Practical Information for Visitors to Bangkok
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.
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 (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, its best to learn some Thai.
For more details on the Thai language, and links to some online learning resourses, 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.
- Longstay Retirement Visa
- Persons over 50 years of age who wish to live in Thailand for extended periods to enjoy the high quality/low cost lifestyle available in Thailand may wish to investigate the newly introduced "longstay" program. Thai Longstay Management is a government-sponsored company set up to provide "one-stop" services for persons interested in the longstay program.
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.
Safety & Security
For a big city of more than 10 Million people, Bangkok is a relatively safe place. Violent crime, although far from unknown, is still somewhat rare. The most likely criminal behavior you will encounter in Bangkok is the old gem con. More ...
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.