The electric current is 220 volt AC (50 cycles) throughout the country. Many different types of plugs and sockets are in use. Travellers with electric shavers, hair dryers, tape recorders and other appliances should carry a plug adapter kit. Most hotels make available 110-volt transformers.
Tap water is clean but drinking from it directly should be avoided as a precaution. Bottled water is recommended
Light, cool clothes are sensible and a jacket is needed for formal meetings and dining in top restaurants. Shorts (except knee length walking shorts), sleeveless shirts, tank tops and other beach-style attire are considered inappropriate dress when not actually at the beach or in a resort area. Carry a pocket umbrella in the rainy season.
Weights & Measures
The metric system is used throughout Thailand. Numerals on vehicle speed ohmmeters, highway markers and speed limits all indicate kilometres.
Most commercial concerns in Bangkok operate on a five-day week, usually from 8 am to 5 pm. Many stores open seven days a week from 10 am to 10 pm. Government offices are generally open between 8.30 am and 4.30 pm with a noon to 1 pm lunch break, Monday to Friday except on public holidays. Banks are open Mondays to Fridays from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm except on public holidays.
Thailand's mail service is reliable and efficient. Major hotels provide basic postal services on their premises. Provincial post offices are usually open from 8.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
International Roaming Mobile Phone A Subscriber Identity Module Card (SIM Card) is now available for Thai and foreign customers who are travelling around for work. The SIM Card must be used in conjunction with a Digital GSM mobile phone within the 900-MHz range or a Digital PCN mobile phone within the 1800-MHz range. You can buy a SIM card and unlock your phone at shops which are located in most towns in Thailand.
Fax and E-Mail
All of Thailand's leading hotels offer facsimile (fax) and e-mail services. Numerous private businesses offer such facilities, most often in conjunction with translation services.
Thailand has been expanding its information service for residents and tourists alike through the Internet system. Services are now available at Thailand's leading hotels and at the many " Cyber-Cafes ". High-speed broadband is increasingly becoming available in most Internet cafes which are found on every street.
Emergency Telephone Numbers
Central Emergency (Police, Ambulance, Fire) : 191
Highway Patrol : 1193
Crime Suppression : 195 or (662) 513 3844
Tourist Police (English, French and German spoken) : 1155
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Call Centre : 1672
Immigration Bureau : (662) 287 3101-10
Recommended for all travellers
For travellers who may eat or drink outside major restaurants and hotels
Required for all travellers greater than one year of age arriving from a yellow-fever-infected area in Africa or the Americas. Not recommended otherwise.
For long-term (>1 month) travellers to rural areas or travellers who may engage in extensive unprotected outdoor activities in rural areas, especially after dusk
For travellers who may have intimate contact with local residents, especially if visiting for more than 6 months
For travellers who may have direct contact with animals and may not have access to medical care
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
Two doses recommended for all travellers born after 1956, if not previously given
Revaccination recommended every 10 years
Tablet should be taken if travelling to certain parts of Thailand – usually the remote jungle and forested areas. Towns, cities and beaches are not affected.
There is a distinct difference in the standard of health care between tourist regions and the provinces. In many ways, health care in the tourist areas matches the standards of health care in Western cities, at least for those who have enough money. In rural areas, however, health care has to be considered barely adequate on a Western scale.
Health care in Thailand has both private and public institutions. Private institutions generally have higher standards, and one can usually say the more expensive the better. Ensure that you take out private health insurance before travelling.
Luxurious hospitalisation is available at some private hospitals. There, some suite rooms may match luxury hotels in comfort - wall-to-wall carpeting, refrigerator, a reception area, colour TV, telephone, and of course air-con.
It is a custom that when a Thai is hospitalised, family members, friends or a companion stays with the patient most of the time. Rooms in private hospitals usually provide sleeping space for at least one companion per patient. There are usually no set visiting hours and at least in the case of private rooms, there is 24-hour access.
Common opinion is that private hospitals generally require a deposit before admission. The Australian-New Zealand Women’s Group advises: "Be aware that a deposit in cash of Baht 20,000 and submission of passport may be required before admission." Presentation of your private travel insurance documentation does however speed things along.
But of course, as provided by law and medical ethics, doctors will attend to any patient in an emergency situation, without asking for money in advance. And the experience of an expatriate member of the editorial staff of this handbook had been quite the opposite of what the Australian-New Zealand Women’s Group suggests. To be admitted for delivery at the Sukhumvit Hospital on Sukhumvit Road, neither passport nor a cash deposit was required. Actually, when a few hours after admission the staff’s partner approached the cashier with a pocket full of money to make a deposit before what appeared would be a Caesarean birth, the offer of any advance payment was expressly turned down and he was told that a bill would only be made upon checking out - as it later was the case.
Private hospitals in Thailand generally accept credit cards in payment of bills and credit card holders will probably never be required to make a deposit.
Most private hospitals house a number of clinics with medical specialists. On weekdays, clinic hours are usually in the late afternoons and well into the evenings while on Saturdays and Sundays clinic hours are often all day.
Doctor’s fees are not regulated and physicians or hospitals set their own charges. Fees vary widely. A general practitioner in Bangkok may charge 100 to 200 Baht per consultation, while a specialist may request considerably more. In provincial cities, doctor’s fees are lower, and in rural areas, they are about a fourth or less of what is charged in the capital.
Doctor’s fees in hospitals are often not charged by the doctor but by the hospital that employs a physician permanently. This is in pleasant contrast to some other Asian countries (for example the Philippines) where the hospital charges the patient only for the facilities used while the doctor’s fee is set by the physician. A common habit in the Philippines is that physicians set their fees not according to the services they rendered but according to what they believe a person could afford to lose. It must be noted that there is much less risk of being treated that way in Thailand than there is in the Philippines.
Emergency rooms often also function as out-patient clinics, with the advantage of immediate attention. Clinics in hospitals have more sophisticated diagnostic equipment and laboratories than doctors’ offices.
For smaller cuts and bruises there are many high street clinics that can assist and offer assistance for a small fee.
Unlike in the West many medications can be bought over the counter. While prescription regulations exist in Thailand for certain drugs, they are often not observed and many drugs requiring a prescription in Western countries are sold freely.
Medical drugs sold in Thailand are either manufactured by international companies which often have local subsidiaries, or by smaller local companies. Drug patents are not observed very strictly so there are many clones. However, it is generally assumed that the medical drugs of international companies are of a more consistent quality. They are also more expensive.
Most Thai doctors, especially in tourist areas, speak sufficient English to communicate with foreigners. Patients who do not speak English well may wish to consult physicians speaking their own languages. Some foreign doctors or doctors speaking foreign languages other than English who practice in Bangkok are (in alphabetical order):
Thai unit of currency is the baht. One hundred Satang equals 1 baht although Satang are seen very rarely these days. Paper money is made in amounts of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 baht. Coins are 1, 5 and 10 baht pieces and also 25 and 50 Satang. The king's face is pictured on the front of every coin and every bill. At the moment, it's about 35 Baht per 1 US. Dollar and 50 Baht for each British Pound.
Cashpoints are everywhere in Thailand making it very easy to withdraw cash in baht from your own bank account back home.