First Trip to Thailand? Read Me

As this is an important matter, it is better updating the information when preparing the trip and always use reliable sources. So, check what kind of Visa you need through official agencies like embassies or the Thai Government. Link 1, Link 2 and Link 3.

There are three options depending on your nationality:

» For tourism purposes, you may obtain a permit of up to 30 days at the same international airport of entry, this is the case of many western nationals.
» The second possibility is that you need a visa, but you can obtain it on arrival at the airport. Nevertheless, travellers from 18 nations can apply for a Thailand e-visa online Link 1 and Link 2, entering into Thailand at Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Phuket or Chiang Mai International Airports. 
» Finally, for some citizens is mandatory to get the visa in origin, before departure. 

The passport must be valid for at least six months on the day of entry into the country.

Long stay visits 20202021
Under the STV program, long-stay visitors can stay in the country for 90 days, which can be extended twice, each for an additional 90 days. The visa will cost 2,000 baht for each extension.
This program is expected to go into effect after the official announcement and will be available until September 30, 2021.
The STV will be granted to long-stay visitors who comply with the preventive and control measures of COVID-19 in force in Thailand at all times: An alternative local state quarantine (ALSQ) of 14 days upon the arrival (update before travelling). They must also justify their long-term residence by booking accommodation, rental agreement or ownership of a condominium.
Source: tatnews.org / September 2020

What documents will you be required to enter the country?

The passport and the immigration entry form.

You must complete an immigration form during the international flight shortly before arriving in Thailand, including your first accommodation among other information. Remember to keep this document until you leave the country, at which time it will be required at the immigration desk. You can take a picture just in case.

A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever if you come from some countries of Central/South America or sub-Saharan Africa. See countries here Link (Argentina and Paraguay are included at the end of the list).

Is Thailand a safe country?

Thailand is a safe country, always in relative terms and with the necessary precautions in absolutely all trips abroad. Be careful when handling money, with the consumption of water and food, and when hiring services.
However, several situations can arise and you should be alert.

» The highest religious and social hierarchy includes Buddhist monks and the Thai royal family. Be very respectful and avoid any inopportune joke that could entail serious consequences.

» If you plan to drive a motorcycle, be very careful and do not disdain the helmet. Surprisingly many Westerners do it as if the roadsides in Thailand were padded. The smallest incident can turn into a tragedy.

» During nightlife, the alcohol is usually present and, like everywhere, it sometimes ends up provoking altercations and situations of risk. At the minimum signal immediately move away from the area.

» Do not consume or get involved in any drug issue. Alcohol and tobacco are restricted, respect the rules.

» Never cross a border with a bundle that is not yours.

» Never lower your guard.

Is Thailand an expensive country?

Obviously, it’s a subjective appreciation, but in our opinion, Thailand isn’t an expensive country.
There are accommodations for all budgets, even modern hotels well equipped with shared rooms.
For transfers there are low-cost airlines, the train is quite economic and the bus is cheap. Neither the ferries to the islands are expensive.

The food is very affordable, you can have lunch or dinner from USD 3 or 4 in a food court of a mall or in a street market. Of course, if you want a Japanese menu, a carbonara pizza or a dish including fish, then it will increase the price.

Alcohol has a higher price, by withstanding heavy taxes. A can of beer on the Seven11 costs between USD 1.2 and 2.5. The wine is imported and it is not cheap.
Logically there are remarkable variations according to the season and if the destination is fashionable or there is an important celebration.

What are the Thais like?

Thais are good people, hospitable and kind.
Maybe in Bangkok you note a bit less the kindness, big cities are more impersonal and we miss it when they turn into drivers.

Thailand is the country of smiles, with no doubts, what makes life gladder and social relations easier. There are many types of smiles, also to show displeasure and disagreement.

Here people avoid direct confrontation, especially in public. A ground that is better not to explore, will not bring anything good. You can be firm and express your point of view, but without raising the tone or causing shame.

They usually tend to respond out of courtesy, even without knowing the answer. You have to keep that in mind when you ask someone on the street something.

How are distances?

Bangkok locates at the centre of the country.
If you travel to the north from Bangkok the maximum distance will be between 700 and 800 km.
To the south, there are some beaches not far in the Gulf of Thailand, up 400 km the farthest on the continental coast or closer (the southern islands like Koh Samui, about 500 km away).
In the Andaman Sea, the furthest destinations are between 800 and 900 km.

For long distances, airplane, bus and sometimes the train can be used.
With trains and buses, you will leave around sunset and will arrive at your destination on sunrise.

There is a post about how to get around in Bangkok.

What travel insurance do you need for Thailand?

Coverages in order, from least to most important:
Losing your luggage or a delay in a flight is a setback, a nuisance, but without major consequences. You adapt, you solve it and you continue your trip. You can include the proper coverages in the insurance depending on the fee.
It happens with many other coverages.

Having to give up the trip unexpectedly or having to return in advance is a misfortune, but after a while, it is forgotten, it happened and that’s it.
For these cases you can also hire a policy that includes coverage of these adverse circumstances. But it’s not the most important.

What then are the critical coverages?
Repatriation in case of death and with sanitary transport if necessary, and the limit for medical expenses.
Click here to know why.

Is it worth getting up early?

It has many advantages. Thais usually do it and from 6 in the morning on, the streets, markets and temples show a routine activity. Therefore, if you wish to nose around a little bit in their everyday life, the earlier, the better.
The second reason is that it avoids the excessive presence of tourists that can break the charm of the moment and especially large groups that, less flexible, tend to show up later.
Finally, the light of the first hours of the day embellishes all the landscapes, and the temperatures are much more pleasant.

Thailand is pure East, So what?

Thailand is a very sensual country to enjoy with the five senses, even with a sixth sense; however, its Oriental cultural background often will make not easy to understand the meaning of many things that will happen around you during the trip.

For example, what are the houses of the spirits? Because you will see them everywhere.
On this website, Slow Travel Thailand, we tell you some keys to make the most of your cultural experiences.

How many Buddhist temples do we suggest visiting?

An essential part of your time is going to be dedicated to visiting temples.
When preparing the trip, keep in mind that taken them one by one, dozens of magnificent temples are worth a visit but, if there are no discards, the accumulation can cause fatigue and there comes a time when they all look the same or simply just that you have to visit the monasteries in a hurry.

Think if it is convenient to see more than three consecutive temples on the same day, sometimes less is more.
It may be a good idea to combine cultural stages with other more active such as hiking or a Thai cooking course, for example.

You may be interested in this post. Are you going to visit Buddhist temples? (Available on Slow Travel Thailand)

What is advisable to face the tropical sun and the high humidity?

Squeezing the trip implies extending the day as much as possible, so it’s a good idea of assessing your own strengths and schedule breaks according to your personal circumstances. In any case, at noon the powerful tropical sun and the humidity cause rapid exhaustion, so it is advisable to avoid or reduce outdoor activities.

A good repairing massage with air conditioning, the hotel swimming pool, shopping in a mall, etc., are very convenient alternatives between 12h and 16h.

Local currency and what banknotes you have to request

The local currency is baht. The banknotes go from 20 to 1000 baht. In recent years the exchange rate with the USD has been in the range of 34 to 38 baht x USD, but the current economic and political circumstances cause frequent variations. To know the current official change click here.

Request small bills when you change money at the exchange office, more practical in day-to-day expenses (20, 50 and 100 baht).

Upon your arrival at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport, we suggest you do not change money before checking the exchange rate at the exchange offices located on Floor B (next to the airport rail link). Particularly, in the offices that are at the end of the mechanical tape to walk, to the bottom, on the left.

Extra advice 😉 Is it easy to solve the first transfer between the airport and the hotel?

Airport transfers are easy, you can do it perfectly on your own with the information we provide here, however, there are those who prefer to leave them resolved before starting the trip since this will be a long flight. It is also possible to book them in advance.

Summary
Article Name
First Trip to Thailand? Read Me
Description
Some ideas and tips on Thailand useful for foreign travellers
Author
Publisher Name
Manuel Francisco Jalón

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