Your trip to Thailand has been booked. The land of smiles, the land of the Buddhas, countless temples and sights. You won’t get bored of this 513 square kilometer country, whose surface area is thirteen times the size of the Netherlands. What do you need to know in advance and where is the best place to start your Thai adventure to get the most out of your trip? Do you want to relax on the beach or would you rather experience some culture? Everything is possible in Thailand.
General information about Thailand
The country itself
Thailand is a parliamentary monarchy, or a kingdom headed by a king. Until 1939 the country was called Siam, until it was renamed from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy in 1938. The name was changed from Siam to Thailand (Prathet Thai,) which roughly translates to ‘free land’. This means that the king no longer has absolute power. We also have this construction in the Netherlands.
95% of the 67,976,405 inhabitants (as of 2015) practice Theravada Buddhism and are very respectful and superstitious. You should not be surprised if you see the so-called Wat (temples) or statues everywhere in the country. Buddhism is very warm-hearted, where alleviating suffering and self-reflection are central. For these reasons, Buddhism can be considered a philosophy rather than a religion, as it does not center on God. In fact, this does not exist in the eyes of the Thais. If you are interested in studying Buddhism or learning to meditate, you can talk to monks in the temples of Chiang Mai. The second largest religion in Thailand is Islam. Thai Muslims mostly live in the south of Thailand near the Malaysian border. Other religions are Hinduism, Christianity, Thaoism or Confucianism, which you can find in the multicultural capital Bangkok. The population of this city has multiple cultures, such as Japanese, Indians, Europeans and Chinese.
In Thailand people pay with the Thai Baht. Check the current exchange rate before your departure. Only withdraw your money in Thailand, so not in the Netherlands in advance. At Thai banks or ATMs you will receive a better exchange rate, because the Baht is linked to the Dollar. There are tens of thousands of vending machines spread across the country, including in the arrival halls of airports. Leaving home with Thai money is therefore unnecessary and unnecessarily expensive. However, make sure in advance that the option to pay by debit card outside the EU is enabled via the bank you are connected to and that your bank card contains the Maestro symbol. You pay a reasonable 1% commission for debit card payments, which you can later find on your bank statements.
When using public transport, such as a taxi or a boat trip, it is useful to have some coins or smaller notes with you to avoid exchange problems.
Thailand falls in the time zone UTC +7. During our Dutch summer time it is 5 hours later in Thailand and during our winter time it is 6 hours later.
Best time to travel
It is advisable to travel to this country during the dry period, from November to February.
Hepatitis A + B and Polio DTP. For advice about vaccinations and to make an appointment, please visit Meditel.
Thailand has a tropical climate that can be divided into three categories.
The northern part of Thailand has a tropical savannah climate. This means that every month an average of 18 degrees or higher must be achieved with at least one month of the year precipitation of 60 mm or less.
The south of Thailand has a tropical monsoon climate. This is characterized by a long dry period and a real rainy season in which quite a lot of rain can fall (monsoon).
Other small areas
In certain small areas the weather is determined by the tropical rainforest climate. In these areas it is warm, but without real dry periods, as the name itself indicates.
Places and sights that you absolutely should not miss
Bangkok, or Krung Thep as the Thais call this city, is not only the capital of Thailand, but also the largest city in this country. In 2010, Bangkok had 8,280,925 registered inhabitants. The city is located on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River. Bangkok loosely translated means city of angels or impenetrable city. This name comes from the time after the fall of Ayutthaya, which was the capital of what was then Siam. King Rama I rebuilt Bangkok from the rubble of the fallen city of Ayutthaya .
Attractions or sights worth seeing:
- Royal Palace
- Wat Phra Kaew
- What Arun
- Lumphini Park
- Golden Buddha
- What Suthat
- What Benchamabophit
- Baiyoki Tower
- Lebua Tower
- Boat trip on the Chao Praya River
Chiang Mai is located in the mountains of the city, in the north of Thailand. The Ping River runs through the city. Chiang Mai is relatively cheap compared to the rest of the country.
When you are in Chiang Mai you can go to:
- Tiger Kingdom
- Night Bazar
- Night Safari
- Phu Ping Palace
- Wat Chiang Man
The former capital of what was then Siam. The city is mainly known for its history and ruins, which can still be visited everywhere. All temples and other sights are relatively close to each other, making it possible to explore them on foot. You can also rent a bicycle in the city with a cycle route.
The sights at a glance:
- Wat Phra Si Sanphet
- Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
- What Mahatat
- Wat Chai Watthanaram
- Cycling route along the sights
This city is best known for the Burma Railway, or the Death Railway, which was built on behalf of the Japanese during the Second World War. About 100,000 people died from exhaustion and illness during construction. The city is located on the Khwae Yai and Khwae Noi Rivers, which together form the Mae Klong.
The city’s must-sees are:
- The Burma Railway
- A boat trip on the Mae Klong
- Sleeping at a so-called Floating Guesthouse
- The JEATH war museum
- Kanchanaburi War Cemetery with 7,000 war graves
- The bridge over the River Kwai
- The Erawan National Park
- The SainYok National Park
Known for its Full Moon Parties, coral reefs and beautiful beaches, this island is an absolute must.
What to do on Koh Phangan:
- Bottle Beach
- Chinese Temple
- Had Rin Beach
- Phaeng waterfall
- Wat Phu Khao Noi
This island is the most popular holiday island because of its snow-white beaches. This 247 square kilometer island is the largest island after Phuket and Koh Chang. Most tourism can be found on the east and north coasts of this island. However, the interior is also worth a trip.
What Koh Samui has to offer:
- Numuang Waterfall
- Hin Hat Waterfall
- What Kun Aram
- Big Buddha Temple
- Angthong National Marine Park
- Crocodile Farm
The island of bays and rock formations. From Krabi you can also easily reach islands such as Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Railay. On Krabi you can relax and unwind.
What to see and do:
- Tiger Cave Temple
- Railay Beach
- Crossing to Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta
- Krabi also has miles of sandy beaches and photogenic bays
This is one of the busiest beach resorts in Thailand. A (motor) bicycle or car can be rented here, so that you can easily explore the area.
What you should not miss in Pattaya:
- Sanctuary of Truth
- Wat Khao Phra Temple
- Marine aquarium
- Nong Nooch Botanical Garden
- Walking Street
- Tiger Zoo
- Elephant Village
- Mini Siam
- Pattaya Park
Koh Phi Phi
It is not without reason that the film ‘The Beach’ was filmed here. Koh Phi Phi is known for its beautiful beaches and azure blue sea. Officially, Koh Phi Phi is a National Park that has six islands, but the most important are Koh Phi Phi Leh and Koh Phi Phi Don. The island is completely car-free.
This is what you need to do when you are here:
- Monkey Beach
- Fire shows
- Snorkeling and diving
- Mayan Bay
- Ton Sai Bay
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and a very popular attraction due to its vibrant nightlife. The largest waterfalls are also on this island. Finally, Phuket is a good base for the island of Koh Phi Phi.
What to do on Phuket:
- To Koh Phi Phi
- Wat Chalong
- 3 Bay View Point
- Sailing boat trips
- Laem Phrompthep
- Elephant trekking
Route recommended through Thailand
Of course it depends on how long you want to stay in Thailand, but with the route below you will certainly visit the most beautiful places. This is of course relative. Look in advance at your wishes, what you want to see and what you absolutely want to do. It is advisable to save hectic Bangkok for last, so that you can acclimatize.
The schedule below was completed in four weeks. The trip can possibly be extended further, depending on whether more time is available.
- Arrival at Bangkok
- Night train to Chiang Mai
- Chiang Mai
- Domestic flight to Phuket
Don’t commit to your schedule, but feel free to adjust and adjust your schedule on the spot. However, prepare your trip somewhat in advance so that you can get the most out of your trip. Make sure you are not faced with any unpleasant surprises.