General Information

Thailand Fast Fact

Location

Thailand is situated in the heart of the Southeast Asian mainland, covering an area of 513,115 sq.km. and extends about 1,620 kilometers from north to south and 775 kilometres from east to west. Thailand borders the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the Union of Myanmar to the North, the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Gulf of Thailand to the East, the Union of Myanmar and the Indian Ocean to the West, and Malaysia to the south.

Capital

Bangkok

Major Cities

North : Chiangmai,South: Songkla

Central region : Ayutthaya and Chonburi

North Eastern : Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen

Historical Background

There are conflicting opinions as to the origins of the Thais. Three decades ago it could be said with presumed certainty that the Thais originated in Northwestern Szechuan in China about 4,500 years ago and later migrated down to their present homeland. However, this theory has been altered by the discovery of remarkable prehistoric artifacts in the village of Ban Chiang in the Nong Han District of Udon Thani Province in the Northeast. These include evidence of bronze metallurgy going back 3,500 years, as well as other indications of a far more sophisticated culture than any previously suspected by archaeologists. It now appears that the a Thais might have originated here in Thailand and later scattered to various parts of Asia, including some parts of China. Siam is the name by which the country was known to the world until 1939 and again between 1945 and 1949. On May 11, 1949, an official proclamation changed the name of the country to “Prathet Thai”, or “Thailand”, by which it has since been known. The word “Thai” means “free”, and therefore “Thailand” means “Land of the Free.”

Climate

Thailand is a warm and humid tropical country with monsoonal climate. Temperatures are highest in March and April with average temperature from 28 to 38 degree Celsius and humidity averaging between 82.8% to 73%. June to October is the rainy season. December is the winter but the weather is not so cool. Cotton clothes are best suited for the climate in Thailand.

Population

he population in Thailand is approximately 67 million, of which around 8 million live in the capital city, Bangkok.

Language

The main language spoken and written is Thai but the dialect may vary for different region. English is also understood in most hotels and major tourist destinations.

Religion

Buddhists 94.2%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.8%, other 0.4%.

Electricity

220 volts 50 cycles throughout the country

Time

Thailand standard time is GMT+7. Thailand does not observe daylight savings

Business Hours

Government and business offices are open from 8:30 to 16:30 hours, Monday to Friday.

Banks

The country’s central bank is the Bank of Thailand. Major Thai commercial banks include the Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Krungthai Bank, Kasikorn Bank and Thai Military Bank. Their working hours are 08.30 – 15.30 (Monday to Friday). All major banks have extended their office hours for the branches located in the shopping centers to 19.00 – 20.00 hours for the working days and during the weekends. Several international banks also have offices in Thailand.

Currency and Credit Cards

The currency used in Thailand is Thai Baht (THB) and fluctuates daily. That said, USD $1 will usually get you about THB 36. Facilities for exchange of foreign currencies are available at the airport, the banks and authorized money changers around major attractions in town such as hotels, the Bangkok Sky Train Station (BTS), or department stores. Major credit cards (Visa or MasterCard) are widely accepted.

ATMs

ATMs are plentiful throughout Thailand, and most will accept cards issued by any of the major international banking networks (Plus, Cirrus, etc.) ATM fees vary depending on a few factors. It is possible that the Thai bank may charge a small fee for using their machine although it is in fact far more likely that you’ll be charged by your own bank for using the ATM card in another country. Charges depend on your bank and can either be a percentage or the amount withdrawn or simply a standard fee. Thailand’s freedom of the press is considered the strongest in Southeast Asia as evidenced by hundreds of Thai-language publications on virtually every subject.

Health and Medical Facilities

Bangkok has numerous clinics and hospitals catering to a variety of needs. Major public and private hospitals are equipped with the latest medical technology and internationally qualified specialists. Almost all pharmaceuticals are widely available. Drinking of tap water should be avoided.

Telephones

SIM cards of local Thai network providers are widely sold and may be used to call/text both local and internationally. Also, international phone cards are available at most convenient stores.

Do’s and Don’ts in Thailand

  • Do not wear revealing clothing such as shorts, low cut dresses, and bathing suits as they are considered as improper attire in Thailand. Keep in mind that this type of clothing is only acceptable in the beach. It is advisable to wear long skirts or long trousers when entering a temple.
  • Women should not touch monks. If a woman wants to hand something to a monk, she must do so indirectly by placing the item within the monk’s reach.
  • Avoid touching people. The head is the highest part of the body, so avoid touching it. The feet are the least sacred, so avoid pointing it at anyone or kicking them as it is extremely insulting to do so.

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