Information and tips about Thailand

Medical care

In Bangkok there are international hospitals with very good standards and English speaking doctors. There are hospitals and qualified doctors in all provincial capitals. Even in larger holiday areas there are hospitals and English-speaking doctors. The hotels are happy to arrange an English-speaking doctor on request. Many medicines are freely available in pharmacies, including common international brands. Before your departure, check whether your health insurance covers sufficient medical treatment abroad or whether you have insurance for medical repatriation.

Bath towels

Most hotels provide guests with free towels for the swimming pool and mostly also for the beach.

Embassy Thailand

Royal Thai Embassy, Kirchstrasse 56, 3097 Liebefeld near Bern
Tel. 031 970 30 30, opening hours Monday to Friday 09.00 – 12.00 hrs and 14.00 -17.00 hrs

Royal Thai Consulate-General Basel, Aeschenvorstadt 71, 4051 Basel
Tel. 061 206 45 65, opening hours Monday to Friday 09.00 – 11.30 a.m.

Consulat Royal de Thaïlande, Rue de la Servette 91, 1202 Genève
Tel. 022 311 07 23, opening hours Monday and Thursday 09.00 – 12.00 a.m. by prior arrangement

Immigration requirements

Swiss citizens need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the return date to enter Thailand. No visa is required for stays of up to 30 days.

Holidays/Festivals

The Thais celebrate frequently and mostly exuberantly. On important holidays most shops are closed. Among the most interesting celebrations are:

  • the Chinese New Year (Jan/Feb)
  • the flower festival in Chiang Mai in the 1st week of February
  • the Thai New Year/Water Festival Songkran (April)
  • Chakri Day on 6 April
  • the King’s Coronation Day on May 5th.
  • the birthday of the queen on 12 August
  • the boat races in October
  • the festival of lights Loi Krathong (Okt/Nov)
  • the Constitution Day on 10 December
  • and the King’s birthday on December 5th.
  • In addition there are the full moon days in certain months with their temple festivals.

Flight

Flight time with Thai Airways International (note free baggage allowance on domestic flights, usually 20 kg)

  • Zurich – Bangkok: 10:45 hrs
  • Bangkok – Phuket: 1:30 hrs
  • Bangkok – Krabi: 1:20 hours
  • Bangkok – Chiang Mai: 1:15 hours
  • Bangkok – Chiang Rai: 1:20 hours

Photographing

The hustle and bustle on streets and markets, the colourful temples and festivals offer numerous good motifs. If you want to take portraits, you should ask for permission first. Otherwise, it is only forbidden to take photographs inside some temples (e.g. in Bangkok in Wat Phra Keo and in the Royal Palace). Members of the royal family are not allowed to be photographed. Think of enough memory cards, batteries and/or charger.

Money and foreign exchange

I recommend that you take Swiss francs with you, which can be changed anywhere in the hotels or in the numerous exchange offices (money change). The exchange rate in the hotels is usually a bit more unfavourable, but the change is less complicated. Credit cards such as Master and Visa, sometimes also Diners and Amexco, are accepted in many restaurants, department stores and hotels in Bangkok and the larger tourist resorts. Bancomats, so called ATM = Automatic Teller Machines, are not only common in Bangkok.

Business hours

There are no fixed closing times. Department stores and larger shops are usually open on weekdays from 10.00 to 21.00, smaller shops close at 22.00 and are often open on weekends. Some of them even open at 7 am. Large department stores in Bangkok, the department stores and shopping malls, are often open 7 days a week from about 10.00 – 21.00/22.00 hours. In the bigger cities there are the branches of the supermarket chain Seven Eleven, which are open around the clock. Street and night markets are usually open from around 18.00 to 01.00 in the morning.

Health

Climate change and the time shift put a strain on the human organism. The body has to get gradually adapted to the tropical heat and needs a lot of liquid and salt. But even in Bangkok you should never drink tap water and avoid ice cream on streets and markets. In the big hotels and frequented restaurants, ice cubes in drinks are usually produced as a finished product with sterilized water. Care should only be taken in small remote places, as they may contain germs if they are made with tap water. Caution also applies to unpeeled fruit, salads, raw meat and raw fish. For your first-aid kit I recommend medication against colds, diarrhoea, pain, stomach upset, sunburn as well as bandages, plasters, disinfectants, antibacterial ointment, throat pills and sun protection. Protect yourself with a good mosquito repellent against insect bites (also dengue). If you are dependent on certain medications, you should take a sufficient supply from home with you.

Capital

Bangkok, called Krung Thep in Thai.

Vaccinations

There are no vaccination regulations, except in case of entry from a yellow fever infection area. Vaccinations against tetanus, polio and hepatitis are recommended. For trips away from the tourist centres, it is also advisable to take a malaria prophylaxis and a preventive typhoid vaccination. Detailed information can be obtained from your doctor or at www.safetravel.ch Protect yourself against insect bites with a good mosquito repellent.

Clothing

In tropical climates, light cotton clothing in light colours is recommended. Air conditioners in hotels, restaurants or vehicles are often quite cool. A scarf or jacket is useful to avoid catching cold. Too loose or sexy casual clothing, especially shorts and tight mini skirts, are not appropriate. Nudism is forbidden and violates the morals of the locals. When visiting temples and the royal palace in Bangkok, care must be taken to wear appropriate clothing.

Mobile phone

Works usually without problems. Please check with your provider. You can also buy cheap and uncomplicated prepaid cards on site.

Religion

Buddhism (over 90%). Please respect religious customs and take off your shoes before entering the temples. Wear “discreet” clothing (no shorts, minis or uncovered shoulders).

Shopping

Silk, cotton fabrics, jewellery, precious stones, tailor-made clothes and handicrafts … Thailand is still a shopping paradise, and bargaining for the best price is possible almost everywhere and is an integral part of Thai life. Especially Bangkok with its modern shopping malls is a shopping paradise, but also the night market, be it in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin or other places, is a real treasure trove. The weekend market Chatuchak in Bangkok is huge and unique.

Well-known shopping malls in Bangkok:

  • MBK
  • Siam Paragon
  • Siam Center
  • Centralworld
  • Terminal 21
  • Siam Discovery
  • Amarin
  • Central Embassy
  • Platinium Fashion Mall
  • Asiatique The Riverfront
  • EmDistrict River City

Souvenirs

  • Thai silk
  • cotton fabrics
  • made-to-measure clothes
  • gemstones
  • silver works
  • lacquer works
  • cookbooks
  • cooking ingredients
  • spices
  • ceramics
  • ornament
  • Tiger balsam (proven remedy after insect bites)
  • massage oils
  • statues

Language

Thai. English is spoken in the hotels as well as in most shops and restaurants in the tourist centres. Other western languages are scarcely spoken.

Voltage

220 volts alternating current. 2-pole Swiss plugs fit almost always. Otherwise, suitable connectors can be bought or possibly borrowed in the hotel.

Behaviour / manners

Take off your shoes for private houses and temples. Avoid short shorts and minis. The royal house is greatly revered. Criticism or derogatory remarks are forbidden and will be punished. Never touch someone on the head, he is considered holy. When sitting do not point your feet at people and Buddha statues. Bathing “topless” or even nudism are forbidden and will also be punished.

Visum

Swiss citizens do not need a visa for a stay of up to 30 days. If you enter by land, the maximum length of stay is only 15 days. For a longer stay of more than 30 days, a visa must be obtained in advance in Switzerland. It permits a stay of 60 days and can be extended on site by 30 days.

  • Single Entry Visa (max. stay 60 days) CHF 40.00.-
  • Multiple Entry Visa (max. stay 180 days – max. 60 days per entry) CHF 185.00.-
  • Non-Immigrant Visa (max. stay 90 days) CHF 80.00.-

Currency

Thai-Baht (THB). 100 THB = approx. CHF 3.00.-

Time difference

The time difference in Thailand is +6 hours in winter, +5 hours in summer.

Customs / Import Thailand

There is a general ban on imports:

  • all types of narcotics
  • weaponry
  • pornography

The export of genuine antiques is prohibited. Exemptions are granted by the Fine Arts Department in Bangkok. The export of Buddha statues requires a special permit (except small figurines).

Duty-free importable:

  • 200 cigarettes or 250 g tobacco
  • 1 litre of wine or spirits
  • Spirits with more than 40% alcohol are forbidden.

Customs / Import Switzerland

Duty-free allowances for re-entry into Switzerland:

  • Personal goods such as clothing, cosmetics, sports equipment, camera, etc. in appropriate quantities and for personal use.
  • Goods/Gifts with an equivalent value of CHF 300.
  • 250 cigarettes/cigars or 250 g tobacco products
  • 5 litres alcoholic beverages up to 18% by volume
  • 1 litre alcoholic beverages over 18 % by volume (tax-free for persons over 17 years)

If the allowances for alcohol and tobacco products are exceeded and the gift value of all goods carried (gifts, tobacco, alcohol) exceeds the allowance of CHF 300, they are subject to customs duty and value added tax.

The importation of such goods is not permitted:

  • counterfeit branded articles (e.g. watches, designer articles, clothing, pirated copies – these are confiscated at customs)
  • weaponry
  • pyrotechnic articles
  • certain plants, animals and animal products

According to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, to which most European states are bound, there is a strict ban on imports in the European home country:

  • tortoiseshell
  • ivory
  • corals
  • Animal skins and hides
  • furs
  • snake and crocodile leather

They’ re being impounded at customs.

Disclaimer

  • The travel information of Family and Friends is a useful guide for the careful planning of a trip.
  • However, Family and Friends cannot relieve travellers of the decision and responsibility for the preparation and execution of a trip.
  • Family and Friends does not take over guarantee for the completeness of the travel information and for the correctness of the contents of linked external Internet sites.
  • Family and friends declines any liability for any damage in connection with a trip.

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