The Ultimate Newbie Guide to Thailand

Preparing for the trip to Thailand

If this is your first trip to Thailand you may want to spend a some time preparing for your trip, after all you want this to be a special memorable one. While it is impossible to pinpoint the exact things a traveler should prepare for, there are some basic issues that should be considered. Remember that a trip begins at the preparation stage, and the better you prepare the better and the more enjoyable the trip is likely to be.

Budget: Since we all have different spending habits this is a near impossible question to answer. Some run up significant bar bill others not so, some may have 2 or more ladies per day others a few per week, some chose to stay in an inexpensive guest house where other prefer upscale hotels and the list goes on.
To help budgeting try the LOS Vacation Calculator.

Reservations
: Flight reservations is obviously a given. Here are a few websites to search for airfares: Kayak.com, Expedia.com, and Travelocity.com. Upon departing for Thailand you should have documentation for onward travel, according to Thai regulations. It is rare that immigration in Thailand asks for this, but not uncommon for the airlines to enforce the issue, however, the airlines are likely to require it; see Visa FAQ. In high season, particularly at the peak of that season, a hotel reservation well in advance is highly recommended. Most travelers, however, would never travel without a reservation anyhow.
See also Selecting Accommodations Section.

Visa: Visitors holding passports from most Western and most Asian countries are not required to obtain a visa in advance when traveling to Thailand if the stay is 30 days or less when arriving via air or 15 days if arriving overland (overland for passport holders of a G7 country is 30 days). Tourist visas for stays up to 60 days (extendable for up tor 30 days) may be applied for at any Thai embassy or consulate. Multiple Entry Tourist Visas can afford nearly 270 days of stay when maximized correctly ... see Visa FAQ section.
Overstaying the allowed time in Thailand will result in a fine and possible delays obtaining future visas and future entries. Being caught in Thailand with an expired privilege may result in arrest, detention and deportation. Depending on the circumstances an overstay may result in being bared from reentry for years.
Thai Visa Frequent Asked Questions and Options.
Directory of Embassies and Consulates by Country.

Passport: : You will need a current and valid passport with at least 6 month remaining before expiry each time you enter Thailand. Yes, even if your stay is only 30 days that is the rule. Take a quality copy of the main personal information pages of your passport. Technically, you are required to carry your passport at all times, however, most people do not and here is a good alternative. When you enter Thailand you will have an departure card stapled in your passport along with the entry stamp, take a copy of the picture page, the departure card as well as the page with the stamp after arriving and keep the copies with you. This are most often accepted by the Thai police and most hotels in Pattaya as valid documentation. Remember, losing your passport will involve a great hassle and may damage your holiday. Keep the passport in a secure place while in Thailand, for example in a hotel room safe or lobby safe.

Money
: Exchange your money in Thailand. To get cash in Thailand, you may use an ATM when you can (fewer and larger withdrawals are better than many small ones as a per transaction fee usually applies), make sure your daily withdrawal limit is sufficiently high and inform your bank that you will be using your card in Thailand (or they may bar it). As an alternative bring travelers checks. Remember there are limits as to the amount of cash and negotiable instruments you may be in possession of when entering and leaving Thailand (as well as your own country). When arriving in Thailand the max amount is US$ 20,000 or its equivalent; when departing the aggregate is the same, but the max amount in Thai baht is 50.000 (unless traveling to a neighboring country or Vietnam then it is 500,000 baht). More details here: Thai Customs
For addition information on money matters in Thailand please see the Money Section.

VaccineVaccinations: In most cases vaccinations are not absolutely necessary for visiting Thailand, especially the tourist areas. Tetanus and Hepatitis A are a simple vaccines and is highly recommended for all travel to Asia in general. Also worth considering is Hepatitis B vaccines. The risk factor of contacting tetanus and hepatitis in Thailand is low; yet some would recommend even additional vaccinations. For complete details consult with your physician. The Center for Disease Control has a complete list of recommended vaccinations: CDC - Health Information for Travelers to Thailand.

Medicine: If you take prescription medicine and travel for an extended period make sure to consult your doctor so to bring enough for the trip and some for unforeseen delays. If you travel through a middle east country you may want to check for with your carrier as some drugs may be illegal - even if you only transit. Always pack essential medicines in your carry-on. Over the counter medicine is readily available in Thailand, but it may be easier to bring it from home.

Packing: One big advice is Pack Light. Laundry is cheap in Thailand and so is buying a bit of extra clothes. Do make sure to pack your personal essentials, such as prescription medicines in your carry-on.
If you do a good job at packing you may be able to carry all on board and not having to wait for luggage at the designation.

Identifying your bags
Many bags looks alike and BKK airport has nearly 150,000 arriving passengers each and every day. Tying a simple colored (or two) bow or yarn around each handle may save you a lot of confusion and hassle. Also make sure to leave contact information inside the bag, including the hotel information of you destination; any mix-up can be rectified quickly that way.

Condoms: If you plan on a lot of adult entertainment you may want to bring condoms from home. You certainly can buy them in Thailand, but many types will be the wrong size (look for Durex Comfort as a good choice for Westerners). buying condoms at home (Internet) in bulk is generally much less expensive than purchasing them in Thailand.


Mobile Phone: You may want to get an extra cell phone so that you can purchase a local SIM card and phone number in Thailand. The phone has to be unlocked; note that getting phones unlocked in Thailand is pretty cheap and so is buying a used or no frills phone. The phone has to work on the GSM-900 and GSM-1800 bands (same as Australia, Europe, Africa, most of Asia and some of Latin/South America). If you come from North America and some countries in Latin/South America you should have a quad-band phone. SIM cards are available everywhere in Thailand, even in 7-Elleven shops, and the cost may be less than 100 baht providing enough air time for an average holiday. Thai phone refill cards are sold in denominations from 50 to 300 baht a piece.

Notifications: It is always good general practice to alert someone to your approximate whereabouts and ways that you can be contacted while on holiday. If you are concerned about emergencies you may also contact the embassy of your country in Thailand and report your stay.

Health insurance: Minor treatments and medication in Thailand can as well be paid in cash as it is very cheap. Be aware, however, that your health coverage from home (social security or otherwise) may not be valid in Thailand. Travel Health Insurance can be relatively inexpensive. Many credit card companies also offer cheap but effective travelerís insurance policies.

Electrical Appliances: If you plan to bring electrical appliances make sure they will operate at ~220VAC, also be mindful that the mains connectors in Thailand may not match yours, however, adapters are cheap in Thailand and can be bought at most home appliance stores. Both American style outlets and Continental European styles are used and most hotels offer combination sockets. Be careful, however, with voltage converters as some of the cheaper models operate on a light dimmer principle and can do serious damage to sophisticated power supplies and devices.
One more note. Grounding is not present in older hotels, so a ground-defeater plug (sounds safe) may be required. Also, if you have sensitive electronic equipment a surge protector may be advisable.
GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupters) are rare, refrain from using appliances near water such as in the bathroom.

Jetlag: Jetlag is covered in the Journey Section, however, as a part of the preparation for the journey you may want to adjust your sleep cycle to be closer to that of Thai time, also be careful to avoid dehydration by control of your fluid intake, prepare any medication you need on the way, and etc.

The Ultimate Newbie
Guide to Thailand

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