Heavenly beaches, legendary monuments, delicious cuisine, affordable prices — just name it. There is a variety of attractions to choose from for everyone. One thing, however, is sure for certain. Bangkok is a perfect starting point for exploring this colourful country.
A taxi — about 0.25 EUR per kilometre, a dish in a restaurant — about 2.50 EUR, a coffee in a café — less than 1.20 EUR... Sounds good? Don't be fooled. Thailand is not one of those places where you can have a relatively comfortable life for a penny. Prices of many basic products in stores can shock you. However, the above examples show that in the Asian country you can spend a holiday full of the unforgettable views, flavours and experiences, without losing a fortune.
What is the currency in Thailand?
Baht, Thai baht, THB — these are the names and abbreviations that are worth getting familiar with before a trip to a country inhabited by 67 million people who are usually hospitable and charmingly polite. The Thai currency unit is divided into 100 satangs. Conversion into EUR may be rather small, because 1 THB is about 0.03 EUR today, and for example, 1 USD can be exchanged for a bit more than 30 THB.
The Thai currency in traditional money circulation is used in banknotes with denominations from 20 to 1000 bahts and in coins from 25 satangs to 10 bahts.
Thailand — vaccinations
Before you taste the flavour of the pad thai, immerse yourself in the incredibly warm waters of the Andaman Sea or cross the threshold of the Grand Royal Palace in Bangkok, it is worth doing something to ensure that your priceless health will not be harmed during the trip to the Asian continent. The websites on travelling suggest that a trip to Thailand should be preceded by a visit to a doctor and a vaccination for abdominal typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis B and hepatitis A, rabies, Japanese encephalitis and cholera.
In the hot tropical climate, we are endangered by the insects, which not only bite annoyingly but can also infect with malaria. Therefore, vaccination against this disease or anti-malaria drugs should also be of interest to those going to Thailand. What else? You mustn't drink the water of unknown origins, beware of the scorching sun, prepare for a flight of several hours, and when you return home, carefully monitor your health.
Thailand — the weather
It is warm, it can be very hot, there are extremely intense downpours, the humidity reaches an unbearable 98 percent, and the year is divided into three seasons: 1) hot and dry, 2) hot and humid, 3) warm and dry.
It is not a rocket science to know that the most convenient time to relax and tourism is the last of the aforementioned seasons. It starts in November, ends in February, and is characterised by tolerable temperatures, low (considering the climate) humidity, and a good chance that we will not get wet due to the rain. As always in life, there is a price for it. Well, in the period from November to February, we must take into account the largest number of tourists (over 30 million annually), which is crucial, e.g. for visiting the major sights which usually are enough crowded by 10-million Bangkok citizens. The crowd on the streets may seem unbearable because this is the hottest capital of the world with the average annual temperature exceeding 28 degrees Celsius during a day.
Since there are exceptions to every rule, experienced travellers may tell about quite pleasant stays in March and that the rainy season can be enjoyable. They would claim that, for example, in October, it rains as rarely as tourists arrive, which results in an extra benefit of preseason prices.
Thailand — what to try
There is a reason why you can find restaurants serving Thai cuisine in almost every major city in the world. The food is typically spicy, quite healthy, and has its devoted supporters. Pasta and rice are served with meat and/or vegetables, seafood and filling soups are the basis of the menu. “Despite the apparent influence of the outside world, the originality of Thai cuisine is mainly due to the original ingredients used by the Thais. One of the most distinctive is coconut milk and a range of aromatic spices such as lemongrass, fresh ginger and lime”- those are characteristics of the culinary art of Thailand, according to Wikipedia.
Typical dishes to enjoy? The above mentioned thai pad consists of fried pasta with a little sauce, chicken or shrimp and vegetables, tofu, bean sprouts, nuts, tamarind paste, lime and spices.
Bangkok and other major cities in Thailand offer street food. You can find not only snacks but also complete, almost restaurant dishes. Noteworthy is shashlik with various types of meat and meat products.
The popular are also all variations of curry dishes. From a wide range of Thai soups, you can choose, e.g. spicy-sour soup with shrimps or coconut broth with chicken, vegetables and rice, and for dessert khao niao mamuang, which is rice pudding with mango. Something for those who are thirsty? The Tasteway.co.uk portal lists 20 Thai specialties, including coconut water, which quenches thirst in hot weather. The founders of one of the Polish travelling portals emphasize that the fruits, both those we know and those less popular, in their original climate taste much better. They strongly encourage drinking freshly squeezed juices. They also pay attention to the sweet delicacy — coconut ice cream served in coconut shells.
Thailand — what to see and experience…
The city of Bangkok deserves a special book publication. So how to summarize the uniqueness of the whole Thailand in a dozen or so sentences? This is the challenge! We are talking about lands, islands, islets (also uninhabited), fabulous sandy beaches, rocky mountain tops, equatorial jungle, extraordinary buildings, UNESCO heritage monuments, a maze of street games and huge urban markets.
The list of Thai attractions could start with, for example, the Wat Arun Buddhist temple. Its history dates back to the 12th century, and is 70 meters high. From the outside, you can admire the captivating architecture, and from the inside — having climbed the steep stairs — a stunning view of the surrounding area. Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, is a symbol of Bangkok and the whole country. Moreover, it is depicted on a 10-baht coin.
Wat Arun, however, faces great internal competition in the form of The Temple of the Reclining Buddha with a gigantic (nearly 50-meter) monument to its patron and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha lying in the area of the Grand Royal Palace, which also deserves attention.
Thailand invites locals and tourists to ten historical parks. One of the most famous ones lies in the province of Sukhothai, and that is what it is called. The remains of the former capital of Siam, mostly the ruins of temples, sculptures, walls, museums, and all spread over 70 square kilometers. It's not even a good idea to try to visit all of Sukhothai's most significant unique monuments on foot. A few days might not be enough. Therefore, it is best to explore the park by bike or auto rickshaw.
If you want to stay away from religious places of worship or buildings and sculptures altogether, you could take into consideration the other two Thai peculiarities among the numerous competitors.
The first one is called Elephant Nature Park, which is a close encounter with elephants. An important rule: huge animals do not serve people here, but vice versa. Visitors can, therefore, help to wash or feed elephants without having to wait for their circus tricks or a ride on their back. The hosts of the park themselves describe their work as a center for the rescue and rehabilitation of elephants.
We got something special for the end. Well, being in Thailand and not having a Thai massage is a bit like going to a football match and missing the decisive goal. Don't make such a mistake. For a small fee and almost at every corner, you can get a Thai massage and feel... amazing.