai baht credit Thinkstock/iStockThe national currency is the Thai baht, with one baht divided into 100 satangs (although these are rarely used anywhere other than malls or convenience stores). Exchanging money is easy once you arrive in Thailand, with money changers, banks and even foreign exchange desks in hotels and malls readily available. It’s worth noting that you’ll typically get a better rate if you use a bank or a money changer, rather than a hotel or shop, though.

 

Can I use my credit card in Thailand?

Credit cards are widely accepted throughout Thailand in all the country’s main tourist centres. Do make sure you are aware of any charges your provider may levy if you use your card overseas though, before you make a transaction. 

Do I need to barter in Thailand?

Thai market stall credit Thinkstock/iStock

 

Bartering is a key feature of shopping in Thailand and one that can be a lot of fun - all the street vendors will expect you to negotiate over price, as will many of the shops not located in malls. If you see a sign saying fixed price, accept that you can’t haggle, but otherwise throw yourself into it!

 

 

How safe is Thailand?

The main thing to remember when you’re travelling around Thailand is that the vast majority of travellers encounter no problems in the country. Simply be sensible when you’re out and about - pickpocketing can be an issue in the big cities, for instance, so keep your valuables close and secure at all times.

If you’re going to be out after dark, stick to the busiest areas and don’t wander too far on your own - keep your wits about you, as you would in any new place that you’re unfamiliar with. 

One of the main sources of irritation for travellers is tuk-tuks and taxis, with the drivers often very pushy. Usually, they will simply want to take you to a ‘friend’s’ shop or market where they receive commission. Avoid this problem by not getting into their vehicle in the first place and sticking to the public transport, or organising taxis and tours via your hotel. 

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