Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya (อยุธยา) is an ancient capital and modern city in the Central Plains of Thailand, 85 km to the north of Bangkok.
Founded by King U-Thong in 1350 within a bend of the Chao Phraya river, Ayutthaya was the capital of the Thai kingdom at its mightiest.
Conquered and sacked by the Burmese in 1767, today only ruins of its splendor remain. Among Thai cities, Ayutthaya’s English name is probably the least standardized. Ayutthaya, Ayuttaya, Ayuthaya, Ayutaya, Ayothaya, Ayotaya, Ayudhya and even the Sanskrit original Ayodhya (usually referring to the Indian city) are all used.

How to Go

By train

The cheapest and most colorful way of reaching Ayutthaya is by train. All north and northeast line trains depart from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station and stop in Ayutthaya, a trip of about 1.5 hours. Second class costs 35 baht (reserve seat in advance), while third class is just 20 baht (no reservations). Ayutthaya’s train station is to the east of the central island. The easiest way to get to central Naresuan Rd is to walk straight ahead from the station and take the cross-river ferry for 2 baht.

 Visit

Temples

All the temples listed below are in ruins and no longer in active use, so no dress codes are enforced — although visitors are still requested to refrain from blatant stupidity like clambering up the Buddha statues. Most charge a 30 baht entrance fee,  although enforcement is rather lax.

  •  Wat Phra Si Samphet (Sri Samphet Rd) is the largest temple in Ayutthaya, known for its row of chedis (Thai-style stupas). Housed within the grounds of the former royal palace, the wat was used only for royal religious ceremonies. It once housed a 16-meter Buddha covered with 340 kg of gold, but the Burmese set fire to the statue to melt the gold and destroyed the temple in the process.
  •  Wat Ratchaburana (Naresuan Rd) stands out for having a large prang recently restored to its original condition, clearly visible if you come in from the east. A major find of golden statues and other paraphernalia was made here in 1958, although much was subsequently stolen by robbers — the remnants are now in the Chao Sam Phraya Museum. You can climb inside the prang for nice views and a little exhibit. The mysterious staircase down, however, doesn’t lead anywhere.
  •  Wat Phra Mahathat (Naresuan Rd), across the road from Wat Ratburana, is a large temple that was quite thoroughly ransacked by the Burmese. Several Leaning Prangs of Ayutthaya are still feebly defying gravity though, and the rows of headless Buddhas are atmospheric. This is also where you can spot the famous tree that has grown around a Buddha head.

Sleep

There are a large number of traveller-oriented guesthouses on and around Soi 2 between Naresuan Road and Pamaphrao Road, opposite the western end of the Chao Phrom Market. Accommodation in the upper price brackets is limited though there are some options by the riverside. Many people choose to day-trip from Bangkok.

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Bangkok

Bangkok

Bangkok (Thai: กรุงเทพฯ Krung Thep) is the capital of Thailand and by far its largest city with an estimated population of over 10 million.

Visit

 Most of Bangkok’s sights are concentrated in the “Old City” on Rattanakosin Island. Out of Bangkok’s many temples, the following usually make the top 3:
* Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn)
* The Grand Palace, featuring Wat Phra Kaew (The Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
* Wat Pho, home of the world’s largest reclining Buddha
   and a famed massage school

Bangkok’s many markets are an experience in themselves .

Climate

According to the World Meteorological Organization, Bangkok is one of the hottest cities in the world. Located just 14 degrees north of the Equator, Bangkok is sunny at any time of the year with temperatures over 30°C (86°F).

The most pleasant time to visit is the cool season that lasts from November till February. It is both the coolest and driest period — the Emerald Buddha statue in Wat Phra Kaew even wears a scarf during this period! Don’t think that’s necessary though — daytime temperatures still hover around 30°C (86°F), but it does cool down into the lower 20’s as it gets dark (lower 70’s °F). March and April represent the hot season, and hot it is — 35°C (95°F) on average, but don’t be surprised to see temperatures rising towards 40 degrees Celsius (around 100°F+). This is the worst season to visit Bangkok, so plan a lot of air-conditioned shopping mall visits and get a hotel with a swimming pool. Then there’s the wet season that runs from May till October. Expect massive downpours resulting in floods all over the city, and spells of thunder at times. It’s not all bad though — the afternoon showers are actually a pleasant way to cool down from the heat, and while they may last all day, usually they’re over within an hour. Extreme rainfall happens in September and October, so these months are best avoided.

Whatever season you’re visiting, don’t take the weather lightly — temple-tramping in the scorching afternoon sun can be a challenge, so come well-prepared. Dress lightly for the weather, but keep in mind that some palaces and all temples (notably the Grand Palace) have a strict dress code. Also be sure, and this cannot be said enough, drink enough fluids! You don’t have a reason not to, as 7-Elevens and other convenience stores are abundant in Bangkok and they sell cooled beverages for as little as 10 baht. Locals get their water from “reverse osmosis” purified water machines that fill up a one litre bottle for one baht.

Bangkok Weather

Sleep

 Bangkok has a vast range of accommodation, including some of the best hotels in the world — and some of the worst dives too. Broadly speaking, Khao San Road is backpacker city (note that if you are traveling with a Thai citizen, they will be unable to stay anywhere on Khao San Road); the riverside by Rattanakosin is home to The Oriental and The Peninsula, often ranked among the best in the world (and priced to match); and Sukhumvit Road has hotels for almost all budgets from five-star to one-star.

 When choosing your digs, pay careful attention to Skytrain and Metro access — a well-placed station will make your stay in Bangkok much more comfortable

Stay safe

 Given its size and poverty level Bangkok is surprisingly safe, with violent crimes like mugging and robbery highly unusual. However, Bangkok does have more than its fair share of touting and scams. Some common scam and guidelines for avoiding them:

* If an English-speaking Thai approaches you out of the blue and strikes up a conversation, be wary:    they are almost certainly selling something.
* Beware of tuk-tuk drivers offering all-day tours for prices as low as 20 baht. You may indeed be    taken on a full-day tour, but you will only end up visiting one gem and souvenir shop after another;    the driver will get a commission if you buy something and gas coupons even if you don’t.
* Likewise, be skeptical if a tuk-tuk driver tells you that your chosen destination is “closed” and offers    to take you to a “special Buddha temple” (etc) instead.
* Be particularly wary of any offers to sell you gems at a “discount”, especially large quantities for    resale back home at vast profits. These operations can be surprisingly convincing, with some even    hiring down-and-out foreigners to act as happy customers.
   See: Scams in Bangkok
* Make a photocopy of your passport and keep it with you at all times, especially at night. It is the law    and police may check it at night if they setup a checkpoint to look for drunk drivers. Many night clubs    will also insist on a passport (and ONLY a passport) as proof of age.

 Also note that cameras are not welcome in go-go bars. Attempting to take pictures of the girls, even with your camera phone, is likely to result in your camera being taken and/or you getting beat up for good measure.

Get In

By plane

Bangkok is served by two airports: Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Muang Airport. Suvarnabhumi Airport is used by all airlines in Thailand except for Nok Air, Orient Thai and Air Asia, which use the old Don Muang Airport. Both these airports are about 30 km (19 mi) from the city centre, so be prepared for a long ride to get into the city. Also allow at least three hours to connect between them, as they are far away from each other and there is heavy congestion on the roads.

Suvarnabhumi Airport

Located 30km (19 mi) to the east of Bangkok (in the Samut Prakan province), space-age Suvarnabhumi Airport (สุวรรณภูมิ, pronounced “soo-wanna-poom”) (IATA: BKK) started operations in Sep 2006 and is now Bangkok’s main airport and the busiest airport in Southeast Asia. It is used for almost all international and domestic flights to Bangkok. There is only one terminal building, which covers both domestic and international flights, but it is huge (by some measures the world’s largest), so allow time for getting around. There are two immigration sections, but processing time can be lengthy — 30 minutes and more.

Facilities

Suvarnabhumi offers all facilities you would expect from a major international airport. There’s a transit hotel, ATMs, money exchange, restaurants, tax-free shops, an observation lounge and even a “redemption booth”, very reassuring for karmically challenged passengers. There are about 50 dining venues spread over the terminal building. The one that sounds most interesting probably is Panda Ready To Eat, but the cheapest place for a meal is Magic Food Point on level 1, near gate 8. There are a few stores in the check-in area, including a convenience store and a post office; however, the real shopping experience awaits visitors on the other side of immigration in the departure area, where the number of shops and duty free outlets leaves you wondering whether you are in an airport or a mall. There is not much to see at the observation deck on the seventh floor, since the steel structure of the roof blocks most of the view.
The duty free shops offer a wide range of almost every international brand. The prices are competitive.
Beware of buying at airport convenience stores, located before security, if you are to bring those items inside. All cans and bottles (even containing food) are confiscated by security at check-in.
Currency exchange options are abundant, but virtually all offer a dearer exchange rate than downtown. A much better rate is normally available from the red booth near the coin ticket kiosks for the Airport Express Line (right after entrance to the Airport Express Line).
Free Wi-Fi for up to one hour is available in the departure lounge, after security and passport control; the login details can be obtained from the Information point. Access can be frustratingly unstable and unreliable.
If you need a hard copy of maps and brochures you can go to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) booth at Suvarnabhumi Airport: Arrival Floor, International Tel: (66)2134 0041 Open 24 hours Suvarnabhumi Airport Arrival Floor, Domestic Tel: (66)2134 0040 Open 24 hours

Get Around

The first phase of Bangkok’s ambitious public transport system is now complete, the city’s public transport system is fairly efficient and convenient, but there is still a fair amount of room for improvement to the system’s integration.
The city, like many developing cities, suffers from paralytic traffic jams periodically throughout the day. In rush hours, it may be worthwhile combining public transport by different means. For example: soar over traffic jams by skytrain to the station closest to your destination and thereafter take a taxi for the final leg.

Bangkok is one of the most interesting cities in the world and is known to be number one for scenery. Perhaps you would like to know how to move around the city. There are many different ways to move around Bangkok. For example, using buses or Taxis, or maybe even on the water with a Ferry, or the public transit systems of BTS and MRT.

Public Transport

Skytrain

The BTS Skytrain (รถไฟฟ้าบีทีเอส rot fai fa BTS, pronounced bee-tee-et) deserves a visit simply for the Disneyland space-ageness of it. Built in a desperate effort to ease Bangkok’s insane traffic and pollution, the Skytrain covers most of downtown and is especially convenient for visiting Siam Square. There are two lines: the light green Sukhumvit Line travels along Sukhumvit Road, Siam Square and then follows Phahonyothin Road up north, where it terminates at Mo Chit (N8), near the Chatuchak Weekend Market. The dark green Silom Line starts in Thonburi, passes the Express Boat pier at Saphan Taksin (S6), goes through the Silom area and ends at National Stadium (W1), right next to MBK Center. Both lines come together at Siam (CEN), where you can interchange between them. Unfortunately, there is no station near Khao San Road, but you can take the Express Boat from Phra Arthit Pier to Sathorn Pier, where you can switch onto the Skytrain.

You must have 5 or 10 baht coins to purchase Skytrain tickets from vending machines, so hold on to them. At most stations there is a single touchscreen machine that will accept 20, 50 and 100 baht notes, but there is often a queue to use it. Some stations have ticket counters which will change your large bills so you can purchase tickets from the vending machines. Fares range from 15 to 52 baht depending upon how many zones you are travelling. Consult the map (in English) near each ticket machine. If you do not have coins, queue for change from the staff at the booth. If you are in town for several days (or going to make several visits during the next 30 days), weigh your options and consider a rechargeable stored-value card (from 100 baht, with a 30 baht refundable deposit and a 30 baht non-refundable card cost), a “ride all you like” tourist pass (130 baht per day) or a multiple ride pass of 20 trips or more to any zone (15 trips cost 345 baht, 25 trips cost 550 baht; plus a 30 baht refundable deposit for a rechargeable card that is valid for 5 years). They will certainly save you time, scrambling for coins, and maybe even money. Check for information with the English speaking staff.

In 2013 the Silom Line was extended westward from Talat Phul (S10) to Bang Wa (S12).

Metro

The MRT (รถไฟฟ้ามหานคร rot fai tai din, pronounced em-ar-tee) finally opened in July 2004. For now there is only one line, the Blue Line that connects the central Hualamphong Train Station to the northern Bang Sue Train Station, running through Silom, Sukhumvit, Ratchadaphisek and area around Chatuchak Weekend Market in Phahonyothin. There are interchanges to the Skytrain at Si Lom, Sukhumvit and Chatuchak Park stations.

Tourists do not use the metro as much as the Skytrain, but there are some useful stops. The terminus at Hua Lamphong provides a good access to Yaowarat. If you’re going to the Chatuchak Weekend Market, don’t get out at Chatuchak Park, but go one stop further to Kamphaeng Phet as it drops you right inside the market.

Metro tickets are not interchangeable with Skytrain tickets. Rides start from 16 baht and are based on distance; pre-paid cards of up to 1,000 baht are also available. For single ride fares, a round plastic token is used. It is electronic: simply wave it by the scanner to enter; deposit it in a slot by the exit gate leave.

Bag-checks take place at the entrance to each station. It’s usually nothing more than a quick peek inside, unless you are looking particularly suspicious.

Airport Rail Link

Finally opened in August 2010, Bangkok’s newest public transport system is the Airport Rail Link (รถไฟฟ้าเชื่อมท่าอากาศยานสุวรรณภูมิ). The Express Line is only useful for getting into the city, as it starts at the airport, skips all stations and brings you directly to either Makkasan or Phaya Thai. This ride takes about 15 min and costs 190 baht.

If you want to use it to get around the city, take the City Line as it is cheaper and it stops at all stations. Many Thais in Eastern Bangkok use the link to commute to the city centre. It starts at Suvarnabhumi Airport and terminates at Phaya Thai, with some interesting stops in between (such as Ramkhamhaeng and Ratchapraropfor Pratunam). A ride costs 15-45 baht, depending on distance. Trains run every 15min 06:00-23:59.

From Makkasan, you can continue your way by metro at Phetchaburi MRT station. The transfer can be made via the pedestrian bridge which was opened in June 2013. From Phaya Thai, you can transfer onto the Skytrain, but be aware that there are not enough lifts yet, and those available are too small for large pieces of luggage. New lifts will be installed in Ramkhamhaeng, Ratchaprarop and Phaya Thai stations in the following months.

By Boat

Chao Phraya Express Boat

A ride on the Chao Phraya River should be high on any tourist’s agenda. The cheapest and most popular option is the Chao Phraya Express Boat, basically an aquatic bus plying up and down the river. The basic service plies from Wat Rajsingkorn(S4) all the way north to Nonthaburi (N30), with stops at most of Rattanakosin’s major attractions including the Grand Palace (atTha Chang) and Wat Pho (at Tha Tien). The closest pier to Khao San Road is Phra Arthit. Enter the express boat at the numerous piers and pay for the trip at ticket collector, who will approach you bearing a long metal cylinder. At some bigger piers you can buy the ticket before boarding. When the metal cylinder lady approaches you, just show her the ticket you bought on the pier.


Saen Saep Express Boat

The Saen Saep Express Boat serves the long Saen Saep Canal, one of the remaining canals (khlong) that used to flow through Bangkok. Mostly used by locals to commute to work, the service is cheap and you get to see the ‘backside’ of the neighbourhoods, so to speak. Also, It is immune to Bangkok’s notorious traffic jams. The total distance is 18 km, and the service operates from 05:30-20:30.

 

River Taxi

Finally, for trips outside set routes, you can hire a long-tail river taxi at any major pier. These are fairly expensive and will attempt to charge as much as 500 baht/h for foreigners, but with some haggling they may be suitable for small groups. To circumvent the Mafia-like touts who attempt to get a large cut for every ride, agree for the price of the shortest possible ride (30 min), then negotiate directly with the captain when on board.

Taxis

Metered taxis are a quick and comfortable way to get around town, at least if the traffic is flowing your way, but be warned that Bangkok taxi drivers are notorious for finding ways to run up the fare for foreigners; insist that the meter is used, and if the driver claims that your destination is closed, that he doesn’t know where it is, or if he tries to take you elsewhere, just get out of the taxi. All taxis are now metered and air-conditioned: the hailing fee is 35 baht and most trips within the city centre cost less than 100 baht. There are no surcharges (except from the airport), even at night; don’t believe drivers who try to tell you otherwise. A red sign on the front window, if lit, means that the taxi is available.

Tuk-tuk

Finally, what would Bangkok be without the much-loathed, much-loved tuk-tuks? You’ll know them when you hear them, and you’ll hate them when you smell them — these three-wheeled contraptions blaze around Bangkok leaving a black cloud of smog in their wake. For anything more than a 5-10 min jaunt or just the experience, they really are not worth the price but it can still be enjoyable for people that come to Thailand — and, if you let them get away with it, the price will usually be 4 or 5 times what it should be anyway (which, for Thais, is around 30% less than the equivalent metered taxi fare).

Motorbike taxi

When traffic slows to a crawl and there are no mass-transit alternatives for your destination, by far the fastest mode of transport is a motorbike taxi (มอเตอร์ไซค์รับจ้างmotosai lapjang). The people in the coloured tabards are motosai cabbies. They typically wear colourful fluorescent yellow-orange or red vests and wait for passengers at busy places. Prices are negotiable before you ride but is the best way when the traffic is not flowing as well as usual in Bangkok.

By bus

Local buses, operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (องค์การขนส่งมวลชนกรุงเทพ) or just BMTA (ขสมก), are the cheapest but also the most challenging way of getting around. There is a bewildering plethora of routes, usually marked only in Thai. Even Thais have a hard time with these, but at least they can call the 1384 Bus Route Hotline, which is in Thai only. However you can also use Google’s transit planner function on Google Maps to plan your bus journeys. Please note, however, that the bus arrival times on Google Maps may not actually correlate to the actual bus arrival time. Bus stops list only the bus numbers that stop there and nothing more. They are also subject to Bangkok’s notorious traffic, often terribly crowded, and many are not air-conditioned. If you want to get somewhere quickly and are not prepared to get lost, the buses should be avoided (remember that taxis are cheaper than most local buses in the West). However, they make for a good adventure if you’re not in a rush and you don’t mind being the centre of attention.

By car

Bangkok has good quality roads, but driving in the city can be a nightmare with massive traffic jams, a convoluted web of expressways and oft-confusing road signs. If driving, be especially aware of sudden lane changes by cars and reckless motorcyclists who tend to weave in and out of traffic. On busy roads you will often find vehicles moving slowly into the traffic from car parks and side streets, those already on the road are expected to give way.

Do not park on the road in busy districts such as Siam because other cars might lock you in by parking next to you in the 2nd or 3rd lane. Use covered car parks or park a bit off the beaten path, and then walk back. If using a car park and there are no marked bays available, you can park in front of other cars, but make sure you leave the car in neutral with the parking brake off so you can be rolled out of the way if required. Similarly, if you’ve parked in a marked bay and are blocked by another car, simply push it out of the way – carefully.

Renting a car is an option for travelling in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand. Always get the optional insurance – the basic rental charge usually doesn’t have any insurance at all, and your travel insurance is only likely to cover an excess or deductible where there is some basic level of insurance. Check the policy carefully for exclusions, at least some policies exclude speeding and advise that this is monitored by GPS.

Bangkok Hostels

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Thailand

  • Ayutthaya
  • Kwai River
  • Bangkok

Thailand

Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia with coasts on the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. It borders Myanmar to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Cambodia to the west and Malaysia to the south.
 With great food, a tropical climate, fascinating culture and, hey, great beaches, Thailand is a magnet for travelers the world over.

108px-Flag_of_Thailand.svg

 Thailand is made up of 76 provinces, but may be conveniently divided into five geographic and cultural regions.

* The Central Plains — Bangkok, highlands and historic Thailand.
* The North — Chiang Mai, hill tribes, and the Golden Triangle.
* Isaan — The great undeveloped Northeast. Get off the beaten track and discover backcountry Thailand and some magnificent Khmer ruins.
* The East — Beaches and islands on the northern Gulf of Thailand coast, within easy reach of Bangkok  And, oh yes, Pattaya.
* The South and Islands — Hundreds of kilometers of coastline on both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, with Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Krabi and many more of Thailand’s famous beach spots.

 Thailand is the most popular tourist destination in South-East Asia, and for a reason. Exotic yet safe and largely hassle-free, cheap yet equipped with every modern amenity you need, there is something for every interest and every price bracket, from beachfront backpacker bungalows to some of the best luxury hotels in the world. And despite the heavy flow of tourism, Thailand retains its quintessential Thainess, with a culture and history all its own and a carefree people famed for their smiles and their fun-seeking sanuk lifestyle.

 This is not to say that Thailand doesn’t have its downsides, including the considerable growing pains of an economy where an agricultural laborer is lucky to earn $1 per day while the nouveau riche cruise past in their BMWs, and a highly visible sex tourism industry. Bangkok, the capital, is notorious for its traffic jams and rampant development has wrecked much of once-beautiful Pattaya and Phuket. In heavily touristed areas, some lowlifes have made scamming tourists into an art form, but in Thailand as anywhere the old adage is true — if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.tailandia_mapa

Visas

A) Countries/territories that do not require a visa for stay up to 90 days:- Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and South Korea.

(B) Countries/territories that do not require a visa for stay up to 30 days: (30 days when entering by air; by land border only 14 days)- Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.

(C) Countries/territories that do not require a visa for stay up to 14 days or others (if indicated):- Cambodia, Ukraine.
Those with passports from countries not widely known, including European city-states, or have problems with document forgery, should obtain a visa in advance from the nearest Thai embassy. This is true even if visa on arrival is technically permitted. There are reports of tourists being detained using valid passports not commonly presented in Thailand. In addition, ask for a business card from the person or embassy which granted the visa, so they may be contacted on arrival, if necessary. Anyone whose nationality does not have its own embassy in Bangkok, should find out which third country represents your interests there, along with local contact information.
Proof of onward transit:- long happily ignored by Thai immigration, has been known to be strictly applied in some instances (Indian passport holders beware). The requirement is for an international flight itinerary – NOT train, ferry, or other departure type.

Airlines, who have to pay for your return flight if Thai immigration doesn’t let you into the country, also check this and often will not let you board your flight for Thailand without it.) A print-out of an international e-ticket on a budget airline is sufficient to convince the enforcers, but those planning on continuing by land may have to get a little creative. Buying a fully refundable ticket and getting it refunded once in Thailand is also an option. Land crossings, on the other hand, are a very straightforward process and proof of onward journey is generally not required (Indian passport holders beware again… or anyone, if the border officials simply decide to uphold the bureaucracy).

Overstaying:- Overstaying in Thailand is possible with a 500 baht fine per day. Earlier it was fairly simple to avoid overstaying by doing a visa run to a neighbouring country overland or via a cheap flight, but since 12 August 2014 this will not be possible according to latest developments.
Stricter regulations introduced on 22 July 2014 now impose harsher penalties as a means of curbing overstaying. As can be seen from the tables, a distinction is made regarding an overstayer’s circumstances. Overstayers presenting themselves to immigration officials at an airport or other border control are subject to the regulations in the first table.

In all other circumstances,  overstayers will incur the much harsher penalties of being banned from re-entering Thailand for at least five years even if they overstay by just one or two days.
For example, an overstayer through no fault of their own is involved in an accident, or becomes involved in an altercation where the police are called. The first thing the police will want to see is your passport. Once it becomes apparent that you’ve overstayed your welcome, you’re likely to be deported and banned from re-entering the kingdom for either five or ten years.

New Regulations for extensions 2014

Climate

Thailand is largely tropical, so it’s hot and humid all year around with temperatures in the 28-35°C range (82-95°F), a degree of relief provided only in the mountains in the far north of Thailand. The careful observer will, however, note three seasons:

Cool: From November to the end of February, it doesn’t rain much and temperatures are at their lowest, although you will barely notice the difference in the south and will only need to pack a sweater if hiking in the northern mountains, where temperatures can fall as low as 5°C. This is the most popular time to visit and, especially around Christmas and New Year’s or at Chinese New Year a few weeks later, finding flights and accommodation can be expensive and difficult.

Hot: From March to June, Thailand swelters in temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F). Pleasant enough when sitting on the beach with a drink in hand, but not the best time of year to go temple-tramping in Bangkok.

Rainy: From July to October, although it only really gets under way in September, tropical monsoons hit most of the country. This doesn’t mean it rains non-stop, but when it does it pours and flooding is not uncommon.
There are local deviations to these general patterns. In particular, the south-east coast of Thailand (including Ko Samui) has the rains reversed, with the peak season being May-October and the rainy off season in November-February.

How to Go

By plane

The main international airports in Thailand are at Bangkok and Phuket, and both are well-served by intercontinental flights. Practically every airline that flies to Asia also flies into Bangkok, this means there are plenty of services and the competition on the routes helps to keep the ticket prices down.
International airports are also located at Hat Yai, Krabi, Ko Samui and Chiang Mai, though these largely restricted to flights from other Southeast Asian countries. Kuala Lumpur and Singapore make excellent places to catch flights into these smaller Thai cities, meaning you can skip the ever-present touts and queues at Bangkok.
The national carrier is the well-regarded Thai Airways, with Bangkok Airways filling in some gaps in the nearby region. Bangkok Airways offers free Internet access while you wait for boarding to start at your gate.
Chartered flights from and to Thailand from international destinations are operated by Hi Flying Group. They fly to Bangkok, Phuket, Ko Samui, and Udon Thani.
Many low-cost carriers serve Thailand including [Nok Air], Thai Air Asia and Thai Lion Air. See Discount airlines in Asia for an up to date list.
For a full at-a-glance list of all Thai-based carriers, see the Thai airlines section (below).

By road

Cambodia – six international border crossings. The highway from Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor via Poipet to Aranyaprathet, once the stuff of nightmares, is now merely bad and can usually be covered in less than 3 hours. The border crossing at Poipet remains the stuff of nightmares, however. The Cambodian side is merely slow. The Thai side is glacial: travellers queue (outdoors in the heat) to reach a queue (in the Immigration building) – typically two and one hours, respectively. An alternative is to head to Hatlek/ Cham Yeam towards Koh Kong; that crossing is quiet and honest with good communication links.

Laos – the busiest border crossing is at the Friendship Bridge across the Mekong between Nong Khai and the Lao capital Vientiane. It’s also possible to cross the Mekong at Chiang Khong/Huay Xai, Nakhon Phanom/Tha Khaek, Mukdahan/Savannakhet, and elsewhere.
Vientiane/Udon Thani – A bus service runs from the Morning Market bus station in Vientiane to the bus station in Udon Thani. The cost is 80 baht or LAK22,000 and the journey takes two hours. The Udon Thani airport is 30 minutes by tuk-tuk from the bus station and is served by Thai Airways, Nok Air and Air Asia.

Malaysia and Singapore – driving up is entirely possible, although not with a rented vehicle. Main crossings (with name of town on Malaysian side in brackets) between Thailand and Malaysia are Padang Besar (Padang Besar) and Sadao (Bukit Kayu Hitam) in Songkhla province, Betong (Pengkalan Hulu) in Yala province, and Sungai Kolok (Rantau Panjang) in Narathiwat province. There are regular buses from Singapore to the southern hub of Hat Yai.
If you are driving, then depending on whether your starting point is Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Penang, you can expect to make it to Hat Yai, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Krabi/Phuket/Ko Samui respectively on the same day. The key to this is leaving *EARLY* (7 a.m.) since border crossing formalities can take up to 2.5 hours, particularly on holiday weekends. The following is a guide to border crossing procedures at the Bukit Kayu Hitam/Sadao border crossing point.

What you will need:

1) Passports with at least six months validity
2) Original car registration document – if you are in Malaysia and you have a car on loan, you can go to your financing bank and request the original for the trip. They will ask you to write a letter requesting it and then hand it over to you.
3) Visa for Thailand if your nationality requires it (Malaysians and Singaporeans do not need one). Even if you are not eligible for visa-free entry, if you are crossing at the Bukit Kayu Hitam / Sadao border crossing, you can obtain a visa on arrival at the border if you are from one of the eligible countries.
4) 3rd party liability coverage car insurance for Thailand – Malaysian and Singaporean car insurance does NOT extend to the territory of Thailand. The minumum legal coverage for Thailand is easily purchased in the Malaysian town of Changlun right before the border. Stop at any one of the numerous shops that have signs advertising ‘Insurans’. 3rd party coverage can be bought for a minimum of MYR 17 (~SGD 6.3) which covers you for 9 days. Longer term coverage can be purchased as well if you plan on making multiple trips during a year. However, since this insurance does not cover damages to your own vehicle, you should call your insurance company and ask them for an extension of 1st party coverage to Thailand, although this is not legally required. Most insurance companies will do this on a per-trip basis. Charges may vary according to your insurance company. When you buy car insurance, many will also sell you Thai arrival / departure cards for a nominal fee of MYR 2 (SGD 0.75) for each. While these are freely available at the border, it will save you some time and hassle getting these here. The insurance agent will also fill them in for you!

Procedure for crossing:

1) Follow the North-South highway to its terminus at Bukit Kayu Hitam. Continue straight towards the Thailand border.
2) You will first pass through a Malaysian immigration checkpoint. You do not need to get out of your car here, regardless of nationality. Just drive up to the window and hand over the passports for yourself and all passengers in the car as well the car registration document. Once they are scanned / stamped and handed back to you, continue driving ahead.
3) The next checkpoint is a Malaysian customs checkpoint, but there is a gap of about a kilometer between the Malaysian immigration and Malaysian customs checkpoints. In this gap, on the left, there is a duty-free shopping complex. It might be worth stopping here on the way back since goods here are somewhat cheaper than at Malaysian supermarkets and no GST is charged here. Again, at the Malaysian customs checkpoint, you do not need to get down from the vehicle. Just drive up to the window and hand over your documents. Assuming that you have no contraband and nothing to declare, you will be waved through. Now this part is a bit tricky …
4) Immediately after the Malaysian customs checkpoint, you will pass a border stone indicating that you are now in Thailand. To your left, there will be a large parking lot. Go ahead and park your vehicle there and come outside with your documents (Passports, car registration and car insurance).
5) Stand in the Immigration and Borderpass lines to clear immigration. You can *only* stand in these lines if you are of Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai, or other nationality that does not require a visa for entry to Thailand. If you require a visa on arrival or if you have a stamped visa from the Thai embassy, you must go into the office on the left to get your immigration stamp. However, since the queues at the Immigration and Borderpass lines are longer than the crowd inside the office, you’ll probably finish your immigration formalities faster than if you were of a nationality that does not need a visa for entry to Thailand!
6) Once the immigration stamp has been provided, take your documents to the Customs window (right in front of the Immigration and Borderpass windows). Hand over your passport and car registration (and insurance, if they ask for it) to the Customs agent and they will provide you with a temporary import permit for your vehicle. This import permit is valid for ONE MONTH and you must have this permit in order to take your vehicle out of Thailand, so protect it as carefully as you would your passport. The import permit has some scary looking words in it, such that you will pay a fine of THB 1,000 per day for every day beyond the expiry of this import permit for a maximum of 10 days, and then THB 1,450,000 if you keep your vehicle in Thailand beyond that! Don’t worry about those scary words, as long as you don’t overstay your visa and leave within 30 days with your vehicle, you will face no problems whatsoever. The temporary import permit is provided freely for no charge.
7) Once you have cleared immigration formalities and collected your vehicle import permit, walk back behind these booths you just passed to the parking lot. Collect your car now and then drive past those very same booths. You may or may not get stopped by a Thai officer for documents checking, so it is imperative that you complete the procedures mentioned above. It would be very easy to drive into Thailand without either getting an immigration stamp or a vehicle import permit, which may complicate matters for you upon your exit.
8) Set your clocks back an hour since Thailand time is one hour behind Malaysia / Singapore time. Drive into Sadao and further into Thailand! Enjoy your stay and drive safely!

Myanmar:

Mae Sai/Tachileik – foreigners can access this crossing from either side, and enter and/or exit either country here; onward travel restrictions: since Oct 2009, onward travel by land to Kengtung is only possible if accompanied by an official guide (1,000 baht/day + expenses), exiting Myanmar at Tachilek is only possible for those who entered at this border crossing and were issued a 14-day entry permit; to get to Tachileik or Kengtung from the rest of Myanmar, a domestic flight must be taken (eg from Heho).

Mae Sot/Myawaddy – This border crossing was closed in July 2010 and re-opened on 5 December 2011. When open, foreigners can only access this crossing from the Thai side; neither onward travel into Myanmar (ie beyond the Burmese border town of Myawaddy) nor overnight stays are possible. No visa is needed; instead there’s an entry stamp fee: USD10 if paid in dollars, more (500 baht) if paid with Thai currency.

Three Pagodas Pass (Sangkhlaburi/Payathonzu) – foreigners can only access this crossing from the Thai side; onward travel into Myanmar (ie beyond the border town) is not possible; entry/exit stamps are NOT issued here, and foreigners passports are held at the Myanmar checkpoint, where a fee is levied: USD10 if paid in dollars, more (500 baht) if paid with Thai currency. However, as of November 25, 2008, this crossing is temporarily closed.

Ranong/Kawthoung – foreigners can access this crossing from either side, and enter and/or exit either country here; no onward travel restrictions (other than those that apply to everyone, no matter how they enter); access to/from Kawthoung is by sea (Mergui/Dawei & Yangon) and air (Mergui & Yangon). If entering without a visa, maximum stay is 3 days / 2 nights, travel beyond Kawthoung is not permitted, and there’s an entry stamp fee: USD10 if paid in dollars, more (500 baht) if paid with Thai currency.

By train

Thailand’s sole international train service links to Butterworth (near Penang) and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, continuing all the way to Singapore. Tickets are cheap even in first class sleepers, but it can be a slow ride; the 2-hour flight to Singapore will take you close to 48 hours by rail, as you have to change trains twice. The luxury option is to take the Eastern & Oriental Express, a refurbished super-luxury train that runs along the same route once per week, with gourmet dining, personal butler service and every other colonial perk you can think of. However, at around USD1000 one-way just from Bangkok to Butterworth, this is approximately 30 times more expensive than an ordinary first-class sleeper!

While you can’t get to Laos or Cambodia by train, you can get very close, with rail terminals just across the border at Nong Khai (across the river from Vientiane) and Aranyaprathet (for Poipet, on the road to Siem Reap). A link across the Mekong to Laos opened in March 2009, but service to Cambodia remains on the drawing board.
There are no rail services to Myanmar, but the Thai part of the infamous Burma Death Railway is still operating near Kanchanaburi.

By ferry

It is now possible in high-season (Nov-May) to island-hop using ferries from Phuket all the way to Indonesia. This can now be done without ever touching the mainland, Phuket (Thailand) to Padang (Indonesia).

Thailand Hostels

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