The Thai baht is the in-use currency of Thailand, and is also used in some neighbouring countries as a second currency.
The dollar, euro, etc are not usually accepted in Thailand. The very few places that do will charge a painful exchange rate so make sure you have enough cash.
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted (but not in markets or small shops). It’s a good idea to check with your home bank what they will charge you to use it in Thailand.
Quite a few retailers add a service charge for accepting credit cards, often 2-3%. It’s perfectly legal.
If you use a non Thai card in a local ATM, you will be charged 220 baht per transaction, plus whatever your bank back home charges you.
For tourists, bring cash and use a Revolut or similar style debit/atm card.
For aspiring ex-pats, set up a Thai bank account and use Transferwise or a similar service to transfer cash from home to your account in Thailand.
Bangkok Isn’t Bangkok
Bangkok isn’t called Bangkok at all. Its called Krungthep in conversation, and Krungthepmahanakhon for official purposes.
The city’s full name is shown on the picture above.
The capital city of Thailand has the longest place name in the world.
Don’t Do It!
The single most dangerous thing you can do in Thailand is to ride a scooter / motorbike.
Thailand has the 2nd highest motor vehicle accident rate in the world, and over 70% of fatalities involve scooters.
The casualty rate, including deaths, is horrific – more than 17000 people died on Thailand’s roads up to the end of December 2019.
The phone number to call an Ambulance or the Rescue Service is 1669.
You may well find that any travel or accident insurance you have either excludes scooters or gives only 50% cover.
Thailand is 543 Years Ahead
Thailand’s year is 543 years ahead of the west, so 2020 in the west is 2563 in Thailand. The reason is that it follows the Buddhist era rather than the christian era.
The Price For You
Dual pricing (a price higher for foreigners than for Thais) is common at many national parks, theme parks, palaces and temples, museums, etc.
This photo shows 10 baht for children and 20 baht for adults.
There are 77 provinces in Thailand, excluding Krungthep. Every provincial capital has the same name as the province it’s in.
So Nonthaburi city is the provincial capital of Nonthaburi province,etc.
Place names are of course only ever correct when they are written in Thai. Transliterations into English can produce several different spellings for a single place name, which can be confusing.
One classic example is: Ayuddya, Ayutthaya, Ayudoya etc.
A few other places are referred to by their ancient names sometimes. Samut Prakarn is sometimes called Pak Nam, and Nakhon Rachasima is commonly called Korat.
The North-Eastern region is collectively known as Isaan (or Esan, Isarn, etc)
Animals are more intelligent than we give them credit for…
In some rural areas where wild elephants live, they have devised a clever method of getting a free snack.
Passing trucks which are delivering fresh fruit, or crops are waylaid by several of the large beasts, forcing the drivers to stop. The crafty elephants then help themselves to the tasty goods on the back of the trucks.
Only when they have had a decent feed will they let the drivers continue on their way.
And then there are the dogs which flock to the ever present 7/11 stores.
No, they aren’t buying snacks. Just enjoying a bit of relaxation in front of the sliding doors. But why?
Thailand is a pretty hot country most of the year, and 7/11 have very efficient air conditioners. So every time the doors open the dogs get a nice blast of cool air. Poor dogs can’t take their fur coats off so this a good way to keep cool.
Monitor lizards are fairly common in Thailand, and some grow pretty big. They aren’t dangerous unless they feel threatened, but a bite would need immediate medical attention.
Bangkok’s Lumpini Park is as popular with these ancient creatures as it is with the local human population. You might find one stealing your picnic snacks!
They generally live close to a water source and are often seen in canals, lakes, and rivers. We recently encountered one crossing the road during a rain storm!
And of course there are snakes. Lots of them. In all shapes, colours and sizes.
Bangkok City’s fire service get more calls about snakes in houses than they do about fires, and they are trained to deal with them.
Not all snakes are venomous, but they all need to be treated with a great deal of respect and these are the guys who will unwrap that Python from the rafters, or extract that Cobra from the toilet!
That last bit wasn’t a joke. Snakes coming up into the toilet bowl aren’t all that unusual in some rural areas, although encountering snakes in general as a visitor is pretty unlikely.
A friend of mine had a Python living in the rafters above his bedroom but did nothing about it, and eventually it slithered away never to be seen again.
It’s Not Called The Mekong
The mighty river that runs between Thailand and Laos isn’t called the Mekong. That’s just a corruption of the Thai name ‘Maenam Khong’. Maenam means river. So the you’ve been saying Khong River wrong all this time LOL.
What Does It Mean?
We use some Thai words (in western script) in our stories, so here is what some of them mean:
Klong = Canal
Samlor = Three wheeled bike or motorbike.
Soi = A side road or lane off a main road (eg Sukhumvit Soi 3).
Songtaew = a truck or pickup truck that operates like a bus, some can be hired like a taxi.
Viharn = The main building in a temple complex.
Wat = Temple complex.