Quick facts about Thailand

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Territorial boundaries: North-East: Laos; South: Malaysia; South-East: Cambodia & Gulf of Thailand; West: Burma; South-East: Andaman Sea

Area: 510 000 km2

Most important waterways: Mekhong River, Tonburi River, Gulf of Thailand, Andaman Sea 

Capital: Bangkok (City of Angels) 

Important cities: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Phuket 

Highest point: Doi Inthanon (2 595 meters)

Lowest point: Sea level (0 meter)

Time zone: ICT (Indochina time) (12h ahead of Montreal time)

Environment – current issues : Air pollution from vehicle emissions, water pollution from organic and factory wastes, deforestation, soil erosion, wildlife populations threatened by illegal hunting

Climate: Tropical, high both in temperature and humidity, and dominated by monsoons. April and May are the hottest months of the year. June sees the beginning of the South West Monsoon, and brings with it the rainy season, which continues intermittently until the end of October. From November to the end of February the climate is much less trying with a cooling North East breeze and a reduction in the humidity level. This is also the main tourist season, and the best time to visit Thailand. The north and north-east are generally cooler than Bangkok in winter and hotter in summer. The south is always hot and humid 

Tourist seasons: From November to the end of February is the high season, and the best time to visit Thailand. From December 15th to January 4-7th + Spring break (last week of February + 2 first weeks of March) is the peak of the high season (July is starting to be busy because of the school holidays). Low season (and rainy season) is from the end of May to October 

Political regime: Constitutional monarchy 

Population: 68 657 000 (2014) 

Languages: Thai, English (secondary language of the elite), Chinese, Lao, Khmer, Malay and regional dialects (75)

Ethnic minorities: 75% Thai, 14% Chinese,4% Malay, 7% Lao-Burmese-Vietnamese-Indian

Religions: 94.6% Buddhist (Theravada form of Buddhism – Each individual is considered responsible for his own actions and destiny), 4.6% Muslim, 0.7% Christian, 0.1% other 

Main sources of revenue: Economy based on a strong export-dependency and tourism (more than 2 millions of visitors/year)

Currency: Thai Bath THB (1 CAN $ = 32 Thai Bath) – www.xe.com

Gastronomy: One of the best in the world. Almost all Thai food is cooked with fresh ingredients, including vegetables, poultry, pork, fish and some beef. Lime juice, lemon grass and fresh coriander give the food its characteristic tang, while liberal helpings of fresh chillies are used to add some fire to many dishes. Other common seasonings include black pepper, ginger, tamarind, and coconut milk which is often added to curries. The most popular beer is the local Singha beer.

Protocol: The graceful, traditional Thai greeting is called a wai; When introduced to a monk, never touch him; Nicknames are popular; Don’t be surprized if the Thais give you a nickname; Public displays of affection between members of the opposite sex are not supported; Never, ever point your foot at anyone; The head is sacred; Never touch anyone on the head, not even a child; Never walk in front of Thais praying in a temple; Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver; Never make fun of the royal family

Accessibility from Montreal – Main airports: Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai

Main airlines: A wide range of flights is offered as is a very popular leisure and business destination – Bangkok is also an important hub – Prioritize a Asian or Middle-Eastern airline: Japan (JL), Korean (KE), Quatar (QR), Singapore (SQ), Emirates (EK), Cathay Pacific (CX), Eva (BR), (+ or – China CI) European airlines : TK, AF, BA, LX, KL AY – North American airlines: AC, UA, DL, NH – Other Middle-Eastern: EY, RJ, 9W

Entry requirements: Valid passport (valid 6 months before return)

Tourist Visa: Required for more than 30 days coming by air – It’s free! – Visa of 3 months available if no airline ticket showing them that you will leave the country within a month, to obtain in advance at the Consulate of Thailand in Montreal for 40$

Business Visa: Required

Safety issues: Relatively safe (good for women travelling alone)

Well known for sexual tourism

Aggressive driving

Bangkok has ones of the world worst traffic jams

Travellers should be particularly cautious during “full moon parties” in Koh Pha-ngan

Poisonous jellyfish off Koh Pha-ngan, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta, and Koh Phi Phi

Variety of scams regarding renting equipment and insurance

Many large-scale political demonstrations have taken place in Thailand since 2008, resulting in violence and rioting that caused death and injury, accompanied by military presence and traffic delays

Big thief network – Personal belongings, including passports, have been stolen from luggage compartments under buses, especially on long distance journeys. Break-ins occur at budget guesthouses, sometimes while guests are asleep in the room.

Health issues: Be very careful when advising clients about health, as you are not a travel doctor. Strongly recommend that they should go to see a specialist!

Tap water is not good to drink

The sun can be very strong, risk of insolation – Recommend use of a sunblock 30 – Wear a hat

During the monsoon, mosquitos can be very annoying and carry malaria in certain areas – Recommend a mosquitos repellent with at least 30% of DEET

Reminder about food: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it! 

Vaccines to consider:

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis B

Influenza (flu)

Japanese Encephalitis

Rabies

Typhoid 

Good medication to bring for:

Anti-malaria

Antibiotic to treat diarrhea

Antibiotic to treat salmonella

(Ariane)

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