To enter Thailand or to get a visa, your passport must have a minimum of six months validity.
If you stay less than 30 days, you don't need a visa (for most Eurepean countries, USA and Australia). You will get a minimum 30 days visa on
arrival at the airport or at the border if you arrive by road. With this type of visa, you can only get a 7 days extension.
If you expect to stay more than 30 days, you'll have to get a visa in a Thai embassy in your country. You can get a 2 months visa with two
entries, which means you can actually stay 6 months in Thailand: after 2 months, you get one month extension at the immigration office, then you'll have to get out of Thailand do a “border
run” (that is that you can simply cross the border to get a stamp on your passport and come straight back in) and get two months more with your visa. Finally, you van apply for your last month
extension at the immigration office.
To extend your visa, each time, you will have to provide 2 photos, your passport with your current visa, fill in a form and pay 1,900 Bahts.
There's only one immigration office nearby, it's located 1 km from Nathon on Koh Samui.
It’s open Mondays to Fridays, from 08.30 am. to 4.30 pm.
Overstay, If you stay over the time allowed by your visa, you will have to pay a fine of 200 Bahts per day, with a maximum of 20,000 bahts. The
fine has to be paid on your departure before passport control.
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Politic. Thailand is divided in 76 provinces, each administrated by a governor. The provinces are divided in
districts, sub-districts and villages. Rama IX, the King, has no political powers as such but he exerts a very strong influence and is respected and loved by all Thai people. The government is run by
a group of ministers and a Prime Minister. They vote the laws and establish the Budget. Recently Taksin Chinavatra, the new Prime Minister, has launched a war against corruption to clean the
At the same time, he has also started a campaign against drugs to get rid of Thailand’s reputation and of all the people involved in buying or selling the drugs. These initiatives have lead to
hundreds of arrests and convictions, which means that Thailand is now a much safer country that is better adapted for family holidays.
Religion. Theravada Buddhism is the national religion. 95% of Thai people are Buddhists. Other religions like Islam, Catholicism, Hinduism,
Taoism are also practised. The “Buddha Days” are respected, and on those dates the Full Moon Party may be moved to the next day. Islam is well settled in the South of Thailand, and there
are some Muslims in Samui and in Pha Ngan. There are no religious quarrels in Thailand, except may be at the Malaysian border, where some groups have run into trouble with the police.
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|His Majesty the King of Thaïland, Rama IX (Bhumibol Adulyadej), is revered like a god. And everyone has to show respect to him.
And the thai people recently showed him its veneration and attachement during the celebration of the jubilee, 60 years of reign, in june 2006. And if you see people, especially on monday, wearing
yellow shirts, sometimes even with the armorial bearing of the Chakris (dynasty of Ramas) on it, it is simply a way for them to pay tribute to their beloved king, as yellow is the color of the Thai
Monarchy. If the shirt is blue... then its for the Queen, the beloved mother of all thai people.
The Royal family has a kind of private history with Koh Pha-ngan, as 4 Kings did actually visit it during last century :
Rama V, Rama VI, Rama VII and RAMA IX. And their royal signatures can be seen engraved in the rocks near Than Sadet.
|31st December et 1st January, New Year.
Mid-January (2nd Saturday), Children's Day.
16th January, Teachers' Day. Schools are closed.
January-February, Chinese New Year.
Full Moon of February, "Magha Puja", buddhist day, everybody go to the temple.
6th April, Chakri Day, for the King Rama I, the first King of the Chakri Dynasty.
13th to 15th April, "Songkran", Thai New Year. It's the water festival, for good luck, everybody throw water to eachother.
1st May, Labour Day
5th May, Birthday of the crowning of the actual King Bhumipol (Rama IX)
Full Moon of May, "Visahka Puja", holiday for the birth of Buddha.
End of May, Samui International Regatta.12th August, birthday of the actual Queen Sirikit, alcohol prohibited all day.
Mother's Day23th october, remembrance of the dead of Rama V, the most loved King of Thailand with the actual one, Rama IX.
Full Moon of November, "Loy Krathong" festival. every Thai people put a "Krathongs", made with banana leaves and flowewrs, with a candle some insense
and a coin of bahts to honor the spirits of the water.
5th December, Birthday of the King Rama IX, alcohol prohibited all day. Father's Day.
10th December, Constition Day
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|Time, Thailand is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT + 7).
Electricity is a standard 220 Volts in Thailand. Europeans (except for the British) won't need an adapter as European plugs fit Thai plugs
perfectly. For our British chums and all those who may need an adaptor anyway, you’ll easily get one from any supermarket around.
There are frequent shortcuts, which can be quite long, especially in the rainy season.
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Banks are open from 08.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays.
Many exchange offices are open 7 days a week, in the main until 10.00 p.m. All foreign currencies are accepted in cash and traveller’s cheques in any bank or bureau de change. The Thai currency
is the Baht (THB).
Visa, Mastercard and American Express cards are accepted in all banks and exchange offices. ATMs are now available in almost every bank in Thailand..
Many shops, restaurants and resorts accept credit card payments, but not yet everywhere on small places like Koh Pha Ngan.
|For foreigners who want to stay a long time and work in Thailand, it is possible and quite easy to open a Thai bank account. But of course you must put some money on it. You can get an ATM Card,
but you won't be able to withdraw any cash if your account is not in credit.
For your information, in case you lose your Credit Card:
Visa & Mastercard (Bangkok) 02-299 1990
American Express (Bangkok) 02-273 0020
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|Post Office. In the big cities of Thailand, post offices are open between 8.00 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. However, in
some places like Samui and Pha Ngan they only open from 8.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, and between 8.00 a.m. and 12.00 p.m. on Saturdays. Their services are quite good and there's also a
packing counter where you can buy envelopes, boxes and everything else you’ll need to send your parcels. The staff can help you to make up your boxes. If you send a parcel by boat (the cheapest
way) it will take about 2 -3 months to get to Europe. A letter or a postcard takes between one and two weeks.
Telephone. Overseas calls are available in almost all post offices, hotels and travel agencies as well as street
phones (with phone cards or credit cards). Collect call is also possible in some places.
Internet. Thailand has numerous Cyber-cafés, and it is very easy to get connected all around the country (except of
course in the small villages of North East Thailand). High speed connection (ASDL) is also available in some places in Samui with 256 k/s speed. The price is about1-2 baht/minute with a minimum of
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|Photos. There are plenty of shops selling films and developing pictures, it's much cheaper than in Europe and
the quality is very good. The service is quite fast as you can get your photos in a few hours or the next day. Beware if you use ektachrome, as not many shops are equipped to process it and
don’t sell it either.
Digital Cameras. Nowadays it is very easy to use digital cameras in Thailand, as many shops are now equipped with
the appropriate softwares and tools. If you use a digital camera don’t forget to bring the USB cable and the CD with your camera’s software. This way you'll be sure you can get anything
done. Some internet shops even burn CDs.
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|Health. No specific vaccines are required for travellers from Europe. It's better to drink bottled water, as
the water from the tap is not always safe. Bottles of drinking water are available everywhere and cost very little. The water carafes and the ice cubes served in Thai restaurants are generally safe
purified water. Just beware of crushed ice.
Hospital. Hospital in Thailand are safe and well equipped. Dentists are very good for prothesis and much less
expensive than in Europe and USA...
You do not have to scare, the hospital in Thailand have everything and every material to take care of you. The doctors are also quite good and used to the local diseases...
Clinic and Nursing Unit. There are also plenty of small private clinics and nursing units managed by doctors or
nurses which provide good advice and are ok for minor injuries.
|Drugs. You need to be aware that drugs are prohibited under Thai laws and use or possession are punished with
very strong penalties. The most common drugs in Thailand are marijuana (ganja), opium, heroine and yaa-ba, a Burmese methanphetamine of very bad quality, which is very dangerous and has already done
a lot of damage among Thai youth all around the country. The new Prime Minister Taksin Chinavatra has also launched 2 years ago a countrywide war against drugs. There were many arrests, money and
goods confiscated and many received the death penalty. Anyway, drugs are dangerous and it's better to stay clear of them, bearing in mind that the jails in Thailand are about of the same standards
that they were in Europe 500 years ago... So better beware!
Prostitution. In Thailand Prostitution is supposed to be prohibited, but from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, from Pattaya
to Pukhet, from Hat Yai to Koh Samui and even now in Koh Pha Ngan (where a few bars have opened since last year), the many beer bars, massage parlours and karaoke places heat up the night. For your
information, know that the girls working in the bars are “independent” workers and therefore do not work for anybody but themselves... No traffic with the children from the North or
forced girls here. In Thailand this job is not considered as in Europe and the "sex-workers" are not discriminated against. Most of the time they are girls from a poor family who left home in the
hope of making better money than in a factory. Often, they are just hoping to find a husband who will give them love, protection and a better life.
|Danger. Except if you get caught with drugs, Thailand is a very safe country. Whatever happens, you need to keep your wits about and take
care of your belongings, especially when travelling by bus, as there are many thefts reported every year. The trains are rather safe as they have security guards on board. We have also heard about
problems in some bars where the girls working there would have slipped some sleeping pills in their customers’ glass to rob them off. But these reports are quite rare.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that many of the theft reports involve foreigners, often desperate tourists who have run out of money and have developed a sharp eye for easy targets. Hence, we
strongly recommend to be very careful with your belongings and not to trust anybody to look after them.
Police. If you run into problems and have to go to the police, you need to be aware that there are two different police forces in the tourist areas.
First, you'll have to go to the Tourist Police. They speak English and are dedicated to the foreigners. Then you'll have to go to the national police with the form from the tourist police. However,
Thailand is generally a safe place and unless you are the victim of a robbery, your trip should be safe and trouble free.