VISA AND OTHER PROCEDURES
Portuguese and Brazilian citizens do not need a visa for tourist stays in Thailand of up to 30 days.
There is a risk of contracting malaria mainly in the forested areas along Thailand's border with its Southeast Asian neighbors. There is very low risk in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pattay and Phuket, Ko Samui and Ko Chang islands and in the Kachanamburi area.
For more information on traveling health, see the Health Portal of the Ministry of Health and Tropical and Traveler Medicine Clinic. In FitForTravel find country-specific health and disease prevention advice (in English).
TRIP TO THAILAND
Fly from Lisbon to Bangkok with the Lufthansa, with a single stopover in Frankfurt from €500.
There are more and more routes connecting the four corners of Thailand. Most flights originate from Bangkok but Chiang Mai and Ko Samui are increasingly used departure airports. The national airline is Thai Airways. At the time this text was created, the most active companies were the Nok Air, to Air Asia a Orient Thai, the SGA Airline, Bangkok Airways, jet asia and Thai Smile. If you don't leave your ticket purchase until the last minute, it is possible to travel to almost every corner of the country for less than €45 each way.
The national railway network Railway of Thailand it is usually well managed by the Thai state and allows you to buy tickets online.
It is based on 4 main lines based at Bangkok's Hualamphong station from where most long-distance travel originates. Despite the increasingly lower prices charged by the various competing airlines, the train remains a good solution especially for traveling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (north), Surat Thani (south) both long journeys. Also in shorter stretches such as Kachanamburi, Lopburi and Ayuthaya.
There are basically three classes.
1st Class – works in a compartment with two bunk beds with air conditioning, sometimes individually adjustable. Prices are on par with those of low-cost airlines' flights.
2st Class – it is substantially cheaper, in the order of 1st class buses and the same type of comfort, in some trains with air conditioning, in others without. The food is much more basic than first class and so are the bathrooms.
3st Class – It has little to do with either first or second class. Almost only the most humble Thais use it because it has the most affordable prices. Some carriages have wooden seats, others have old and worn upholstery if not broken.
The state bus company is BKS and has terminals in virtually every province in the country. In general, the best BKS buses are considered the most modern and comfortable. The company has, however, several distinct classes: Local, Express, Second class, First Class (40 seats), VIP (32 to 34 seats) and Super VIP (20 to 24 seats, used almost always in night trips) .
Many other companies promote their own trips and all too often deceive foreign passengers who buy tickets attracted by the lower price and images of modern and semi-luxury buses that have nothing to do with the ones they end up traveling on.
It can be arranged at almost all airports and many counters in Thai cities, or in the case of multinational companies, booked online at lower prices, especially if the rental is arranged well in advance. Thai companies offer more affordable rentals but have older, less-maintained cars.
Expect to pay from €25 per rental day for smaller utilities, €125 to €140 per week. Most companies require an International Driving License and a credit card to rent.
Modern, comfortable and air-conditioned ferries depart regularly from Surat Thani to the most popular southern islands such as Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan. From Krabi, the Phi-Phi Islands are one of the most popular destinations for foreigners.
For some time now, it has been possible to travel in stages from Phuket to Padang, Indonesia, practically without having to stop on the Thai mainland. The islands that are part of this long itinerary are Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta, Ko Ngai, Ko Mook, Kobulon, Ko Lipe-Ko (Thailand-Malaysia border), Langkawi (Malaysia) and Penang (Indonesia).
For shorter distances, motorboats and long-tail boat (reua hang yao) they are the quintessential water taxis of southern Thailand. They reach considerable speeds and navigate in shallow waters but are very noisy, polluting and unmanageable and vulnerable in slightly choppy waters. Avoid them – like all shallow-bottom boats – if the sea is rough or it's monsoon season and you can expect it to get rough at any moment. Expect to pay €5 to €10 for a maximum of 4 or 5 hours of use, around €25 to €30 for a full day.
Apart from conventional buses, Thailand is also covered by countless songthaews, vans to which a covered rear cabin is adapted but open on the sides or with windows and only two lateral rows of seats lined up facing each other. They are the most economical way to travel medium distances.
Thai rickshaws are motorcycles with three wheels, some still with the characteristic engine noise that gave rise to the name. There are countless in Bangkok but they also appear in several other cities. If you take one of these tuk-tuks, remember to agree the price in advance. If you don't, chances are you'll have to pay a lot more than you expected. It is considered that when you pay more than 80 baht (€1,90) for a trip from tuk-tuk, this trip could have been made by a more comfortable means of transport, possibly by taxi. Please note that traveling from Tuk tuk is one of the Thai experiences not to be missed.
They are more and more common in Bangkok where they even appear in pink. Lately, they have been equipped with taximeters, which makes their use much easier. Avoid illegal taxis. These will probably not have the seal that authenticates the service or taximeter.
Visit Thailand preferably between February and November, the high season and the time of year when it rains less and is generally less hot. Except for climatic anomalies, April, June and September are valid months with fewer tourists, relatively lower prices and strong but quick showers in the late afternoon that refresh the atmosphere. October is usually the wettest month.
In case you are planning to explore only the northern mountainous provinces there is no big disadvantage if you choose the warmer season or even the beginning of the rainy season, in June and July.
The hottest season coincides with the months of March and May when temperatures rise almost every day to 40ºC, in the center and northeast of the country. This is a good time to spend time on the southern Thai beaches.
The currency of Thailand is the Baht (THB). There are ATMs in all cities and even smaller towns. Most of these cashiers allow withdrawals with foreign cards. More and more sophisticated establishments – including hotels and restaurants – are also prepared for payments with credit cards.
Thailand is a kind of sacred territory for western backpackers. The country has received many thousands every year for a long time and it has prepared in all ways and ways to profit from its farangs. Accordingly, the number of guest houses it's abysmal, starting with Bangkok's famous Khao San Road where most of the street's upper floors serve as rooms for foreign visitors. Stays in guest houses they start at €5 in cities, €7 or €8 in the country's most reputable islands. For these values, count on a fan, shared bathroom and spartan rooms. To have a private western-style bathroom, hot water around the clock, Wi-Fi and eventually TV, add €3 to €4. Due to the abundance of guest houses, hostels are rare in Thailand.
Intermediate hotels cost between €5 to €20 per night. As a rule, they include a swimming pool, – not all – air conditioning, room service and TV.
Like all over the world, boutique hotels have flourished in recent years, also in Thailand. They almost always have few rooms but offer much more elegance, comfort and sophistication than conventional hotels. They can easily cost twice as much as conventional intermediate hotels.
The hotels appear on the next level. business, incomparably more “industrial” than boutiques but with all sorts of services and features including likely Wi-Fi in every room. Many belong to international chains and are practically indistinguishable from any hotel of this type elsewhere in the world.
Finally, there are the most highly regarded resorts in Thailand. Some of Bangkok and the bathing islands of southern Thailand are very likely the best hotels in the world and have prices to match, easily €200 to €700 per night.
Thailand has a rich cuisine that delights even the most demanding visitor. By itself, Thai food justifies a dedicated trip.
Street food is a way of life and is almost always to be trusted. The most elementary street dish is pad thai (noodles fried food) which can cost a mere €0,60 at any stall. From there, depending on the level of the restaurant and the complexity and refinement of the meal, the price can range from €5 to €20 for a full meal in a restaurant dedicated to backpackers on Khao San Road up to €300 or €400 in the most sophisticated restaurants and famous from Bangkok or from Thailand's most desirable island resorts
Wi-fi is very common in hotels, guest houses, bars and restaurants in the most tourist areas of Thailand. But if you plan on traveling to places less visited by foreigners, pack a SIM card for use in smartphones unlocked or tablets or a Pen (USB stick) for use on a laptop. The brands with the greatest reputation and coverage in the country are DTAC Happy Internet, AIS One Two Call and TrueMove's.
Alternatively, you will have to rely on visits to internet cafes that continue to appear in Thailand as mushrooms. Expect to pay from €0,30 to €1,50 an hour depending on the tourist reputation of the place you are.
Islands with a large number of internet cafes include Phuket, Ko Phi Phi (Don), Ko Lanta (Yai), Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao, Ko Chang (Trat), Ko Samet (Rayong) and Ko Si Chang (Chonburi).