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Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Life in Thailand

Location

Map of ThailandThailand is situated in the heart of the Southeast Asian mainland, covering an area of 13,115 sq. mi (513,119 sq. km.) equivalent to the size of France, or slightly smaller than Texas. and extending about 1,620 km from north to the south and 775 km from east to west. Thailand borders the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Union of Myanmar to the North, the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Gulf of Thailand to the East, the Union of Myanmar and the Indian Ocean to the West, and Malaysia to the south.

National Flag

Thailand's national flag, ceremoniously raised each morning in every town and village, is composed of five horizontal bands of red, white, and blue. The Capital City is Bangkok, or "Krungthep" in Thai.

Major Cities

  • North : Chiangmai
  • South : Songkla
  • Central : Ayutthaya and Chonburi
  • North East : Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen

Climate

Thailand is a warm and rather humid tropical country with monsoonal climate. Temperatures are highest in March and April with an average temperature of 28 to 38 degrees celsius and humidity averaging between 83% to 73%.

Seasons

  • Dry : March to May,
  • South : Songkla
  • Rainy : June to October,
  • Cool : November to February.

Population

The population in Thailand is approximately 70 million, of which around 10 million live in the capital city, Bangkok.

The "Wai" (Thailand's warmest greeting)

WaiThe Thai 'WAI' is a characteristic Thai way of greeting and is one of the most, if not the most, beautiful ways of contact ever devised between humans to promote understanding and peaceful coexistence.

Done well and gracefully, even for the thousandth time by the same person to another person, the one being 'waied to' cannot help but feel a certain warmness.

Anyone who has been 'wai-ed' to must have felt this sentiment as well.

The "wai" is used for several reasons, the most popular being to express a hearty 'welcome' or 'hello'. When it is intended as this form of greeting, the greeter almost always smiles and says 'sawatee' while lowering the head slightly.

Do use the wai correctly. One normally does not need to wai a waiter, vendor, or other person who wais you when accepting payment. Anyone who is paying for any service is the "boss" and bosses don't wai first. We recommend you just give them a smile. Nevertheless, when in doubt, "wai-ing" someone else will never cause you harm.

Body Language

HEAD

Don't touch anyone's head for any reason! The head is the most important part of the body. It should never be touched. Please apologize to the person if you accidentally touch their head (for example while holding on to the bus hand straps or poles).

HANDS

Don't point with the forefinger at anyone. The hand has two categories: the right being more acceptable and polite when giving or receiving things and putting things into the mouth. The left hand is generally regarded as less significant.

FEET

Do keep both feet on the ground when sitting. The feet are the lowest section of the anatomy, and considered to be the 'dirtiest' protrusions. They are used for walking and never for pointing or moving objects. Don't place your feet, with or without shoes on, so that they inadvertently point towards a person, or religious image or a picture of the Royal Family.

Cleanliness and Smartness

Thais dress decently and in clean clothes even at home. If you appear unkempt, looking homeless travelers and worse still, are smelly, do not be surprised if a Thai shies away from you or refuses to greet you with the over publicized Thai smile.

Survival Thai Words

Let's try the following words. We hope they will make your life easier here in Thailand!

ENGLISH THAI
Good morning, Good evening,
Good afternoon, Good night,
Hello, good-bye
Sawatdee
Hello (male speaker) Sawatdee khrap*
Hello (female speaker) Sawatdee kha*
Thank you Kop khun
Yes Chai
Yes Mai chai
Mr./Miss/Mrs. Khun
How are you? Sabai dee reu
Fine thanks Sabai dee
Never mind Mai pen rai
Stop Yute
How much does this cost? nee tao-rai
Sorry/excuse me Khohtode
I can't speak Thai Phoot thai mai dai
I don't understand Mai kao chai
Do you understand? Kao chai mai
Where is the rest room? Hong nam yoo tee nai
I am going to... Phom (m.) / dichan (f.) cha pai...
No, I won't go Phom (m.) / dichan (f.) mai pai...
Turn to the right liao khwa
Turn to the left liao sai
Drive straight on Khap trong-pai
What is this? Nee arai
Very expensive Paeng maag
Any discount? lot rakha dai mai
The bill please Gep taang / check bin
please speak slowly Prot phut cha-cha
Very good Dee mak
Not good Mai dee
good-bye la gon
See you again laew phob gan mai
Good luck Kor hai chok dee

* Add the polite particles khrap/kha (male/female speaker respectively) to the end of every sentence (see sawatdee khrap/kha)

Transportation

To avoid being overcharged on taxi fares, always insist on the driver switching on the meter! Easy access to both Bangkok and the countryside.

BUS
  • no. 515 : Victory Monument (BTS)
  • no. 125 : Saam-Sean Train Station
  • no. 124 : Central Pinklao / Pata Departmentstore / Sanam luang
  • no. 84 : Phetkasem Road
  • no. 547 : Silom Road (BTS) / lumphini Park / Siam Square
Bus fair
  • 8 BAHT for regular bus (red bus)
  • 10 BAHT for regular bus (blue bus)
  • 13-23 BAHT for air-conditioned bus
Note

METERED TAXIs: even though you may see different colored metered taxi in Bangkok and the surburbs, they are all the same. It is easy to call a taxi during the day by waving to them on the side curb. However, if you need to get a taxi at night, to be safe, you may call 1681 or 0-2880-0880 to reserve one at your choice of pick up time. In that case, you will be charged 10-20 BAHT extra.

In the case of going to the airport, any metered taxi can bring you to the airport with the regular charge appearing on the meter. However to get to town from either Donmoung Domestic Airport or Suwannabhumi International Airport, there will be 50BAHT extra charge for the metered taxi. The airport limousine service has its own more expensive rates.

Moreover, if you have any communication problem only hail the metered taxis with the "English language" sticker on the side.

Driving in Thailand

The traffic in Thailand runs forward on the left, so please be extra careful when driving, especially if you are coming from a country where the traffic runs on the right.

To drive in Thailand you must have a Thailand driver's license. Only Thai and International driving licenses are recognized. In order to obtain a Thai driving license you are required to pass a written and driving test. If you already have a license from your home country, you can apply for a license and be exempt from taking the written and driving test as long as your license is still valid.