The Land of a Thousand Smiles has been enticing tourists for years, managing to retain it’s much loved south east asian culture and surviving many levels of westernisation.
Historic central Thailand is home to the bustling capitol Bangkok, the temple filled ancient city of Ayutthaya and original royal beach resort Hua Hin.
In close reach of Bangkok the eastern district offers popular islands in Ko Samet, Ko Laan and the Ko Chang Archipelago as well as the somewhat seedy city Pattaya. North east, the rural expanse of Isaan has a rich history truly brimming with culture. But even with its great Khmer temples, national parks and the mighty Mekong River, the region receives relatively few tourists.
Ever popular, the southern stretch of Thailand hosts rainforests, endless coastlines and tropical islands like Ko Phi Phi, Phuket and Ko Samui to name just a few. Attracting all types, many go for the infamous yet somewhat controversial full moon parties but natural wonders and untouched beaches are also bountiful.
To the north is the majestic Chang Mai, Pai and Chang Rai where tourism has been growing at speed. This area provides a different Thailand experience, a laid back sanctuary surrounded by great plains and mountains for peaceful getaways.
Bangkok City Guide
How to get around, art, culture and temple guides, what not to miss, and much more – our essential guide to Bangkok.
Read articles about Thailand:
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- October 5, 2014
Passports & Visas
Passports should be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date of entry into Thailand. Entry to Thailand is normally refused if you have a passport which has pages missing or is damaged.
Many foreigners including British passport holders can enter Thailand for 30 days without a visa, officially known as a visa exemption. Since August 2014 visa exemptions can now be extended for a further 30 days for a cost of ฿1900 meaning you can stay 60 days visa free. However if you already know you will be staying for longer than 30 days it may work out cheaper to obtain a 60 day tourist visa in advance from your own country.
Foreign nationals from the UK, U.S.A, Canada, Italy, Germany, Japan, France can also obtain a 30 day visa on arrival when travelling to Thailand over land. Other countries may be limited to 15 days when arriving over land or may not be able to obtain a visa on arrival at all.
Overstay and you’ll be fined ฿500 per day up to a maximum of ฿20,000. You also run the risk of imprisonment, further fines and being black-listed from entering Thailand. Thai authorities’ state that they will always enforce detention for overstays of more than 42 days. Legal ways of getting a visa or extension is from a Thai Embassy, Immigration Officer at a point of entry or an Immigration Office around the country. Visas issued by travel agents or any other means are likely to be illegal.
Tourist visas can help avoid the headache of getting a visa on arrival especially if you are worried about non having onward travel documents. Make sure your passport is stamped by immigration (happens more than you’d think). You will be fined $5usd a day and possibly deported if your passport isn’t stamped or you overstay your visa.
When to go…
A perfect starting and/or finishing point for backpackers travelling through SE Asia, flights to and from Bangkok are regularly cheaper than any other city in the region. Trains only come direct from Malaysia though you can get very close to Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia border crossings. Buses frequently run to major Thai cities from all four bordering countries for reasonable prices, comfort levels vary so try to get larger buses when available.