All foreign visitors to Thailand must have a passport, which will remain valid for a minimum of six months after the return date of travel. U.S. citizens arriving by air will get a free 30 day "Visa Waiver" entry stamp on arrival, which can later be extended by up to 10 days at an immigration post in Thailand. Arrival by land provides for 15 days entry.
More than 92% of the population speaks Thai or one of its regional dialects. While the Thai language is the official language of the Thailand, as a result of its cosmopolitan capital city and established tourism infrastructure, English is spoken and understood throughout much of Thailand.
The currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht. Baht comes in both coin and banknote form. The size of Thai currency, both coins and bills, increases with value and varies in color.
Thai bank hours are generally Monday through Friday, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, though certain banks have shorter Saturday hours and currency exchange booths are open considerably longer hours in Bangkok and other tourist destinations.
The Thai phone system is both modern and widespread, with comprehensive coverage for cell phones and reliable pay phones found throughout the kingdom. Purchasing a second-hand Thai phone is inexpensive and convenient, and calling from Thailand on a public phone is easy with a phone card available at most convenience stores. Emergency numbers are often three or four digit numbers, including Tourist Police, which is 1115.
The weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid, typical of its location within the tropics. Generally speaking, Thailand's weather can be divided into three seasons: "hot" season (Mar-May), rainy season (Jun-Oct), and "cool" season (Nov-Feb), though Thailand's geography allows visitors to find suitable weather somewhere in the country throughout the year.
Electrical outlets in Thailand are charged to 220v at 50 cycles per second, which is compatible with appliances from the U.K. but not those from the US and many other nations. While most computer cables have adaptors for voltage, visitors from the U.S. and those not on the 220/50 v. will have to bring adapters to run most other appliances. Outlets in Thailand generally feature flat, two pronged plugs, though some feature holes for round plug ends. Few outlets feature three holes (grounded outlets) so it is often necessary to have a three to two prong adapter for using notebook computers in Thailand.
Thailand Standard time is GMT +7, or 12 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time. Thailand does not observe daylight savings time.
Tipping is generally not expected in Thailand, although leaving loose change from the bill is commonly done. Many hotels and restaurants levy a 10% service charge to the bill. Small tips to taxi drivers and bell-boys are always appreciated, and rounding up fares is always a good idea. It is customary to tip your tour guide and driver.
Travelers can suffer heat exhaustion and dehydration when traveling in Thailand during the warmer months, so keep up the fluids throughout the day. Tap water may be used for cleaning oneself (including teeth) but is not recommended for drinking. Travelers are advised to drink bottled water that is sold everywhere. Ice in cube form is generally safe for consumption, though crushed ice tends to come from large blocks that may be exposed to unsanitary surfaces. Straws are ubiquitous in Thailand. Many Thai restaurants serve pre-made food that can become unsafe for traveler's stomachs. Made to order dishes, like Pad Thai noodles or boiling hot soup are typically safe to consume. Raw vegetables can carry bacteria from tap water, but are typically safe to eat from nicer establishments.