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TravelPod Local Expert Paul Garrioch currently resides in Thailand. He has already been very active in the TravelPodium and has given us quite a lot of insight.

sorcerer.png Paul says:

The top 5 things I would tell someone visiting would be:

1. Hello in Thai is “Sawat Dii”, Thankyou is “Korp Khun”. A polite word should be added to the end of any sentace; for male speakers that word is “Khrap” and for females “Kha”. So a female saying thankyou would say “Korp Khun Kha”

2. OK, some cultural dos and don’ts. Do smile. It is normal in Thailand to smile at most events in life. Do not speak loudly or get angry or basically loose control of your emotions. Always try to stay calm and composed and relaxed. Smile. If you are travelling with boyfriend or girlfriend keep the kissing and cuddling for the privacy of your bedroom. Wash and be clean and well groomed each day if possible. Wear neat and conservative clothes. Not stuff that is revealing. Yes, we all know it is hot, the Thais are hot too, but they wear neat, comfortable conservative clothes that do show too much of your body. Be polite and considerate.

3. OK, next thing. Please get your head out of that damn Lonely Planet and look around and talk to people. The LP may have some useful info (although I haven’t seen any) but if you want to experience Thailand, try talking to Thais and asking them for ideas. Go to places that aren’t in the LP – and so therefore don’t have 1 million other people also going to them.

4. I would tell someone coming here??? Now it is getting difficult as first I would have asked them about what they plan or what they like, or why they are coming, or how long they have; and then responded to that. Hmmm, one of the places I would highly recommend is Monk Chat in Chaing Mai. Great way to meet some Thais (who happen to be monks) and have a chat about anything and everything. It is at the Buddhist Uni in Chiang Mai.

5. I would encourage people to chill out and relax and enjoy themselves. Try different foods and activities and talk to people and accept invitations. People are often a bit “stiff” or concerned or worried about this or that when they are here. You probably haven’t got long. So get as much from your trip as you can and do lots of stuff. Don’t be afraid of the Thai people, although there are some that are after your money, the vast majority are just happy friendly people that would love to help you and be your friend. Go with it. Let things happen and have a great time.

Also, if you want to help people in Thailand, one of the best ways to do it is to support the local culture and industries by: eating mainly Thai food (lots of rice to help the farmers), buying locally made handicraft, observing the local customs and traditions and dressing and acting as I have mentioned above to help maintain the Thai cultural values. Thailand is a magical place and the people and culture are some of the friendliest, happiest in the world. Let’s try to keep that and hope that the rest of the planet picks up some of the Thai habits."

Post all questions to Paul here.

Welcome to the Travelpod ‘Kingdom of Thailand’ Starter Kit

Tips and Frequently Asked Questions…

This starter kit is a collection of tips and information about Thailand. It is not meant to replace a guide book as guide books on Thailand are generally full of mis-information and tourists who have their heads continually stuck in them end up going to exactly the same place that every other tourist is going to. This Starter Kit should give you enough information to get started, and then once in Thailand you’ll find the Thai people are extremely friendly and will pass on all sorts of good advice to help you on your way. There is also lots of information available on the internet.

Please also add your comments and thoughts by replying to this post.

Quick Facts

The population of Thailand is about 65 million, with about 8 million of them living in the capital Bangkok and about 60% living in rural areas.
The time zone is 7 hours earlier than GMT.
The International Dialing code is +66.
The electrical current is 220 volts. Most wall sockets are designed to accept 2-pin plugs with flat pins, but round pins also fit many plugs and more and more three pin sockets are becoming available.
The highest mountain is Doi Inthanon at 2595m and the longest river is the Chao Praya which flows for 352km.

Thailand has three seasons: Hot (March to June), Rainy (July to October) and Cool (November to February). All seasons are good times to visit. Note: the South West coast receives rain in the Rainy season, whilst the South East coast is more likely to receive the rain in Cool season.

Thailand is divided into 76 provinces and 4 regions. The regions are:
The North which contains the most mountainous area in the country,
The Centre, which is flat, wet and highly fertile, has numerous rice fields,
The North East (known as Isaan) is the poorest and least fertile area, and
The South which has tropical jungle, rubber plantations and beautiful coastlines.


There is so much you could do in Thailand. Here are some of the things that may make up the highlights of your trip:

- See the Grand Palace and the “Emerald” Buddha in Bangkok
- Meet fellow travelers at Khao San Rd
- Watch Thai boxing (Muay Thai) at Lumphini or Ratchadamnoen Stadium
- Sun bake on the beautiful beaches of Southern Thailand
- Trek in the jungle in Khao Yai, Khao Sok, Kanchanaburi or Northern Thailand
- Meet and stay with Hill Tribe people and learn about their culture
- Learn to cook Thai food, to meditate, to give a Thai massage, to fight in Muay Thai style or to be an elephant mahout
- Get a Thai massage
- Eat affordable Thai food every day
- Swim in waterfalls in a jungle setting
- Shop in malls, night bazaars and morning markets
- Meet a pachyderm
- See the remains of earlier Thai kingdoms at Sukhothai and Ayuthaya or visiting some of the Khmer ruins in Thailand
- Take part in Songkran, Loi Krathong, or other Thai festivals
- Rock climb, white water raft, mountain biking, trek, …
- Scuba dive or snorkel from Koh Tao or Koh Similan


For most visitors you’ll get a 30 day entry stamp free on arrival into Thailand. To extend that you can either go to an immigration office or, simply cross one of the international borders and return into Thailand with a new stamp. But remember you can only do that for a total of 90 days in one 6 month period. For longer visas you can apply at the Thai embassy nearest to you.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a website at: which contains all sorts of information on the visas available, who they are available to, etc.
The website also has all sorts of information on visas for Thailand, a forum and also information on travel.

Make sure you have proof of onward travel from Thailand when you enter.


Thailand uses the Thai Baht. At the time of writing:
US$1 = 34 Thai Baht,
AU$1 = 28 Thai Baht,
NZ$1 = 25 Thai Baht,
GBP 1 = 68 Thai Baht,
EUR 1 = 46 Thai Baht,
JPY1 = 0.28 Thai Baht and
CA$1 = 32 Thai Baht.
Obviously these rates change, so check it out for yourself. The best rates can be got from banks within Thailand. Be aware that unlike neighbouring countries the US$ is of no use in Thailand, where all transactions are done in Baht.

ATMs are easily found in most towns and banks are open Mon – Fri.


Most of you will find things in Thailand cheap. A meal at a stall may cost 25 Baht, in a small restaurant 60 Baht and in a more comfortable one 100 Baht up. In Bangkok decent accommodation can be got from about 350 Baht upwards, but in smaller towns from as low as 150 Baht. A cheap 1 litre bottle of drinking water costs 5 Baht. Transport costs a bit more, a 20 minute taxi trip may cost about 120 Baht and an overnight train ticket 800 Baht.

An average wage in Bangkok is about 8000 Baht a month, whilst outside Bangkok it is about 5000 Baht. Factory workers get 4000 Baht a month. Income tax is about 5%.


In markets and many small shops bartering is a standard way of life. Certainly when arranging a trip in a tuk-tuk you should agree on the price before you leave.
Beware that the Western concept of getting the lowest price possible is not standard practice for most Thais. The aim of bartering for Thai people is to come to an agreeable/good price for both parties; for the deal to be done with smiles all round. Bartering here is not done in an aggressive manner. It is quite normal for a wealthy Thai to happily agree to pay a high price – to spread his/her wealth around; whilst it is also not unusual to witness a shop keeper giving away goods at under cost price to a poorer member of society. So please do barter, but don’t go too far with it.


Tipping is not expected, nor is it a part of everyday life for most Thais. But as mentioned above richer people will often give more money or leave tips as a way of helping others. Generosity and giving are very normal, everyday Thai activities. Rounding the taxi fare up to the nearest 10 Baht isn’t unusual, leaving tips in more expensive restaurants is very often done and leaving a tip at a place where you got particularly good service is greatly appreciated; but you shouldn’t feel obliged to do any of this. It is your money. Wages are small and compassionate people are valued in Thailand, so – up to you.

Keeping in Touch

You’ll find lots of internet café’s in all the popular tourist places in Thailand. Outside of the tourist areas, you’ll also find lots of internet café’s but they will be filled with young Thai boys playing shoot ‘em up or fantasy games on the internet. Internet costs range from 20 Baht per hour to much more, particularly on some of the tropical islands that need to use satellite connection. Burning CDs and using USB ports is also generally very easy and cheap.

Mobile phones
Bring your GSM compatible phone to Thailand and buy a SIM card here at a 7-11 or similar convenience store or at a phone shop. Mobile phone coverage is good in all Thai cities, but can’t be relied upon when trekking through the jungle. AIS and DTAC have some of the best coverage while Orange is more for Bangkok. You can top up the phone by buying top up cards at the convenience stores (which are ubiquitous) and the cards have simple instructions in English on how to use them. SIM cards can be brought for around 100 Baht with credit on them.

Pay Phones
There are numerous pay phones around and some can do international calls. You may have to have a card for such a call, brought again at the convenience store of your choice. Make sure the card you buy matches the phone you want to use. There are various brands.

There are government run post offices and also private mail companies. Sending mail is easy and you could also organize to receive mail at the local government post office or just ask your hotel or guest house. As an example a letter to Australia would cost 17 Baht.

There is no problem in bringing and using a laptop in Thailand.


Malaria is of concern in some areas of Thailand as is Dengue Fever. Largely covering up and using a non toxic insect repellent should shield you from those dangers.
Sunburn is probably a more likely risk particularly for those not used to a tropical strength sun. Take appropriate precautions such as using sun screen and / or exposing yourself to the sun in reasonable doses only.
Drinking Water – the water supply in Bangkok is drinkable, however your hotel / guesthouses pipes may not be so clean. Outside of Bangkok the water supply is not drinkable. So basically whilst in Thailand you need to drink bottled water. The vast majority of Thais also drink bottled water, so you will find it easy to get and cheap. Ice in your drinks is fine.

A great resource regarding Health in South East Asia is “Broken Guts” by Anthony Aikman which can be downloaded from


Outside the tourist areas, the normal Thai toilet is a squat style one and a bowl of water is used to flush and clean yourself afterwards. So you won’t easily find toilet paper in many public toilets. Either get used to the local way of doing things or carry your own.


Within Bangkok
Within Bangkok there is a range of transport options that include Tuk-Tuk, ferry, motorcycle taxi, metered taxi, sky train, underground train, train, mini bus and bus.
When using the taxis please use a metered taxi and ensure the meter is turned on when the journey starts.
When using a Tuk-Tuk or motorcycle taxi ensure you agree on the price before going.
Bangkok also has Suwarnabhumi International airport and Don Muang Airport which services some Thailand internal flights.

Outside of Bangkok
Larger distances journeys – regular bus services cover almost all of Thailand and a good rail network covers much of the country also. Cheap flights are available to many towns. For a list of the airlines please look at the Thailand Insider Tips forum at

Shorter distances within regional towns – you will find a variety of Tuk-Tuk in many towns and also a pick up truck with bench seats in the back, called a Songtaew. These vehicles will cover most areas within the towns.


Rice is eaten with almost every meal in Thailand and is highly regarded by the Thai people. If you don’t like rice, Thailand is not for you.
Thai food can be spicy, but often the spices are added individually as a condiment.
Sticky rice is often eaten with your hands, but most other meals are eaten using a spoon (and a fork to push the food onto the spoon). Some Chinese meals are eaten with chopsticks.
Food at stalls is generally OK. Thai food is delicious and I recommend you try as much as you can.
Vegetarians are now easily catered for in most parts of Thailand, although stricter vegetarians may have difficulty as fish and oyster sauce is widely used and most Thais don’t fully comprehend the strict vegetarian concept. Halal food is easily found in most cities and big towns and is prevalent in the South.

Polite behaviour

Thai society is overwhelmingly polite. The Thai people love having guests in their country and they love being hospitable and seeing you have a good time, but the behaviour of many tourists leaves Thai people a bit “confused”. Please try to be a good guest. Here are a few of the things to remember so you can be a polite visitor in Thailand:
- Be aware that Thais consider the feet low, so don’t touch things with your feet or point the soles of your feet towards people or Buddha statues. Don’t step over people or food. Go around.
- The head is high and so it is best if you don’t touch people’s heads. Keep your head lower than elders and monks when possible.
- The Royal family is loved and it is totally unacceptable to say or do anything that is offensive towards them.
- Always remain calm and in control. Don’t get angry. Don’t shout. Do smile at people.
- Act and dress with modesty. Couples should keep the kissing and hugging to the privacy of their bedrooms. Outside of the main tourist areas and the centre of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, it is appropriate for you to dress conservatively and cover your shoulders and stomach and cleavage. When swimming at the non tourist areas it would be polite for women to wear shorts and a t-shirt, not bikini.
- Monks are respected. Please give up your seat to them on public transport. Please dress respectfully when going to a temple.


By Thai law and culture, all religions, religious people and religious objects are respected. Please follow this respectful tradition so as not to offend anyone.
The population of Thailand is about 94% Buddhist and 5% Islamic.

Buddhist temples.
When entering a Buddhist temple please wear neat, conservative and polite clothes. Singlets and short shorts are neither respectful nor polite. When entering the hall please take your shoes off.
- Please do not kill anything in a Buddhist temple.

Buddhist Monks.
- When meeting monks please remember that women cannot touch monks or hand things directly to them (you can put something down in front of them instead).
- Please don’t give them money. Although it has become common practice it is not beneficial to their spiritual path.
- One of the best experiences you can have in Thailand is to get up early and watch or take part in the giving of alms to monks. All over the country monks will be collecting alms at around 6 – 6.30 am. Please go have a look.

Responsible Travel

- Please don’t buy items that could endanger wildlife, the forests or the cultural heritage of Thailand. Please do visit and support the National Parks.
- Say no to Drugs. By taking illegal drugs in Thailand you are supporting criminals and showing young Thais that this behaviour is acceptable to rich travelers. Thailand has overcome many problems previously caused by drugs and drug smugglers. We don’t need foreigners to re-establish those problems. Please be considerate to the Thai people and do not encourage the use of illegal drugs in Thailand.
- Avoid the sex industry. Thailand has developed rapidly from being a very poor nation to being industrialized. An influx of Chinese merchants, the USA Army and then tourists, combined with an attitude that accepts prostitution have been some of the reasons that a large sex industry has developed here. But it causes problems for society and for the people involved. If the demand for the sex industry disappears then the supply will also.
- Ways to help Thailand. Please buy locally produced food and handicrafts and so therefore support the local farmers and local culture. Home stays are a great way to experience some of the “real” Thailand and get your money out into the smaller communities. If you have more time, please search through Travelpod and the internet for ways you can volunteer in Thailand.


Overall Thailand is a very safe country to visit. But as with everywhere there are some good people and not so good people. Please be cautious with your possessions and provide no opportunities for theft.

The Tourist Police are a branch of the police that are specifically there to help you. Their telephone number is 1155

In the 3 Southern-most provinces of Thailand (Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani) daily violence has been occurring for the last couple of years. Drug affected Muslim extremists commit murder and arson almost daily. Generally the victims are fellow Muslims, local families, police or government schools. It is still safe enough for you to travel through this region; however it wouldn’t be advisable for you to go off exploring by yourself in this area at the moment. Keep on eye on up to date developments before you go.


Thailand is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and for good reason. Mass tourism and mass Western influence is relatively new here and yet the industry has grown hugely and caters for many varied tastes. Many of the tourists go to the popular places, which are convenient and well set up to cater for tourist needs. There are some great places to meet fellow travelers here. But if you are interested in getting off the beaten path, this is also very possible. Travel within Thailand is safe and enjoyable as the Thai people and culture are relaxed, friendly, fun loving and yet polite and modest.

For the last word in travel in Thailand I want to pass on the points that Thai people consistently ask me to pass on to foreigners:

- Kissing etc – please do it in private, not in public.
- Please love Thailand and respect our King. We hope you have a good time here.
- Please don’t fear Thai people, we want to help you and be your friend. Sorry if we are shy of you and our English language ability.
- However please don’t believe everyone and do be careful of your belongings.
- Please observe what most Thai people wear and copy that. Please be polite and respectful in your dress. Please shower and be clean.
- Please be happy and calm and do not be angry at us if we cannot understand your language.
Hi Chinaman, how are you (Sawatdii Khrap)?

Where are you from and where are you living now?
Hi. A few days ago I went and had a look at the tourism and dive expo in BKK. Collected lots of info. Too much. Here is some that may be handy for some people (I can't endorse them all, just copying out the info for you):

Agro tourism / home stay sites, phone numbers and emails: (where I work)
Wawi Highland Cultivation - (+66)053605932 ext 101, (haven't checked this out, but seems best pick for trekking so far, except Mirror Foundation of course)
Hilltribe Welfare and Development Centre - (+66)055513614 (I notice they offer an eco tourism internship)

Low cost airlines in Thailand:
Air Asia,
Nok Air,

Low cost airlines coming from Singapore:
Tiger Airways,

Also look up Bangkok Airways (, PB Air (, Phuket Air ( and of course Thai Airways International ( to cover any other air travel needs.

Kayaking, rafting, etc. Check out:

Mountain biking:

There was links to golf, scuba diving and massage/spa - but too lazy to write them out. Also feel they already get lots of coverage. Ask me if you really want them.


Transport sites for BKK:

There was a notice in there that they reckon the trail run for the airport rail link should occur in October 2550 (2007 in the Christian calendar).

Other miscellaneous stuff I noticed:
Hornbill family adoption project and hornbill research foundation, email divers doing good stuff.

Saraburi is an area not far outside of Bangkok that has lots of activities - have a look at and

OK, that's enough for now. Hope it helps someone. Let me know if it does so I am not sitting behind this damn screen for nothing.
Another site worth checking out was featured on TITV this morning.
Seemed like a good organisation. Certainly that area of Thailand is beautiful, with stunning coastlines, and jungle and limstone cliffs, and very few tourists, it is an area that has interested me for a while. It copped a fair bit of damage in the Tsunami, so going there to visit would be helping the recovery there.
Paul: I need emergency orthodontic surgery, so I'm coming back to Chiang Mai to save my Long-term trip! Any reccommendations on clinics? I will probably need to be put under - is this a good idea for a lone traveller? Looking forward to coming back albeit unexpectedly! Cheers, MacK
Hi. I will get back to you with an answer.

Does it have to be in Chiang Mai? I no longer have any friends living there, so???

But Bangkok - I can find info for you, and Chiang Rai also. Would those places be of interest?

Anyway, I will ask a few people and look a few things up for you and get back to you. I hope you are OK.

Oh - is there a price limit?


P.S. Being put under - I think fine, especially if you are staying in hospital overnight or in a guest house where the staff are particularly friendly and will take care of you.
Well, I just thought that CM was the main place to do dental. I'm fine, but only ever so worried about being 'under' for a couple of hours. I've rarely had this experience, let alone in a country still veiwed as second rate by western medical authorities. Yeah, pretty much anywhere in Thailand is good, although Chiang Rai would be great. Price - I think it likely won't matter, medical prices are very cheap from what I've heard. Thanks for your concern - I'm ok, just would like not to have to go home early biggrin.gif. Thanks for the help, Paul! Cheers, mack
OK. Here goes. Here is info I have got from the Internet. Haven't had the chance to ask anyone yet:

The only hospital I can personally recommend at the moment is
They are near our place, so you could either stay with us, or there is a list of hotels in their website. They are a bit pricey, but good and have Farang on staff to help Western people. I think you can get the dental treatment there. Oh - that one is in Bangkok.;typeweb2=0024
Is a website list of places. Maybe useful.
These guys are in Chiang Mai
Very well regarded hospital in Bangkok
Interesting website
This one is close to our place to. I don't know it but could go have a look, maybe.
Another one in Chiang Mai.

There is lots of info on the web. I think Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai will all have hospitals and dentists that cater particularly for Western patients. So you could search any of those. The standard Thai dentists are great also, and I get my teeth checked at a little place just down the road. I don't know if she does really full on emergency stuff and I don't know how serious your problem is. She has some/limited English language.

I think it is easy for you to go to the places that cater for tourists in particular, due to the language thing, but they will be a little more expensive. Actually dentists tend to be pretty well educated and so just going to a dentist in almost any medium size Thai town up would probably be OK. I have found generally that Thai medical staff are very good and generally much more caring than Australian. I tend to think their training is just as good or not much less and the facilities just as good or not much less than most rich Western nations. BUT, they actually care about you. Which makes them much better. AND they are affordable, or not as un-affordable.

Sorry, I don't personally know of any other places. I will ask Kanchana when she gets home, but I am not sure if she knows of any more either. I can ask Khun Moo in Chiang Rai, but she is flat out saving the world, so it may take a bit for me to get an answer back to you.

Hope that helps. Please let me know if it does/doesn't.

To be honest, depending on how bad your condition is: get to Thailand, check into a friendly caring guesthouse you know and like. Go to the nearest dentist and things will probably work out from there. BUT, if you have more money to spend, go to one of the big clinics/hospitals mentioned, or one of the ones specialising in Western patients and they will probably be able to look after you especially well.
In a quick search for stuff in Chiang Rai I didn't come up with anything with much detail. But this may help if you choose to go there (the second hospital listed sounds like it is the best):

Chiang Rai Regional Hospital General Hospital 053-711300
Kasaemrad Sriburin Hospital General Hospital 053-717499
Overbrooke Hospital General Hospital 053-711366

Chiang Rai City
Amorn Inn Resort
30 rooms, 600 Baht, Tel. 053-756041 -3, Fax. 053-712135

Art Ann Hotel
34 rooma, 350 Baht, Tel. 053-715605, 756890 Fax. 053-718806

Baan Bua Guest House
11 rooms, 150 - 350 Baht, Tel. 053-718880

Baan Khun Yom Resort
40 rooms, 600 - 800 Baht, Tel. 053-716216

Baan Silp Hotel
29 Rooms, 300 - 350 Baht, Tel. 053-756335, Fax. 053-756337

Bang-On Court
30 rooms, 350 Baht, Tel. 053-712290, Fax. 053-716440

Ben Guest House
28 rooms, 80- 600 Baht, Tel. 053-716775

Boonbandan Guest House
33 rooms, 250 - 350 Baht, Tel. 053-712914, 053-717040 -1,
Fax. 053-712914

Bowling Guest House
5 rooms, 100 Baht, Tel. 053-712704

Chat House (Guest House)
15 rooms, 50 - 180 Baht, Tel. 053-711481

Chian House (Guest House)
21 rooms, 60- 450 Baht, Tel. 053-713388

Chiang Rai Hotel
63 rooms, 130 - 200 Baht, Tel. 053-711226, 053-712118

Chiang Rai Inn
77 rooms, 700 Baht, Tel. 053-717700 -3, Fax. 053-711483
Would appreciate any updates on personal dental recommendations for a particulaar dentist in the Chaing Mai area . Need crowns and a root canal. I would like to use a local if possible.
Currently undergoing surgical extraction with Grace Dental on Soi 11, Nimmanheimmen Rd, Chiang Mai. They are a little more expensive than others in town, but they seem to be the most "western" in terms of service, language, and quality. I had the first part of my operation 3 days ago, and have felt very little pain. The procedure was fast, painless, and I have recovered very quickly. The cost is 1000-2000 Baht per surgical extraction - one of the most expensive operations there.

I have heard good thing about the Chiang Mai university, but cannot personally vouch for it. I will vouch for Grace dental. I have also met many farangs doing titanium posts, root canals, and crowns - all very satisfied people.

I will check on prices next weekend when I go back for crowns and root canals if you wish.

Happy dental procedure to you!

PS - A new hostel in the area is Spicythai Backpackers, run by pong. It is a great place, not the cheapest in town, but a short walk to the clinic, and very relaxing for a post-op recoverer. Check it out! 4/80 Nantawan village (A little past Soi 4 on Nimmanheimmen)
Hi. I am no longer answering any questions about the weather in Thailand and when to come (based on weather) (unless you ask very nicely) because you can check it out for yourself here:

Have a look. Seems great.
hi paul, i understand completely. it must be very irritating answering the same thing over and over...

anyway, i am thinking of travelling to thailand on holiday soon, and wondered what sort of clothes to pack? should i pack for hot weather, or cold? does it get humid and where is the best place to go if i wish to wear my bumbag and still look really dapper? angel1.gif
Pattaya is the place to wear your bumbag, preferably with long white socks, sandals, a huge and exposed bear gut and some tiny young poor working girl hanging off you.

As to what to pack. Nothing. Buy it all here. In the airport preferably as the shops there are so cheap.

It does get humid, but if you stay within the airport (which is airconned) and perhaps get an aircon bus directly to your airconned room in Pattaya you should be OK.

By the way - to new readers - please ignore this post - it isn't real. It is a bit like a politician saying they are actually interested in the environment - it is meant as a joke
conned and airconned - sounds perfect... i have the sox and sandals already, from my stay at the all-inclusive resort at ipsos in corfu - thank the lord we booked that otherwise we'd have had to contend with local food, local money, and local locals...! and the wife (a pretty young thing, i forget her name for the moment...) would have hated that...

I see as you fall further into travelling and computer induced insanity you are more likely to speak the truth without regard for social mores (whatever that means)
tis true... mores or lesses...

i have been at this keyboard for nigh on eight hours now, tapping out my latest entry - i am going insane!! hyper.gif

WOW - I just had a quick look at that website. It looks great.

I have never been to Koh Tao and would love to go and I think anyone going to Thailand should have a look at that website and consider getting involved with the activities that are listed.

Just a reminder for anyone visiting such a place and volunteering to teach English - remember you are there to teach English to help the locals and to help Koh Tao keep it's culture and environment so as future tourists can enjoy that and so as the locals can continue to enjoy a beautiful island and wonderful culture as well as tourism - far too often those things don't go together.
So anyway - make sure your teaching is aimed at helping them and it isn't done in a way that spreads Western culture and deletes the local culture. It is a bit trickier than you might think, so try to be alert and live the local life and learn as much as you can about Thai life also while you are there teaching. The teacher should probably learn as much as the students.

:-) Does that make sense? It might be a difficult thing for some people to see.

But anyway - the island and those projects look really nice.

Good luck to you Samiotis. Maybe one day I will take you up on the beer or coffee.
International calling from Thailand:

If you dial 007, 008 or 008 then the country code then the phone number - the call will go through the internet and so therefore is cheaper than if you dial 001 then country code etc.

Just came across the above link. Looks good. Responsible Ecological Social Tours.

Please consider them when planning your trip in Thailand.
Random travel Thailand websites / info:
A resort in Chiang Rai province.

Self-drive campaign

Five Tourism Authority of Thailand offices in the Central Region are joining the Happiness Group Alliance tour companies, Viriyah Insurance and KTC Bank to promote the "Self-Drive Thailand-Central Region Campaign" via exciting tour packages.

For a price of 3,500 baht for two persons that includes accommodation, fun activities, travel, guide brochures and insurance, you can join a series of caravans along various routes on the following dates.

- September 29-30: Chachoengsao-Samut Prakan.

- October 13-14: Samut Sakhon-Ratchaburi-Kanchanaburi.

- December 8-9: Ayutthaya-Ang Thong-Lop Buri.

- December 22-23: Pathum Thani-Nakhon Nayok-Saraburi.

- December 21-23: Samut Songkhram-Phetchaburi-Prachuap Khiri Khan.

- January 2008, 21-23: Nonthaburi-Pathum Thani-Ayutthaya.

To buy the package and other details, call 02-720-5487/8.
Taxis at the airport - I noticed the metered taxis have moved again. They are now outside level 1.

I also had a chat with the AOT as to why they have the other, more expensive AOT taxis and people always asking the tourists if they want a taxi. She didn't say, but for sure it is partly a extra way for AOT to make a bit more money. But she did say that they are concerned about the metered taxis; that sometimes drivers don't turn the meter on or sometimes they go the long way, or can't speak any English etc. So they end up making Thailand look bad and don't take care of the tourists as much as they should.

I think that is fair enough and maybe if it is your first time in Thailand and you are not an experienced traveler you should perhaps pay the extra for the AOT taxis that will be offered to you.

But there are also buses and someday soon there will be a rail link and a sky train link. So I will try to keep you up dated.

About the airport buses - has anyone used them or got anything to say? I live quite close to the airport so never need one, but it would be good to hear more info about them from someone.
A site for you to learn Thai etiquette before you arrive (yes, I know I live in a dream world and no one is going to do this, but at least I tried):
Hi - from personal experience - I just noticed that when you book a domestic flight with Thai Air Asia from Bangkok - neither the ticket nor the website in any easy to find way, mentions what airport you are leaving from. Their helpline is only helpful during business hours also.

From a bit of web surfing I have decided it is Suvarnabhummi - I hope that's right - I will let you know if it isn't (after I miss my flight).

Other useful stuff - telephone numbers and websites:

Tourism Authority of Thailand. 1672

Tourist Police 1155

National Parks 025620760

Transport Co. Call Centre 025765599

State Railway of Thailand 022237010

Thai Airways International 1566

Bangkok Airways 1771

Nok Air 1318

Air Asia 025159999

PB Air 022610220-5

One Two Go 1126
My wife and I visited Ko Tao nearly 13 years ago, when it was a remote island beyond the usual tourist route of Ko Samui, etc. One of the most tortured trips of our lives trying to get there from Hua Hin, but I still remember waking up on the deck of the ferry with a group of monks sitting behind us and the sun rising over the island. It was beautiful, and we spent 5 glorious days in a hut on a beach with a local family cooking us incredible meals every night. It was one of the highlights of a 6-month 'round the world trip.

I'm returning to Thailand in a few weeks; having limited time, I'll probably limit myself to the north, but now, reading your piece, I'm wondering if I should detour south and return to Ko Tao.
Sigh... so much to see, so little time.

Keep up the good work - Turtle Island is a jewel.

- Peter
A while ago a friend of my mum's was visiting Phuket. I don't know Phuket that well so I asked for advice from another friend who used to live there. This is his response:

Phuket ideas:

Patong is fun for the odd night out, but is massively oriented towards sleaze. It is the Patpong of Phuket! Not sure if this will appeal to your mum’s friend? It does have plenty of good restaurants, shopping. and more normal entertainments, but she will find herself walking through sin city to get to everything. I like the mix, it’s fun to view as a visitor, and you’re not required to partake, but for some people it can be a bit much, especially if stuck there for quite a number of days. Hope she can handle that kind of scene!

Places to head for elsewhere, even on day trips (but recommend overnight stays if she isn’t tied to accommodation deal in Patong):

Phuket Fantasea – it’s a big ‘theatre’-style show, hosted in a large venue not that far from Patong (a bit further North on the island). Great for an evening destination. Heavily promoted in all the tourist ticketing booths everywhere, so very easy to organise a trip there. Hotel will know about it, where to buy ticket, and how to book return transport to the venue.

Seafood restuarants – on the main beach road of Patong. First-class dining, and you get to choose your own food from the live tanks where your forthcoming meal will look you in the eye and swim around. You don’t get any fresher. Full range of interesting / exotic seafood at prices not cheap by Thai standards, but of course very attractively priced for visitors from Australia etc.

Patong being Patong she may find other diners around her of the ‘dirty old man’ category, ie dining with a Thai prostitute a third his age, or sat with a Thai ‘toy boy’. The sight of a sixty-plus-year-old fat lump of garbage with his chosen wide-eyed, fresh-from-the-farm innocent is enough to make me puke and / or want to plunge a fork into his eyeball. I’m sure you know the feeling Paul.

Head for the south of the island. Extremely beautiful. Kata Beach and all points south. Relaxed, more friendly, stunning. That’s why I chose to live there for a year-and-a-half.

If she’s up for renting a motorscooter at usual low holiday prices then it’s the most enjoyable way to tour the south of the island as she can stop and get off far more easily than with a car. There are cliff-top bars, stunning viewpoints, amazing choices of beaches, lovely shops in charming areas, only some of which are easy to park with a car - many are not or simply impossible. And the motorcycle speed is slow and leisurely, able to let traffic go by you while you climb the hills and enjoy unenclosed the beautiful colours of the seascape that surrounds the verdant green foliage your excellent-quality roads take you through. No congestion at all once you reach that area, completely different from the main roads through the centre of Phuket island which are thick with traffic.

In particular for sunset:
Laem Phom Thep. Furthest southerly point of island. Coachloads of Asian tourists will be there at same time because, quite simply, it is SO good, with great gift shops, an elephant Buddha shrine which is just amazing to see (and very important to the Thai people, who constitute at least half the tourists visiting for the sunset period) and gorgeous scenery to catch the changing colours of the sun as it sinks into the sea below your vantage point. See last few photos of my recent on-line photo album which were taken there last month (you can pass on the link to your mum’s friend if you wish – the other photos are all taken in the south of Phuket island, Kata Beach etc).

The south of the island has many beautiful places, but it would cost a lot to tour by the expensive mafia-controlled taxis (average 300 baht per journey). Much better to rent a motorcycle, or with a car she can see not only the south, but the whole island, and indeed would then be able to drive off the island and over to the stunning limestone outcrop area of Phang Nga Bay and even on to Krabi if she wished. Depending on whether she wishes to relax or to explore.

Two must-do major excursions, which can both be organised for her by hotel or local travel agent shops, from hotel pick-up to end-of-day hotel return:

Phang Nga Bay:
Tour the bay by boat, including a trip out to James Bond Island – VERY much recommended, it is just such an amazing area and will ensure the holiday ends in an unforgettable way

Phi Phi Island:
Same rating in my book, but very different. Phuket is so lucky to have not only its own stunning attractions, but also these two world-class destinations on its doorstep. If she does these two trips she will indeed have seen some of the truly awesome sights of the world, and enjoyed the actual trips by boat at the same time.

Hope she finds these suggestions and comments useful.
Ahh, one of my favorite Thai festivals, Loy Krathong is nearing. I've had so much fun making the rafts and releasing them before and I'll really miss it this year. It's such a festive and good spirited time. Apparently there are plans to make it quite sensational this year! Anyone who is in Thailand shouldn't miss the celebration.

Each person designs his or her own raft from a banana tree trunk. Then it's intricately decorated with flowers and other adornments. Once the sun is down the community, or group heads to the nearest waterway and releases the rafts together. This is in honor of Lord Buddha and also symbolizes the releasing of bad grudges, anger and other bad things and starting a new. The festival happens annually in the 12th month of the lunar calendar. Some people also call it the Festival of Lights.

During a volunteer stint in Kao Look Chang I had the pleasure of being taught how to make my own little raft and even got to release it with hundreds of others. Loy Krathong. It was alot of fun. Our friend Noi showed us all the intricate folds which were actually pretty hard! It was a really fun day.
Oh - good point.

It is on the 24th this year. So on that day you should definitely make your way to the nearest waterway and check out what is going on. You'll probably find some krathongs for sale there if you want to take part. It is quite a pretty festival.
yep, i'm making my krathong on saturday for a sunday launch - apparently it's over two days...
just returned from the first full day of the 13th friendship festival, and will return tomorrow to take pictures.
Tell us more about the 13th Friendship Festival - and did you make any friends? hug.gif
i won't go into detail, as it'll be all in my next entry...

but yep, made new friends, especially the girls at the stand next door who came from one of the local hospitals and were giving free medical massages. also met an american retiree who knows jon morris.

me and pooki were joking about how many bottles of water it would have taken you to put out all the fire lanterns going awol. those, and the ridiculously dangerous amount of cheap dodgy fireworks being thrown about by all and sundry - i had one land next to my backside and explode while i crouched taking photos at he waters edge... didn't bother me but pooki 'did a paul' and was ready to lay into the person that threw it... i was pissing myself laughing smile.gif

saw the volunteers, of whom john and claire were completely wasted, angela hadn't touched a beer at that stage and kirstie looked a little embarrassed... pan and geed looked fantastic, and phi was having fun helping children to walk (fall off) the bamboo stilts...

loads of krathongs in the water, lanterns in the sky and candles everywhere made it a beautiful spectacle. but the crowds were too much so after a couple of hours we retired to easy house for food and a beer.

that'll about do it, i'll see you tonight i guess?

The lady at my guest house said, that there is a big Krathong being launched tonight on the river. She said in Chiang Rai, last night was for little personal krathongs and she said there is a big krathong tonight.

Anyone with ideas about that?

I won't go, I want a break from crowds and people. See you at the pub later?
Hi thanks for that. I just bought a bike, so I may ask you a question or two in the future. I hope others will also.

Take care.
QUOTE(hansba @ Feb 18 2008, 10:30 PM) *


Hi Alison - I have no idea - but I reckon you can ask the people at the Hilton. You are paying them enough that they should be more than happy to point you in the right direction. They will know much more about that area and what is available than I. Have fun.
Hi - the train track from Bangkok to Laos has been finished. So far it makes it just into the Laos side and that is due to open in May. Extending that to Vientiane is planned.

The newspaper today said the government has outlawed people dressing as soldiers. So make sure you don't wear too much if any camo stuff when you come here.

I had other travel things to tell you - but I forget.

See ya
Wow fascinating, no camo! Thanks for that tip, good to know!
wow cool. really good tips I may say. Thank you I will surely keep that in mind.
Hello Paul
never come across such detailed info on a blog. tks fr all yr efforts. i have afew qs if no problem
-i plan to come with my family in june/july. we are a couple and a child of 8 years. no of days no problem.plan to spend 4-5 days in bangkok and want to spend some days in south too. a bit confused about how much time to spend and where. heard a lot about phuket. but some suggested to stay in krabi province (ao nang, railey, phi phi_) better than staying in phuket. but then which of these i should stay. some say that if travelling with only a couple and a child , these places may get "dull" as in this season it's a bit slow and not lively. so your suggestion on where to spend how much time at these places will be useful.
I copied this from another website, as it seems a good little overview:

Thailand covers an area of 513,115 sq. km. in the heart of South East Asia, and shares its borders with Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Gulf of Thailand and the Indian Ocean.

Thailand itself is broken onto four natural regions, a) The North cool.gif The Central Plain or the Chao Phraya River Basin c) The North East (Korat Plateau) and d) The South or Southern Peninsula.

The Northern region is mountainous and full of forests, ridges and spectacular valleys, the main city of this region is Chiang Mai, a very popular tourist destination.

The Central Plain, a rich valley is the most fertile and extensive rice producing area of Thailand, and has often been named the 'Rice Bowl of Asia'. This is the region where Bangkok, the capital of Thailand is situated.

The Southern peninsula is a gem unto itself not only for the beauty of its beaches and landscape, but also as this is where many ores and minerals are to be found. The landscape is hilly to mountainous with lush virgin forests. This is also where the main rubber producing take place, and the cultivation of many other tropical crops.

But who are the Thai people and where did they come from ? It was originally thought that the Thai people may orginate from the north-eastern Szechuan Province of China about 4,500 years ago before they migrated to their present homeland. This idea though has recently be put into question by the amazing discovery of pre-historic artifacts such as bronze metallurgy dating back some 3,500 thousand years. These artifacts were found in the village of Ban Chiang in the Nong Han District of Udon Thani Province in the Northeast. These amazing finds, indicate that the Thais may well have originated in Thailand, and themselves moved into other areas of Asia.

Thailand until 1939 was known as Siam, and again between 1945 and 49, but May 11, 1949 put an end to the confusion and Thailand became officially known as 'Prathet Thai' or Thailand. For anyone who has been to Thailand they will not be surprised to learn the word 'Thai' means free so Thailand actually means The Land of the Free.

The population of Thailand is around 60,000,000 with an annual growth rate of around 1.3%. Although there is absolute religious freedom 95% of the Thai people follow Buddhism, and the King of Thailand under constitution and practice is patron of all religions embraced by the people.

Thailand is a hot and rather humid tropical country. In fact many people living in Thailand joke that it has three seasons, hot, hotter and hottest - this is easily believed. The climate is monsoonal, marked by a rainy season lasting from about May to September and a relatively dry season for the remainder of the year. The rainy season will amaze many a tourist as it can rain very heavily sometimes for up to just 10 minutes a go, but the sheer volume of water is incredible. Temperatures are highest in March and April and 'lowest' in December and January. The average temperature is about 23 to 35 Celsius.

One of the most beautiful aspects of the Thai people is their respect and enormous love for their monarchy. It is very unwise and actually could lead to serious trouble to say anything bad about the monarchy. They are loved dearly, and you will never hear a Thai utter a bad word.

The National Flag of Thailand is composed of five horizontal bands of red, white and blue. The outer red bands of red represent the nation, and the inner bands of white evoking religion. The blue band, which occupies one third of the flag is symbolizes the monarchy. This tri coloured flag was first designed by King Vajirauadh (Rama VI) in 1917, and it succeeded and earlier design which had a white elephant on a red background.

Thailand truly is an amazing place, with so much to offer tourists. The regular and most popular destinations of Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Samui, Chiang Mai etc are only a small part of the country, and there are so many more undiscovered charms to be found.
QUOTE(sk1008 @ Apr 7 2008, 01:17 PM) *

Hello Paul
never come across such detailed info on a blog. tks fr all yr efforts. i have afew qs if no problem
-i plan to come with my family in june/july. we are a couple and a child of 8 years. no of days no problem.plan to spend 4-5 days in bangkok and want to spend some days in south too. a bit confused about how much time to spend and where. heard a lot about phuket. but some suggested to stay in krabi province (ao nang, railey, phi phi_) better than staying in phuket. but then which of these i should stay. some say that if travelling with only a couple and a child , these places may get "dull" as in this season it's a bit slow and not lively. so your suggestion on where to spend how much time at these places will be useful.

Hi, sorry for my slow reply.

Ummm, ????

Phuket is quite touristy, but it is a big place and so some quiet areas and some lively areas. Maybe it is a good choice as there is probably the widest range of activities there.

Ao Nang - not really that big and a bit orientated to bars and back packers.

Railey - I like. It has gotten a bit expensive, but I am thinking the 100 Baht places are no longer there or not as many - so you might be beyond that anyway. Great climbing there if that helps. Some very nice beaches and places to stay, but again it is a bit confined / limited in activities. Could do some boat trips from here, and visit the beaches. Hmmm, enough to keep me occupied for a few days or more, but depends on you.

Krabi - a Thai town and nice. Probably much more touristy and developed than when I was last there, but it is less Westerner orientated than Phuket. No beaches in Krabi itself - it is a base to go to other beaches. Also hot springs, temples, river kayaking, etc around.

Phi Phi - I have never been??? I get the impression the beaches are very nice and it is well established to cater for tourists.

Hope that helps.


This looks nice.

QUOTE(fourloves @ Jul 3 2007, 01:31 AM) *

Currently undergoing surgical extraction with Grace Dental on Soi 11, Nimmanheimmen Rd, Chiang Mai. They are a little more expensive than others in town, but they seem to be the most "western" in terms of service, language, and quality. I had the first part of my operation 3 days ago, and have felt very little pain. The procedure was fast, painless, and I have recovered very quickly. The cost is 1000-2000 Baht per surgical extraction - one of the most expensive operations there.

I have heard good thing about the Chiang Mai university, but cannot personally vouch for it. I will vouch for Grace dental. I have also met many farangs doing titanium posts, root canals, and crowns - all very satisfied people.

I will check on prices next weekend when I go back for crowns and root canals if you wish.

Happy dental procedure to you!

PS - A new hostel in the area is Spicythai Backpackers, run by pong. It is a great place, not the cheapest in town, but a short walk to the clinic, and very relaxing for a post-op recoverer. Check it out! 4/80 Nantawan village (A little past Soi 4 on Nimmanheimmen)

java script:emoticon(':speak_cool:',%20'smid_40')
Hey You made a great choice. Thats who I use when for all my dental services !! speak_cool.gif speak_cool.gif speak_cool.gif

One thing I should change / add to that starter kit that I wrote:

I said that tipping isn't standard practice in Thailand and not expected on most occasions. I also mentioned that wealthier people are often quite happy to tip and spend a bit extra to show their wealth and spread it around.

Please put those two thoughts together.

When you are staying in the cheapest places and just eating at very normal Thai food stalls and restaurants, then no tipping is expected. Greatly appreciated if you feel you want to do it - but not necessary.

If you are staying in expensive places and eating at expensive restaurants and driving around in limousines - OK, it may be nice if you tip people that service you. You clearly have money - so pass some around to everyone.
Tipping is still up to you and not compulsory - but as you hang around the more fancy places - it is getting to the stage of being almost expected / normal.

If you can't afford it - OK, never mind. And keep in mind that there are 20 Baht noodles just down the road.

See ya
QUOTE(afect @ Feb 15 2010, 06:05 PM) *

How about this for a visit in Thailand -

The Association for Akha Education and Culture in Thailand is the oldest charity in S.E. Asia assisting ethnic indigenous minorities. Our humanitarian work focuses on Burmese refugees entering Thailand from Burma's Shan state although we also support 'hill tribe' groups. We provide free education and health and assist in human rights through 264 villages. We are currently building a new school on the Burmese Thai Border for 95 at risk burmese refugees who are currently working as factory workers in Mai Sai.

AFECT also offers International Volunteer Opportunities and educational cultural exchange. This is to promote international understanding and goodwill by providing high quality cultural volunteer opportunities. AFECT's trekking is excellent and they also have an eco tour. The good thing about the NGO is that its run and managed by indigenous people for indigenous people.

Hmmm, I think you'll find it isn't the oldest charity in S.E. Asia assisting ethnic indigenous minorities - but thanks for the info. Very useful
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