Thailand is bordered to the west by Myanmar/Burma and the Indian Ocean, to the south and east by Malaysia and the Gulf of Thailand, to the east by Cambodia, and to the north and east by Laos. Central Thailand is dominated by the Chao Phraya River. The fertile floodplain and tropical monsoon climate, ideally suited to wet-rice (tham na) cultivation, attracted settlers to this central area over to the marginal uplands and the highlands of the northern region or the Khorat Plateau to the northeast. By the 11th century AD, a number of loosely connected rice-growing and trading states flourished in the upper Chao Phraya Valley. They broke free from domination of the Khmer Empire, but from the middle of the 14th century gradually came under the control of the Ayutthaya Kingdom at the southern extremity of the floodplain. Successive capitals, built at various points along the river, became centres of great Thai kingdoms based on rice cultivation and foreign commerce. Unlike the neighbouring Khmer and Burmese, the Thai continued to look outward across the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea toward foreign ports of trade. When European imperialism brought a new phase in Southeast Asian commerce in the late 1800s, Thailand (known then as Siam) was able to maintain its independence as a buffer zone between British-controlled Burma to the west and French-dominated Indochina to the east, but losing over 50% of its territory in the process. Fortunately, most of the areas lost contained a non-Thai population. The Thai-speaking heartland remained intact.
Electric Supply and Plugs
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Flat two-pin plugs are standard.
Thailand Time Zone is GMT +7hrs
The national language of Thailand is Thai and there are several regional variations. Few locals will speak English outside of the main tourist areas that we visit and very few tourists make the effort to learn a little of the local languages. Therefore, it really impresses the locals to hear a few phrases in their own language and this is a great way of enhancing your cultural experiences along the way. Don't be discouraged by laughter, this is genuinely a sign of their appreciation; it is all part of the fun to try out your vocabulary. We recommend you take a pocket phrase book such as the Lonely Planet or Berlitz and learn some basics.
There are 3 main seasons in Thailand. The rainy season coincides with the monsoon and lasts from June to October. From November to March it is relatively cool and dry. Whilst April and May are unbearably hot. The best time for a visit is from November to March when the weather is at its best.
The currency is the Baht (THB). For up to date exchange rates please visit: www.xe.com
A valid passport (with at least 6 months remaining validity) is required for this trip. Visas are not normally required by British or Commonwealth citizens, or by citizens of the USA or most European countries. You can view the visa requirements at www.travcour.com.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, & Hepatitis ‘A'. Yellow Fever vaccination is no longer mandatory for visitors travelling from non-endemic areas. Malarial prophylactics are recommended. A very good online resource is the NHS travel website at fitfortravel.nhs.uk.