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Travel & Tourism in Thailand : Travel & Tourism in Thailand

Thailand Tourism

A kingdom at the crossroads of Asia, Thailand has long welcomed a steady stream of visitors from other parts of the globe, all the while refining new ideas and influences and making them particularly “Thai.” Nowhere is this more evident-or enjoyable-than in Thailand.

Tourist attractions can be found in all parts of the country. In the north, mountains mark the landscape and forests with indigenous hill tribes and temples of distinct northern architecture, while the south offers visitors breath-taking sceneries with white, sandy beaches and hundreds of islands surrounded by turquoise seas. To the east and northeast, there are many mysterious ruins and archaeological sites waiting to be explored, while in the central region, the splendor of the grand palace and other historical sites provide a glimpse into the Kingdom’s rich history and its interaction with the outside world over the centuries.

Thailand is also well-known among foreigners for its rich cultural heritage and warm hospitality. A lot of fun and colorful festivals, such as the Thai New Year or Songkran, the water festival, and Loy Kratong, the festival of lights where candle-lit floral floats are released down the rivers, always draw visitors’ attention. In addition, the country offers a great variety of arts and crafts, from local wooden handicrafts and exquisite Thai silk to distinctively delicate jewel-studded souvenirs that tell many stories about the Kingdom’s rich heritage.

In 2010, over 611,792 tourists from the United States entered into Thailand. However, the total number of tourists that comes to Thailand over the year is about 15,936,400 people. The nation with the most visited tourists to Thailand in 2010 is Malaysia.

A Few of the many accolades include:

From Travel + Leisure magazine:

World’s Best City: Bangkok (four years in a row)

            Top City Hotel in Asia: Mandarin Oriental (1st, 2011); Peninsula (1st, 2010)

Top Resorts in Asia 2011: Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi Chiang Mai (2nd); Four

      Seasons Resort Chiang Mai (7th)

HSBC survey of expatriates in more than 100 countries found that Thailand is the best place in

the world to live after retirement.

Norwegian Grand Travel Awards:
            World’s Best Tourist Country 2010 (seven years in a row)

            Best Intercontinental Airline: Thai Airways (six years in a row)

SmartTravel.com

            Best places to do business: Bangkok (4th)

Lonely Planet

            World’s Best Value Destination: Thailand (2nd)

            Top 10 Airport: Suvarnahumi International

            Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2011: Chiang Mai

Visit Thailand

Tourism Thailand

For full information about Tourism Thailand, including ‘Travel and Transport’, ‘Where to Go’, ‘See & Do’, ‘Where to Stay’, ‘Food & Drink’, ‘Shopping’ and ‘Travel Deals’, visit “Amazing Thailand, Always Amazes You” at www.tourismthailand.org

Information for travelers

Passports and visas

Visitors seeking entry into the Kingdom of Thailand for tourism, study, business, investment, employment or other purposes must possess valid travel documents. Passport holders from 40 countries and from Hong Kong do not require a visa when entering Thailand for tourism and will be permitted to stay for 30 days.Nationals of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the Republic of Korea and Peru may stay for up to 90 days.

Passport holders from 21 countries may apply for tourist visas at immigration checkpoints for a period not exceeding 15 days. The visitor must possess living expenses of 10,000 baht per person or 20,000 baht per family and a paid ticket, which is usable within 15 days from the date of entry.

Visitors with transit or courtesy visas are permitted to stay for up to 30 days, and up to 60 days with a tourist visa. Anyone wishing to apply for a visa extension should apply at the Office of the Immigration Bureau, 507, Soi Suan Phlu, South Sathon Road, Bangkok 10120. Those residing outside Bangkok may contact their nearest Immigration Office.

Telecommunication

Thailand places priority on the role of information and communication technology (ICT) to connect people and reduce the digital divide. Under the Smart Thailand and National Broadband policy, at least 80% of the population will have access to broadband in 2015 and at least 95% by 2020. All state-of-the-art modes of telecommunication are offered throughout the country.

Fixed-line telephone system

The fixed-line telephone coverage in Thailand serves 79% of all offices, enterprises, organizations and registered households, connected by 6.7 million lines in total. All fixed-line telephone numbers consist of nine digits. To make a domestic call, it is necessary to dial the prefix “0” before dialing the area code, therefore, either the two-digit code “02” for Bangkok or the three-digit code “0xx” for provinces.

Mobile phone system

Mobile phones serve virtually the whole Thailand, with some 75 million connections, thus by far exceeding its population figure, notably the sub-total of youth and adults. All mobile telephone numbers consist of ten digits. Mobile phones and SIM cards can be easily purchased at various outlets, including shopping malls and convenience stores, among others. Thai law forbids the use of mobile phones while driving, unless drivers use hand-free equipment.

 

International phone call

To call from abroad, dial the international access code (depending on the originating country), the Thailand code “66” and destination number, without the prefix 0. To call abroad from Thailand, dial 001, then the country code and the destination number. Lower rates for international phone calls are offered by Voice over IP (VoIP) services such as by dialing 008, or 009, instead of 001. Please note that there is variation in available destinations. If in need of assistance to make an international phone call from Thailand, one should dial the service number 100.

Internet

Internet access in Thailand has grown rapidly, comprising more than 22 million users with broadband coverage at 40%. Government provides Free-WiFi in public areas such as universities, post offices, and gas stations. Visitors can register for a free-of-charge account using their passport code and receive login information via SMS. Internet access is also available, either free-of-charge/courtesy service/or for-pay, at certain restaurants andcafés. Access to ICT services, facilities, devices and content by physically disabled persons is continually being enhanced through implementation of respective policy guidelines.

Transport

International Airports

The most important international airport in Thailand is Suvarnabhumi (pronounced Suwanna-poom) International Airport located in the suburb of Bangkok.  It is also an important regional hub allowing traffic to connect conveniently to neighboring countries. The others include Don Mueang Airport, Chiang Mai Airport, Mae Fah Luang Chiang Rai International Airport, Phuket Airport, Hat Yai Airport, U-Taphao Airport and Ubon Ratchathani Airport.

Domestic Airports

There are 28 domestic airports owned by the Department of Civil Aviation. Bangkok Airways is a private company with its own airports in Ko Samui, Sukhothai and Trat.

Airlines

Thailand is served by over one hundred international and domestic airlines, with Bangkok serving as a Southeast Asian aviation hub and strategic gateway to the region’s rapidly expanding economies.

Thailand-based airlines, serving both domestic and international destinations, include Thai Airways International(www.thaiairways.com), Bangkok Airways(www.bangkokair.com), Thai Air Asia(www.airasia.com), PC Air(www.pcairline.com), Thai Smile(www.thaismileair.com), Nok Mini Airlines (www.nokmini.com), SGA Airlines(www.sga.com), and Orient Thai Airlines(www.flyorient-thai.com).

Rail

Railways link all regions of the country. Service is provided by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), with a network covering 47 provinces over a total of 4,043 route kilometers.

- The Southern Line connects with Malaysia’s rail network, allowing both freight and passengers to go as far as Singapore.

- The Eastern Line connects Bangkok with the Eastern Seaboard and the Cambodian border.

- The Western Line terminates at Nam Tok Station in Kanchanaburi Province, 153 kilometer short of the border with Myanmar.

- The Northeastern Line has two branches. The northern branch stretches to Nong Khai and connects to the Lao PDR via the Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River to Thanaleang Railway Station, about 3.5 kilometers inside the Lao PDR. This is the first rail service offered to and in the Lao PDR.  It was inaugurated on 5 March 2009by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and began serving passengers later that same month. The line will be extended to Vientiane in the future. The southern branch stretches to Ubon Ratchathani.

- The Northern Line connects Bangkok with Chiang Mai.

First-class and second-class air-conditioned sleeping coaches as well as second-class and third-class seating coaches are available.

An Airport Rail Link from the central business district of Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi Airport is also operational. Due to the continuing rise in fuel prices, the government has established a clear policy to shift the transport mode from road to rail in order to reduce cost. The rail network will be expanded, the single track lines will be upgraded, and track doubling will be extended to increase efficiency.

A track-doubling project of 234 km around Bangkok was completed in 2005. The next track-doubling project on the eastern line between Chachoengsao and Laem Chabang over a distance of 78 km began in May 2008 and has been in service since January 2012. This project will increase track capacity for container transport between the Inland Container Depot at Lat Krabang and the sea port at Laem Chabang. Moreover, rail connections to neighboring countries will be constructed to develop Thailand as a regional transport hub.For further details visit www.railway.co.th.

Mass Rapid Transit System in Bangkok

The Bangkok Transit System (BTS) has an elevated railway serving two routes. Recently, the Silom Line was extended from Taksin Bridge across the Chao Phraya River to Thon Buri and Wong Wien Yai stations, a distance of about 2.2 km. The service was officially opened on 15 May 2009.  The 5.25 km extension of the Sukhumvit Line from Soi On Nut to Soi Bearing was also completed. Beside this, construction is also underway to extend both lines from Wong Wien Yai Station to Bang Wa (scheduled to open in 2013) and from Soi Bearing to Paknam (opening in 2015).

The Mass Rapid Transit Authroity of Thailand (MRTA) operates an underground train line from Hua Lamphong Central Railway Station to Bang Sue Railway station, with interchanges with the BTS elevated railway at stations of its Sukhumvit Line and Silom Line.

The government has prioritized policy to expand the Mass Transit Transport to cover Bangkok Metropolitan area extensively. Current projects under construction are the Purple Line, Bang Sue – Bang Yai, the Red Line, Bang Sue – Rang Sit and the Blue Line, Bang Sue – Taling Chan connected to Bang Sue – Ta Phra and linked to Hua Lamphong - Bang Khae.

For further details, visit the following websites:www.bts.co.th, www.mrta.co.th, www.bangkokmetro.co.th, www.otp.go.th and www.railway.co.th.

Roads

All regions of Thailand are accessible by road. State and privately owned air-conditioned and ordinary coaches serve every province. Car rental services are available. (Foreigners wanting to drive in Thailand must have a valid international driving license.) For further details, visit www.doh.go.th and www.dlt.go.th.

Highway Links

Major highways link Thailand with its neighboring countries of Cambodia,the Lao PDR, Malaysia and Myanmar. For further details, visit www.doh.go.th

Expressways

Expressways are the responsibility of the Expressway and Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (ETA). There are now 207.0 km of express way in service. For further details, visit www.exat.co.th.

Waterways

Water transport for cargo and passengers in Thailand is motly confined to the Chao Phraya River and connected canals. Ferries and speedboat services are common between the mainland and popular tourism islands.

Seaports

Major seaports are Laem Chabang, Map Ta Phut, Songkhla and Phuket. Planned ports include Pak Bara Deep Sea Port in Satun Province, a new Songkhla Deep Sea Port and Chumphon Port. Beside these, the Khlong Yai Multipurpose Port in Trat Province is now under construction.

River Ports

The most important river port is the Bangkok Port (Khlong Toei), which is used by ocean-going vessels. In the North, an important port is the Chiang Saen River Port in Chiang Rai Province for cargo vessels on the Mekong River serving neighboring countries, especially Southern China. The new Chiang Saen Port is to be opened in April 2013. In the South, the Kantang Port, Trang Province, is a river port increasing serving ocean going vessels playing routes to neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. For further details, visit www.port.co.th and www.md.go.th.