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General Information About Thailand

Business Hours

Most government offices open from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm, Monday to Friday, but close from 12 noon to 1 pm for lunch. Banks open at 8.30 am and close at 3.30 pm Monday to Friday. However, in major tourist areas currency exchange offices will open every day from 9.00 am until around 6.30pm, with some staying open until late evening.

Most shops and large department stores open every day from around 10.00 am and until 9.00 or 10.00 pm. In large towns and cities you will find convenience stores and some services stations open 24 hours.

Dual Pricing

There is a nasty habit in Thailand of charging visitors higher prices. Please visit the Fair Price
web site for details of companies operating this odious policy.

Time

Thailand is seven hours ahead of GMT so 12 noon in Bangkok is 5 am in London, 1 am in New York, 10 pm the previous day in Los Angeles, and 3 pm in Sydney.

Electricity

Electric current is 220 volts, 50 cycles. Many large hotels will also have 110 volt sockets. Most modern appliances such as shavers etc. are suitable for a range of voltages, but if in doubt check before leaving home.

Telephone

The telephone system is modern and efficient, and you can dial direct to most international destinations from larger hotels. Public phones (which accept a card) are readily available, but not all are capable of making international calls. Cards can be purchased at most hotels and news stands etc. Local calls, on land lines, are generally charged at 3 Bahtper connection, there is no time charge, though there are moves to introduce a time charge.

The country code for Thailand is 66.

When calling a number in Thailand it is necessary to dial the whole number, including the area code, even if you are in the same area. All area codes are prefixed with a 0. The 0 is dropped if you are dialing from outside Thailand.

Most mobile phones can be used in Thailand whilst you are on holiday, check with your local company before leaving home. If you are planning a long trip here it may be worth considering buying a pre-paid Thai SIM card for your phone, all three major providers offer this service, D-Prompt, 1-2-Call and Orange. This will give you a local phone number in Thailand and also allow you to phone home without the rather high roaming charges that most companies require. With a pre-paid card, calls inside Thailand are charged at 5 Baht/minute. Overseas calls are charged at the standard rates with no surcharge. Re-charge cards come in denominations like 100, 200, 300 Bahtand the initial purchase of the SIM card has a small surcharge for the card.

Internet

Internet facilities are available thoughout the country. Even the smallest town will boast an Internet Cafe of some sort and charges are very low, less that US$1 per hour.

5 star hotels may offer a broadband connection, but the costs are quite high. However the local isp's offer package deals, based on the week, month or a number of hours. You simply purchase the package from a local computer shop. Inside is a logon id and password allowing you access to that isp's network. You can then plug in your computer and surf away. We recommend CSLoxinfo as they have an excellent network of direct dial numbers around the country. Some of the smaller isp's use the telephone company network, by dialling 1222. They will promise you a connection of up to 3 hours for the cost of one phone call, 3 Baht, but in realilty you may not stay connected for this time as the 1222 network is notoriously unreliable.

In the large cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai you will also find Wireless HotSpots. TOP

Postal Service

The postal service is generally very efficient and inexpensive. Most post offices are open on weekdays from 8:30 am to 4.30 pm. However, those in major tourist destinations may be open until 8 pm. Poste restante services are usually very reliable, but you may encounter some confusion between surnames and given names. Ask people who are writing to you to print and underline your surname, this should ensure letters are filed correctly. You will need to produce your passport before you can claim your letters.

TV and Newspapers

Thailand has five Thai language TV channels, plus several cable services in both Thai and English. At least one of these cable services will be offered by many medium sized hotels and all large establishments.

There are two excellent English language daily newspapers, the Bangkok Post and The Nation. Larger tourist venues have their own local magazine.

Credit Cards

Major credit cards are accepted in all larger hotels and shops. You may be able to use your card at some ATM machines to withdraw cash. Check with your bank or card company before leaving home.

Lost credit cards should be reported immediately to:
American Express (02) 273 5296
Diners Club (02) 238 3660
Mastercard (02) 256 7326
Visa (02) 256 7326

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