Thailand Guide
Some important information for your visit to Thailand

THAILAND


The local currency is the Baht (B) which comes in denominations of B.10 (brown), B.20 (green), B.50 (blue), B.100 (red), B.500 (purple) and B.1,000 (beige). Keep in mind that the larger the note, the larger the denomination. Numerals are printed in Arabic as well as Thai, so the notes are quite easy to get accustomed to. Coins include denominations in B.10, B.5, B.2 and B.1 as well as 25 and 50 satang or cents, but due to the on-going inflation, satangs are now of little use. All denominations bear the image of King Rama IX and are supposed to be handled with utmost respect, so take care not to crumple your bills nor throw away your coins.

There are many banks in Bangkok. The major most well-known and largest in terms of assets are Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), Krungthai Bank, TMB Bank, Bank of Ayudthya, Thanachart Bank. Banks are generally open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. Foreign exchange counters are generally open between 7.00am to 8.00pm. Banks in department stores follow the opening hours of the stores which are usually 10.00am to 8.00pm.

ATMs can be found in all cities and large towns.

Credit cards are widely accepted in shopping malls and grocery stores, restaurants, but small local stores do not accept them.

Thailand is largely tropical, so it's hot and humid all year around with temperatures in the 28-35°C range (82-95°F), a degree of relief provided only in the mountains in the far north of Thailand. The careful observer will, however, note three seasons:

  • Cool: From November to the end of February.
  • Hot: From March to June.
  • Rainy: From July to October, although it only really gets under way in September, tropical monsoons hit most of the country. This doesn't mean it rains non-stop, but when it does it pours and flooding is not uncommon.

There are local deviations to these general patterns. In particular, the south-east coast of Thailand (including Ko Samui) has the rains reversed, with the peak season being May-October and the rainy off season in November-February.

The time zone is GMT plus 7 hours.

E-mail Hi-speed Internet connections is available at IRRI-Thailand Office.

Mail
There are two addresses for incoming postal items for IRRI. The first is for letters only and the second address is for packages.

1) IRRI's address for incoming letter mail is:

IRRI-Thailand Office


P.O. Box 9-159
Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900
Thailand

2) IRRI's address for incoming letter/packages is:

IRRI-Thailand Office


c/o Bureau of Rice Research and Development
Rice Department, 50 Paholyothin Road
Lad Yao, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900
Thailand

Tel: (66-2) 579 5249, 579 9493, 561 1581
Fax: (66-2) 561 48948

In Bangkok, you can choose among a wide variety of Shopping malls and open-air markets. Like other big cities, shopping malls & department stores are places where you can but high quality products. Though there are also some shops and stalls in shopping centers where you can haggle for the discounted price, bargain hunters will be enjoying shopping in Thai markets for the most affordable goods.

Shopping malls like Gaysorn, Siam Paragon, & Emporium are popular for tourists looking for international brands and world’s top quality designer wear. They are mostly open from 10am-10pm daily. These shopping centers are very accessible via (BTS), the city’s most efficient modern sky train.

Gaysorn


Business Hours: 10:00 – 20:00
Location: Ratchaprasong Junction
BTS: Chitlom

Siam Paragon


Business Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
Location: Next to Siam Centre, Pathumwan
BTS: Siam
Tip: Tourist can apply for a “Tourist Discount Card” on the information desk for a 5% discount on most purchases.

Emporium


Business Hours: 9.00-21.00
Location: Sukhumvit Soi 24/26
BTS: Phrom Phong

Central World Shopping Center


The newly-renovated Central World is officially the biggest and one of the best shopping center in Southeast Asia. With 500 stores, dining choices composed of 50 restaurants, 21 big cinemas with modern facilities, bowling hall, Kids’ Zone and Learning Centre, food court and two anchor department stores, Central World indeed is a one-stop-shop for fun, shopping and entertainment. What more could you ask for?
Business Hours: 10:00 – 21:00
Location: Ratchaprasong intersection, Pathumwan
Skytrain: Chitlom or Siam

MBK (Mah Boon Krong)


Known as Bangkok’s pioneer shopping center, MBK a combination of a market and a mall. It is very popular among tourists and even locals. You can find both original and counterfeit goods here at bargain-friendly prices. With its 2,000 shops that sell almost anything under the sun, this place can get very crowded and busy especially during the weekend.
Business Hours: 11:00 – 22:00
Location: Phayathai Road, Pathumwan
BTS: National Stadium

Pantip Plaza


Known as IT Mall, this a haven for the tech-savvy, where gadgets, electronics, and software abound. If you’re looking for a new wireless mouse, laptop USB stick, CD-rom drive, or the newest gadget to hit town, you can compare prices among as many vendors to find the best deal! DVDs, CDs, and software are also sold in this mall but be careful with buying pirated copies, which is very rampant in this center. Just remember that if you want the best deal for originals, go to shops on the top floors as they are the most reliable places for your purchase.
Business Hours: 10:00 – 20:30 (Daily)
Location: Petchaburi Road close to the trendy Amari Watergate Hotel and Baiyoke Market. Just across the street from Platinum’s (Pratunam) City Complex.
BTS: Ratchathewi station and you can hire a taxi or tuk-tuk, or just walk ten minutes down Petchaburi Road.

Platinum Fashion Mall


Platinum specializes in selling wholesale clothing, selling a similar range of clothing to the Pratunam Market across the street, except that it’s air-conditioned. This relatively new shopping center is in the Petchaburi area just a walking distance to Pantip Plaza. It’s a six-storey mall that’s filled with outlets housing the latest trends in clothing, footwear, and fashion accessories.
Business Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
Location: Petchaburi, Ratchathewi (next to Pantip Plaza)
BTS: The nearest Skytrain station is Ploenchit

Siam Discovery


Until now Siam Discovery is still a favorite among Bangkok’s younger and fashionable set. Situated just the opposite of Siam Square, this mall is packed up with good selection of shops, restaurants and designer fashion outlets. The Cinema complex is located at the top floor to cater to movie buffs. And for those in search of a coffee treat and good pastries, head over to Starbucks and Au Bon Pain at the ground level.
Business Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
Location: Siam, Pathumwan
BTS: Siam

Siam Center Bangkok


Constructed in 1976, Siam Center is now considered as one of the oldest malls in Bangkok. Located in the midst of what they call “battleground of the malls”, it is dwarfed by the newly-built bigger malls but still offer its own attractive range of bargain finds.
Business Hours: 9:00 – 21:00
Location: Siam
BTS: Siam

Chatuchak Market Bangkok


Famous the world over as the “mother of all markets”, over 15,000 different stalls covers all of its 35 acres with thousands of visitors every Saturday and Sunday. It’s one of the biggest and well-known shopping markets in the world. Don’t forget to wear your most comfortable shoes and bring along a bottle of water before you head over here. It’s not the easiest to navigate, but the excitement of discovering the best finds await you.
Business Hour: 08:00 – 18:00 on weekends and Fridays (wholesale day). Plant shops are open Wednesdays and Thursdays too from 07:00 – 18:00.
To get there: Just take the skytrain (BTS) to Mo Chit station. Just a five-minute walk, and you’re there.
2nd option: You can take the subway (MRT) to Chatuchak Park station

The average working person living in Thailand spends 2 hours everyday travelling to and from work—because of this, a lot of transport modes exist to make commuting a breeze even for the Bangkok novice. These modes of transport, which fits every kind of budget and need, ensure that you will eventually get to your destination despite the congested roads!

Private cars and vans

You can rent a car or van if you want a comfortable and safe way of transport. International car rental companies have branches in Bangkok and other major cities. The rental rates are between B. 1,500 – 15,000 per day and B. 9,000 – 20,000 per week, depending on the car brand. Do note that you must have a valid international license if you are doing the driving yourself.

Taxi

Air-conditioned taxis with meters are common and recognizable by a sign on the cab’s roof along with their bright colors (hot pink, green, orange, yellow). The taxi charge is 35 Baht for the first 2 kms, then fares increase from 4.50 – 5.50 Baht depending on the distance. A surcharge of 1.25 Baht kicks in when the taxi travels at less than 6 kph. Booking a taxi for the whole day will cost between 1,000 – 1,500 Baht.

Non-metered taxis are also available but are usually more expensive, so one must negotiate the rate. A trip within central Bangkok should cost between 60 – 80 Baht (plus an additional 10 – 20 during peak hours). The trip to the airport is about 200 – 300 Baht. Whether meter or non-meter, the freeway tolls (20 – 50 Baht) are paid by the customers.

Tuk-tuk

The ineffable tuk-tuk, or samlors, are usually faster than taxis in traffic jams as they can weave in between cars, but you must be prepared for inhaling a day’s dose of traffic fumes. Tuk-tuk fares have escalated and they are now on par with metered taxis. Be prepared to pay about 40 baht for a short hop, or better yet, negotiate with the driver before you take the ride.

Motorbikes

Those in a hurry can use motorcycle taxis to beat the jams. Fares are about the same as taking the tuk-tuk. But be forewarned that riding a motorcycle taxi on the main thoroughfares can be a little dangerous, although they are a perfectly safe and pleasant solution in the sois (lane or secondary streets) where Bangkok retains a village-like atmosphere. Some of the motorcycle taxis provide a helmet for their passengers though.

BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System)

Bangkok’s answer to traffic jams along its key stops offers two routes at the moment and cover the two main commercial areas: Sukhumvit line (from Mo chit to On Nut) and the Silom line (from National Stadium to Saphan Taksin Bridge). Running from 6 a.m. to midnight, the fare depends on distance traveled, ranging from 10 – 40 baht/person. For frequent riders, it would be best to buy a stored value card, ranging from 440 – 800 baht/person that would ensure you a multiple trips at a flat rate of 20 baht per trip regardless of the destination.

Subway (Bangkok Mass Rapid Transit)

Bangkok’s newest mass transit system, the subway, was inaugurated in July 2004. With fares ranging from 14 – 36 baht, the subway run from the city’s main railway station, Hua Lampong, under two major thoroughfares, Rama 4 Road and Ratchadaphisak Road. By linking several hotesl, shopping centers and business districts, as well as the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, the subway can definitely help you reach your destination on time.

Trains

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) runs express, fast and ordinary services throughout the country at very reasonable fares. There is also a train service between the city center and Don Mueang Airport.

Airport Buses

Four bus services ply the city and airport for the convenience of travellers to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport. They are:

  • Service A1, Airport-Silom Road
  • Service A2, Airport-Sanam Luang (Grand Palace)
  • Service A3, Airport-Sukhumvit 55 (Soi Thong Lo),
  • Service A4, Airport-Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lampong)

Buses

One can save a fair bit of money by making use of the public bus system, and they are comfortable as many buses on the main routes are air-conditioned. A non air-conditioned ride costs around 6 baht, while adding just another 5 baht lets you travel in air-conditioned comfort. Routes are numbered and indicated on most tourist maps. However, you are advised to guard your belongings when traveling on buses as they tend to be very crowded.

Boats

The most pleasant way to get around Bangkok is undoubtedly the shuttle boats plying Bangkok’s waterways. They are faster and much more interesting. Although many of the klongs (canals) have been paved over, there are still a number of routes to be savored, e.g. along the Chao Phraya River and the adjoining canals. Fares range from 6 – 10 baht.

Planes

Traveling around Thailand is a delight with booking domestic flights operated by Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Nok Air, Air Asia and Orient Thai.

Public Transportation

BUS to : Kasetsart University, Bangkhen Campus (IRRI-Thailand Office is located inside the Campus)
No. 26: Minburi – Victory Monument
No. 29: Hau Lam Pong- Rangsit
No. 34: Hau Lam Pong- Rangsit
No. 39: Democracy Monument- Thammasart University Rangsit
No. 59: Democracy Monument- Thammasart University Rangsit
No. 63: Nonthaburi – Victory Monument

Shuttle van

Start from 20 Baht, in front of 7-Eleven outlet across from the campus

Thailand has been a leader in the region for providing their nationals with a quality public healthcare system. Within the country's developed healthcare system, Bangkok offers a range of healthcare facilities, both private and public. Thailand's Ministry of Public Health overseas all the country's hospitals and clinics. The Medical Registration Division under the MOPH's Department of Health Service Support is specially designed to regulate the private sector facilities.

Public hospitals

Thailand has made great strides and passed many reforms to improve its healthcare system, and these initiatives are seen in the quality of the capital's public hospitals. While some of the city's public hospitals may not be as inviting or comfortable as private facilities, more and more are offering high quality care. It's important to know that patients may face long wait times and less- than cheerful staff, but costs are lower than at private facilities. Some public hospitals and clinic will accept international health insurance, but it's advisable to check first with the facility and/or your insurer before you seek treatment.

One of the city's oldest hospitals also remains one of its top public hospitals, Bangkok Christian Hospital. The hospital was founded by the American Presbyterian Mission and the Church of Christ in Thailand and was inaugurated in 1949. It remains a top choice for expatriates in Bangkok as the level of care is comparable to private facilities but at a lower cost. They offer a range of specialty services, from dermatology to internal medicine, radiology to pediatrics.

Private hospitals

While the city offers many quality public hospitals where the level of care is satisfactory, there are also many private hospitals that provide higher levels of care. Many of the doctors and staff at these hospitals and clinics have studied and received degrees and accreditation in western countries. The costs of the services at some private facilities may be lower than typical medical costs in western countries, but it is always best to check with the hospital or clinic first as prices for their services can also vary. It is still advisable to obtain international health insurance coverage in the event of an accident or unexpected emergency.

Bangkok boasts South East Asia's largest private hospital, Bumrungrad International.This hospital was founded in 1980 and has grown to offer services for 30 different specialities. The staff at Bumrungrad are multilingual and many speak fluent English. In addition to a highly knowledgeable staff, hospitals boasts state-of-the-art, modern equipment and has received many international accreditations.

Bangkok Hospital was founded in 1972, and since Bangkok Hospital has grown into a group of more than 13 hospitals and medical facilities located throughout the country. The Bangkok Hospital Group not only provides facilities with modern equipment and highly educated staff, but they also operate many specialty centers. In the 40 years since it began as a single hospital, the group has been accredited by many international agencies for the services it provides.

Another top private hospital in Bangkok is Bangkok Nursing Home Hospital, more commonly known as BNH Hospital. BNH, which first opened in 1898, originally served as a hospital for elderly expats in Thailand, but in the 1990s became a private facility. BNH has been the recipient of many awards throughout its more than 100-year history, and has also received noteworthy international accreditations. They boast a range of specialty clinics, and have been expanding their services at a rate of two new specialty clinics per year.

List of Hospitals in Bangkok

Bangkok Christian Hospital
124 Silom Road, Bangruk Bangkok 10500 Tel: +66-2235-1000, +66-2233-6981-9

Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital
Address: 488 Srinakarin Road, Suanluang, Bangkok 10250 Tel: +66(02) 3789 176

Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital
Address: 133 Sukhumvit 49, Klongtan Nua Vadhana, Bangkok 10110 Tel: +66 (02) 7118 874

Bangkok Hospital Medical Centre
Address: 2 Soi Soovijai 7, New Petcjbiro Road, Bangkapi Huay Khwang, Bangkok 10310 Tel: +66 (02) 3103 000, 2310 1719

BNH Hospital
Address: 2 Soi soonvijai 7, New Petchburi Road, Bangkok 1031 Tel: +66 (02) 6862 700

Bumrungrad Hospital
Address: 33 Sukhumvit 3, Bangkok 10110 Tel: +66 (02) 6671 000

Kasemrad Hospital
Address: 950 Prachachuen Road, 10800 Bangkok Tel: +66 (02) 9101 600

Saint Louis Hospital
Address: 205 South Sathorn Road, Yan Nawa, Bangkok 10120 Tel: +66 (02) 2109 999

Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital
Address: 488 Srinakarin road, Suanluang, Bangkok 10250 Tel: +66 (02) 3789 000

Samitivej Sukumvit Hospital
Address: 133 Sukhumvit 49, Klongtan Nua, Vadhana, Bangkok 10110 Tel: +66 (02) 7118 000

The hospital which located near IRRI-Thailand Office



Vibhavadi Hosital
Address: 51/3 Ngamwongwan Road, Lad Yoa, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900 Tel: +66 (02) 561 1111

Central General Hospital
Address: 290 Paholyothin Road, Anusaowaree, Bangkok 102200 Tel: +66 (02) 552 8777


Bangkok International Church of Seventh Day Adventists

Saturday services, bible study. 57 Pridi Banomyong 31, Sukhumvit 71 Rd., Klongtan Nua, Wattana, Bangkok.

New Vision Baptist Church

Baptist Church. 473 Sri Ayuthaya Road, Paya Tai, Ratchatewi, 10400.

Calvary Baptist Church

Friendly church located in the heart of Bangkok. Welcomes people of various cultural, denominational and religious backgrounds to worship. 88 Sukhumvit Soi 2, 10110.

Little Bangkok Sangha

The Little Bangkok Sangha keeps up to date information on Dhamma events around Bangkok. Littlebang is all about the blogs.

International Church of Bangkok

Biblically centred, non judgemental, evangelical atmosphere. Sunday schedule - choir, worship, children's Sunday school, evening worship. AM activities close to Surasak BTS. PM activities close to SalaDaeng BTS.

The International Buddhist Meditation Centre

Meditation classes with daily lessons in English. From one to three days with accommodation available. Vipassana Section Room 106, Mahachula Building Wat Mahadhat, Na Phra Lan Rd.

Holy Redeemer Catholic Church

Daily English services. Sunday services. 123/19 Soi Ruam Rudi, Ploenchit Rd, 10330.

Evangelical Church

International and multi denominational church. Service on Sunday. Sunday school. 42 Sukhumvit Soi 10.

Wat Pho

Founded in the 16th century, this is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok, most famous for its golden reclining Buddha, which measures 46 metres. Also a meditation centre with Thai massage. Open daily on Maharat Road, Ratanakosin.

Assumption Cathedral

English services on Sunday at 10:00. Website in Thai. Close to Oriental hotel. 23 Charoenkrung Road 40 Bangrak Bangkok 10500.

World Fellowship of Buddhists

Promotes the observance and practise of the teachings of the Buddha. Organises activities in the field of social and cultural services. Monthly meditation classes with some in English. 616 Benjasiri Park, Soi Medhinivet, Sukhumvit 24 10110.

Wattana Church

The 6th District, The Church of Christ in Thailand. International English Language Service every Sunday. Located at the end of Sukhumvit Soi 19. All nationalities, whether Christian or not welcome. BTS Asoke or MRT Sukhumvit.

Chabad of Bangkok - Ohr Menachem

Rabbi Nechemya Wilhelm. 96 Ram Buttri Rd. Banglampoo, Bangkok 10200.

Christ Church

11 Convent Road, Bangkok, Bangrak 10500.

Thailand Progressive Jewish Community TPJC

Community of multi-national and multi-cultural Jews based in Thailand who come together to create progressive and inclusive religious services and other activities and events.

Chaeng Watthana Community Church

Friendly congregation filled with worshippers from around the world. Family service, Sunday Schools and bible study classes. Service in Thai on Sundays. 39/237 Moo 3, Soi Nichada Thani, Samakkee Rd, Nonthaburi 11120.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

International English-speaking congregation meets every Sunday. 72 Sukhumvit 21 (Soi Asoke), Tlongtoenue, Wattana District, Bangkok 10110.

Fathulbaree Mosque

87 Fathulbaree Mosque, 87 Ramkamhaeng Rd, Huamak, Bangkapi, 10240.

International Christian Assembly

Morning worship on Sundays and bible study.

Bet Sefer Chabad

Rabbi David Haddad. 221 Sukhumvit Soi 20, 10110.

Every Nation Church Bangkok

Christ-centered, spirit-empowered, socially-responsible church. 15th Floor, Jitt-Uthai Bldng, Ramkamhaeng Soi 73, Huamark Bangkapi, Bangkok 10240.



Thailand Emergency Numbers
Emergencies 191, 123, 999 (112 on GSM mobile networks)
Fire 199
Tourist Police usually have English speakers available 1155
Highway Patrol 1193
Traffic Control 1197
Police Headquarters 1196