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Travel Infos Thailand

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Thailand - Travel Infos



Climate

Thailand is roughly divided into three seasons:

1.  The hot, dry season from March to May harbors the highest temperatures of the year.  Average daily temperatures range clearly over 30° C (86° F). 

2.  The Monsoon season is from June to October with daily temperatures around and over 30° C with high humidity.  During this time, visitors should expect daily, short but heavy down pours.  An exception here is the island of Ko Samui, which offers its best travel season during this time.

3.  The cooler season is from November to February with average daily temperatures around and under 30° C.  The relatively low humidity during this time makes this the best season for Europeans to visit and travel Thailand. 

On the East Coast of the southern Isthmus, the monsoons occur from November to March.  On the West Coast (Phuket), they occur from May to October.

The hottest temperatures are found in the Northwestern Plains.  Here, towards the end of the hot season, temperatures can be higher in Chiang Mai in the North of the country than in Bangkok, tough with notably less humidity. 

Thailand can be traveled during the rainy season.  The ideal travel time however is from November to February, as temperatures in the cooler season are still considered as very warm.

Traffic

In Thailand traffic travels on the left! 

Signs adhere to international standards and are often depicted in Thai and English.

Traveling the open roads at night is not a good idea due to the heavy truck traffic.  Truck drivers have a tendency to show little respect for cars and drive accordingly rude. 

Bangkok itself has a bad reputation concerning driving conditions.  The roads of the city are usually completely over-crowded.

For someone who is not exactly knowledgeable of the city, it is extremely difficult to drive in it.  While Thai drivers are exceptionally courteous and considerate – the horn is used only rarely – driving directions, entry and exit ramps change frequently without notice or a change in road signs. 

Currency

The Thai currency is the Baht (BHT, THB).  1 Baht = 100 Satant.  1 Euro = appr. 40-5- Baht.  The up to date exchange rate can be found, among other places, at www.wechselkurs.de.

Health

Hepatitis A and B:  since early April 2005, the North of Thailand has experienced an outbreak of Hepatitis A.  The reason for this is the more frequent consume of contaminated ice cream.  A vaccination against Hepatitis A is highly recommended prior to taking a Thailand vacation. 

Tap water should not be drunk in Thailand.  A travel kit should contain tablets against diarrhea either way.

Many illnesses can be prevented by only consuming hygienic foods and drinks.  This means nothing light-warm and only thoroughly cooked foods should be eaten.  Continuous protection from insects should be practiced and is an absolute must during a Thailand visit. 

It is also recommended to obtain a vaccination against Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio, and, for longer stays over three months, also Hepatitis B.

Primarily for visits in the rural country or in the rain forest, a vaccination against Rabies, Typhoid, and Japanese Encephalitis is recommended. 

A current Yellow Fever vaccination is required when returning into Thailand from a Yellow Fever region.

AIDS constitutes a large problem in Thailand.  Main contraction cases occur with sexual contact, contaminated needles or cannulae, and blood transfusions.  Here, extreme caution must be exercised to avoid danger of life! 

Dengue Fever and Malaria occur in varying cases in Thailand.  Dengue Fever cases occur more frequently in Thailand, particularly within the local population and with tourists.  I good prevention method for this illness is consequent protection from insects.  Prescription medication such as Malarone, Doxycyclin, and Lariam are available on the local economy.  These drugs however, have significant side effects.

Please read, aside from our general liability disclaimer, the following notice:  Responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the medical information, as well as liability for potentially occurring damages cannot be assumed.  You, the traveler, are and remain responsible for your health.

Entry and traffic

For stays of up to 30 days in Thailand, no special visa is necessary for German citizens.  It is sufficient to obtain a “Visa upon Entry”.  It can be issued up to three times within a 6 month period and is stamped into the passport by Thai customs.  Travelers must be able to show a journey-on or return ticket though. 

The entry for children is only possible with separate EU or temporary passports.  Thai authorities thus far do not recognize the German children’s passport for entry.

Those desiring to stay in Thailand more than 30 days must obtain a Visa from a Thai Embassy.  For stays of up to 60 days, a “Tourist Visa” is required.  A “Non-Immigrant Visa” entitles the holder for a stay of up to 90 days.  Tourist and Non-Immigrant Visas may be extended by 30 days in most cases. 

When extending a Thai visa, caution should be exercised.  Even if some travel guides suggest an extension of a visa through a travel agency or other “mediators”, these should not be depended upon.  A visa may only be extended by the Thai Bureau of Immigration or at the border check points.  Travel agents usually offer illegally forged copies.

If bad comes to worse, this can lead to an arrest when departing, not only due to “overstay” but also due to the forged visa. 

In the payment of fines the following applies:  if fines cannot be paid immediately, the conviction by court-martial usually follows.  This leads to a further fine, which must be paid or served as a prison sentence at the rate of 200 Baht per day.

In following, deportation (forced) to the home country takes place.  In the case of “overstay” a re-entry bar of one year is imposed. 

Security

Assaults - particularly in the South – cannot be ruled out in Thailand.  Travels in and through regions of declared national emergency, such as the provinces Narathiwat, Yala, and Pattani, as well as the neighboring provinces Songhkla on the border to Malaysia, and the most southern provinces of Thailand, should be urgently avoided as these are regions of frequent civil unrest.

In these regions, all facilities of Thai Security Forces, the governments in general or public places are particularly dangerous.  But also popular tourist areas and vacation resorts, the travel infrastructure (i.e. airports) as well as large shopping centers cannot be excluded.  This hold especially true as terrorist groups placed threats against tourist travel destinations previously. 

Travelers should, as far as possible, take a detour around markets and crowds of people.

Travelers booking trips with ferries of tour boats should inspect these thoroughly beforehand, or obtain a recommendation by experienced “insiders”.  In light of inadequate Safety and Rescue facilities, not all boats and ships are dependable. 

The border area of Cambodia should also be avoided.  Frequent assault or robberies by armed gangs occur there.

For the same reason, trekking tours to the remote northern parts of the country are not without danger. 

Violent crimes occur extremely seldom in Thailand.  In the larger cities, opportunity theft may occur.  More popular in Bangkok are cheap city tours which lead, among others, to involuntary shopping stops.

In recent times, German vacationers in Phuket (Patong) have repeatedly become victims of gangs who apparently work in conjunction with corrupt police officials and lawyers.  These gangs accuse tourists falsely of misdemeanor crimes (theft of plagiarized watches etc.) and consequently attempt to extort money from the victims. 

If this demand is rejected, victims are threatened with a police complaint.  In these cases immediate telephonic contact with the Embassy is advised.

General travel information: 

Buddhism is the way of life in Thailand.  This should always be considered in day to day life.  To avoid hurting the Thais’ feelings, appropriate clothing should be worn when visiting temples and other religious sights.

Caution is advised with tractors, particularly with Tuk-Tuk drivers in Bangkok.  These will approach tourists in popular places and lead them to different stores in which they will be harassed into shopping.  Tourists should only get into cabs and Tuk-Tuks which they hired themselves and avoid the ones that approach tourists. 

Travelers should be particularly careful when considering a purchase in a jewelry store.  Most of the time, merchandise there is fake or of low quality.

Tourists should not purchase time shares (usage rights in vacation resorts).  In most cases, neither the apartment nor the share right is such as it was agreed upon.  By the time the customer insists on their right, the company will already be out of business and no longer exists.  

Caution is also advised for circulating counterfeit money.  It is recommended to purchase local currency only at official currency exchange facilities.

The purchase of plagiarized brand name articles such as watches, computers, software, clothing, etc., as well as the import to Germany is prohibited due to copy right laws.   

The export of certain antiques (i.e. Buddha figurines or pictures) is only authorized with permission of the Fine Arts Department.

The export of certain leather products (i.e. elephant, crocodile, snake), as well as ivory, along with the import into Germany are subject to the Washington Treaty of Species Protection.  It is urgently recommended to get accurate information on these rules prior to making a purchase. 

Special criminal legal provisions

Tourists coming into confrontation with Thai law may make a bitter experience.  Hence, it is important to know several provisions prior to traveling. 

Criminal proceedings in Thailand are very lengthy.  The paradise of the German legal system does await you in Thailand.  The possibilities for the defense counsel are very limited.

Pre-trial confinement is very long, and can be very expensive.  It can be a long time before getting to seek legal counsel.  The conditions in confinement are very uncomfortable.

The purchase, possession, distribution, as well as the import and export of any type of illegal drug (to include Marihuana, Ecstasy, and all amphetamines) is expressly warned against. 

Be particularly cautious during traveling.  Often, criminals place drugs into the luggage of tourists without their knowledge.  This can have fateful consequences.

Even the possession of small quantities of drugs leads to high terms of imprisonment.  In a past extreme case, a German received a life-long prison sentence for having possession of only 37 grams.

The dealing with drugs is punishable with death in Thailand, which is frequently enforced. 

The sexual abuse of minor children is punished harshly in Thailand and will be prosecuted in Germany as well, even if the crime was committed in Thailand.

Sexual relations with persons under 18 years of age, even with their consent, are punishable in Thailand.  When in doubt, the age of the partner should be verified by checking their personal photo ID card. 

Nude swimming, swimming without a bikini top, as well as sexual acts are not allowed in public.

Remember to carry your identification card or passport with you at all times.  Frequently – particularly in the leisure districts of metro cities – ID checks take place.  A copy of the passport is sufficient for identification, as long as the page with the Thai visa or the entry stamp is copied and carried along as well.


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