Asia Travel Travel Tips

Thailand: All you need to know – from visas to weather

Thailand is one of the most popular holiday destinations for expats in Hong Kong – it’s perfect for short breaks and home to an array of stunning islands and national parks. Planning to jet there for a holiday? Check out the guide below for all sorts of advice on flight time, visas and more.

Plus, for heaps of inspiration for islands, towns, resorts and tours, head to our special Thai section.

Ko Lanta, Thailand

Passport holders from 41 countries, including Australia, UK, US and Canada, do not require a visa for stays not exceeding 30 days. Visit the Royal Thai Consulate General of Hong Kong for the full list.

Air time
3.5 hours (Phuket), 2.5 hours (Bangkok), 2.5 hours (Chiang Mai) from Hong Kong.

Cash & cards
The official currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB). Foreign currency and travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks and baht withdrawn at ATMs throughout the country. Credit cards are widely accepted.

Ko Tao, Thailand

Weather report
The weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid across most of the country throughout most of the year. Avoid Bangkok and the inland areas in April when the weather is scorching. Beach-lovers should be aware that the weather varies on the east and west coasts. On the west coast (Phuket, Phi Phi and Krabi), the southwest monsoon brings heavy storms from April to October. On the east coast (Koh Samui, Koh Phangan) most rainfall is between September and December.

Mother tongue
Thai is the official language, but most locals have at least a rudimentary understanding of English.

Ko Samui, Thailand

First words
Hello: Sawadee ka (female)Sawadee krab (male)
What is your name? Khun cheu arai?
My name is __:  di-chan chuh __ (female) – pom chuh __  (male)
How much? Tao rai ka? (female) – Tao rai krub? (male)
Thank you: Khorb khun ka (female) – Khorb khun krab (male)
Yes: Chi
No thank you: Mai ao ka (female); Mai ao krab (male)

Ko Phangan, Thailand

To say hello in Thai, place your hands together close to your chest and dip your head in a slight bow. This greeting is referred to as the wai.

Clocking in
Thailand is 7 hours ahead of GMT and 1 hour behind Singapore.

World Heritage Sites
Total: 5
– Ban Chiang Archaeological Site
– Historic City of Ayutthaya
– Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns
– Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex
– Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries

A typical (yet beautiful) Thai wat

Must-try food
Pad Thai – rice noodles stir-fried with eggs and chopped firm tofu, flavoured with tamarind pulp, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic or shallots, red chilli pepper, palm sugar, and served with lime wedges and often chopped roasted peanuts.

National flower
The flowers of the Ratchaphruek tree.

Must-buy souvenir
Thai silk.

Phuket, Thailand

Did you know?
– The town of Kanchanburi is home to the famous “Bridge Over the River Kwai”, part of the Burma-Siam railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people died constructing the project.
– It is strictly against Thai law to criticise the monarchy.
– Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that has not been colonised by Europeans.
– At 127 metres high, Phra Pathommachedi in Nakhon Pathom is the tallest stupa in the world.

Must-read book
Bangkok 8 by John Burdett – the seamier side of Thailand is represented in these pages (namely, the bars and brothels) but it’s a suspenseful and entertaining read.