Collected here are links to various sources of information to help you plan your trip. We start with -- what else? -- money!
The currency of Thailand is the "Baht" -- sometimes spelled "Bath" but pronounced to rhyme with "hot." One Baht is divided into 100 Satang, although the smallest coin now in circulation is 25 Satang. See our online gallery of Thai currency for pictures of each bill and coin you're likely to encounter. If you'd like to know what the Baht is currently worth, try our Currency Converter. See our full article on Money Matters for more information.
As in most countries, you do not want to change money at hotels, since their rates will be significantly lower than you will get from a bank exchange. Travelers Checks can be changed at exchanges, but are not generally accepted elsewhere. Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are plentiful throughout Thailand, and most accept cards of the major international networks (Plus, Cirrus, etc.)
Major credit cards -- Visa, Mastercard and American Express -- are accepted at most hotels and restaurants. Department stores and other large shops will also generally accept all cards. However, smaller merchants may not accept any cards, or add on the credit card processing fee (typically 3% for Visa and Mastercard, 5% for American Express) to the price of items purchased. See our Money Matters page for more links and important information you should know about using credit cards overseas.
The Thai language can be difficult for a westerner to pick up with any proficiency. However, learning a little is not all that hard and a little will go a long way to making your travel more enjoyable. Since Thailand was never colonized by any foreign power, there's no tradition of speaking any language other than Thai. As a result, the overall proficiency in English is less than you might find in many of Thailand's neighbors. People in places frequented by tourists will of course speak some English, but if you want to get off the tourist trail, it's best to learn some Thai.
For more details on the Thai language, and links to some online learning resources, read our Thai language article.
Visas and Other Formalities
Thailand has a relatively relaxed visa policy to encourage tourism. Most nationals of western countries are granted entry for 30 days on arrival. However, since 11 September 2001, the exact countries to which this privilege is extended has been subject to change. Consult your travel agent or the Tourism Authority of Thailand's web site before coming to Thailand. If you want to stay longer, you can obtain a 60 or 90 day visa from the nearest Thai consulate in your home country.
Thailand electricity is 220 volts. There is unfortunately no specific standard for plugs and outlets. The most common plug type is the two flat pronged North American type but round prongs are also seen. Note that few buildings have grounded outlets for three-pronged cords.
Brief power outages are still relatively common. They usually last no more than one or two minutes.
The country code for Thailand is 66.
Thai telephone numbers are all nine digits in length (although there's talk of adding another digit in 2006), with the first digit always being zero. When dialing Thai numbers from outside of Thailand, you always drop the leading zero. Within Thailand, you must dial all nine numbers, even within the same area code.
The first two to three digits indicate the area code where land lines are located. For example, Bangkok numbers begin with 02, northern Thailand numbers begin with 05, with Chiang Mai numbers beginning with 053. Mobile phone numbers mostly begin with 01, although 06 is also quite common.
Pre-paid mobile phone cards are available at most any phone shop, as well as the airport arrivals area. Refills may be purchased at any 7-11 shop, as well as most other convenience stores.
Post / Mail
Thailand Post is the semi-privatized national postal service in Thailand. They offer a full range of services, from regular air mail to express post. Most hotels can handle postage for post cards and letters to any country in the world. For more complicated requirements, you'll find post offices in almost all airports, or, you can find postal service companies in many shopping malls. These services can deal with all postal services as well as express courier services such as UPS.
Throughout this guide, as we describe Thai temples, which are often among the main tourist sights, we use the standard Thai terms for the various parts of a temple. See our guide to temple terminology for a complete glossary.