About Tourism Authority of Thailand
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is a Thai National Tourist Office responsible for promoting Thailand as a premier tourism destination. The Sydney office is responsible for the regional area of Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific. We provide information and support to the public, as well as media, wholesalers, airlines, travel agents and other partners. We have – maps of Thailand, posters, video footage and images and other material readily available for both holidaymakers and travel agents. We also regularly participate in trade and consumer events including Thai cultural events and festivals throughout the country, giving travel agents, wholesalers and consumers the opportunity to obtain updated information while experiencing our unique hospitality.
Tourism Authority of Thailand
Suite 20.02, Level 20, 56 Pitt Street
Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Tel +61 2 9247 7549
Fax +61 2 9251 2465
Useful websites: www.tourismthailand.org/au
Open to the New Shades of Thailand
During 2018, TAT will be running the campaign, “Open to the New Shades of Thailand”. This will reflect another kind of “Thainess” – being the unique characteristic of the Thai people to welcome visitors of all “shades” from all around the world. The concept will deepen the Unique Thai Local Experience to a Million Shades of Thailand. This will give more depth to the presentation of Thailand’s tourism, grow the business for grassroots tourism sector players, and enhance the country’s image as a land of amazing diversity worth discovering further.
Further, the period between 1 November 2017 and 1 January 2019 has been declared as “Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018”.
The “Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018” is designed to support the national tourism development plan with a busy calendar of international events to be hosted in 2017 and 2018. It will see the Thai travel and tourism industry move into a new era of development and further underscore its new status as a nationwide effort that yields significant benefits for national security, the economy, society, well-being and foreign relations.
Its overarching objective is to ensure that Thailand remains a Preferred Destination and delivers a Quality Product, thus boosting the average length of stay, expenditure and repeat visitation. In 2018, the marketing strategy will continue to position Thailand as a “Preferred Destination”.
Activities based on 13 core niche products will be highlighted i.e. Sports, Gastronomy, Maritime tourism, Wedding and Honeymoon, Medical and Wellness, Community-based Tourism, Leisure, Green Tourism, Night Tourism, MICE, Trade Fairs, B2B Marketing Activity and Logistics.
Population: approx. 65 million (approx. 6 million in Bangkok)
Official Language: Thai (Basic English is spoken widely throughout Thailand.)
Religions: 95% Buddhist, 4% Muslim and 1% others
Political System: Democracy with the King as the Head of State and the Prime Minister as the Head of the Government
Currency: Thai Baht, approx. 25 Baht per Australian Dollar (See current exchange rate at www.bot.or.th)
Time Zone: +7hrs GMT (Thailand does not observe daylight saving.)
Climate: Cool Season: Nov – Feb with average low temp of 20°C – high 32°C
Rainy Season: Jun – Oct with average temp of 29°C
Summer Season: Mar – May with average temp of 34°C
Activities & Things to do in Thailand
Thailand is one of the world’s most renowned holiday destinations, with a wide variety of things to see and do, from culture, religion, food, nature, water, adventure, and sports to more relaxing activities. Thailand is also growing as a health and wellness destination, with a huge number of healing and detox centres. Muay Thai (Thai boxing) is rapidly expanding world-wide now, with many Muay Thai camps and competitions held across Thailand. There are thousands of temples and cultural centres promoting the unique Thai culture, as well as Royal Thai palaces to visit. Thai food plays an integral role in the Thai way of life, and with Thai food growing in popularity worldwide, authentic Thai food from the streets or in fine dining restaurants is in great demand.
Of course, Thailand’s beaches and islands are not to be over-looked, as their beauty and uniqueness are breathtaking. With a huge range of water activities including snorkelling, scuba diving, parasailing and jet skiing… in Thailand there is something for everyone to do!
Transportation in Bangkok
From the airport to the city:
– Airport Link Train: Airport Link Train is the fastest way to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok CBD. The journey takes between 15 – 30 minutes. (www.srtet.co.th/en)
– Taxis: For those with a lot of luggage, public taxi is the most convenient means of transport. Fare is charged according to the distance plus 50 baht airport fee; so make sure the driver uses the metre.
– Other means of transport include airport limousine service, rental car and hotel transfer.
Getting around the city:
Tips: Transit Bangkok is a comprehensive route planner for Bangkok public transportation. Bangkok bus, MRT Subway, BTS Sky Trains, boats – Chao Phraya Express and Khlong, are all covered by the one guide. (www.transitbangkok.com)
BTS Skytrain takes you around Bangkok without ever being stuck in rush hour traffic.
– Sky Train (BTS): Sky Train covers the wider Bangkok metro area and is still expanding. The trains run every few minutes. Frequent travellers should consider 1 day or 30 day passes. Travellers are encouraged to use BTS where possible to avoid being stuck in traffic. (www.bts.co.th)
– Subway (MRT): The subway has two main lines running beneath central Bangkok metro area and is also expanding. Frequent travellers should consider a 1, 3 or 30 day pass. All travellers are encouraged to use MRT where possible to avoid being stuck in traffic. (www.mrta.co.th)
– Taxis: Taxis can be easily found around Bangkok. Make sure the driver uses the metre. Fare starts from 35 baht. Tipping is not a must but rounding the fare is common.
– Buses (with/ without air conditioning): Buses are the cheapest means of transport but can be very crowded. Bangkok buses do not have timetables.
– Tuk–Tuk: These 3-wheeled vehicles are usually cheaper than taxis and can be found at most tourist attractions. Negotiate and agree the price before boarding.
– Motorbike Taxis: This means of transport is the fastest way to get from door to door in Bangkok. Make sure the driver provides helmets, and again, negotiate and agree the price in advance.
– Chao Phraya River Ferries: River ferries operate on fixed routes up, down and across the Chao Phraya River. Fares range from 10 – 40 baht depending on the distance. (www.chaophrayaexpressboat.com/en/home/)
– Chao Phraya Tourist Boats: This boat service specifically for tourists can be a great experience for visitors. A one day ticket with unlimited rides along the Chao Phraya River with stops at tourist attractions complete with tour guide is approximately 150 baht and can be purchased at Sathorn Pier, Phra Athit Pier, BTS Tourist Service Units at Siam and Taksin Stations. (www.chaophrayaexpressboat.com/en/tourist/)
– Klong Saen Saeb Long tailed Boats: An express boat service operates on the Saen Saeb Canal, providing fast, inexpensive transportation in traffic congested central Bangkok. The main route runs between Bangkapi (east of Bangkok) through Pathumwan (downtown) to Golden Mount (old city). Prices depend on distance travelled.
Best time to travel to different parts of Thailand
The weather in central, northern, and north-eastern Thailand (the landlocked provinces) is determined by three seasons (hot, rainy and cool), whereas the weather in southern, coastal regions of Thailand is influenced by tropical monsoons.
In Thailand’s inland provinces the seasons are clearly defined:
Between November and May the weather is mostly dry, with November to February considered the cool season and March to May considered the hot season. The rainy season lasts from July to October. However, the name “rainy season” is slightly misleading. While it certainly does rain during this season, it’s likely to consist of a heavy but short downpour in the evenings.
The southern, coastal region of Thailand has only two seasons – rainy season and dry season. Fortunately, for those planning a beach holiday, Thailand’s two coasts have slightly different rainy seasons, allowing visitors to find sunny beaches nearly year round.
In the south, on the Andaman or west coast, where Ranong, Phang-Nga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang, Satun lie, the southwest monsoon brings heavy storms from late April to October, therefore the high season is between November and early April. On the Gulf of Thailand or east coast, where Chumphon, Surat Thani (Ko Samui, Ko Phangan, Ko Tao), Nakhon Si Thammarat lie, the most rain falls between late September and December or sometimes until February. Therefore the high season is between March and October.
In the east, on the Gulf of Thailand east coast (e.g. Chonburi (including Pattaya), Rayong (including Ko Samet), Chantaburi, Trat (including Ko Chang), the high tourist season in this region is between November to April as there is less rainfall.
Get to know the Five Regions of Thailand
Thailand covers the area of 514,000 km2 (2/3 the size of NSW) – 5 regions and 77 provinces. Please see www.tourismthailand.org/Multimedia/Maps for downloadable maps.
1) Central Thailand is known for the fertile alluvial plains of Chao Phraya River. This region is the agricultural heartland of the country with a network of rivers and canals. It comprises 17 provinces including the capital – Bangkok, the former capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site – Ayutthaya and the WW II historical site – Kanchanaburi. This region is the centre of Thailand’s history and is full of ancient temples and ruins.
2) Northern Thailand is well known for its lush mountains full of forests and waterfalls and is home to many ethnic hill tribes. The region comprises 17 provinces including Thailand’s second largest city – Chiang Mai. The home to the notorious Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai is on the border of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, the former capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Sukhothai, the city of fog – Mae Hong Son and the hidden gem – Nan.
3) North-eastern Thailand (Isan) is on a large plateau that borders Laos and Cambodia. The region comprises 20 provinces and is famous for its intercultural influence of Thai, Laotian and Khmer cultures, from the same era as Angkor Wat. Lower Isan is most notable for its Khmer influenced ruins whereas upper Isan is full of ideal peaks perfect for trekking. It is the most populated region but the least popular among tourists from overseas. This region is home to Thailand’s first National Park and UNESCO World Heritage – Khao Yai in Nakhon Ratchasima, Ubon Ratchathani where Thailand’s most elaborate Candle Procession Festival is held every year to mark the beginning of the Buddhist Lent and Loei, home to one of Thailand’s best trekking sites where the grand merit-making event Phi Ta Khon Festival is held.
4) Eastern Thailand is the smallest region comprising just 9 provinces including the bustling resort city – Pattaya in Chonburi, Ko Samet in Rayong and Ko Chang in Trat.
5) Southern Thailand is famous for its long coastlines and several small islands. On the west is the Andaman Sea with its rugged and strange limestone rock formations and on the east is the Gulf of Thailand with its wide bays and flat beaches. The region comprises 14 provinces including the famous holiday destinations – Ko Samui, Ko Phangan and Khao Sok in Surat Thani, Mu Ko Similan in Phang – Nga, Mu Ko Phi Phi in Krabi and Thailand’s most popular tourist destination – Phuket.
Must See Temples for the First Time Visitors
Wat Prakaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
This magnificently decorated complex is a Thai landmark and the home to the country’s holiest shrine, the Chapel of the Emerald Buddha. This Buddha is made of one solid piece of jade and is 60 cm high. Visitors to this temple are required to dress modestly. (Wat Prakaew and the Grand Palace are located in the same compound.)
Tips: Tickets to Wat Prakaew include the Grand Palace, the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles as well as Vimanmek Mansion but visitors must purchase tickets at Wat Prakaew.
Wat Po (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Wat Po is located adjacent the rear of Wat Prakaew and the Grand Palace. The main attractions here are the enormous statue of a reclining Buddha and the traditional Thai massage school. Wat Po is also regarded as Thailand’s first university.
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Situated right on the bank of Chao Phraya River in Bangkok opposite Wat Prakaew and the Grand Palace, this temple looks most stunning at sunset. Its pagoda is studded with thousands of pieces of Chinese porcelain.
Flights to Thailand from Australia & New Zealand
The following airlines operate direct flights from Australia to Thailand:
– Thai Airways to Bangkok (www.thaiairways.com.au)
– Qantas to Bangkok (www.qantas.com.au)
– Jetstar from Sydney to Phuket & from Melbourne to Bangkok and Phuket (www.jetstar.com/au)
– Emirates to Bangkok (www.emirates.com)
Other main carriers which provide convenient connections from Australia to Thailand include:
– Singapore Airlines
– Malaysian Airlines
From New Zealand, Thai Airways operates direct flights from Auckland to Bangkok. Most travellers fly to Australia to connect to flights to Thailand.
Major airlines operating domestic flights within Thailand include:
– Thai Airways International (www.thaiairways.com)
– Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com)
– Nok Air (www.nokair.com)
– Air Asia (www.airasia.com/th)
– Thai Smile (www.thaismileair.com)
Major International Airports in Thailand:
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport is Thailand’s biggest and most important airport and the main connecting point for flights to other destinations in Southeast Asia. Bangkok Don Mueang Airport is another major international airport, serving mainly budget airlines. Other international airports include:
– Chiang Mai Airport
– Chiang Rai Airport (Mae Fah Luang Airport)
– Phuket Airport
– Hat Yai Airport
– Krabi Airport
– Ko Samui Airport
Other Means of Transport in Thailand
State Railways of Thailand operates 4 train lines:
– Northern (as far as Chiang Mai)
– Northeastern (as far as Nong Khai (upper route) and as far as Ubon Ratchathani (lower route)
– Eastern (to Aranyaprathet on the Cambodian border)
– Southern (to Yala and Narathiwat on the Malaysian border). Note: there is no rail link to the islands of Phuket and Ko Samui.
Check www.railway.co.th for more info.
Transport Co. Ltd. operates buses nationwide.
Check http://home.transport.co.th/en.html for more info.
For door-to-door transport, catching a taxi is the most convenient option. Taxi stops can easily be found near shopping centres, entertainment areas and tourist attractions. On most minor roads, passengers can simply signal the driver to stop. In Bangkok the fare starts from 35 Baht (approximately AU$1.25) only. These days there are several service operators offering pre-booking for taxis for a small surcharge.
‘All Thai Taxi’ – a yellow Toyota Prius, can be booked via mobile app ALL THAI TAXI or call centre 0 2018 9799 which incurs a 40 Baht surcharge. Waving for a taxi on the street (which is Vacant or shows No Reservation) does not incur a surcharge. For increased safety, All Thai Taxi limits their taxi speeds to 90km/hr. (Though in the case of an emergency, they can increase the speed to 100km/hr.) See www.allthaitaxi.com/website/en/home/ for details.
Grab Taxi is a smartphone-based taxi booking and dispatching service. All you need to do is download the app, pin your location and enter the destination, sit back and relax while your driver is on the way. A live GPS feed allows you to track your driver and manage your time. The driver will call you upon arrival at your location. There are options of a standard Sedan and 7-seater to choose from. The fare is shown before you decide to make the booking. Once you reach the destination, you pay cash. There’s a 25 Baht booking fee. See www.grab.com/th/en/taxi/ for more information.
Notes: Taxis from Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang Airports incur a 50 Baht surcharge. Toll and expressway fees are to be paid by the passengers.
Visas for Thailand
Holders of Australian, New Zealand and EU passports do not require a visa when staying in Thailand for 30 days or less. (Thai authority requires at least 6 months validity remaining on the passport.)
Any enquiries about entry requirements, longer stays or visas should be directed to:
The Royal Thai Embassy Canberra
111 Empire Circuit , Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Tel: +61 2 6206 0100
Fax: +61 2 6206 0123
The Royal Thai Consulate-General
Level 8, 131 Macquarie St, Sydney, NSW 2000
Tel: +61 2 9241 2542 – 3
Fax: +61 2 9247 8312
The Royal Thai Embassy Wellington
110 Molesworth Street , Thorndon, Wellington 6144
Tel: +64 4 496 2900
Fax: +64 4 476 3677
Calendar of Events and Festivals
Chiang Mai Flower Festival (Chiang Mai)
The annual Flower Festival held in Chiang Mai is known as the ‘rose of the north,’ and showcases traditional and contemporary floral art and local culture.
Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony (Trang)
On Valentine’s Day every year, Trang throws a wedding party like nowhere else – underwater! See www.underwaterwedding.com for details.
Chinese New Year Festival (Bangkok and Nakhon Sawan)
The highly anticipated annual festival is said to bring good luck, fortune and prosperity, and features various impressive processions as well as the famous dragon dance.
World Wai Kru Muay Thai (Ayutthaya)
This ceremony is held every year on 17 March to honour Nai Kanom Tom, the father of Muay Thai. The event attracts hundreds of fighters from over 60 countries across the globe.
Songkran Festival (Nationwide)
Songkran is celebrated nationwide as the traditional New Year’s Celebration from 13 to 15 April. While most Thai people will visit their elderly family members and go to the temple to do merits during Songkran festival, they also enjoy throwing water at by passers. The most popular places to enjoy the friendly water fights include Khao San Road and Silom Road in Bangkok and downtown Chiang Mai.
ANZAC Day (Kanchanaburi)
An ANZAC Day event held in Kanchanaburi commemorates those who worked in the vicinity of Hellfire Pass, along the Thai-Burma Railway. http://hellfire-pass.commemoration.gov.au/remembering-the-railway/anzac-day-in-thailand.php
Laguna Phuket International Marathon (Phuket)
Runners of the scenic marathon course in Phuket will experience lush vegetation, local villages, and pineapple and rubber plantations.
Amazing Thailand Grand Sale (Bangkok and big cities nationwide)
Enthusiastic shoppers can take advantage of this nationwide sale that takes place from June to August every year.
Phi Ta Khon Festival (Loei)
Phi Ta Khon festival is a Buddhist merit-making festival where the local people gather together to hear a sermon, and in one procession, locals dress up as ghosts and animals, a re-enactment of the Buddha’s last incarnation. This festival also hosts the auspicious Rocket Festival.
Candle Festival (Ubon Ratchathani)
The traditional and elaborate parade of candles signifies the beginning of Buddhist Lent and shows the people’s commitment to the Lord Buddha.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival (Phuket)
This colourful spectacle is held over nine days, celebrating the community’s belief that vegetarianism will help them obtain good health and peace of mind.
Laguna Phuket Triathlon (Phuket)
A weeklong carnival takes place to celebrate the triathlon that incorporates a 1.8km swim, 55km cycle and 12km run though spectacular tropical scenery.
The Bangkok Marathon is one of Thailand’s most popular sporting events which attracts huge crowds of both Thais and foreigners. The course takes the runners past many tourist attractions in Bangkok including Chao Phraya River and the Grand Palace.
Loy Krathong Festival (Nationwide)
This beautiful festival is celebrated every year on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month. It is held nationwide with the floating of Krathong, which are flower-shaped floating vessels adorned with flowers and candles, to beg pardon to the goddess of the river.
River Kwai Bridge Week (Kanchanaburi)
In remembrance of those lost in WWII, this event features the famous light and sound show that simulates battles from the war, as well as historic exhibitions, fairs and cultural performances.
Phuket King’s Regatta Cup (Phuket)
This international yachting event is Asia’s biggest yacht race which is usually held from the first weekend until the second weekend of December every year to coincide with the birthday of the late King Bhumibol of Thailand.
For updates about events and festivals in Thailand, see www.tourismthailand.org/au