About Thailand

Welcome to the Kingdom of Thailand. Discover this diverse country with its irresistible combination of breathtaking natural beauty, inspiring temples, renowned hospitality, robust cuisine and ruins of fabulous ancient kingdoms.

Whether you're young or old, travelling alone or with friends or as a family. Looking for a romantic getaway, an action packed holiday, a cultural experience or something a little more relaxed.

The main entry port to Thailand is the capital, Bangkok, which is served by several international airlines on a daily schedule from most Australian ports. Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok, is modern and efficient and is the main hub for connecting flights to all the major tourist destinations in Thailand including Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi and Chiang Mai. The airport is located approximately 45 minutes drive from the city but transfer times will vary depending of traffic and weather conditions.

The resort areas of Pattaya and Cha Am/Hua Hin are also accessed via Bangkok and are a comfortable 2 & 3 hour drive from the city.

Phuket, Thailand's premier holiday island destination, is able to be accessed by several direct flights from the East Coast of Australia with Thai Airways International and Jetstar or via several Asian ports including Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and of course Bangkok. There are also direct flights from Perth. These many options make Phuket an ideal choice for a convenient tropical holiday.

Thailand is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time GMT + 7). An easier way to think of it is: Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in normal time are 3 hours ahead of Thailand (during Daylight Savings this increases to 4 hours). Perth is usually only 1 hour head of Thailand and Adelaide is 1 & 1/2 hours ahead.

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Popular Regions

Amazing Thailand

BANGKOK: the exuberant capital of Thailand is a fast-paced, ever-changing city, full of culture and traditions and mixed with international appeal. A vast choice of shopping options, restaurants, sightseeing, local food stalls and cultural activities can cater for any length of stay.

PHUKET: is the largest island located in Thailand's stunning south. This fun island provides an unbeatable combination of white sand beaches, crystal clear water and swaying palm trees, superb hospitality and great value accommodation. The main beach is Patong, but the best swimming beaches are Bangtao, Kata and Karon.

KOH SAMUI: is Thailand's third largest island at 247 sq. km, a beautiful island, located in the Gulf of Thailand, amidst azure blue water and an archipelago of small green islands ringed by white sand. Koh Samui's allure is its relaxed lifestyle. Buildings are no higher than the palm trees and bars and restaurants are often small and personal.

CHIANG MAI: the second largest city in Thailand is gateway to the North. A wonderful mix of old and new with a striking mountain backdrop, over 300 temples and a quaint historical aura and still offers visitors a true experience of the traditional ways of life. Visit hill tribes, many still living without the luxuries of running water and electricity. It is also the centre for traditional handicrafts and handmade furniture. Elephant riding, rafting and trekking are popular activities in this area.

PATTAYA: located on the eastern coastline of Thailand's Gulf of Siam only a 1&1/2 hours drive from Bangkok's international airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport. The combination of superb hotels, value-for-money shopping malls and market stalls, a huge variety of restaurants, endless sports and leisure activities and of course the vibrant nightlife scene makes Pattaya an exciting destination.

HUAHIN: on the west coast of the Gulf of Thailand 170km or 3 hours drive southwest of Bangkok became a popular retreat for the Royal Family. Today it combines the attractions of a modern holiday destination with the charm and fascination of a still active fishing port. There are plenty of activities from watersports to golf or sun filled days on the mile long beach. Discover parks, peaks, caves and waterfalls an ideal starting point for your adventure trips

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People & Customs

Thai's are one of the friendliest people you will ever meet, in general they are helpful and generous. There are however certain rules you have to know before you try to become buddies with a Thai.

First of all, smiling will get you halfway already. If you approach somebody or just look at somebody just give them a friendly smile, in 99 percent people will return your nice smile, now they already like you since you look happy and open to them. The standard greeting is "Sawat Dii" (literally meaning good luck) and to be polite men add Krap and women add Ka to it.

Visitors should dress neatly in all religious shrines. They should never go shirtless, or in shorts, and ladies, shoulders must be covered.

Shoes should be removed when entering private Thai homes; chapels where Buddhist images are kept; and any of the Islamic community's mosques.

Each Buddha image, large or small, ruined or not, is regarded as being a sacred object. Never climb onto one to take a photograph or do anything that might show lack of respect.

Thai's regard the head as the highest part of the body, both literally and figuratively. Therefore, they do not appreciate anyone patting them there, even as a friendly gesture. The feet are the lowest and should therefore never be pointed to somebody's head and never point them at a Buddha statue. Also be moderate with pointing your finger and avoid physical contact.

NEVER EVER say something bad about the Royal Family or the Thai democracy, not only will the Thai's be extremely offended by it but insulting the king is a crime! The King is loved and respected greatly.

The majority of Thai people live in rural areas and this is still the basis of Thai society. There is a strong hierarchal structure in their relations with other people, respect to the parents, elderly and authority are examples of this. Another thing the Thai's are famous for is avoiding conflicts, it's absolutely useless to get angry, they will still smile at you although inside they might hate you, showing their true feelings is not their nature however. They accept their fate without complaining and are mostly happy and laid back people. One reason that the people are so relaxed can be found in Buddhism, they believe that your current life is influenced by the amount of good deeds from a previous life and thus a next life will be influenced by how you behave in the current life. Over 90% of Thais are Buddhist, with Islam, Hinduism and Christianity making up the rest.

Spoken and written Thai is the official language and is largely incomprehensible to the casual visitor. However English is widely understood, particularly in resort areas, hotels shops and restaurants.

It is customary to tip hotel personnel who have given good personal service. A service charge is normally included in most restaurants and bars, however an additional 10-15% tip is appreciated where service has been exceptional or a service charge has not been included.

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Top Things To Do

Whatever your preferences for activities while on holiday, Thailand will have it covered. Here are some suggestions:

Have an authentic Thai meal at one of its famous seafood restaurants

Grab a few bargains at MBK or the incredible Chatuchak Weekend Markets

Visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok, a wonderful display of Thailand's cultural grandeur and history

Do a jungle trek on the biggest taxi in the world - an elephant!

Visit the River Kwai area and catch up on some of our own history a truely moving experience.

Spoil yourself and have a wonderfully relaxing Spa.

Do a Thai cooking class Thai cuisine is more than just adding a handful of chillies

Take a ride on a longtail boat an exhilarating experience

Have dinner or a cocktail at The Roof Restaurant at Siam @ Siam Design Hotel, Bangkok. The food is superb and the view is fantastic!

Enjoy your holiday - don't worry, be happy.

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Shopping

If shopping is what you are looking for then head to the many markets or shopping malls in Bangkok. Here you will find great bargains at the famous Mah Boon Krong (MBK) complex or try the night markets at Patpong Road or Suan Lum Night Bazaar. If time permits get out to Chatuchak Weekend Markets, you will be amazed at the sheer size and incredible assortment of goods on offer, and don't forget to bargain! For the best shopping for genuine designer labels then make a trip to Central World Plaza, Siam Paragon or Emporium in Sukhumvit. Great deals abound!

Department stores and a number of shops in Bangkok have fixed prices, but at most others bargaining is acceptable and expected; some department stores will even offer a discount on expensive items like jewellery and fine furniture. No fixed rules can be given on the process depending, as it does, on the bargainer's skill and the shopkeeper's mood, but the final price may be reduced as much as 30% to that first quoted. An important point to keep in mind is that Thai's admire good manners and a sense of humour and tend to be put off by a loss of temper. Providing you have the time, a good general rule is to make a survey of several shops selling the sort of items you want before coming to a final decision.

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When To Go

The Thais often say: We have only two seasons, hot and hotter. This is true as far as it's never cold in Thailand. Officially however there are three seasons:

Cool (from November to February) with temperatures in the mid twenties to thirties (Celsius).

Hot (from March to May) with temperatures always above 30 and often around 40.

Rainy (from June to October) with temperatures in the mid twenties and regular tropical rain and thunder showers.

In Bangkok and the South of Thailand it is never cold but in the North temperatures can come close to 0 during the night in the cool season.

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What To Pack

If you are travelling to Thailand in December or January it can be rather cool, especially in the evenings, so a thin jacket or pullover may be required. The rest of the year though is quite hot throughout the day and night so one should pack accordingly.

Bangkok is as modern a city as any, there is an amazing choice of very smart hotels, trendy bars, nightspots and restaurants often with a very western feel and it is easy to forget that whilst the hotels may look the same as in the west the Thai people are conservative people.

They are quite modest dressers and it's an integral part of their culture, not a fashion statement. Neat, clean clothing makes you look good and is the best bet for good respect from the Thais'.

If you are staying in a hotel it's a good idea to take a light weight cardigan or cover as the air conditioning can at times be fierce. People seem to make more of an effort to dress smartly for dinner in the hotels and a smart top or dress and shoes will be useful.

If you have a few days in Bangkok it's very worthwhile having clothes made at one of the city's many tailors. The silk is excellent as is the quality of the workmanship and they will deliver the clothes to your hotel.

Thailand's islands (including Phuket and Koh Samui) are dotted around the south of the country and the key word here is "relaxed".

They've been on the tourist scene for many years now. All types of dress are acceptable here and you'll see a huge variety. The weather's always hot, so you really don't need much and it pays to pack light! There's plenty of shopping in Thailand to fill those suitcases

Northern Thailand enjoys a hot daytime temperature throughout the year although evening temperatures are a good deal lower from October - March when you will need to pack warmer layers or a pashmina for the evenings. The north of Thailand is a good deal cooler than Bangkok even in their summer, so it is a good idea to take a cover up for evenings.

Sightseeing and activities

Bangkok - No matter how hot it is, don't wear sleeveless tops or short shorts when in public areas. The Thai's look on this as disrespectful. Showing cleavage is also a bad idea and is thought to be in bad taste.

Northern Thailand - If you are going to visit any temples wear shirts or blouses with sleeves and carry a sarong or wear a skirt. Capri or lightweight trousers also work well in the humidity. Also remember that you will have to take off your shoes. Wear shoes that can be easily removed because you cannot wear shoes in the Buddhist temples. Socks are considered poor form and tacky. Comfortable flip flops or sandals work well if trainers or walking shoes don't appeal. The Thai's are kind and tolerant of foreigners, but the only time you will really offend them is if you wear shoes in the presence of a statue of Buddha at a shrine, even if it is not a temple.

If you're planning Elephant trekking make sure you have long trousers because you will get dirty and dusty if not wet. Good sturdy walking shoes are vital.

Make sure you take plenty of sun cream and bug spray with you as it is very difficult to buy locally in the north and if you do happen to find some - it will be expensive.

To prevent bug bites, our advice is to wear long cotton trousers or light weight trekking trousers and a sleeveless t-shirt under a thin cotton long-sleeved shirt. It is culturally insulting to the Thais to have bare legs exhibited.

Remember, Thailand has some great shopping to offer so we would advise travelling light with space in the suitcase for new purchases. There are often a lot of sales on at department stores around Bangkok, some offering up to 70 or even 80% discounts!

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General Health

As in most countries, vaccination certificates are not required for people unless coming from or passing through a designated contaminated area. Some border areas of Thailand are malarial and appropriate precautions should be taken if visiting there. Bangkok, major cities and resorts have excellent medical facilities and most hotels have doctors on 24-hour call. Thailand has many high standard private hospitals in Bangkok and every region. Visitors can be assured of round-the-clock international standard medical services. Tap water is clean but drinking from it directly should be avoided. Bottled water is recommended. Discuss vaccinations and risks with your doctor before you go. Travel Insurance is highly recommended.

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Grown Up Getaways

We've all dreamed of a tropical romance - one that plays out along golden-sand beaches by the turquoise ocean, balmy breeze and tall palm trees included.

We're here to tell you that you can make this dream a reality in Thailand. Why spend your life imagining it when you can live it? Book in that holiday leave, call up your parents to enlist them for babysitting duty and head to the airport with your significant other - kids left safely at home in their grandparents' arms!

You'll feel at ease as soon as you touch down in Thailand. Gone are the worries of everyday life - paradise has taken their place. Head to resort islands such as Phuket and Koh Samui for the ultimate in luxury and relaxation.

Here you can relax in blooming gardens, swim in pristine pools or paddle out in the oceans of the Andaman Sea. Hopeless romantics will love the private villa accommodation, where you can relax with your very own garden and pool instead.

Adventurous couples might like to embark on a sea kayak to offshore islands, or head underground on a sea caving expedition. Then there are the elephant treks or hikes through the lush jungle - whatever takes your fancy! Best of all, there will be a luxurious spa treatment awaiting you upon your return at the end of the day. Just what the doctor ordered.

If you love city life, you can also experience the fast-paced lifestyle of Bangkok, with its bustling street markets, rooftop bars and glittering skyline. Full of culture, vibrancy and at times chaos, this is one unforgettable city. A candlelit meal atop a tall building looking out over the city is a must for couples.

If Thailand sounds like you, get in touch - we've got even more of its secrets to share.

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Family Favourites

Thailand offers everything you could ever need and more for a family holiday. Providing the ultimate balance of relaxation, activity and adventure, and stunning natural beauty - not to mention warm welcomes from the locals - you and the kids have plenty of options.

In Thailand, family is of the utmost of importance, so you can look forward to plenty of friendly smiles and lots of warmth from the Thai people you meet along the way.

When it comes to beaches, Phuket and Koh Samui are crowd pleasers. Not only are the shores stunning, there are plenty of resorts to cater to your needs.

Paddle in the on-site pools with your young ones, head to the beach or get a luxurious massage while the children are safe in the hands of the hotel kids' club! Much of the accommodation in Thailand also includes family rooms designed for the needs of holiday-makers like you, with inter-connecting rooms and kids' areas to make your getaway even more laid-back and stress-free.

Trips to Thailand are also often more kind to the budget than you'd expect. A lot of resorts include 'kids eat free' deals or offer specials for families so your dollar can stretch a lot further, which can be incredibly important when travelling with the whole family in tow.

There are also a whole host of unforgettable experiences on offer, such as riding elephants through the jungle or gliding over crystalline waters in a kayak.

If you're interested in teaching the kids a bit of history, you can head to Kanchanaburi where there are many historical remnants of war, such as military structures and museums. Here, you'll also find an enchanting floating hotel, the River Kawi, which is made from bamboo and floats on rafts - something sure to enthral the kiddies!

With all the entertainment options under the bright Thai sun at your disposal, why not take the brood on a journey of a lifetime?

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Teen Time

Is your family driving you crazy? You'd be forgiven for thinking a holiday with them sounds a little mad, but time out in Thailand with your teens could be just what the doctor (or therapist!) ordered.

It's a diverse country offering everything from exquisite natural beauty through to inspiring temples, impeccable hospitality and ancient ruins ripe and ready for exploration. If that all sounds like too much work for your kids, reassure them of the beautiful beaches on the islands, where they can swim, snorkel, roam and work off their teenage angst.

If your kids are fond of everything fast-paced, they'll love Bangkok. This is the exuberant capital of Thailand, jam-packed full of sights, sounds and things to do. Wander the streets and take in the Thai way of life, grab some local food from street stalls and haggle brilliant bargains from a vendor. Bangkok is a real treat for your senses, so come prepared to have your eyes opened!

Those looking for a more laid-back trip should make sure to stop off at Koh Samui. It's Thailand's third largest island and is positively exquisite. It's renowned for its laid-back culture and azure oceans, with pristine white sand just waiting for you to recline on with a good book and perhaps a cheeky cocktail or two - after all, you're on holiday.

For families wishing to indulge (or force) their children in a little bit of culture, Chiang Mai is a must-visit. Its striking mountain backdrop makes way for over 300 temples, giving the island an air of history and mystique. For a taste of the traditional way of life, visit hill tribes to see families living without running water and electricity. Pick up some traditional handicrafts and handmade furniture from the locals before hopping aboard an elephant (yes, really!) for the most unique way to explore a holiday destination.

Teens interested in history should head to Kanchanaburi for a visit to the infamous Death railway and Bridge of the River Kwai.

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Baby Steps

Squealing kids driving you crazy? Try a Thai adventure for a unique holiday even the smallest family members will enjoy. The locals in Thailand place a firm value on family in their culture, so they will welcome you and your little ones with open arms.

If you're looking for a bit of down time after a busy year of child rearing, you're in luck. Many Thai locations such as Phuket and Koh Samui have kids' clubs and family rooms to help look after the younger members of your travel group. Sometimes this can be as easy as dropping them off and sneaking away for a lounge on the beach. You'll likely find plenty of meal deals where kids eat free, meaning your local dollar will stretch even further!

The beaches here are superb, and you may be tempted to while away the hours with your little ones playing in the sand and frollicking in the surf. Just make sure you pack your baby's sun protection essentials like a good hat and protective clothing.

If your toddlers are interested in animals and wildlife, make sure to check out a Samphran Elephant and Crocodile show. Witness these majestic animals up close and teach your kids all about their habitat and lifestyle.

Hua Hin could be the perfect destination for your young family due to its relaxed, beachy vibe. If you can tear yourself away from the ocean, take your tots to Monkey Mountain to not only get fantastic views of the area, but also experience a bit of wildlife with the island's resident primate population coming out to play. This is your opportunity to find out just how closely your tiny terror resembles our evolutionary friends - make sure you get a photo!

While there are plenty of activities to do in Thailand, from riding elephants to experiencing the local nightlife, travelling with small children can be pretty exhausting for everyone. Make sure you factor a couple of relaxed days into your travel plans and spend them poolside, on the beach or simply at your resort enjoying each other's company.

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Celebrations

Families looking for a unique location to celebrate their upcoming event, whether it's the first family holiday with a baby or a golden wedding anniversary, should take the time to consider Thailand. Perfectly located for holidaymakers, Thailand's got everyone covered with its plethora of stunning beaches, activities galore and festivals to take part in, if the mood strikes.

Even if you don't love everyone in your large extended family, the Thai people will. That's because they view family as important above everything else in their culture, so you can visit safe in the knowledge that even the kookiest and grumpiest family members will be welcomed with open arms.

Phuket and Koh Samui are areas most commonly visited by tourists as they have a wide range of resorts to cater to everyone from your tiny terrors to the more leisurely elderly family members. Hey, just because it's a family holiday it doesn't mean you have to spend every waking moment in each others' company!

If you want your celebration to coincide with a national event, Thailand is the right place for you. There are so many public holidays, festivals and special activities that take place here, it will be hard to choose just one to attend! The Thai New Year, known as Songkran, is a great way to start if you have to choose just one festival to take part in. Crowds of people roam the streets with buckets of water, soaking anyone in their vicinity and sharing the event with family members. Load up a water gun and encourage the family to take part in the fun!

If your celebration is for a more romantic reason, head to one of Bangkok's spectacular rooftop restaurants for a candlelight dinner with your loved ones. There's no better way to celebrate your first year of marriage than with a couple's getaway here, with more than enough options to keep you both happy.

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Got the info you need? Ready to relax in Thailand?