Southeast Asia Natural Adventures
nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Thailand, Indonesia and Southeast Asia
Information for Thailand Travel
Thailand is generally warm, muggy and tropical, especially in the central and southern areas. It’s cooler in the hills, approaching freezing at times during winter, December to February. Prepare for warm, sometimes torrential rain, although this is less likely in most areas from November to February, the best and therefore most popular time to travel. Due to the monsoon influences, southern peninsular Thailand receives rain in both winter and summer, and there can a marked difference in the weather from one side of the peninsula to the other. This region experiences just two seasons, dry and wet, rather than three as in the rest of the country. In both regions it’s very hot April to June, cooling off a little with the arrival of the rains in June. Of course, at this time the humidity increases reducing the cooling effect. Don’t expect much humidity below 80% during the hot season, and above that in the wet. In the hills of the northeast the rains are not as torrential as further south. Despite the fact that most people travel during the drier months (and therefore everything costs more, there are more travelers, and rooms are less available), the wet season has its own charms, and gives a better insight into the nature of tropical countries. You can check current weather conditions in Thailand here.
Thailand is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, and 15 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time. Worldclock will give you specific times around the globe.
Thailand has a decimal system, with the Baht as the main unit, which is divided into 100 stang. There are 1, 2, 5 & 10 B coins, and 25 & 50 stang coins, which you don’t usually see unless you are buying very small items in traditional, local use markets or stores. Rounding off to the nearest Baht is common, or giving small candies in lieu. Over the years a variety of coins have been issued, some just in Thai script and others in Thai and English script. Coins of the same value may be different sizes and shapes. All are still in circulation. However, at approximately 40B to the $US, a few mistakes here and there won’t be significant. Notes are issued in 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 & 1000B denominations, are differently sized and colored, and have English (Arabic) numerals, so are easy to use. Thai banknotes are not the horribly dirty, crumpled and nearly illegible pieces of paper usually encountered elsewhere in Asia (strangely in contrast with the need of US notes to be in pristine condition to be accepted); they bear the image of the King and therefore must be respected, by visitors as well as Thais.
Exchange rates vary depending where you exchange your money – hotels, banks, money exchangers etc -and how - notes of different denominations attract different rates, as do travelers checks. As elsewhere, notes have to be in oristine condition, with no flaws, rips, heavy creases, writing or ink stains. Unfortunately ATM machines, with their inking, are making such notes very difficult to find. As counterfeiting is widespread in Asia, money exchangers will often refuse to accept perfectly good notes if they are not in the latest series if there have been design changes. It is best to get the latest versions, such as the new plasticized $20 bills rather than the old ones. The simplest system is to exchange some US dollars at the airport – the rate is as good as anywhere - then use ATMs to withdraw money, in Baht, as required along the way. There are ATMs in all major cities and large towns, and the rate is good, even with the fee. Make sure you use the debit aspect of your card –it must be Cirrus or Plus certified (these logos will be on the back of the card), and not all banks will accept both. The widespread Thai Farmers Bank accepts Plus cards, and the Bangkok Bank and Siam Commercial Bank accepts Cirrus. Most credit card companies now add an extra 2% to the exchange rate; it is still usually a better, and more convenient deal, than exchanging notes or travelers’ checks. However, you may wish to check and use a fee-free card, especially if you intend to make expensive purchases.
Although credit card acceptance is widespread, many places will not accept them for small amounts. You should also advise your credit card company(s) that you are traveling abroad, otherwise the sudden change in spending patterns could trigger a card alert and charge denial. Most places take Visa and Mastercard, many take American Express and some Diners, but none take Discover. Credit card fraud is rampant in Thailand, so watch carefully. Do not allow cards out of your sight, including when they are being run – no “the machine is in the back room” ploys, where the card may be run several times, to great profit for the merchant. If a “mistake” or “no accepted, try again” happens, insist on getting all the documentation, don’t allow it to be thrown in the bin. If you leave anything – checks, cards, cash – at your hotel, even in the safe, make sure it is in a sealed bag, which you can check for tampering on return.
Please be aware that exchange rates fluctuate continuously. You should also be aware that the exchange rate posted in the papers and on the web is the bulk bank rate, and not a retail conversion rate. You can expect to pay up to about five cents more per dollar for cash exchanges, plus conversion fees. Our experience has been that it is always cheaper to exchange in the destination country rather than here at home.
Thailand is a metric country. To convert, use the
Clothing - Womens
Add 2 to the US size, so an 8 in the US is a 10 in
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