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Tips for entering Thailand
Do I need a visa?
If you travel as a German to Thailand, you do not necessarily need a visa before the start of the trip, as long as you do not stay longer than 30 days in Thailand. The easiest way to prove this is through the already booked return flight. You get a tourist visa at the entry – free of charge. However, it is mandatory to show a passport, which must be valid for at least 6 months.
If you want to stay longer in Thailand, you should apply for a visa in advance at the Thai consulate in Frankfurt. The processing is uncomplicated and usually you can pick up your passport with visa after a few days. Do not forget your flight tickets! You get a 60-day right of residence, if it is only a tourist stay. This can be extended directly in Thailand again by 30 days.
Pay attention also to the messages of the foreign office (not only in relation to the visa, but general tips):
Interesting information can also be found on the website of the Immigration Bureau:
Attention: make sure that your visa does not expire during your stay in Thailand. In addition to a late fee, you may even be imprisoned. In particularly bad cases, you may even be banned from entering the country for life.
And one more thing: It is quite possible that you will be asked for your passport on the way. A copy of it is enough, which you can make in a copy store (or in the hotel). Have the main page of it and the visa page photocopied and carry it with you at all times.
Is vaccination necessary for Thailand?
If you make a “normal” trip to Thailand and do not stay in the tropical forests or in rough terrain, you will get by with the normal existing vaccination protection. In individual cases, it is always helpful to talk to a tropical doctor or first the family doctor.
You can find more information here:
Thailand tips for arrival at Bangkok airport
Tip 1: Pay attention already on the plane to Thailand
During the flight to Krung Thep Maha Nakhon there is already the first thing to pay attention to. Read correctly, because this is how Bangkok is officially called in Thai. The Thais use the short form Krung Thep. In your flight ticket you will see the abbreviation BKK, which is the airport code according to IATA (International Air Transport Association).
Did you know that Bangkok airport has the tallest tower in the world?
It is 132.20 meters high and equipped with the latest technology. More than 50 million passenger check-ins take place each year on the 3,200-hectare airport site.
During the flight, you will receive an arrival and departure card from the flight crew. Fill these out completely at your leisure during the flight. Together with your passport and visa, if applicable, the arrival card must be presented at the immigration counter. Please make sure that only one person presents himself at the counter, as each person will be photographed with a camera.
Local time in Bangkok is CET 6. The time difference to Central Europe is 6 hours in winter and 5 hours in summer. In Thailand there is no time change to summer and winter.
After a long flight you finally land at Suvarnabhumi airport. The Thai name means “The Golden Land”. Due to the time difference, one person suffers more, the other less from jet lag. After arrival you only want one thing: Taking a shower at the hotel.
So the first thing you will do is take a cab and get a ride to your hotel.
Tip 2: Exchange cash
Before you take care of a cab, you should look for an exchange office or get some cash at one of the numerous ATMs (the machines are usually labeled ATM). Small bills are best, as cab drivers can hardly ever change 1000 baht bills.
At the exchange office you will have to show your passport; since you have just arrived, you should have it with you anyway.
Tip 3: Taxi at the airport
There are several ways to get from BKK airport to your hotel: Bus, cab, express train or rental car.
If you like it the most uncomplicated way take a cab. The other means of transportation are cheaper, but not as fast (bus) or even more expensive (rental car).
A cab ride from the airport to downtown Bangkok rarely costs more than 200 – 400 baht (i.e. between 5 and 10 Euros).
There is a large cab area in the airport. It is located below the main exit. Do not go directly to a cab there, go to one of the ticket machines with touch screen and pull a ticket (usually there is a long line in front of it with supervisors watching the procedure).
You walk to the appropriate cab and tell the address you want. It is better to show the driver the address of your hotel on a map. After getting in, insist that the driver turns on the taximeter.
If he refuses, leave the vehicle immediately. Do not engage in any conversation! You can get a special impression by taking a photo of the driver’s identification sticked on the windshield and a photo of the license plate. You are free to report this incident to the Department of Land Transport. In most cases, the mere suggestion of taking a photo of the driver’s identification works wonders. Driving a taxi without the meter turned on is illegal and will only get you into trouble. However, this happened to us only once and not at the cab stand at the airport, but on New Year’s Eve, when there was a shortage of cabs and we were lucky to get one at all.
Note: Not all cab drivers understand or speak English. They know their district well but not the whole city. So don’t rely on him to always know where to go.
Tip: Show address and directions or show the desired destination on google maps on your cell phone. If none of this helps and you don’t know the way yourself, it’s best to get out and find another driver.
How do I behave in Thailand?
The head is considered the spiritual center of a person. Avoid touching Thai people on the head. Pinching the cheek of cute children or babies or stroking their hair is a NO GO!
Shaking hands is unusual in Thailand, don’t do it! The traditional way of greeting is the wai. A bow with hands joined together.
The best way to show your pleasure is to smile. If you smile, you come across as likeable. Thailand is the land of smiles. So smile with…
Refrain from any form of physical contact in public. You will not see a young couple kissing or hugging in public, this kind of affection is private. If you are a European couple walking hand-in-hand, you will be fine – but this should be the maximum amount of closeness you show in public.
Crossing legs is considered a faux pas and should be done under the table at most.
Never insult the king or royalty. Also, never step on Thai currency. It is considered a breach of etiquette. Insulting majesty is punishable by imprisonment.
Tip 6 – Temple etiquette rules:
Take off shoes
It is necessary to remove shoes before entering the Buddha’s house and enter barefoot or with socks. It goes without saying that the visitor must behave with due respect. Feet or shoes must never be stretched or shown towards the sky. This is considered dirty and offensive and is an absolute NO GO!
Before the temple in Thailand shoes off.
Clothing in the Thai temple
Wear long pants, no open shoes and no boxer shirts! After the death of the ever-popular King Bhumibol, we suggest you to dress as discreetly as possible and in the colors black or white. This is no longer necessary.
Update: The discreet style of dress is no longer necessary. You can wear any colour you want.
Beware of tricksters
Don’t let “touts” lure you to another entrance with flimsy promises (they like to claim that the main entrance is closed because of an important event, but they know a side entrance). You will end up at a friendly shopkeeper and possibly buy souvenirs you didn’t even want.
Gladly you are driven by tuk-tuk drivers to a tailor who happens to be there and also a German speaking person is present and already the cheap suit is sold. Friendly refuse or look for another tuk-tuk (see also below locomotion in Thailand).
The most important Thailand tips about food
There is hardly any other country where people like to eat as passionately as in Thailand. You can eat in Bangkok around the clock. Thai cuisine is considered one of the best in the world and offers a variety of traditional and modern dishes.
The “grain of life”, rice plays a special role. “Kin khao” in Thai means “to eat,” strictly speaking, to eat rice, and is always used no matter what dish you actually eat. Thai food does not always have to be spicy, but it is always easily digestible.
The well-known “Pad Thai” consisting of rice ribbon noodles, whisked egg yolk, dried shrimp, fish sauce and scallions is a mild dish.
For the small hunger in between, Sticky Rice with mango offers itself. This is a very popular and delicious sweet dish, which is eaten in Thailand as a snack between meals or as a dessert. This delicious dish is made of sticky rice, coconut milk, salt, sugar and ripe mangoes.
It is especially popular and eaten in the summer season of April and May. This delicious snack is available in all markets or small supermarkets.
Tip 1 – don’t be afraid of street food stalls.
You will find an endless selection of restaurants, soup kitchens and mobile cookshops in Bangkok. Even with a simple gas stove, the cooks conjure up a delicious meal at reasonable prices. For Europeans it is strange to eat things that are prepared on the open street in the blazing sun. Where is the hygiene there?
But we can reassure you, in Thailand the conditions are quite different than for example in India, where you can get a gastrointestinal infection really fast. We have not once spoiled our stomachs on “street food”.
Often this food is even tastier and more authentic than in expensive restaurants. The street chefs usually limit themselves to only one dish and they do it perfectly!
Tip 2 – Water
You are in a country with high temperatures and high humidity. So make sure to stay hydrated. When you feel thirsty it is actually already too late. 2 – 3 liters should be minimum.
If you buy water or order it in a restaurant it is always still water. If you prefer carbonated water, you must explicitly order it that way (“soda water or sparkling water”). A healthy and low-calorie thirst quencher is the juice of the coconut. Coconut water contains many minerals and trace elements.
By the way, not all water is the same. Be sure to also drink water, which is rich in minerals. The cheap water is usually not. If you stay longer in Thailand, you should also treat yourself to more expensive water.