Get ahead of next year's travel trends! Find out what’s popular in 2024, from the best travel experiences to the top destinations. With a growing desire for authentic experiences and new adventures, find out why group travel is...
Thailand, known as the Land of Smiles, is a captivating travel destination. Explore the vibrant streets of Bangkok, home to iconic temples and modern skyscrapers. Discover the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya and the serene beauty of Chiang Mai's mountainous landscapes. Relax on the stunning beaches of Phuket, Krabi, and Koh Phi Phi. Thailand's diverse cuisine is a culinary delight, from flavorful street food to aromatic curries. Immerse yourself in the country's rich cultural traditions through traditional dance performances and visits to magnificent temples. With its warm hospitality and captivating experiences, Thailand promises an unforgettable travel adventure.
One of the highlights of travelling in Thailand is experiencing its vibrant cultural traditions. Explore colourful floating markets and indulge in local delicacies. Marvel at the intricate architecture of temples like the Golden Mount and the White Temple. For outdoor enthusiasts, Thailand's national parks offer breathtaking hiking trails and the chance to encounter diverse wildlife. From ancient traditions to natural wonders, Thailand offers a travel experience that is both enriching and visually stunning. Prepare to be charmed by the smiles and warm hospitality of the Thai people as you create lasting memories in this enchanting destination.
GMT+7 (Indochina Time)
Thai Baht (THB)
Bangkok is the capital and commercial centre and by far the largest city, with over 11 million inhabitants.
Travellers often make the mistake of treating Bangkok as nothing but a place of transit, when Thailand’s capital really has so much to offer! With something extraordinary hidden behind every massage parlour, Bangkok is a visual feast of markets, food vendors, temples and tuk tuk’s.
Be sure that when you visit Bangkok you stay on the Khao San Road – a real backpacker ghetto, and the place to be if you want to meet like-minded gappers – here you’ll discover a vast selection of restaurants, bars and boutiques.
Thai cuisine has become increasingly popular in the UK so many travellers will have already sampled the flavours of the coconut and chilli-based curries made ‘green’, ‘red’ or ‘yellow’ depending on the strength of the curry paste. Noodles and rice also feature heavily on Thai menus, as do exotic flavours such as lemongrass, tamarind and kaffir lime. Fresh fruit such as mango, lychees and papaya can be found in abundance. To the foreign palette, some of Thailand’s street vendors may look quite suspect, particularly if you come across one serving nothing but fried cockroaches! Grasshoppers, silkworms and scorpions can also occasionally be found in the street markets but despite this, street vendors also offer a wide and tasty selection of some of the freshest foods in Thailand. Buying from these stands allows you to dine on a seriously tight budget, so why not pull up a chair and watch the world go by with a cold Chang and some super cheap eats?
Thailand has an equatorial climate in the south and a tropical / monsoon climate in the north, making it very hot and humid. From June to October, the country experiences high rainfall from the southwest monsoons, but the rain tends to come in the late afternoon and normally only rains for around an hour. April and May are the hottest months, but due to the location, it rarely gets cool except in the mountainous northern region in the months of September to January.
If you want to spend most of your days lounging on Thailand’s beaches, the best time to visit is probably the peak season months of November to March. However, Thailand is a great to place visit at any time of year, and those who find the heat and humidity overwhelming will enjoy the heavy but short bursts of rain during the wet season.
Visas may be required in order to enter or transit through certain countries depending on your passport nationality, your reason for travel and how long you intend to stay.
Visa, passport and entry rules are subject to change and you should check the most up-to-date information from the relevant embassy or visa specialist.
To make things easier we have teamed up with The Travel Visa Company who are one of the UK’s leading travel visa specialists. You can use their website, alongside embassy websites, to find out the specific entry requirements for the countries you intend to travel to.
For a fee, their dedicated team of experts can also apply for visas on your behalf, taking away the hassle and streamlining the process for you if you wish. For more details on the services they provide please click here – The Travel Visa Company
Passports must be kept in good condition. Travellers with damaged passports may be refused entry at immigration. It is the responsibility of the traveller to ensure that all travel documents are in good condition before they travel. Most countries will also require at least 6 months of validity on your passport from the time you finish your trip.
Some countries will require proof of certain vaccines, such as yellow fever or covid, in order to gain entry. Please check with the relevant embassy or a visa specialist before travelling.
The language spoken in Thailand is Thai, and you’ll likely pick up the odd word here or there. Unless you’re keen to learn the language, a phrase book isn’t a necessity as English is spoken in most tourist areas.
The locals are a friendly bunch and will be more than willing to chat. You might find it comical when they eagerly drop phrases like’ lovely jubbly’ into a conversation.
The electric current in Thailand is 220V and the cycle is 50Hz.
Thailand uses the same two flat-prong plugs as the USA. Sometimes this comes with a third round prong which acts as the earth. You, therefore, need an adapter for your appliances which fits these “American” sockets.
Although a handshake is accepted in Thailand, common courtesy – especially when greeting an elder – is that you should favour the wai – a slight bow with palms pressed together.
If you don’t want to receive a disapproving look, then don’t touch a Thai person on the head. The head is regarded as the highest part of the body – literally as well as figuratively – and touching it is considered rude.
When visiting one of the many stunning Thai temples, make sure your shoulders and knees are covered as a mark of respect. You should also remove your shoes in temples, something you also need to do when entering a Thai home.
In Thailand, it is a criminal offence to make critical or defamatory comments about the King or other members of the Royal family. This is known as Lèse Majesté and is punishable by a prison sentence of three to fifteen years, or longer. Foreign nationals have been convicted of Lèse Majesté, so you should strictly observe this law while visiting Thailand.
Public displays of affection with the opposite sex are frowned upon in certain parts of Thailand.
Please note that you are not allowed to bring vaporisers (eg. e-cigarettes) and refills into Thailand. If you are found to have these items, it is likely they will be confiscated and you could be heavily fined or face a prison sentence of up to 10 years. The supply or sale of e-cigarettes or similar is also banned in Thailand, if convicted you could face up to 5 years in prison.
Smoking any form of tobacco is illegal on some beaches in Thailand. The penalty for violating the ban is a large fine or imprisonment. Please check local signs before smoking in public areas.
While Thai attitudes to elephants and other wildlife are slowly changing for the better, elephant riding is still widespread in Thailand and you may be offered the opportunity to ride elephants by other tourism companies in the country. Gap 360 does not support elephant riding and we do not offer any elephant riding as part of our experiences. We encourage our travellers to not take part in any experiences that involve the mistreatment of animals. This includes visiting places that mistreat tigers or other wildlife.
We have selected what we believe to be the key points that you should be aware of when travelling in Thailand.
Gap 360 follows advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and we recommend that you frequently check the FCDO for updated travel advice. You can find the website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-development-office
Assaults and robberies have been reported in tourist areas of Thailand such as Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Krabi and in Chaweng, Koh Samui, so you should take care, particularly at night.
Exercise caution when on Koh Phangan, especially during Full or Black Moon parties when unprovoked gang attacks have been reported. These generally occur late at night in the Haad Rin area of Koh Phangan. A British national was shot and killed during a beach party in Haad Rin in 2013.
There have been reported assaults, sexual offences and robberies against both male and female travellers, especially in Koh Samui and Krabi. Tourists have also been robbed after bringing visitors to their hotel rooms, sometimes after drink-spiking incidents. Do not take drinks from strangers, especially at clubs and parties, especially in Koh Samui, Pattaya and Koh Phangan’s Full and Black Moon parties.
Be aware of the possibility of credit card fraud and do not lose sight of your credit card during transactions. Thailand has seen some incidents of ATM skimming, so always try to use an ATM within a bank if possible, and always protect your PIN number.
Be careful to observe demarcation lines between shops and stalls, particularly in markets and at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Moving items from one shop’s area to another may be treated as theft.
Gem scams are a problem in Thailand, with some visitors buying gems at inflated prices from establishments that seem respectable, but later finding that the gems are worth much less than their purchase price.
Take precautions and be on your guard against pickpockets and bag snatchers. When walking along busy streets or travelling in open transport such as tuk tuks, be aware that foreigners have had items snatched by riders on motorbikes. If you plan to travel by bus, take precautions to ensure any cash and valuables you have are kept securely, especially on longer journeys where you may fall asleep.
The political situation in Thailand is unpredictable, with unrest in the last few years leading to large demonstrations which have sometimes resulted in violence. Avoid political demonstrations and large gatherings.
There is a threat of terrorism in Thailand, with occasional indiscriminate bomb and grenade attacks, in places visited by expatriates and foreign travellers, including large cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Remain vigilant and keep abreast of local security advice and media reports.
The majority of accidents (and 70% of deaths) on the road in Thailand involve motorcycles, which are widely used. Take extra care if using a motorcycle. The law states you must wear a safety helmet at all times.
Motorcycles and scooters for hire in beach resorts are often unregistered, meaning they can’t be legally used on public roads. Quad bikes can also be dangerous and it is illegal to drive these on Thai roads. Make sure your travel insurance covers you before you hire a vehicle and look closely at the details of the lease agreement. Some companies have been known to hold onto passports and use them to claim damage to motorcycles.
Passenger boats are a common way to get between the mainland and the Thai islands, and some sinkings have been reported as a result of overloading, rough seas or poor maintenance. Avoid travelling on overloaded boats or those in poor conditions and take care at all times. Make sure life jackets are available. On Koh Phangan, during the Full Moon parties, speedboats to and from the island are often overloaded.
Bungee jumping can be dangerous and accidents do happen. If you want to bungee jump in Thailand, you should check that the company has the right safety features, is using the most up-to-date equipment and are fully licensed and insured.
Use a licensed and reliable tour guide if you go jungle trekking in Thailand. Take care when swimming in coastal regions, especially in the monsoon season. Strong riptides in areas such as Phuket, Koh Chang, Hua Hin, Cha-am, Rayong and Pattaya and the Koh Samui archipelago can result in drownings. Pay attention to warning signs, particularly red flags and only swim from approved beaches. Jellyfish can come close to the shore, particularly in the rainy season and their stings can prove fatal.
If you are swimming, diving, kayaking or white water rafting in rivers or close to waterfalls, particularly in the rainy season (May to October) take care as currents can be extremely strong.
When renting Jet Skis or water sports equipment, you should be satisfied that adequate safety precautions are in place, and only rent from a reputable, licensed and insured provider. Check for damage before use and make sure they offer training. Do not allow your passport to be held as a guarantee against returning a jet ski, as unscrupulous owners have been known to hold on to passports against claimed damage.
If diving, check a dive operator’s credentials carefully before using them and make sure you’re covered by your insurance. Inexperienced divers should ask their dive operator to explain what cover they offer before signing up. Make sure safety equipment is available on the boat, particularly oxygen.
Possession of even a small quantity of drugs in Thailand can lead to imprisonment. Possession of marijuana can mean a long prison sentence and a heavy fine. Amphetamines and ecstasy are regarded as Class A drugs and possession or trafficking carries the same penalties as heroin. If you are found guilty of being in possession of 20 grams of a Class A drug at a point of exit from Thailand then this can incur a death sentence.
Importing more than 200 cigarettes per person is illegal and is enforced at customs at the airport on arrival. If you exceed the limit you may be fined ten times the value of the items and the cigarettes may be confiscated.
The law in Thailand states you must carry your passport with you at all times, and tourists who are unable to produce their passport on request risk arrest. You should ensure you have completed the next of kin details section in the back of your passport.
The rainy season in Thailand runs from May to October, with the monsoon at its peak in September and October. In Koh Samui and the South East of the Thai peninsula, the rainy season is from November to March.
Heavy storms can occur in the rainy season which can cause flooding and landslides, and local disruption and damage. Lakes, caves and waterfalls are particularly at risk of flooding during the rainy season.
There are a few vaccinations recommended before travelling to Thailand, especially Typhoid and Hepatitis A, and you may need a Yellow Fever certificate if you are arriving from an infected area. Some other vaccinations may be advised if you are planning on travelling to more rural areas of Thailand. See your GP before you travel to make sure you are fully up to date with all vaccinations.
Dengue fever is present in Thailand and you should use measures to avoid mosquito bites.
Rape and sexual assault can happen to women and men of all ages and backgrounds. Whilst most overseas trips are trouble-free you still need to be cautious. It is a traumatic experience whenever and wherever it happens, but when you’re abroad and away from your family it can be even more so. To minimise the risk of harassment and assault, you should always make sure you are in a group, and never walk off in the dark on your own.
Keep an eye on your drink at all times to prevent drink spiking, and don’t drink too much. This rule applies everywhere, especially at events such as the Full/Black Moon parties. Take extra care about taking drinks from strangers and don’t leave your drinks unattended. There have been incidents where tourists have had their drinks spiked, and date rapes have been reported.
If you are visiting Thailand, you may well time your trip to coincide with a legendary Full Moon, Black Moon or Half Moon Party! Known as one of Thailand’s must-do amazing experiences, the famous Full Moon party attracts thousands of visitors a month, who flock to the laid-back paradise island of Koh Phangan to experience this wild and wonderful all-night party first hand! If you miss the Full Moon Party, never fear, the equally fun-filled, buzzing Black Moon Party or Half-moon Party means a party is never far away in Koh Phangan.
The Full Moon party is held at Haad Rin beach and people from all over the world come every month for this unforgettable night; expect to see anywhere from 10,000 – 30,000 people! You will find everything from trance to reggae being played from dusk until the sun rises the next morning. The Black Moon party is held on Baan Tai beach, and you’ll enjoy a magical and memorable night filled with the latest trance music and guest DJs. Whichever party you end up at, it should be one of the best nights of your life and one you’ll be talking about for a long time to come. However, please read carefully the health and safety advice below to ensure your Full/Black Moon party night is memorable for all the right reasons.
The Full Moon/Black Moon/Half Moon Party is a fantastic, unique experience and, if you take sensible precautions, it should be one of the highlights of your trip! As with any big group event, however, there are always a few risks to take into consideration, and we want you to be aware of these before you travel so you can make sure your Koh Phangan party experience is one you will happily remember forever.
During Full or Black Moon parties you will find that there are often a lot of drugs making their way around. As drugs are illegal in Thailand and involvement with them can carry a prison sentence, we do not recommend the use of or contact with any drugs in Thailand. Undercover police are known to try to sell you drugs, only to arrest you if you take them up on their offer. Locals may also report you to the police for a reward in return. Please do not get involved with any drugs. Have fun but stay legal!
You might not ever expect to hear someone say to you; “Let’s go outside and skip with a rope that’s on fire”, and even if they did you would probably tell them they were mad! But at the Full Moon party, this is a common occurrence. The last thing you want to do is try skipping with fire when you’ve had a bit too much to drink because you don’t want your night to end in the hospital with leg burns. Don’t play with fire and you won’t put a damper on your Full Moon fun!
Koh Phangan’s parties are notorious for the ‘buckets’ of drink that are readily available. They are a mix of a Red Bull equivalent, Coca Cola and a large quantity of vodka or Thai whisky. It doesn’t take many of these concoctions to get you very drunk, very quickly, so take it easy on the Thai buckets! The Red Bull sold in Thailand contains something called ephedra, which is said to contain the same amount of caffeine as 6 cups of coffee. Mixing this with alcohol can be dangerous, so keep an eye on how much of this you’re drinking. Drink responsibly so you can remember every amazing detail of the brilliant party atmosphere!
Pace yourself by drinking a lot of water both before and during the party. You’re probably going to consume a lot of alcohol, and because it is so hot and humid, even at night, you’ll get dehydrated very quickly. This can end up making you feel ill and will ruin your night, so remember to drink plenty of water. This will also stop you from feeling quite so hung over the next day. Hydrate and party late!
Give night-time swimming a miss: After a few drinks, you might start thinking that swimming or playing in the sea seems appealing, but the sea in Thailand is full of strong waves and currents and there’s a real risk of drowning, especially if you’re too drunk to pay attention. Also, a lot of people use the sea when they can’t be bothered to go and find a toilet and no one wants to swim in that! Stay beach-based and play it safe.
Keep your shoes on: You might think that partying without your shoes on sounds like a cool and comfortable option, but with thousands of glass bottles being drunk from, it’s inevitable that some will get broken and left in the sand. You don’t want a piece of glass to slice into your bare foot, ruin your night and even lead to infection, so save yourself from injury and keep your shoes on!
Whenever there are a large number of people together in one place, there is always an increased risk of theft, and the Full/Black Moon party is no exception. A sensible precaution is to just carry enough money for your drinks, your room key, and possibly a photocopy of your passport. Leave everything else in your room, preferably locked in a safe if there is one provided. The party is the ideal photo opportunity but don’t leave your camera lying around on the bar or beach. One option is to take a couple of disposable cameras with you so you can capture all those memorable moments without worrying!
The Full and Black Moon parties should be all about fun, relaxation and the feel-good factor, so don’t spoil the vibe by getting into fights with anyone. Especially avoid getting into arguments with locals, and in line with FCDO advice, you should avoid contact with local Thai gangs.
It’s best to try and stick with your group at the party, but with so many people around it is very easy to get lost. Pick a meeting point in advance, so that if someone wanders off, or you get separated from your group you’ll easily know where to find them. If you decide to go off with someone from outside your group, always let one of your friends know where you are going. Remember, there’s safety in numbers!
Take care, be sensible and follow the safety advice so you don’t let anything spoil the sensational experience of getting stuck into a full-on Full Moon or Half Moon party, or ruin the buzz of a Black Moon beach party. Make the most of Thailand and stay safe while enjoying the sun, sea, sand and sizzling parties on Koh Phangan!
Please check our general Travel Advice section for more detailed information and general health and safety advice.
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