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· Currency ·

1 US Dollar = 32 Thai Baht {฿}

The basic unit of Thai currency is the baht. There are 100 satang in one baht. Coins include 25-satang and 50-satang pieces and 1B, 2B, 5B and 10B coins. The 2B coin is similar in size to the 1B coin but is gold in color.

Paper currency is issued in the following denominations: 20B, 50B, 100B, 500B, and 1000B.

Paper currency is issued in 20B (green), 50B (blue), 100B (red), 500B (purple) and 1000B (beige) denominations.

Tipping

Tipping is not generally expected in Thailand, but it is appreciated. If there are a few coins left over from a restaurant bill or taxi fare, it is common to offer it as a tip. At many hotel or upscale restaurants, a 10% service charge will be added to your bill.

Bargaining

 Bargaining is common in the Thai street markets and some small shops. If there isn’t a sign stating the price for an item, then the price is negotiable. Prices in department stores, minimarts, 7-Elevens, etc. are fixed.

Thais respect a good haggler. Always let the vendor make the first offer, and then it’s your turn to make a counteroffer. Always start low, but don’t bargain at all unless you’re serious about buying.

It helps to keep the negotiations relaxed and friendly, and always remember to smile.

Banks & ATM

ATMs that accept foreign debit and credit cards are widespread throughout the country and can be relied on for the bulk of your spending cash.

Make sure you contact your bank and your credit card company before leaving home and notify them of your upcoming trip so your accounts aren’t suspended due to suspicious overseas activity.

Money Saving Tips

Travel during low season {May through October} to avoid crowds and higher prices.

Eating street food will cost you a fraction of what you pay at a restaurant.

Take advantage of restaurants’ happy hour deals and drink the local.

Long-tail boats are the cheapest way to travel between islands.

Take the local bus or rent a bike rather than paying for tuk-tuks.

If you opt to hire a tuk-tuk driver, negotiate a fixed price before you take off, because unlike takis, tuk-tuks do no have meters.

Remember, if you play the naive tourist, you will more than likely get taken advantage of.

· Communication ·

The telephone country code for Thailand is +66 and is used when calling the country from abroad. All Thai telephone numbers are preceded by a ‘0’ if you’re dialing domestically {the ‘0’ is omitted if you are calling from overseas}. After the initial ‘0’, the next three numbers represent the provincial area code, which is now integral to the telephone number. If the initial ‘0’ is followed by an ‘8’ or a ‘9’, then you are dialing a mobile phone.

Important Phone Numbers
Thailand’s country code: 66
Emergency: 191
Operator-assisted international calls: 100
Tourist Police: 1155

International phone calls, fax, and internet services are widely available throughout Thailand. Most hotels provide telephone, fax and internet services.

Postal Services

Thailand has a very efficient postal service and local stage is inexpensive. Typical provincial post offices keep the following hours: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm weekdays and 9:00 am – noon on Saturdays.

Postcards can often be posted at hotel reception areas. Urgent or important items should be sent by EMS – it’s more expensive but faster and reliable.

 · Visas ·

Entry procedures for Thailand, by air or by land, are straightforward: you’ll have to show your passport and and boarding pass, and you’ll need to present completed arrival and departure cards.

You do not have to fill in a customs form on arrival unless you have imported goods to declare. In that case you can get the proper form from Thai customs officials at your point of entry.

Customs Regulations

The customs department {www.customs.go.th} maintains a helpful website with specific information about customs regulations for travellers. Thailand allows the following items to enter duty free:

reasonable amount of personal effects {clothing and toiletries}
professional instruments
200 cigarettes
1L of wine or spirits

When leaving Thailand, you must obtain an export licence for any antique reproductions or newly cast Buddha images {except personal amulets}. Submitting two front-view photos of the object{s}, a photocopy of your passport, the purchase receipt and the object{s} in question, to the Office of the National Museum. Allow four days for the application and inspection process to be completed.

Visas

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs oversees immigration and visa issues. Check the website or the nearest Thai embassy or consulate for application procedures and costs. In the past five years there have been new rules nearly every year regarding visas and extensions. The best online monitor is Thaivisa {www.thaivisa.com}.

· Culture, Customs, & Etiquette ·

Thais are generally very understanding and hospitable, but there are some important taboos and social conventions to be aware of:

The traditional Thai greeting is with a prayer-like palms-together gesture known as wâi. If someone shows you wâi, you should return the gesture.

Never disrespect the royal family with disparaging remarks. Treat objects depicting the king {like money} with respect. Stand when the national and king’s anthems are played.

Wear clothing that covers to your knees and elbows when visiting temples. Remove your shoes when you enter a temple building. Sit with your feet tucked behind you to avoid pointing the bottom of your feet at Buddha images. Women should never touch a monk or a monk’s belongings; step out of the way on footpaths and don’t sit next to them on public transport.

At the beach, avoid public nudity or topless sunbathing. Wear a cover-up to and from the beach.

Thais strive for social harmony by avoiding confrontation and outbursts of emotion. Never get into an argument with a Thai. It is better to smile through any conflict.

· Language ·

If you are travelling in the major tourist areas of Thailand, you will have little trouble finding locals who speak a little English. However, a few handy phrases can go a long way to getting a friendly reception wherever you visit a foreign country.

The first thing you need to know is that the Thai language changes a bit depending on whether the speaker is a man or a woman. The addition of the word Krub/khrup {male speaker} and Kah/kaa {female speaker} provide a more polite and formal tone to the message. Personal pronouns also change according to the gender of the speaker.

Sawatdee {krub/kah}: Hello
Sabai dee ru {krub/kah}: How are you?
Sabai dee {krub/kah}: Fine
Khob Khun {kup/kaa}: Thank you
chai: Yes
mai chai: No
day: {you/I} can
mai dai: can not
mai pen rai: never mind

pood Thai mai dai: I can not speak Thai
kow jai mai: do you understand?
mai kow jai: I do not understand
nee Tao Rai?: How much?
pang: expensive
pang mak: very expensive
lot noi dai mai: can you give a little discount
took: cheap
naam: water
chok dee: good luck
sanaam bin: Airport
ron: hot
nao: cold
hong naam: toilet
naam keng: ice
nit noi: small – not much – a little bit
yai: large

neung: 1
song: 2
sam: 3
see: 4
haa: 5
hok: 6
jet: 7
paed: 8
gow: 9
sip: 10
sip-et: 11
sip-song: 12
yee sip: 20
saam sip: 30
roi/loi: 100