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Travel Guide

40

Asian Discovery Travel’s Travel Guide will provide the most important informations and notes what you need to know before you travel, beside there it help you discover the most beautiful and famous destinations in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Asia and Euro with best price, the good advisor for having a great holiday.

Viet Nam Travel Guide

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Text box item sample contentThese are the most important things you need to know to travel in Vietnam:

Official Name: Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Population: 97 million

Capital City: Hanoi, population 6.5 million

People: Viet (Kinh), 53 ethnic minorities

Language: Vietnamese

Religion: Confucianism; Taoism; Buddhism, Roman Catholicism; Cao Daism

Currency: Vietnam Dong (VND)

Time Zone: GMT +7 Hours

International Dialing Code: +84

Location of Vietnam:

Vietnam is a country which situates in the South East Asia. Vietnam geography shapes S-letter, Vietnam covers an area of 330,363 sq. km. Whole Vietnam’s territory runs along the eastern coast of the peninsula, in which the mainland extends from the longitude 102°8’E to 109°27’E and between the latitude 8°27’N and 23°23’N. In addition, Vietnam also considers Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands as its territory. From the North to the South distance of 1,650 kilometers and is about 50 kilometers wide at the narrowest point. The country also has a land border with China (1,281 km), Laos (2,130 km), Cambodia (1,228 km) and a long coastline, adjacent to the Gulf of Tonkin, South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand. Vietnam devided into three parts: Northern part, Middle part and Southern one. Ha Noi is the capital of Vietnam but it isn’t the biggest city. Ho Chi Minh city is the largest city in Vietnam.

The most beautiful and famous destinations in Vietnam where you can’t missing travelling:

Vietnam is especially mountains, beaches, caves, even rice fields and riverland landscape. It’s small but it has a lot of beautiful and famous places strength from the North to the South.

First: The most important beautiful and famous destinations we would like to introduce. They are World Natural Heritage recognized by Unessco:

  1. Halong Bay ( one of 7 wonder on the world ) in Quang Ninh Province
  2. Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi city
  3. Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province
  4. Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh Province
  5. Hue Imperal in Hue city
  6. Hoi An ancient town in Quang Nam Province
  7. My Son Sanctuary in Quang Nam Province
  8. Citadel of the Ho Dynasty in Thanh Hoa Province

Beside these World Natural Heritage, Viet Nam is also has a lot of another beautiful and famous destinations we would like to mention:

In the North of Vietnam: Hanoi, Sapa, Ha Giang, Dien Bien Phu, Mu cang Chai, Ban Gioc waterfall, Ba Be Lake, Moc Chau, Mai Chau, Pu Luong, Bai Tu Long Bay, Cat Ba Island, Lan Ha Bay, Yen Tu pagoda, Perfume pagoda, Tam Truc pagoda, Hoa Lu ancient capital, Bai Dinh pagoda, Phat Diem Church,Tam Coc, Mua Cave, Thien Thanh & Thien Ha Cave, Thung Nham Bird Park, Van Long Van Long Nature Reserve , Cuc Phuong national park in Ninh Binh, so on……..

In the Central of Vietnam: Hue, Lang Co Beach, Da nang, Hoi An, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Mui Ne so on….

In the South of Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh city, Mekong Delta, Cu Chi Tunnel, Phu Quoc Island, Con Dao, so on….

Weather in Vietnam:

Vietnam is a tropical country . The weather here is very special and different in each region. In Vietnam, any time can be the perfect moment for travel.

In the North of Vietnam, there are four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Spring is the most beautiful season of year. It’s very warm and drizzly. At that time the plant grow very quickly.

In the summer the weather becomes hot and wet. And in the Autumn the weather becomes cooler. The leaves turn yellow and there are sudden and short shower in the seventh lunar month. The Winter is the coldest season of the year and it is very dry. However in the Central and the South, there are two seasons: The rainy and the dry. The rainy season lasts from April to November. It is hot and humid. There are many tropical fruits at that time and the rains are heavy but so quick. On the contrary the dry seasons starts in December and ends in March, it has no rain but it is very hot and dry.

Vietnam’s History:

Vietnam a country goback with long history thousand of year, lasting history starting from 1000-2000 years BC. After experiencing over centuries with many dynasties of Ly, Tran, Le, Nguyen, Vietnam became the colony of the French. After August Revolution 1945, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam came into being. In 1954, the French colonialism ended by the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. However, Vietnam at that time was divided into two separate parts: the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the North and the Republic of Vietnam in the South. After April 30, 1975, Vietnam was reunified. Since July 2, 1976, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is the official name of the country. Currently, Vietnam is a socialist state with single political party, the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Vietnam’s Culture:

As being a nation of 54 ethnic groups, Vietnam absolutely has a colorful culture with various traditional customs and cultural identity. Vietnamese culture is affect much by main religions as Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Tam Giao (literally ‘triple religion’), which is a blend of Taoism, popular Chinese beliefs, and ancient Vietnamese animism.

The most important festival of the year is Tet, a week-long event in late January or early February that heralds the new lunar year and the advent of spring. Celebration consists of both raucous festivity (fireworks, drums, gongs) and quiet meditation. In addition to Tet, there are about twenty other traditional and religious festivals each year.

Vietnamese architecture expresses a graceful aesthetic of natural balance and harmony that is evident in any of the country’s vast numbers of historic temples and monasteries. The pre-eminent architectural form is the pagoda, a tower comprised of a series of stepped pyramidal structures and frequently adorned with lavish carvings and painted ornamentation. Generally speaking, the pagoda form symbolizes the human desire to bridge the gap between the constraints of earthly existence and the perfection of heavenly forces. Pagodas are found in every province of Vietnam. One of the most treasured is the Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue, founded in 1601 and completed more than two hundred years later. In North Vietnam, the pagodas that serve as the shrines and temples of the Son La mountains are especially worth visiting. In South Vietnam, the Giac Lam Pagoda of Ho Chi Minh City is considered to be the city’s oldest and is notable as well for its many richly-carved jackwood statues.

As a language, Vietnamese is exceptionally flexible and lyrical, and poetry plays a strong role in both literature and the performing arts. Folk art, which flourished before French colonization, has experienced a resurgence in beautiful woodcuts, village painting, and block printing. Vietnamese lacquer art, another traditional medium, is commonly held to be the most original and sophisticated in the world. Music, dance, and puppetry, including the uniquely Vietnamese water puppetry, are also mainstays of the country’s culture.

Although rice is the foundation of the Vietnamese diet, the country’s cuisine is anything but bland. Deeply influenced by the national cuisines of France, China, and Thailand, Vietnamese cooking is highly innovative and makes extensive use of fresh herbs, including lemon grass, basil, coriander, parsley, laksa leaf, lime, and chili. Soup is served at almost every meal, and snacks include spring rolls and rice pancakes. The national condiment is nuoc mam, a piquant fermented fish sauce served with every meal. Indigenous tropical fruits include bananas, pineapples, coconuts, lychees, melons, mandarin oranges, grapes, and exotic varieties like the three-seeded cherry and the green dragon fruit.

Vietnamese:

Vietnam is one of the most populous countries in the world with the population of over 83 million of which 25% in cities and 75% in rural areas. Population growth rate in Vietnam is 1.18% annually. The most populous cities in Vietnam are Ho Chi Minh City (5 million), and Hanoi (3.5 million). In the territory of Vietnam, there are 54 ethnic groups living together in harmony, in which Kinh people account for 86% of whole population. The rest number of the population fluctuates around 1 million, including ethnic minority people of Tay, Nung, Thai, Muong, Khmer, etc. Kinh people reside across the country, especially in plains and river deltas. They are owners of rice civilization. Meanwhile, the majority of ethnic groups live in midland and mountainous regions, stretching from north to south. Most of them live alternately; in which the typicality is ethnic minority communities in the North and North Central. However, they are all friendly and love peace. Vietnamese people are friendly, intelligent , enthusiastic, hard working and very hospitable.. They welcome visitors to their country with open arms and friendly smiles.

Vietnamese’s Cuisine:

Culinary culture is naturally formed from the process of living. To Vietnamese, not only does it bring flavors like others, but also conveys traditions and cultural values. No travelers have succeeded in their attempts to resist the temptation of Vietnamese dishes, including famous figures in the culinary industry such as Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Bourdain, Jamie Oliver, or Black Obama (Former US President)  … Flavors of it have traveled the world, from bánh mì places in Japan to phở restaurants in the US. So what makes the cuisine of this small country so popular, yet so captivating and fascinating? Is it the depth of flavors? Or is it the rich history of its origin? Perhaps the best way to get a taste of it is through means of words. Let’s have a brief preview of the Vietnamese cuisine before you get the chance to experience it yourself, shall we? Vietnamese food is known for its distinct use of fresh, fragrant and aromatic flavours. There is a balance of sweet and sour, spicy and cooling, fresh and salty flavors (from the Vietnamese staple fermented fish sauce, or ‘nuoc mam’). This balance of ying and yang is typical with most Asian cuisines.

The food in the north of Vietnam is derived by neighboring China. Stir fries and noodle soups are common. Towards the south, food becomes sweeter, and mixes flavors from Cambodia and Thailand.The Mekong Delta in the south, aptly named the “the rice bowl” of Vietnam, is incredibly fertile, with a tropical climate, sustaining more rice paddies and coconut groves . In fact, Vietnam rice production is the second biggest rice exporter in the world (after Thailand). Rice is a central part of the Vietnamese diet, and steamed rice is part of almost every meal. It is also transformed into ingredients such as rice noodles, rice paper for spring rolls, rice vinegar, and rice wine.

Just as essential to Vietnamese cuisine, is pungent fish sauce, at the heart of Vietnamese cooking. Anchovies are fermented for about six months to make it, and it is used to season most dishes (just like salt is used in the West). Vietnamese cuisine is fresh, healthy and light, characterised by Spring rool ( Called Nem) and Pho (pronounced fuh), an aromatic rice noodle soup, which is the national dish of Vietnam. It is consumed any time of day – breakfast, lunch or dinner, sold throughout the country, and is a big part of the street food culture. Combined with meat in a meat-y broth, aromatics and herbs such as lemongrass, ginger, mint, parsley and coriander are used with fresh, crunchy vegetables such as cucumber, bean sprouts, chilli and plenty of lime juice.

French colonization of Vietnam, with missionaries first arriving in the 18th century, and formal colonization lasting from the late 19th century until 1945, has imported Vietnamese cuisine.

The most obvious is Banh mi (along with Pho the most internationally popular Vietnamese dish), which uses crusty baguette, introduced by the French during Vietnam’s colonial period, as its foundation. Variations on the classic French crepe can also be found across Vietnam, made their own using spices such as tumeric.

Note:

Pre Departure Check List

– Travel Insurance

– Valid Passport (at least six months remaining) and visa (or two passport pictures as well as 35 US$ for visa on arrival)

– Immunizations/Vaccinations

– Foreign currency (US$) or ATM card

– Flight tickets

– Copy of passport either scanned into email account or separate from the original

Travel Insurance (Compulsory)

Asian Discovery Travel will try our best to ensure you have a safe and good trip. However, certain risks might be occurred and should be identified by participants. Thus, we require all guests to purchase full travel insurance prior to their trip. Travel insurance is the best way to protect yourself and your property in the event of problems due to canceled trips, delays, medical emergencies, baggage loss or damage. It also gives you peace of mind for your trip.

Visa/Passports

Passports should be valid for six months from the date of entry into Vietnam. We recommend you make a copy of your passport and keep it somewhere separate, or scan it and keep it in an accessible email account.Visitors must have a visa before entering Vietnam, and a visa on arrival can only be obtained with a letter of approval. A visa on arrival is granted to many nationalities for stays 15 days or less. Asian Discovery Travel can arrange this for you. Otherwise, you must apply online or at the embassy for all 30-90 day single or multiple entry visas. Some nationalities are eligible for visa exemption.

Currency

The currency of Vietnam is the dong. All goods and services can and should be paid for in dong. Exceptions are made in hotels and when buying international air tickets. Shops and restaurants in the bigger cities will also accept US dollars, but you should be aware of the fact that usually a lower exchange rate will be used. It is therefore advisable to change a certain amount of Vietnamese dong to cover your day-to-day expenses.

Travelers Cheques

Travelers cheques must denominated in US dollars. You can change them to dong or to US dollars (with a 2 percent commission). Those issued by American Express, Bank of America, Citicorp, First National City Bank, Thomas Cook, and Visa are accepted. They are also accepted at major tourist hotels, but not in most shops. Vietnam is still very much a cash economy.

Method payment: Credit Cards

Visa, Master card and – with exceptions – American Express are accepted in virtually every hotel in major cities throughout the country, as well as in upmarket restaurants, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Take Care Health

No vaccinations are officially required by the Vietnamese authorities, but immunization against hepatitis, Covid 19, typhoid, tetanus and polio is advised. Vaccination for typhoid fever is recommended for long stay and intensive traveling tourists. Rabies is widespread in Vietnam, so you are advised to avoid dogs and other animals that may bite as a precaution.

Malaria:

Malaria is widespread in the Central Highlands and some parts of the Mekong Delta. The best protection against malaria is to avoid being bitten in the first place. Check with your physician about taking a course of anti-malarial. If it is considered necessary given your itinerary, you might need to begin before your trip and continue for a time after you return. But if you are not traveling to the Central Highlands nor going on overnight treks in the mountain region of Sapa, no anti-malarial drugs are needed. Dengue fever, which is also transmitted by mosquitoes, is often mistaken for malaria. Its symptoms are severe pain in the joints, high fever, and extreme headache. Aside from avoiding being bitten altogether (this mosquito is active in daytime and is often a striped variety), there is no prevention available. Hospital treatment is urgently required.

Communication

Telephone

The main country code is 84, the area code for Hanoi 24, Lao Cai 214, Ha Giang 219,  Quang Ninh 203, Hai Phong 225, Ninh Binh 229, Quang Binh 232, Hue 234, Da Nang 236, Quang Nam 235, Khanh Hoa 258, Lam Dong 263, Binh Thuan 252, Ho Chi Minh 28, Kien Giang 297. International calls from international hotels, you will be pay small charge

Mobile Telephone

More roaming contracts being signed with cellular phone providers in different countries.

Time Zone

Standard time in Vietnam is 6 hours ahead of Central European Time (CET), 7 hours ahead of GMT, 12 hours ahead of time in New York, 3 hours behind time in Sydney and in the same time zone as Bangkok.

Electricity

Electricity: 220V / 50V.

 

Cambodia Travel Guide

Cambodia Travel Guide

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Cambodia:

Spoken language: Khmer

Currency: Riel (r) or US dollar

Population: 16 million

Capital: Phnom Penh

Religions: Theravada Buddhism (97%), Islam, Christianity, Animism

Flag: The Cambodian flag has an image of Angkor Wat. It is the only national flag in the world with a picture of a building on it.

Where to go in Cambodia

If you’re looking for the best place to travel in Cambodia, choosing where to go can be tough. When travelling Cambodia, there is so much to discover including cities, villages and breathtaking beaches. This ‘where to go in Cambodia’ guide gives an overview of the destinations worth adding to any Cambodia travel wishlist.

If you’re looking for the best place to travel in Cambodia, choosing where to go can be tough. When travelling Cambodia, there is so much to discover including cities, villages and breathtaking beaches. This ‘where to go in Cambodia’ guide gives an overview of the destinations worth adding to any Cambodia travel wishlist.

Cambodia’s cities

Phnom Penh is the capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia. The city is an alluring attraction in its own right. The centre has broad appeal, and its French influence is evident in the open-fronted colonial shophouses that line the streets. There are a mind-boggling number of restaurants, bars and cafes to try. Many tourists that travel to Cambodia linger here for the culinary experience. You can also take a boat trip from Phnom Penh along the mighty Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers.

Siem Reap is Cambodia’s principal tourist town. This city offers a gateway to the temples of Angkor. More than one hundred Angkorian monuments lie spread over some 3000 square kilometres of the countryside around the town. Siem Reap retains its small-town charm despite its popularity. It’s a lively city with many activities and attractions including lively Psar Chas Market, buzzing cafes, bars, boutique shops and plentiful nightlife. It’s also a good spot from which to visit the nearby floating villages on the Tonle Sap.

Laidback Battambang is Cambodia’s second biggest city. It is worlds apart from Phnom Penh’s urban bustle. It has a growing number of ex-pats fuelling the growth of arty cafes, restaurants and bars. It’s also home to impressive colonial architecture. You can take a countryside ride on its quirky bamboo railway.

Kompong Cham is Eastern Cambodia’s largest city. The waterfront is particularly attractive, with a string of colonial buildings lined up along the Mekong.

Temples of Angkor

For most tourists that choose to come here, their Cambodia trip is not complete without a visit to the unforgettable temples of Angkor. Understandably, this is high on the list for many who travel Cambodia as it is one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia. The awe-inspiring Angkor Wat is the most famous of the temples dominated by five corncob towers. Visit early in the morning to avoid some of the crowds. The temples attract some two million visitors per year. Visit How to see Angkor Wat without the crowds for more tips.

Southwest Cambodia & The Southern Islands

Visit the Southwest to discover miles of unspoilt beaches, hidden coves and idyllic Cambodian islands. Sihanoukville is the most popular beach resort. Ochheuteal Beach and Serendipity Beach Road justify their party town reputation. There are quieter spots too, particularly around Otres, 6km away. Sihanoukville is also the entry point to the islands of Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloem and Koh Ta Kiev. Koh Rong has a buzzing backpacker strip at Koh Toch. The beaches at Long Set and Long Beach along the west coast are more laidback. Peaceful Koh Ta Tiev retains a real castaway vibe. Remember to take cash as there are no ATM’s on the islands.

Ream National Park is 18km east of Sihanoukville. It’s a great place to explore Cambodia’s unspoilt natural environment. The park is evergreen with mangrove forests, sandy beaches, coral reefs, and offshore islands. The riverside town of Kampot with the backdrop of misty Bokor mountains is one of Cambodia’s most appealing towns to add to your Cambodia trip itinerary. 25km southeast of Kampot, Kep is a favourite with ex-pats and Cambodians who descend at the weekend. They are attracted by its delicious, inexpensive seafood, freshly plucked from the ocean.

Eastern Cambodia

If you travel to Cambodia and you like nature and wildlife, the east is the place to be. There are patches of dense, unspoilt rainforest that remain in Eastern Cambodia. The riverside town of Kratie is an excellent base for exploring the nearby countryside. Just over 20km from Kratie is Kampie which provides the best riverside vantage point to view a pod of rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins. It’s thought that only around eighty remain in the entire Mekong river.

Tucked away in the forest near the sleepy capital of Banlung in the Rattanakiri province, there is a trio of impressive nearby waterfalls Ka Chhang, Katieng and Chha Ong.

Best time to go to Cambodia

Figuring out the best time to travel Cambodia depends on what you plan to do when you arrive. Cambodia is warm all year round, but it has a rainy season too.

If you visit Cambodia between March and May, the temperatures and humidity are higher. Visiting at this time can still be a good choice if you are hitting the coast. If you are travelling Cambodia to explore the temples, the season between November and February is cool enough for sightseeing. December and January can be the most popular time for tourists.

Travel Cambodia in the rainy season, and you’ll find the countryside at its lushest. Travelling around Cambodia during this season can present some practical challenges and flooding is commonplace. However, the mornings are usually dry as the rain mainly falls in the afternoon. If you do choose to go visit in the rainy season, you’ll avoid the crowds too. Contact to Asian Discovery Travel to get advise when to go to Cambodia.

How to get to Cambodia

The busiest International Airports are Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. There aren’t any direct flights from Europe to Cambodia. You can reach Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap via Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City and several other destinations. Contact to Asian Discovery Travel to know more detail.

It’s also possible to travel overland into Cambodia from neighbouring countries. You can cross the border at several spots in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

Asian Discovery Travel will give you more information in Getting to Cambodia.

How to get around Cambodia

When planning how to travel around Cambodia, consider the transport as part of the adventure.

Roads have seen massive improvements in the past five years, so getting around the country is much easier than it once was. The bus system provides connections between all major towns. The bus offers the cheapest and usually the most convenient way to travel.

Minibuses and ‘share taxis’ are also other options to travel by road. Share taxis are faster than taking the bus, but they do get absurdly packed. You can ask to pay roughly double the standard fare to have a front seat to yourself. You could also pay to hire the entire taxi.

For short local trips, you can hire a motorcycle or ‘moto’ for the day or a tuk-tuk. A tuk-tuk is a passenger carriage pulled by a motorbike. It’s virtually impossible to rent a self-drive car in Cambodia, but you can hire a car with a driver. Three-wheeled cycle rickshaws called cyclos are also available in Phnom Penh for short trips.

10 best places to visit in Cambodia

Why travel to Cambodia? Here are 10 of the best places to travel in Cambodia. These highlights are sure to convince any traveller to include Cambodia on their itinerary when taking a trip to Southeast Asia.

The Royal Palace in Phnom PenhThe Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh are the city’s finest example of twentieth-century Khmer influenced architecture. The Royal Palace is set back from the riverbank on Sothearos Boulevard. You can stroll this complex of regal structures and perfectly manicured grounds. While there, you will gain an insight into Cambodia’s past and present. A blue flag flies when the King is in residence. While the palace itself is off-limits, it’s possible to visit several buildings within the grounds. The Silver Pagoda is named for its floor which is covered in gleaming silver.

Temples of AngkorThe Temples of Angkor are world-renowned and house some of the country’s finest monuments. More than one hundred Angkorian monuments lie spread over some 3000 square kilometres of the countryside. The best-known monuments are the vast temple of Angkor Wat and the walled city of Angkor Thom. During the Angkorian period, the ruling god-kings built imposing temples as a way of asserting their divinity. They left a legacy of more than one hundred temples constructed between the ninth and fifteenth centuries. The full magnificence of Angkor Wat represents the height of Khmer art. The pretty tenth-century temple of Banteay Srei is unique, made from unusual pink sandstone and with intricate ornamentation.

Koh Ta TievPeaceful Koh Ta Tiev is one of the southern islands, and it’s a tropical paradise retaining a real castaway vibe. There are several types of accommodation to choose from, and you can even camp or sleep in a hammock between two trees over the sand. There is limited electricity on the island and no wifi. Spend your days’ jungle trekking, snorkelling, or experiencing authentic Khmer cooking.

BattambangBattambang is Cambodia’s second largest city, but it’s often overlooked. It’s a bustling city that is both welcoming and laidback. Its lush surrounding countryside is ideal for bike rides, and it’s easy to get out on the water by kayak. You can whizz past rice paddies and rattle over bridges when you ride the quirky bamboo railway too.

KampotThe riverside Kampot is one of Cambodia’s most appealing towns with the backdrop of misty Bokor Mountains. At Kampot, you can potter along the river for a swim or sunset cruise. You could also head into the mountains to explore caves. Kampot is also a base from which to explore the region’s famed pepper plantations. Bokor National Park is home to an abandoned 1920s hotel and casino. Kampot has a friendly but low key nightlife.

KepKep is renowned throughout Cambodia for its delicious, inexpensive seafood. It’s heaven for seafood connoisseurs. You can get fresh crab straight from the sea at the crab market on the western seafront. It’s also a good base from which to go on an island boat tour. Head over to the palm-fringed beach of Rabbit Island or Koh Tonsay.

Floating villages on Tonle SapTonle Sap lake is home to dozens of picturesque floating villages. Explore the fascinating houses built from bamboo and raised on stilts; they are mainly inhabited by Vietnamese fisherman. You’ll pass floating markets, schools and pagodas and learn more about local life.

Irrawaddy DolphinsAround 20km north of Kratie is Kampie. It offers the best riverside vantage point to spot the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins. It is expected that only around eighty remain in the entire Mekong. The Irrawaddy dolphins look very much like porpoises. The Irrawaddy dolphin has been added to the IUCN Red List as a critically endangered species. The dolphin-watching site is now run as an ecotourism project by the local community.

Ream National ParkReam National Park is one of Cambodia’s most accessible national parks. Here you can explore Cambodia’s unspoilt natural environment with mangrove forests, sandy beaches and rich diversity of flora and fauna. You are likely to see kingfishers, eagles and monkeys.

Trekking in RattanakiriTrek into the forest of Rattanakiri, the capital Banlung is surrounded by peaceful countryside. It is dotted with waterfalls and lakes, and it’s also home to the indigenous chunchiet hill tribes. You may spot gibbons, rare birdlife and endangered species in the Virachey National Park. Contact to Asian Discovery Travel to get the good advisor for the most beautiful and famous destinations in Cambodia.

Cambodia travel itineraries

The carefully-curated itineraries in Asian Discovery Travel’s Cambodia travel guide will inspire you to make the most of your trip. These I itineraries take in the most popular destinations for those that travel Cambodia including the cities and infamous Temples of Angkor. You can also take the opportunity to go off the beaten track and take in Cambodia’s natural attractions. There is an itinerary to suit anyboth your interests and your timeframes.

Related tailor-made travel itineraries for Cambodia

Asian Discovery Travel takes you in the best Cambodia has to offer including the capital Phnom Penh, the magnificent Angkor temples, floating villages, mountains, jungle and the hedonistic beach islands in the south in our cambodia tours

Travel advice for Cambodia

When you plan your Cambodia trip, make sure you have the latest Cambodia travel advice.

Check out the travel essentials section with all the travel advice you need before you go with Asian Discovery Travel. It will help you to make sure your trip runs smoothly. It covers tips on travelling Cambodia, including keeping healthy, staying safe, money and insurance. Cambodia travel essentials also includes festival and public holiday dates, tips on travelling with children and more.

Travel visa requirements for Cambodia

All foreign nationals except those from certain Southeast Asian countries need a visa to enter Cambodia. Tourist visas are valid for thirty days. The tourist visas are issued on arrival at all border crossings and airports. You will need two passport photos to get your visa. You can also take care of your tourist visa online in advance evisa.gov.kh. The e-visas are only valid at airports and the Poipet, Koh Kong and Bavet land crossings. Check the website for full details. E-visas take three days to process, and you still need to provide a digital photograph.

A tourist visa can be extended once for one month. You can also buy a business visa, and this can be extended in a variety of ways, and they allow multiple entries. Get more information from Asian Discovery Travel

Accommodation in Cambodia

The main cities in Cambodia have several accommodation options from budget to luxury in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Sihanoukville and Kep. Camping is theoretically illegal in Cambodia, but is a possibility in some places – for example, on the beaches and islands of the south coast.

Food and drink in Cambodia

Cambodian food has influences from many other countries in Asia and French influence too. Cambodian food is milder than Thai food and often herbs, spices and chilli are served on the side rather than blended into the dish. Dishes are delicately enhanced with flavours like lemongrass and coriander. Cambodia’s national dish is bamboo-leaf infused fish amok. Stir-fries feature on most menus alongside delicious coconut milk curry dishes and rice.

Local variations of typical Vietnamese dishes can also be found too. French influences can also be found on the menus here with endless coffee options and French-style baguettes. You can find Khmer street food at markets and on street stalls. You can fill up on noodle dishes, filled baguettes and stir-fries.

Cambodians drink plenty of green tea and fruit shakes. Stalls are set up in towns all over the country from late afternoon. Also available is iced sugar-cane juice and the juice of green coconuts – all very refreshing. Cambodia’s national beer is Angkor, brewed by an Australian and Cambodian joint venture in Sihanoukville.

Activities in Cambodia

Cambodia has an increasing number of activities and sports. In the northeast, particularly in Banlung and Sen Monorom, local guides can lead groups or individuals on treks into the surrounding jungle and Virachey National Park. Treks can last anything from a day to a week. There is also good trekking in the forested hills around Koh Kong.

Diving in Cambodia

There are excellent opportunities to snorkel and dive in and around Cambodia. There are several PADI dive shops in Sihanoukville and nearby islands offering both certification and fun day trips.

Cycling and kayaking are available in the northeast around the Mekong River. Bike trips can be organised at Kratie, Stung Treng and around Angkor’s temples or the Cardamom Mountains.

Сulture of Cambodia

Those that travel Cambodia will gain more respect from locals if they are well dressed. Both men and women dress conservatively. It’s best to avoid skimpy clothes and shorts unless you are at a beach resort. When visiting temples, it’s best to have both shoulders and legs covered. Remove your shoes before entering a Cambodian temple or Cambodian home. Cambodians themselves are conservative and do their best to keep clean and well presented.

It’s advisable to avoid any displays of public affection between men and women. Even visitors holding hands can be embarrassing for Cambodians.

Travel Guide Laos

Laos Travel Guide

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LAOS AT A GLANCE

Nestled between Thailand and Vietnam in the heart of Southeast Asia, Laos is an often overlooked oasis. From the stellar waterfalls and natural beauty of the north to the cultural icons and museums of the capital, Vientiane, Laos is jam-packed with incredible sights. A large number of visitors only ever make it to Vientiane on visa runs from Thailand, but the country has far more to offer than that. Some of the most beautiful scenery in the region lies in Laos, and it’s definitely worth the trip to explore it.

Laos Quick Information

The current population of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is 7,429,460

Currency: Laos Kip. The kip is worth roughly .00012 USD, so don’t panic if you see a sandwich that costs 25,000 kip. That’s normal!

Electricity Socket: 230V AC electricity. Power outlets are two-prong round or flat sockets. A power adaptor should not be needed if you’re from North America or Europe as the outlets will accommodate both types of plugs. To avoid the hassle of having to buy new adapters for everywhere you go, we recommend picking up a Universal Travel Adaptor before you leave.

Visa: Getting a visa for Laos is super convenient. Just show up at the border, fill in a form, pay, wait, and receive a 30-day tourist visa on arrival. While certain countries in Africa and the Middle East must apply for visas beforehand, most others can just get visas on arrival. Citizens of ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland, Russia, and South Korea can get a free visa on arrival valid for 30 days.

The 30-day tourist visa costs between $30 and $42, depending on where you’re from. If you don’t have a passport sized photo with you, it will cost you $1-$2 extra. The visa on arrival process is pretty straightforward and usually doesn’t take more than 10 minutes.

Safety: Overall, Laos is a very safe place to visit. Personally, I’ve felt way more comfortable walking alone there than in most of the places I’ve lived in the US. But as with anywhere you go, it’s good to be cautious. The Lao people are generally friendly and kind, but you should still be smart. Don’t leave money out in your hotel room and keep an eye on your belongings when traveling, especially on a crowded bus. If you’re driving a motorbike, it’s good to keep it locked and parked in paid lots whenever possible to avoid theft.

In some parts of Laos, there are still unexploded ordinances left over from the Indochina War. While they’re mostly in rural areas, some can still be found near routes 7 and 13, so use caution when traveling in these areas. The roads are safe and there’s really nothing to worry about, but this probably isn’t the place to set off on that solo trek through the wilderness you’ve been thinking about.

Based on our years of experience of traveling all over the world, we would never leave home without travel insurance. We recommend going with World Nomads due to their extensive adventure travel coverage. For those who are only traveling month on month, Safety Wing can also be a good alternative as they offer renewable monthly insurance plans.

Language: Lao, sometimes referred to as Laotian, is the official language of Laos. It’s closely related to Thai, so much so that if you speak Thai, you’ll be able to get by in Laos just fine. Luckily, many of the Lao people speak a bit of English, so even if you’re not fluent in Thai (like me) you’ll still be able to manage on your own while traveling there. Different dialects are spoken in the different regions of the country, but all are pretty similar. If you want to learn a few basics, here is our guide on Lao for travelers.

Festivals and Celebrations: Holidays in Laos, like in much of the rest of Southeast Asia, are a blend of traditional and religious and festive and fun. One of the biggest celebrations is the Lao New Year, or Pi Mai Lao, which occurs in April. Much like Thailand’s Songkran, this festival spans three days and erupts into a nationwide water fight. You’ll definitely want to keep your valuables and electronics waterproofed before stepping out into the streets for this celebration.

In May, various villages will take part in Rocket Festivals. Traditionally done as a request for rain, small rockets are sent into the sky throughout this festive weekend. At the height of the country’s hot and dry season, this celebration also becomes a chance to cool down with some Lao beer and let loose a little!

Boun Awk Pansa falls in October and marks the end of the monks’ three-month fast during Buddhist Lent. Traditional offerings are made at temples in the morning, while the atmosphere turns to a party by the evening. Small boats of banana leaves are sent down the rivers adorned with candles and flowers for good luck.

Following Boun Awk Pansa is a boat racing festival. Races are held in many towns throughout the country, but perhaps the biggest and best is in Vientiane. The competitors practice for months beforehand and the entire city comes alive with excitement as they prepare for the races. It’s definitely an experience you won’t want to miss if you’ll be in Laos in October.

Transportation: The transport from one place to the next is fairly easy in Laos and is quite efficient.

Laos has many different kind of transportation such as Tuk tuk, motorbike, car, bus, train, flight, boat, so it depend on your trip, you will choice the reasonable transportation in Laos

LAOS TRIP PLANNING

Best Time to Go

The most popular time to visit Laos is from November to January when the weather is the coolest. However, if you’ll be in the far north of the country, the temperatures during this time can get pretty cold in the evenings, sometimes dipping close to freezing.

Really, you can visit Laos any time of year. The only time I’d really avoid is March and April, when the height of the hot season culminates with the burning of the fields, creating air that is as smoky as it is humid. The cool season runs from October until February. March, April, and May are the warmest months, and from May to June the rainy season begins.

If you’ll be traveling from May-September, be sure to pack a rain jacket or bring a poncho. While it won’t be raining all day every day, it’s highly likely that you’ll at least experience afternoon showers during that time.

What to Pack for Traveling Laos

What to bring… It seems impossible to decide when you’re at home preparing for your trip. But honestly, you won’t need as much as you think you do. Bring clothing suitable for the hot and humid weather, but remember that Laos is a fairly conservative country. Keep in mind, too, that if you’ll be visiting temples, you will have to have your arms and legs covered, so make sure you have pants or a skirt and something other than a tank top. We love this light travel shawl

Bring a sweatshirt or light jacket if you’re traveling in the cool season, and a rain jacket if you’ll be traveling in the wet season. If you’ll be doing any treks or traveling in rural areas, it can be a good idea to bring a water filter (we recommend lifestraw), as the water in Laos is not generally safe to drink.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN LAOS

Experience the heart of Laotian culture in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang, located in Northern Laos, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. In addition to the architectural sites and impressive temples, there are so many things to do in Luang Prabang. Some people even argue that it’s the most beautiful spot in all of Southeast Asia, which is saying a lot! Hike to waterfalls like the Kuang Si (the biggest in the area), visit the underground caverns or take a trip to the Royal Palace Museum. There’s something for every type of adventurer in Luang Prabang.

Mekong Sunset Cruise–  What better way to enjoy the beautiful sunset along the river than by going on a sunset cruise? The tour also includes a light local picnic to top off the experience.

Local Night Food Tour– Discover the best street food stalls and places to eat in Luang Prabang with this local night food scooter tour.

Morning Scooter Tour– Explore the best of Luang Prabang on this beautiful scooter tour with a local guide, visiting temples, a pottery village and more.

Go Tubing in Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng sits along the Nam Song river and is probably best known for being the best place for tubing. Rent a tube and enjoy the local scenery from the lazy comfort of a river inflatable. Thankfully, the tubing in Vang Vieng is no longer as crazy as it once was due to the many drunken river accidents. Nowadays, although the tubing is still one big party, it is also slowly rebranding itself as a top-notch adventure destination. While this might be what attracts the most visitors, there are plenty of other activities in Vang Vieng as well. Huge caves, crystal blue lagoons, and busy markets make it one of Laos’ most charming towns.

Visit the Buddha Park outside Vientiane

If you spend any time in neighboring countries like Thailand, you’ll quickly learn that Vientiane is the most commonly visited spot in Laos. There’s an easy explanation for that, and it’s not that it’s the most beautiful or exciting place. It’s because there’s a Thai consulate there, which is the place you need to go in order to pick a new visa. And there’s one huge complaint from tourists who have spent time there–it’s boring!

If you do find yourself in Vientiane, be sure to travel just outside the city to Buddha Park. Filled with statues and sculptures of the Buddha as well as of Hindu gods and demons, the park is a great place to spend a quiet afternoon. And when you’re in the city of Vientiane, be sure to check out all the temples and museums there too as there are a few interesting ones.

Explore the Plain of Jars

One of the country’s strangest landmarks, the Plain of Jars contains dozens of stone “jars” that date back thousands of years. Calling them jars seems like a bit of a stretch since they range from 3 to 10 feet tall and weigh around 14 tons each. While the site is becoming more accessible to visitors, it’s definitely not a place you want to wander around alone, since many of the surrounding areas contain unexploded ordinances, which you definitely don’t want to step on. If you’re up to the adventure, you can fly to Phonsavan and arrange travel to the sites from your guesthouse or hotel. Definitely, a unique spot to visit!

Head Outdoors

One of the most beautiful things about Laos is the fact that it is surrounded by so much nature. Our best advice is to get out there and see it all! From the waterfall studded Bolaven Plateau, the epic Thakhek Loop motorcycle trip, chilling out in the 4000 islands, all the way to seeing ancient temples and ruins near the Champasak Province there are heaps of things to do in Laos that involve the great outdoors.

If traveling by yourself isn’t your jam, check out the variety of tours that Asian Discovery Travel has and the details and dates of each trip. We suggest using the filters in the sidebar to help you find a tour that fits your travel dates and travel style.

WHAT TO EAT IN LAOS

Lao food is closely related to Thai food, and they share many of the same traditional dishes. If you want to learn more about the local cuisine, you can opt to take a cooking class in Laos. Alternatively, we’ve also listed some of our favorite Laotian food below.

Sticky rice (Khao Niaw): While rice is prevalent all over Asia, in Laos especially sticky rice is popular. Served at most meals, often in tiny woven baskets, it’s the perfect accompaniment to any dish.

Laab (minced meat salad): Cooked with lime juice, garlic, and other herbs, this meat “salad” can be made with almost any meat, including beef, pork, duck, and fish. This is one of the most well-known dishes in Laos and can be made with cooked meat, or raw (usually only the duck and fish are served raw). Different restaurants and street stalls with each have their own version of the dish, but wherever you go, it’s definitely worth a try.

Papaya Salad: This dish is made with shredded, unripe papaya, fish sauce, and a variety of meat and vegetable additions. Though originally a Lao dish, it was made more popular when it was imported in Thailand. The Lao version is a bit saltier and might be a more acquired taste to some travelers. Be careful if you don’t like spicy food because even this cold salad can pack a punch!

Mok Pa (Steamed fish in banana leaves): A perfect food to eat with sticky rice, this fish delicacy comes neatly packaged in a banana leaf tied up with a bamboo string. The fish is soaked in vibrant local flavors like lemongrass, kaffir lime, onions, and fish sauce and then cooked to perfection.

Check out our full list of what to eat in Laos for more delicious suggestions! If you can’t get enough of the food in Laos, we highly recommend taking the time to attend a cooking class in Laos which will teach you all about the incredible flavors that their local cuisine is made up of.

PLACES TO STAY IN LAOS

As Laos becomes an increasingly popular destination for travelers and tourists, the selection of hostels and hotels grows, too. Laos has many kind of hotel from cheap hostel stay or a regal hotel experience,  you can contact to Asian Discovery Travel to know our recommendations for where to stay during your trip to Laos.

 

Myanmar Travel Guide

Myanmar Travel Guide

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Myanmar:

Population 55 million

Language Burmese (Myanmar)

Currency Kyat (K)

Capital Nay Pyi Taw

International phone code +95

Time zone GMT + 6hr 30min

A beautiful and culturally rich country cursed for decades with a brutally oppressive regime, Myanmar (Burma) has in recent years been making headlines for its tentative steps towards democracy. Following the softening and then removal of a fifteen-year tourism boycott led by the National League for Democracy – Myanmar’s leading political opposition party – tourist numbers have swollen but the infrastructure has not yet grown to accommodate them all. Although this means that finding a cheap bed is harder than before, it does make this a fascinating time to discover Myanmar’s glittering golden stupas, bountiful rice fields, enigmatic ruined temples and picturesque mountain paths. Most memorable of all, though, are the encounters with people eager to introduce foreigners to their country and their culture.

Where to go in Myanmar (Burma)

Although there are now affordable flights from Bangkok to Mandalay, most people still start their visit in Yangon (Rangoon). This former capital makes a great introduction to the country, with evocative colonial-era buildings, some of the country’s best restaurants and the unmissable Shwedagon Paya – the holiest Buddhist site in the country. Relatively few tourists head southeast from Yangon, other than to the precariously balanced Golden Rock at Kyaiktiyo, but Mawlamyine and Hpa-an are great places to hang out, whether you’re exploring caves full of Buddhist art, sleeping at a mountain-top monastery or visiting home-based workshops.

West of Yangon are a handful of beaches, with Ngapali the most highly regarded, but Chaung Tha and Ngwe Saung much more affordable. Most travellers instead hasten north to Mandalay, the hub for ‘Upper Burma’ and the base for visiting the remains of several former capital cities, or to Bagan further west for its stunning temple-strewn plains. East of Mandalay is Kalaw, the starting point for some great walks. A trek from Kalaw is one way to reach the magnificent Inle Lake, with its stilt villages and famous leg-rowing fishermen. If time allows, a trip on the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River around Katha and Bhamo offers a great chance to meet locals, as do the hiking routes around Hsipaw in Shan State, which pass through ethnic minority villages.

The ethics of visiting Myanmar

The question of whether to visit Myanmar – and if so, how to minimize any negative impact of that decision – has long been a complicated one. For many years, the official position of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the opposition political party of which Aung San Suu Kyi is the Chairperson and General Secretary, was to urge foreigners not to visit the country as it put money directly into the pockets of the regime. Still, some tourists did visit each year, arguing that the majority of their money was actually going to individuals and private businesses. Similarly, many people within Myanmar felt it was important that foreigners visited to see the truth of what was happening. In 2010, the NLD softened its stance, saying that it only opposed package and cruise tourism. Then, in May 2012, in the wake of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging an easing of international sanctions against Myanmar, the NLD dropped the boycott entirely. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to think that the ethical dilemma has completely gone away. Although the new government is nominally civilian, in reality the same military figures are still largely in charge. In addition the prominent business leaders commonly described as cronies – who became rich through dealing with the regime, and in some cases allegedly through trading in arms or drugs – still own many of the country’s largest businesses, including hotel groups, banks and airlines. And although the government is praised internationally for reforms such as the release of some (but not all) political prisoners and a reduction in censorship (so that NLD posters are now a common sight), some people within the country see these as surface changes intended to please foreigners – particularly the US, which hopes to lure Myanmar away from its main trading partner, China – rather than anything more fundamental.

Furthermore, it should be remembered that the suppression of dissent and suspension of the democratic process were not the military junta’s only crimes. It was also fighting what has been described as the world’s longest-running civil war, with policies that amounted to ethnic cleansing and – in the eyes of some observers – attempted genocide. Although ceasefires have been signed with some of the ethnic militias, vast swathes of the country – particularly in northern Kachin State – remain off-limits to tourists while the new government continues to fight with rebel armies (some of which, it must be admitted, are motivated as much by profit from the drug trade as they are by a thirst for democracy). If free and fair elections are held in 2015 then the NLD is expected to win a landslide victory, but it remains to be seen how they propose to keep the peace with ethnic minority groups who consider the NLD to represent only the Bamar majority – particularly if the military’s stranglehold is weakened as democracy takes root. Already the NLD has been accused of becoming too close to the generals and their cronies as it seeks their political support and funding for social projects. Some compromise is inevitable, not least because the military can veto a proposed change to the constitution to allow Aung San Suu Kyi (as someone who married a foreign national) to run for President.

Bearing all this in mind, travellers should consider limiting the amount of their money that makes it to the government and its associates. Some expenses are unavoidable, including visa fees, while others are hard to avoid if you want to see some of the main tourist attractions, such as the $10 multi-site fee in Mandalay. It can also be difficult to know exactly which businesses in Myanmar are affiliated with the government or its cronies. On the other hand, by staying in budget accommodation your money is already more likely to be going to ordinary individuals or small family businesses than to companies with strong government links (and in this guide we have tried to avoid recommending such places). The same goes for services such as vehicle hire or trekking guides – there are plenty of opportunities to use small companies and freelancers, which often leads to a better experience anyway. Some visitors also consider avoiding planes and even trains (which are operated by the government).

Culture and Etiquette in Myanmar (Burma)

Most women and girls, as well as some men and boys, use thănăk’à (a paste made from ground bark) on their faces; traditionally thought to improve the skin and act as a sunblock, it is often applied as a circle or stripe on each cheek.

Avoid touching another person’s head, as it is considered the most sacred part of the body; feet are unclean and so when sitting don’t point your feet at anyone or towards images of the Buddha. Remove your shoes before entering a Buddhist site or a home. Always use your right hand when shaking hands or passing something to someone, as the left hand is traditionally used for toilet ablutions; however, locals do use their left hand to “support” their right arm when shaking hands.

Most people in the country are Buddhist although there are significant Muslim and Christian minorities. Men are expected to experience life in a monastery twice in their lives, once when a child and once as an adult, although this is only for a short time unless they become a novice. Most Buddhists also believe in nats, spirits rooted in older animist traditions, which are now considered to be the Buddha’s disciples. These supernatural beings take an interest in the actions of humans, and may need to be propitiated.

Considering the social conservatism of Myanmar’s society it is interesting to note that while in the past most nat kădaws (spirit mediums) were women, today most are gay men and many are either transgendered or transvestites. A nat-pwèh (spirit festival) held, for example, at the start of a new business enterprise is an occasion on which people have license to sing, cheer and show emotions which would otherwise be repressed in public. Homosexuality is, however, technically illegal in Myanmar – for tourists as well as locals – and punishable by fines or imprisonment, but this is rarely enforced in practice. There is a discreet gay scene in Yangon, but little elsewhere.

Myanmar (Burma) for planning and on the go

Crime and personal safety

Very few foreign tourists are victims of crime in Myanmar, possibly because the penalties for stealing from tourists are severe. There are, however, occasional reports of opportunistic theft such as of cameras left charging on ferries while the owners wander the decks.

Although the government is engaged in conflict with ethnic resistance groups in several parts of the country, if there’s any danger in an area then it will be closed to foreigners both for their protection and to keep the violence hidden away from international attention. No resistance groups have been known to target tourists.

Although the quasi-civilian government inaugurated in 2011 has taken steps to reduce censorship and released some political prisoners, Myanmar is still far from being a place where freedom of speech can be taken for granted and violence is still regularly used against dissenters and protesters. It is still therefore wise to avoid raising political topics in conversation, as local people can be nervous about finding themselves in trouble; let them take the lead, and be discreet. Also think twice before taking photographs of bridges, police stations and anywhere else where doing so might be considered a security risk.

Health

The quality of health care in Myanmar is generally poor. Routine advice and treatment are available in Yangon and Mandalay but elsewhere the hospitals often lack basic supplies, and some suffer under corrupt administrations. Avoid surgery and dental work, as hygiene standards cannot be relied upon; if you are seriously ill then contact your embassy for advice, and expect international-quality care to be expensive (and possibly to require payment up front). As always, it is important to travel with insurance covering medical care, including emergency evacuation.

Minor injuries and ailments can be dealt with by pharmacists, particularly in major tourist areas where they are more likely to speak English. Pharmacists offer many things over the counter without prescription, although there are serious issues with fake and out-of-date medication.

Emergency numbers

Police t 199

Ambulance t 192

Fire t191

Internet

There are now internet cafés in most towns and cities, almost all with printers and some offering services such as Skype; in addition, some hotels and guesthouses have wi-fi access. Connections are unreliable and can be frustratingly slow; unsurprisingly, high-end hotels tend to be the best bet and it’s normally possible to use the wi-fi if you buy something in their café. Since 2010, censorship of the web has been much less severe and most popular web-based mail can be accessed. Avoid accessing a PayPal account from Myanmar, as it may be blocked.

Information and maps

The best sources of information, besides other travellers and some online resources, are generally the staff at guesthouses. Some of the best of these places are well used to meeting the needs of visitors, providing maps and advice on how to explore the area. The state tourist offices, operated by Myanmar Travels & Tours (MTT), are generally not especially helpful, although you will need to visit one if you want to apply for a permit to travel to a restricted area. They also give out free copies of maps published by Design Printing Services (dpsmap.com), including a detailed one of Bagan and one covering several major cities. Outside of Myanmar, you can buy a number of maps of the country, including the Reise Know How 1:1,500,000 and Globetrotter 1:1,700,000 (the latter also includes some city maps).

Mail

The postal service in Myanmar is not known for its efficiency; sending postcards is cheap but they often do not reach their destinations. Post offices are typically open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm and sometimes on Saturday mornings, and many have an EMS (Express Mail Service) counter offering faster and more reliable international delivery.

Money and banks

Myanmar’s currency is the kyat (pronounced “chat”), usually abbreviated as K, Ks or MMK. Notes are available in denominations of K1, K5, K10, K20, K50, K100, K200, K500, K1000, K5000 and K10,000, although the lowest value you are likely to encounter is the K50 note. At the time of writing the exchange rate was K860 to $1, K1300 to £1, and K1120 to €1; high-value notes (particularly $100 bills) attract the best exchange rates, so bring those to change. Although at one time the official rate was artificially low and most people changed money on the black market, today banks offer a realistic rate and it is not worth using the black market. It is never a good idea to change money in the street, even if the rate sounds good, as scams are common. Note also that kyat cannot be bought or sold overseas, so you should change any leftover currency before leaving the country.

Kyat are used to pay for food, bus tickets, taxi journeys and items in ordinary shops or markets, but US dollars (and possibly euros, although don’t rely on it) must be used for government services including train tickets and entry fees for major tourist attractions. There are also some circumstances in which US dollars are preferred but not required, notably at hotels and guesthouses but also in some tourist-oriented shops. In these cases, prices are quoted in dollars and if payment is made in kyat then it is usually at a poorer rate than you’d get in a bank. It’s a good idea to bring plenty of low-denomination dollar notes for these situations. Note that it is essential that any currency which you intend to change within Myanmar is pristine, and that US dollars were issued in 2006 or later. Notes that are creased, torn or marked in any way – however minor – may not be accepted by banks, hotels or any other outlets; if they do take them then it is likely to be at a reduced rate. Reject US dollar change unless it is in perfect condition.

For many years, up until late 2012, Myanmar had a cash-only economy as far as tourists were concerned: it was impossible to withdraw money from ATMs within the country, travellers’ cheques were not accepted, money transfer services such as Western Union were unavailable, and only a handful of top-end hotels accepted credit cards. The only option therefore was to bring a stack of cash and exchange it for kyat as necessary. With a relaxing of international sanctions, however, at the end of 2012 some ATMs (mostly in Yangon and Mandalay) started to accept overseas debit and credit cards. It looks like this trend will continue and other changes may be on the way, but you should check on the current situation before travelling. At the time of writing it was still impossible to recommend arriving in Myanmar without enough cash – in euros, Singapore dollars or (preferably) US dollars – to cover your entire trip. The availability of money via ATM was simply too unreliable, particularly outside of the major cities. In addition, at the time of writing, only kyat were available from ATMs.

Opening hours

Standard business hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, with shops staying open a little later (and normally opening on Saturdays). Post office opening times vary but are generally Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm, with some opening on Saturday mornings. Banks typically open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm, although some close earlier. Museums operated by the government are open from Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 4pm. Some major pagodas are open 24 hours a day, while others tend to open from early morning until late in the evening. Restaurants are typically open daily from around 9am to 9pm, while many teahouses open much earlier for breakfast, and places aimed at tourists might stay open until 10pm.

Public holidays

Several holidays are based upon the lunar calendar and therefore change date each year.

January 4 Independence Day

February 12 Union Day

March 2 Peasants’ Day

March/April Tabaung full moon

March 27 Armed Forces Day

April 13–16 Thingyan (water festival)

April 17 New Year

May 1 Labour Day

July 19 Martyrs’ Day

July Waso full moon (beginning of Buddhist ‘Lent’)

October Thadingyut full moon (end of Buddhist ‘Lent’)

November Tazaungmone full moon

December 8 National Day

December 25 Christmas

Phones

Many guesthouses will let you make local calls from reception (check the price first), or may make the call for you if you’re trying to book accommodation for later in your trip. There are also local call stands – often just a table with a telephone – in the streets and in some shops. The cheapest and easiest way to call internationally is through a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service such as Skype. Otherwise you might need to use public call centres (try asking at the post office), although they are very expensive.

Mobile phone numbers start with 09. International roaming is in its infancy in Myanmar and not widely available, but foreigners can buy a SIM card from mobile phone shops and supermarkets, which lasts 28 days and is issued by the government body MPT (Myanmar Post and Telecommunication). The card costs around K20,000 (it varies from shop to shop) and includes $20 credit. It cannot be topped up; once you run out of credit the only option is to buy a new card, with a new phone number.

Visas

All foreign nationals require a visa in order to visit Myanmar. Although a visa-on-arrival system does exist, it applies only to business visitors or conference guests who are able to provide documents such as letters of invitation.

You will therefore need to obtain a tourist visa from a Myanmar embassy or consulate before you travel to the country, as you will not be able to get one at the border. In order to apply, your passport must be valid for at least six months from your proposed date of arrival. Tourist visas typically last for 28 days from the date of entry, which must be within three months of issue, and cost around $20–30. Some embassies, such as the one in Bangkok, offer same-day service for an additional cost.

Tourist visas cannot be extended, but it is possible to overstay them. A fee of $3 per day of overstay (plus, sometimes, an additional $3 for “administration”) will be collected on departure at the airport, before you are stamped out of the country. Visitors have reported overstaying by three weeks or more without officials at the airport raising any objections. The only possible hitch is that guesthouses occasionally express concern with expired visas, although it is rare to hear of accommodation actually refusing to allow people to stay.

Eating and drinking in Myanmar (Burma)

One local tradition that has become an essential tourist experience is a visit to a teahouse. These are hugely popular places to meet friends, family or business associates over tea and affordable snacks, which, depending on the owners, might be Burmese noodles, Muslim samosas or Chinese steamed buns. Teahouses have long had a reputation for being places where politics can be openly discussed, although there have always been rumours of government spies observing. Some teahouses open early for breakfast, while others stay open late into the night.

Burmese food

As in other Southeast Asian countries, in Burmese food it’s considered important to balance sour, spicy, bitter and salty flavours; this is generally done across a series of dishes rather than within a single dish. A mild curry, for example, might be accompanied by bitter leaves, dried chilli and a salty condiment such as fish paste.

The typical local breakfast is noodle soup, such as the national dish mohingar (catfish soup with rice vermicelli, onions, lemongrass, garlic, chilli and lime, with some cooks adding things like boiled egg, courgette fritters and fried bean crackers). Alternatives include oùn-nó k’auq-s’wèh (coconut chicken soup with noodles, raw onions, coriander and chilli) and pèh byouq (fried, boiled beans) served with sticky rice or naan bread. All of these dishes are served in teahouses or available to take away from markets.

Noodles also feature strongly at lunchtime: many locals will have a small bowl at a street café, teahouse or food court. Various Shan noodle dishes are popular, including mì-she (rice noodles in a meat sauce accompanied by pickle). Other common dishes include various ăthouq, which translates to “salad” but rarely includes vegetables; they are cold dishes, usually with noodles, raw onions, gram flour, chilli and coriander, served with a watery vegetable or bone soup. One variety worth trying is nàn-gyì thouq, made with thick rice noodles that look like spaghetti.

Lunchtime is also when you should try Burmese curries if you’re worried about hygiene, since they are usually cooked in the morning then left in pots all day. Local people, however, would typically have curry in the evening at home. A meat, fish or prawn curry will be accompanied by rice (t’ămìn), a watery soup and fried vegetables. A great deal of oil is added to Burmese curries, supposedly to keep bacteria out, but like locals you can skim the oil off. At the best restaurants, the meal will also include a selection of up to a dozen small side-dishes, plus fresh vegetables and herbs with a dip (such as ngăpí-ye, a watery fish sauce). Green tea will usually be thrown in, as will a dessert, traditionally lăp’eq (or lahpet) (fermented tea leaves with fried garlic, peanuts, toasted sesame and dried shrimp), which is much tastier than it sounds. You may also get t’ănyeq (jaggery, unrefined cane sugar).

There are plenty of regional variations to discover as you travel: the food of Rakhine State, for example, is influenced by its proximity to Bangladesh, so curries are spicier and many dishes include beans or pulses.

Vegetarians should find it reasonably easy to find suitable food throughout the country, particularly since some Buddhists are restrained in their consumption of meat.

Drinks

Tap water isn’t safe to drink in Myanmar; bottled water is available throughout the country for around K300. In many restaurants, free green tea (ye-nwè-gyàn) is left in jugs on tables and is safe to drink. In teahouses, black tea is usually drunk with plenty of milk and sugar, while coffee is almost always instant, other than in Western-style cafés.

Although there are few places resembling Western bars or pubs outside of Yangon and Mandalay, most towns will have a couple of beer stations which look like simple restaurants but with beer adverts on display and a predominantly male clientele. These places usually serve draught beer (around K700 for a glass) as well as bottles (from K1700 for 640ml), with the former usually restricted to the most popular brew, Myanmar Beer (produced by a government joint venture) and sometimes its rival Dagon. Both beers are also available in bottles, as are Mandalay Beer and several Thai and Singaporean beers, including Tiger, Singha and ABC Stout.

Mid-range and upmarket restaurants will often have a list of imported wines. There are a couple of vineyards making wine in Shan State, and it’s better than you might expect: look out for Red Mountain and Aythaya. Fruit wines are produced around Pyin Oo Lwin, while local spirits include t’àn-ye (toddy or palm wine).

Getting around Myanmar (Burma): Transportation

Planes

In addition to Myanma Airways, the state-owned national flag-carrier, an array of private airlines – among them Air KBZ, Air Mandalay, Air Bagan, Asian Wings, Yangon Airways and Golden Myanmar Airlines – run services on domestic routes and have offices in major towns and cities. Given the long journey times overland, and the relatively low prices of flight tickets, travelling by plane can be an attractive choice. In a few cases, such as visiting Kengtung, it is the only option as overland routes are closed to foreigners. Many services fly on circular routes, stopping at several airports on the way. At each stop, some passengers will get off, some will get on, and some will stay on board and wait for a later stop. One quirk of this is that it may be easier to make a journey one way (for example, Nyaung U to Thandwe) than the other way (Thandwe to Nyaung U).

There are a number of downsides to domestic air travel. For one thing, it may not save you much time as schedules are subject to change at short notice and delays are not uncommon. It also isn’t possible to buy tickets online, although some airlines – such as Air Mandalay – allow online reservations and you then pay once you’re in the country. This is likely to change following the easing of sanctions, but in any case it’s generally a bit cheaper to buy tickets through local travel agents. In addition, travellers should avoid flying if they are trying to limit the amount of their money that ends up with the government or its cronies (see The Ethics of visiting Myanmar).

Buses

Buses are usually faster and cheaper than trains, and are generally the best way to get around on a budget. There are many different bus companies and most are privately owned. Taking buses can be quite tiring, however, since most long-distance services run through the night, stop regularly for toilet breaks and arrive before dawn. Travelling at night also means that you miss the scenery, but locals prefer it since it means that they can travel without taking a day off work.

Most long-distance buses are reasonably comfortable, but make sure you bring warm clothes as they tend to crank up the air-conditioning. On major routes, such as Yangon to Mandalay, it’s possible to take a more modern bus for a small additional fee. There are also local buses running segments of longer routes, such as Taungoo to Mandalay (rather than the full Yangon-to-Mandalay trip); these are usually in worse condition but are cheaper for shorter trips, as on long-distance buses you pay the fare for the full journey even if you get on or off partway through. You’ll also find smaller, 32-seat local buses that should be avoided if possible, as they tend to be jam-packed with luggage.

It’s a good idea to book a day or two ahead for busy routes (eg Bagan–Nyaungshwe), ones where only a few buses run (eg Ngwe Saung–Yangon) or where you’re joining a bus partway through its route (eg in Kalaw).

Guesthouses can often help book tickets for a small fee, or you can buy them either from bus stations (which in some cases are outside of town) or from in-town bus company offices.

Trains

The railway system in Myanmar is antiquated, slow and generally uncomfortable. On most routes a bus is faster and more reliable – it is not uncommon for express trains to be delayed by several hours, and local trains are even worse. Trains are also more expensive than buses, and since they are state-run, the money goes to the government. All that said, there are reasons why you might want to take a train at least once during your trip. One is that on a few routes, such as from Mandalay up to Naba and Katha, road transport is closed to foreigners. Another is for the experience itself: many routes run through areas of great beauty (the Goteik viaduct between Pyin Oo Lwin and Hsipaw is a good example), plus there is the chance to interact with local people.

All express trains have upper- and ordinary-class carriages. The former have reservable reclining seats, while the latter have hard seats and no reservations. Some trains also have first-class carriages, which fall somewhere between upper and ordinary in price and comfort. Sleeper carriages, when available, accommodate four passengers and come with blankets and linen.

Long-distance trains often have restaurant cars, and food vendors either come on board or carry out transactions through the windows whenever the train stops. The bathrooms onboard are basic and often unclean.

Fares are payable in US dollars and vary according to class, although you may find station staff are reluctant to sell ordinary-class tickets to foreigners. Try to reserve a day or so in advance, or more for sleepers.

Shared taxis and vans

Although not as common as in some Southeast Asian countries, shared taxis and shared vans (the latter also known as minibuses) are available on some routes. Shared vehicles charge separately for each seat and leave once full, making them cheaper than taking a whole taxi. They typically cost around fifty percent more than a seat on an air-conditioned bus, but will drop you wherever you like, which saves on transfer costs in towns where the bus station is inconveniently located. Vehicles can sometimes be arranged through accommodation, and there are sometimes shared-taxi stands in town centres.

In addition to these services between towns, which are primarily used by locals, there are a handful of services aimed specifically at foreigners. These are typically round trips, such as to Mount Popa from Bagan.

Car, bike and motorcycle rental

Hiring a car is not a realistic option in Myanmar as there is too much red tape involved, but it’s easy to arrange a car and driver (from around $40/day) through your accommodation or travel agencies.

Bicycles are available in many places for around K2000 per day. In some parts of the country, for example Mawlamyine and Hpa-an, it is also possible to hire a motorcycle, typically for K8000–10,000 a day plus fuel.

There are numerous hazards for motorcyclists: traffic can be very heavy in the cities, while in rural areas the roads are often in poor condition. Adding to these dangers is the fact that most cars are right-hand drive even though people drive on the right, meaning that cars have large blind spots. Overtaking is, as a result, a pretty risky manoeuvre. Before hiring a motorbike, check that your travel insurance covers you for riding one.

Local transport

Local transport in Myanmar is usually some mix of public buses, taxis, pick-ups (adapted pick-up trucks with seating in the covered back portion), motorcycle taxis (where the passenger rides pillion) and cycle rickshaws. Public buses run only in the largest cities, including Yangon and Mandalay, and are very cheap. It can be very hard to work out the routes but if you aren’t in a rush, then riding on the buses is certainly an experience. The same can be said of pick-ups, which cover set routes and pick up and drop people off on the way; they usually depart regularly throughout the day and can get so full that passengers ride on the roof. If you want the most comfortable seats, in the cabin, then you can pay a little extra.

Taxis are available in large towns and cities, and range from 1970s Toyotas to occasional new left-hand-drive Chinese imports. There are no meters but drivers tend not to overcharge as outrageously as in many other Southeast Asian countries. On the other hand, and particularly in Yangon, they don’t seem to be so keen on bargaining once they’ve offered a price. Expect to pay around K1000–1500 for a decent trip across town, such as from a bus station on the edge of town to a hotel. Tricycles are still in use in many towns, although they are being edged out by motorcycle taxis, which are much faster and normally around the same price (around K500–1000 for a short ride).

Most of these forms of transport can also be hired for a day including a driver, which can be arranged direct, through accommodation or via travel agents; you’ll need to bargain to get a good price. Motorcycle taxis are popular in this regard, particularly for solo travellers, and may not work out much more expensive than hiring a self-drive motorcycle. Groups can often get a good deal on a pick-up for the day, for example in one of the “blue taxis” of Mandalay.

In small towns, horse carts are used as a key form of transportation, and are used to ferry tourists around in a number of places, notably Bagan, Inwa and Pyin Oo Lwin. The horses are not always well looked after, however.

How to get to Myanmar (Burma)

he cheapest way to reach Myanmar from outside the region is usually to fly to a regional hub such as Bangkok or Singapore. Current routes within Asia include flights to Yangon from Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok. Connections with Mandalay are limited to Dehong, Kunming and Bangkok.

Overland from Thailand

There are four border crossings with Thailand: Ranong–Kawthaung; Three Pagodas Pass (Sangkhlaburi–Payathonzu); Mae Sot–Myawaddy; and Mae Sai–Tachileik. It is possible to make a day-trip to Myanmar through any of them for a fee of $10 or 500 baht, but if you’re just crossing on a visa run then don’t choose Three Pagodas Pass as you will not get a new Thai visa stamp on re-entry. If you want to take a look around before returning to Thailand then you will need to surrender your passport at the border and return before the crossing closes for the day (usually at 6pm, but do check).

If you hope to spend more than a day in Myanmar then it is theoretically possible when entering through Ranong–Kawthaung and Mae Sai–Tachileik, but not with a standard visa. For the former crossing, you’ll need a special permit, which in practice is impossible to obtain unless you have booked an expensive resort or a live-aboard diving trip. For the latter, you can arrange a fourteen-day permit at the border, but it does not allow travel beyond Kengtung. You are also likely to require a local guide.

Tachileik–Mae Sai is also the only overland crossing where foreigners who entered by air are allowed to exit Myanmar, but it isn’t at all straightforward. Although it’s easy to obtain a free permit to visit the border town of Tachileik (apply at the immigration office in Kengtung), actually crossing into Thailand requires prior arrangement with Myanmar Travels & Tours (the government tourist office) in Yangon. You should not rely on it being possible until you actually have the permit in hand; expect the process to take a couple of weeks and cost at least $50, plus you may be required to take a local guide to the border. If it all works out then you should receive a fifteen-day visa on arrival into Thailand, if you don’t already have one.

Overland from China

There is a border crossing open for foreigners between Ruili (Yunnan province) and Muse. For some years it has only been open to organized tour groups, although there are rumours that it is due to be opened to independent travellers.

Overland from India

The crossing between Moreh in India and Tamu is theoretically open to foreigners, but onerous permit requirements – which take several months to negotiate, if you’re lucky – mean that it is not a feasible route.

Overland from Laos or Bangladesh

It is not currently possible for foreigners to cross from Laos or Bangladesh into Myanmar.

Sports and Outdoor activities in Myanmar (Burma)

Trekking

Opportunities for treks are limited by two main factors. One is that many of the most appealing areas are in the mountainous border regions, which tend to be closed to tourists. The other is that foreigners are generally expected to stay in licensed accommodation for every night of their visit. Camping is illegal as, in most parts of the country, is staying in local homes.

As a result, day-hikes are the limit in many places. In Kengtung, for example, there are some excellent walks to ethnic minority villages but you cannot stay in any of them overnight. There are exceptions, however, with the most notable being around Kalaw, Inle Lake, Pindaya and Hsipaw. In these areas it’s possible to stay in either homes or monasteries, by prior arrangement through a tour agency, and therefore do multi-day treks. It’s still unusual for people to trek for more than three days. A guide is strongly recommended for most hiking, although the trails around Hsipaw are often undertaken without one. In some places, such as Kengtung, a guide is obligatory.

Biking and motorbiking

Both mountain biking and motorbiking tours are available in Myanmar, through specialist agencies. There are many advantages to getting around in this way, not least the chance to interact with people in villages and rural areas; disadvantages include having to put up with the poor state of many roads, plus the requirement to sleep in licensed accommodation which means that you cannot be as flexible or spontaneous as you might like. Some cyclists have used camping as a back-up, but it is, strictly speaking, illegal and should not be relied upon.

Diving and watersports

For a country with such a long coastline, there are very few water-based activities in Myanmar. Scuba diving is offered at Ngapali beach and the Myeik (Mergui) archipelago, neither of which are budget destinations.

Meditation

With a strong and long-held Buddhist tradition, Myanmar is a good place to learn to meditate. Some centres will only take foreigners who commit to staying for several weeks, but one shorter option is a ten-day course in Vipassana meditation.

Best time to visit Myanmar (Burma)

Festivals and Holidays in Myanmar

Most festivals in Myanmar are based on the lunar calendar; check the official Ministry of Hotels & Tourism site for a more extensive list (w myanmartourism.org/festivals.htm).

Shwedagon Festival

Feb/March. The country’s biggest paya pwèh (temple festival) takes place at Shwedagon Paya in Yangon.

Thingyan

April 13–16. The water festival is the most popular in the calendar, marking New Year with a good soaking as temperatures soar. It also has a spiritual side, as it’s when the nat king visits the human world to record good and bad deeds. Hotels and transport are often booked solid.

Fire Balloon Festival

Nov. Daytime parades at this three-day event in Taunggyi, east of Inle Lake, include impressive animal-shaped hot-air balloons. At night, balloons are released with huge gondolas full of fireworks strapped underneath them, sometimes with predictably explosive results.

Shan New Year

Dec. Keep an eye open for the different ethnic groups’ new year celebrations around Dec and Jan. This one rotates between different Shan towns, and includes live bands, traditional dancing and – on Shan New Year’s Eve itself – fireworks and an inclusive party atmosphere.

Ananda Pahto festival

Dec/Jan. The paya pwèh at Ananda Pahto is the biggest in Bagan, running for the fortnight leading up to the full moon of Pyatho. For the last three days, hundreds of monks chant scriptures day and night.

Thailand Travel Guide

Thailand Travel Guide

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Welcome to the Asian Discovery Travel ultimate guide to Thailand. If you are considering a trip to Thailand, you have chosen well; Thailand is an amazing and fascinating country with something for everyone. From the astonishing skyscrapers of the chaotic capital Bangkok to the stunning beaches of Phuket and Samui, combined with year-round great weather, delicious food and friendly locals, you can’t fail to have the trip of a lifetime.

For information about the amazing Kingdom of Thailand, you are in the right place; here we have all you need to know about the best cities and islands to visit, places to go, attractions to visit, plus information about tours and excursions. Also, we have all the latest travel tips for traveling in Thailand, such as up to date travel advice, travel resources, travel planning, booking information and money-saving tips to ensure that you get the most out of your trip to south-east Asia’s tropical paradise.

Location

Thailand, formally known as Siam is located in the Southeast Asia, bordered by Myanmar and Laos to the north, Cambodia and Laos to the East, Malaysia to the south and Andaman Sea to the west. Thailand can be reached in just over 11 hrs from the UK, 19.25 hrs from New York and 9.20 hrs from Sydney. 38 million tourists are traveling to Thailand every year.

Population: The current population of Thailand is 70,055,063

Capital City

Bangkok, known to Thai’s as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon is the nations capital city. This vibrant, modern and rapidly changing metropolis is located in central Thailand and surrounds the Mekong Delta River. It is home to 8 Million people, with a further 14 million people in the greater Bangkok Metropolitan Region.

Language

Thai, also know as Siamese is the official language spoken in Thailand, it is a member of the Tai group of the Kra-Dai Family and the majority of the language has been derived from Pali, Sanskrit, Mon and Old Khmer. There are various dialects spoken in different regions of Thailand. Try to learn the basics, it will go a long way and can be fun.

Currency

The official currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht, currency sign: ฿; currency code: THB. It has a sub-unit called Satang of which 1 baht is divisible into 100 Satang. It is advisable to wait to you get to Thailand to exchange money, to receive a better exchange rate than at home and there are plenty of ATM’s at the Airport.

Electricity

The standard electricity in Thailand is 220V AC and frequency is 50 Hz. Power sockets are usually 2 prong round or 2 prong flat sockets, however some newer sockets will have 3rd prong for earthing. So to power your devices and appliances be sure to take a universal power adapter with you while traveling in Thailand.

Airport

Thailand’s main Airport is Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK), also referred to a Bangkok Airport. Suvarnabhumi serves most international flights as well as some internal flights. Bangkok’s old Airport called Don Mueang (DMK) now handles the majority of domestic flights.

Visas

Citizens from 55 countries including the UK, US, AU and EU are issued a free 30 Day visa on arrival. Airlines may provide you with an Immigration Card to fill in before you land, or you can get one when you arrive. Passports need to be valid for 6 months, if you overstay you’ll be fined 500 baht per day.

Vaccinations

It is recommended that people traveling to Thailand have jabs for both tetanus and hepatitis A. However the only mandatory vaccine is the yellow fever which applies to people over nine months old and have been to any countries in a yellow-fever zone, even if you have been in transit (12+ hrs) in the airport.

Weather In Thailand & When To Go

Weather In Thailand

Thailand is a tropical country with hot and humid weather all year round, with daily highs usually in the range of 28°C-35°C. The north of the country can feel a little cooler and the south can feel a little hotter, and although the country does have three seasons, the difference between them is not very pronounced.

Thailand’s Seasons – Technically, Thailand has three seasons: cool, hot and monsoon. Although if you’re coming from somewhere like the UK, they should be considered as hot, very hot, and hot and wet.

High Season (cool/dry) – The cool season (the closest Thailand ever gets to a winter) is from November to February, with temperatures a little lower, although it can still get to over 30°C during the middle of the day in places like Bangkok or Phuket. The cool season is high season for the Thai tourism industry, it covers Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year, with the added demand for flights and accommodation pushing up prices to a degree.

Hot Season (hot/dry) – The hot season runs from March to June when afternoon temperatures can reach over 40°C as the country basks in the tropical sunshine. If you’re coming to spend most of your time on the beach intending to go home with a suntan, then this could be a good time for you to visit. Also, as it is not considered the high season, you should get a better deal on your flights and accommodation.

Low Season (wet/rainy) – The monsoon season runs from July to October with downpours on a seemingly daily basis. The monsoon rains are not like European rain, they are torrential and extremely intense, with flooding often occurring as the deluge overloads the Thai sanitation system. It doesn’t rain every day during the monsoon season, but downpours seem to be common in the early afternoons and can last for a few minutes or a few hours. Most tourists prefer not to visit during this season, and as a result, this is when you will find the lowest prices for flights and hotels. Rain can often continue in southern Thailand throughout November and into early December, so you may want to consider this is you are planning to visit Koh Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Koh Tao, Krabi and Phuket during this time.

Climate – In the north of Thailand (such as Chiang Mai), the higher latitude combined with higher elevations and gusts of cold air from China can mean temperatures dip well below 20°C in the cool season (especially during the night), and you might find it amusing to see the locals breaking out their winter jackets. The lower-lying central region including Bangkok is usually a few degrees hotter and is hot all year round with intense heat during the hot season. In the southern region which includes the islands, like the central region it is hot all year round, with intense downpours during the monsoon season. The differences between the northern, central and southern climates are fairly subtle unless of course, you are camping at the top of Thailand’s highest mountain, Doi Inthanon, which can see nightly temperatures below 10°C during the cool season.

Getting to Thailand

Thailand sits at the centre of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia and shares a number of borders with Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Myanmar. International flights arrive from every corner of the world to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, while international train connections are available from many South East Asian countries including Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore and Malaysia – some of which combine ferry and rail travel.

 

International Flights – Bangkok is the major travel hub for the region, therefore there are dozens of carriers offering low-cost tickets to Thailand. Almost every major airline which flies to Asia will have flights to Bangkok which means there is lots of competition, which has traditionally kept the cost of tickets down. However, as of late 2019, the decline of many Western currencies against the baht means that prices have crept back up, although it is still possible to get a return ticket from London for $550 and from Los Angeles for $720 if you fly with a budget carrier.

Thailand has 12 international airports, but the majority of tourists will be arriving in either Bangkok or Phuket. Bangkok has the modern and impressive Suvarnabhumi (pronounced soo-wan-na-poom) airport about 25km east of the city centre, which is where many foreign visitors will arrive. It is well organised with excellent facilities and numerous transport options to get you into Bangkok or to other destinations. Plus, unusually for an international airport, it even has good value money exchangers, although these are the ones in the basement near the Skytrain link, not the ones in the arrival halls (where you will get a much worse rate). For more information checkout our travelers guide to Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Phuket international airport is much, much smaller than Suvarnabhumi, but offers fantastic convenience for those holidaying on the island as they don’t need to change to a connecting domestic flight in Bangkok. However, as you’d expect you have to pay for this privilege with ticket prices being markedly higher for international arrivals.

Getting to Thailand from Cambodia – From Cambodia, you can take domestic flights into Thailand from the airports at Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, which are quick, convenient and cheap. Flights are currently available from Siem Reap into the older airport in Bangkok, Don Mueang, for under $50. There are also six international border crossings into Thailand where you can travel by bus or taxi, but make sure to allow plenty of time to deal with immigration as the queues can be long and slow, especially at the Aranyaprathet/Poipet crossing.

Getting to Thailand from Laos – There are several border crossings into Thailand from Laos, the busiest ones being Vientiane/Nong Khai and Savannakhet/Mukdahan. These tend to be a bit more organised and hassle-free than the Cambodian border crossing at Poipet, you just get stamped out of Laos, hop on a bus which takes you across the bridge, and get stamped into Thailand, all done in under 30 minutes. You can also fly into Don Mueang airport in Bangkok from either Vientiane or Luang Prabang for 1800-2500 baht ($60-$83).

Getting to Thailand from Malaysia – Again you have the option of flying in from Malaysia, from either Kuala Lumpur or Penang, a one-way ticket into Bangkok will cost you as little as 800 baht ($26) from Penang or 2000 baht ($66) from KL. Or you can take a bus or taxi to one of the border crossings into southern Thailand, and then travel to Hat Yai, although be warned that many countries advise against all but essential travel to the southernmost provinces due to the activities of Muslim separatists. You also have the option of catching the Singapore to Bangkok sleeper train, which stops in KL and Butterworth. The cost from Butterworth to Bangkok is around 140 Ringgit ($33.50), but be warned, it takes around 19 hours and the trains are not particularly comfortable.

Thailand Visas & Requirements

Thai immigration has become increasingly strict recently, and it is therefore very important to consider whether you will require a visa or not.

Visa on arrival – The most important thing to note is that if this is your first visit to Thailand, and you are staying less than 30 days, visitors from most western countries will not require a visa and have nothing to worry about. You can enter on what is known as a visa exemption or visa on arrival, which allows 30 days, but this can also be extended at an immigration office to give you another 30 days at a cost of 1900 baht ($63). Occasional, short-stay visitors to Thailand have nothing to worry about regarding being allowed into the country.

Visa extensions – If you want to stay longer, you can apply for a tourist visa in your home country. This can be done in person or via mail and will allow you to stay for up to 60 days, plus it can also be extended for an additional 30 days for a cost of 1900 baht ($63).

Visa runs – In the past, visitors who wanted to stay considerably longer could do a “visa run” to a neighbouring country, to exit and re-enter getting them a new 30-day stamp. This is no longer acceptable to the Thai authorities, and although you may get away with it once or twice, you will eventually be denied entry as they will wonder what you are doing in Thailand for so long.

Longer stays – Another thing to consider is that you may well be denied entry to Thailand if you are visiting regularly or for long periods using either tourist visas or visa-exempt entries. They will assume that you are working in the country illegally and advise you, quite rightly, to obtain a long-stay “non-O” type visa. If you visit Thailand regularly it is crucial to obtain the correct visa for your visit to avoid being questioned or even being denied entry at the airport.

If you are in any doubt, check your local Thai embassy’s website for further details.

Transport & How To Get Around

Once you have arrived in Thailand, there are plenty of public transport options available to you, from local buses, taxis and tuk tuk’s, trains and flights. Public transport is still very cheap in Thailand, non-air conditioned buses start from 8 baht, a journey on the BTS Skytrain starts at 16 baht, up to 59 baht per journey and an MRT (Metro/Subway) trip costs 16 baht plus 2-3 baht for each stop after the first stop. If you are going into the city from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport a metered taxi to Khao San Road costs roughly 400 baht. There are always long queues at the meter taxi rank, so to skip the queue pre-book a private transfer to meet and greet you and take you to your hotel with minimum hassle.

Traveling By Taxi Or Tuk Tuk

When taking a taxi try to get a metered one, or it’s possible you could get over charged. A typical taxi journey in Bangkok of 3km will cost 45 baht, 5km will cost 55 baht and a 10km journey will cost 80 baht. These prices do not include surcharges such as express-way tolls, Airport surcharges and being stationary in traffic. If you can’t find a metered taxi, be sure to agree a price before you go. Cruising across the city in a tuk tuk can be great fun, again just remember when taking a tuk tuk to always agree a price before you set off.

Traveling By Bus

The bus network in Thailand is awesome, you can pretty much get a bus to any town, city or island with ease. There are many different grades of comfort for every budget, from cheap government run buses to privately run VIP buses and minibuses. We recommend 12go Asia to search and book bus tickets, they cover all the major routes and have an easy-to-use booking system, as well as offer travel insurance for the journey. Checkout our 12go Asia review to find out more about this awesome transport booking service.

Traveling By Train

When taking a longer journey, from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for example you may want to opt for taking the train. Trains can be slow but are often much more relaxing and allow you to take in the scenery and see a different side to Thailand. If your traveling around Thailand for the first time or if you’ve never taken the train before this really is a true Thailand experience in itself. A 2nd Class AC seat journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai cost 891 Baht and for a 2nd Class Sleeper AC journey, where you get a bed will cost around 1,011 baht.

Traveling By Plane

Thailand’s main international airport is called Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, this caters for most international flights as well as some domestic flights. Don Mueang Airport (Thailand’s old main Airport) now serves most domestic flights to the many other Airports in Thailand including Chiang Mai Airport, Koh Samui Airport, Phuket Airport, Krabi Airport plus many more. Flights are also very cheap, a typical flight from Bangkok to Phuket costs as little as 700 baht if your flexible with times and dates.

Traveling By Minivan

Thailand has a very well developed network of minibuses which travel all around the country and at very reasonable prices. You can catch one at one of the bus stations or make a booking through your hotel or a local travel agent, where they will usually pick you up at an agreed time. They are quick and convenient and will usually have a stop for refreshments on longer routes.

Traveling By Songtaew

Songtaews offer the best compromise between price and convenience. Much cheaper than metered taxis, they drive around on set routes, picking up and dropping off passengers as they go. They are very popular with the locals because they are cheap and convenient. The drivers won’t speak much English, but the routes are usually painted on the side of the vehicle.

Best Things To See & What To Do In Thailand

bangkok nightlife

Experience The Hustle & Bustle Of Bangkok

More than likely you’ll arrive in Bangkok, which can be daunting for people traveling to Thailand for the first time, but think of it as a baptism by fire and jump straight into the culture.

Hail a tuk tuk and swoon at the sight of the Golden Temple and the enchanting Wat Phra Kaew, stroll through China Town and grab lunch at a street food stand and then make your way to towering skyscrapers and malls in modern central Siam. To really get to grips with the city – jump on the Skytrain, take a Chao Phraya Cruise along the river, and eat at every food stall that you walk past. Wine and dine at the top of skyscrapers and observe panoramic views of the Bangkok skyline one night and then switch to the buzzing bars and clubs of Sukhumvit or Khao San Road the next. Indulge and explore.

Explore Thailand’s Amazing Marine Life & Go Diving

Thailand is known as one of the best places to dive in the world, and for good reason too. Thailand’s wide array of dive sites offer some of the most diverse marine life and scuba diving experiences in the world, boasting some amazing undersea features including caves, tunnels, pinnacles, swim-throughs and shelves as well as beautiful coral reefs. You can expect to see a wide range of amazing marine life, from a plethora of beautiful macro life, scorpion fish, yellowtail barracudas, manta rays and sea turtles, blacktip reef sharks, whale sharks and so much more.

Thailand is also one of the best places to learn how to scuba dive and get your PADI qualification. It is also one of the cheapest places to learn.

If you are an experienced diver, checkout some of the best dive sites Thailand has to offer or consider a longer liveaboard diving trip for that unforgettable diving experience of a lifetime.

Explore Thailand’s Beautiful Temples

Thailand is a temple explorer’s heaven on earth and you can pretty much pick a point on the map and be able to rest assured that you’ll find something to see. Start though in the gorgeous city of Ayuttaya, exploring Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Lokkasuthawas and Wat Chaiwatthanaram – before taking a stroll on the banks of the Chao Phraya River bank to look at the Bang Pa-In Palace reflected in its waters.

Travel north to the province of Sukhothai and explore the magical Sukhothai Historical Park, home to the Royal Palace and no less than twenty six temples. Head further north to explore the temples of idyllic Chiang Mai, trek into the jungles close to Chiang Rai and Myanmar and see rice paddies, hill tribes and stunning, almost entirely unspoiled nature – filled with waterfalls, elephants and lush forestry. Spend a few days in Chiang Rai eating delicious Northern Thai cuisine and getting to know the monks at a local Wat.

Visit The Beautiful Islands & Beaches

Beach lovers should head instead to the southern island of Phuket to explore its divine white sand beaches and luxury beach resorts. Get deeper into nature in the enchanting Phang Nga Bay, which is a veritable jewellery box filled with the most beguiling of emerald islands.

Choose Koh Samui if you want to practice your water sports, Ko Phangan for the parties, or Koh Chang, Koh Mak & Koh Kood if you don’t want to venture too far from Bangkok.

To see “The Beach”, go to the now ridiculously busy Hat Maya on Phi Phi Leh Island, or for something more authentic try the sandy beaches of Ko Phayam, which while rising in popularity every day, still retains much of the charm of a few years past. There’s no doubt Thailand is home to some of the best beaches in the world, to find out more take a look at our 15 best beaches in Thailand.

Explore Thailand’s Culture & Heritage

Thai people do many things very well. For example, they smile as we all know, but they also throw great parties and festivals, such as the famous Thai New Year ‘Songkran’ festival which runs from 13th-15th April, where it’s entirely normal to watch (and be victim of) drive by soakings and thousand-people strong water fights on the streets through the whole of Thailand.

Another annual festival, celebrated throughout Thailand and across South East Asia is the enchanting Loi Krathong festival, when people float candlelit lotus flowers on the river, and let hundreds of lanterns off into the night sky.

Loi Krathong does not take place on the same date each year, instead it is begins on the evening of the full moon during the 12th month of Thailand’s lunar calendar, usually in November. The name Loi Krathong literally means ‘to float a basket’.

To find out more about Thai culture checkout A Travelers Guide To Thai Culture: Do’s & Dont’s.

Eat Authentic Thai Food & Learn To Cook

Thai’s cook probably better than any other country in the region and Thai cuisine, much like Thai culture is a phenomenal mix of fiery, sweet, sour, light, heavy, delicious, confusing and inspiring dishes. Expect sour soups, spicy curries, marinated meats, bugs, lemongrass sausages, fried noodles, papaya salads, seafood, fragrant Thai basil, dried chillies, tamarind, so many different bananas, dragon fruit, durian, pancakes, coconut broths, fried rice, and so very much more.

Be sure to try the delightful Tom Yum Soup, Pad Krapow Gai, Kai Jeow Moo Sab, Som Tum and Kao Niew Ma Muang just to get you started. Checkout our article on what to eat in Thailand to see some of the dishes your guaranteed to love and need to try.

A fantastic way taste and learn about Thai cuisine is to take a cooking class or tour. There are many excellent cooking schools throughout Thailand and can be a lot of fun, a chance to meet like minded people and very rewarding.

Thailand’s national parks

Thailand has some stunning national parks that will take your breath away. From untouched jungle, mountains, amazing cave formations, waterfalls and crystal-clear lakes, to a vast range of indigenous flora and fauna, there’s a huge amount to discover; you’ll need a full day at the very least. If you are staying in one of Thailand’s tourist hotspots, then you will inevitably be not too far from a national park, and there are many tour packages available which can be tailored to your individual needs. If you go as part of a group then it can be very cheap, even with transport, entrance, meals and insurance included.

The most famous national park in Thailand is Khao Yai, which is accessible from Bangkok as a day trip so very convenient for most travelers. It covers 300km2 and is home to the 1351m tall Khao Rom mountain. You can expect to see wild elephants, deer, monkeys and possibly even crocodiles as well as a bewildering array of tropical bird species. Thailand’s national parks are amazing and well worth a day of every visitor’s time.

Go Trekking In Northern Thailand

Northern Thailand is well-known locally for its densely forested, rugged and mountainous terrain, which is home to several local hill tribes who choose to eschew urban life to stick with their traditional lifestyle and culture. Using the beautiful old city of Chiang Mai as a base, you can explore the surrounding jungles and incorporate any number of different activities for a day trip or even longer.

In addition to the hill tribe villages, there are stunning waterfalls, ancient temples and caves to explore, trekking in Thailand is an amazing experience and a great way to squeeze in some exercise after all those Thai curries. You will almost certainly get a chance to spot a diverse range of wildlife, including elephants, deer, monkeys and a multitude of tropical butterflies, insects and birds, and maybe even some hungry fish in the rivers. Northern Thailand has some stunning scenery with mountains, paddy fields and jungles and some amazing vistas from the viewpoints, after which you can retreat to the sleepy town of Pai.

How To Stay Safe In Thailand

Thailand is in general very safe and most visitors should have nothing to worry about. You should avoid the southernmost provinces bordering Malaysia, however, as there is Muslim separatist activity with a (small) risk of indiscriminate bombings and shootings.

Driving motorbikes – The biggest danger to young travelers is riding a poorly maintained motorcycle on Thailand’s notoriously dangerous roads. If you do not hold a full motorcycle license or are not experienced riding on 2 wheels, never hire a bike in Thailand. Some of Thailand’s roads are treacherous, particularly on the island of Koh Phangan, and many young people injure themselves on Thai roads whilst holidaying. Also, some Thai drivers can be very aggressive and inconsiderate, and often drive too fast.

Violent crime & theft – Violent crime against foreigners is very rare. However petty theft, pickpocketing and drink spikings do take place, particularly in areas where there are lots of tourists. Be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are out late at night and with a bit of common sense you can avoid most risks. Use the hotel safe for your valuables, or even better, leave your valuables at home. Thieves can’t steal what you don’t bring.

Waterfalls – There have been some deaths of visitors at waterfall sites across the country. The walkways and rocks around most waterfalls in Thailand can be very slippery and dangerous, be especially careful if you are trying to take selfies close to the waterfalls. Even a short drop on to the rocks below can be fatal, as it has been in several cases over recent years.

Drugs – This is just simple common sense, but stay well clear of any illegal drug use in Thailand. Thailand has some of the most draconian drug laws in the world and still has the death penalty. Traces of drugs in your blood or urine does count as possession here, so you could even be locked up after testing positive for marijuana after having smoked a joint in Amsterdam a few days or weeks before. Any drug use at all in Thailand is asking for trouble.

Scams – Thai people are friendly and welcoming, however, there are scammers in the country who prey on tourists which they see as rich pickings. Some of the scams can be very elaborate, but just remember if something seems too good to be true, it almost always is. Gold and precious gems are never sold at a discount, tuk-tuk drivers will not work all day for 20 baht unless they are planning to scam you, and you should always decline an invitation to go somewhere unfamiliar with someone you just met. To find out more about the latest scams, checkout our in-depth scams guide.

Thai Culture & Etiquette

Thai people are generally kind, polite and reserved, but have some deeply ingrained ways of thinking and cultural quirks which you should be aware of to avoid causing offence. Never speak badly of the Thai royal family, Thai politics or Thai culture, in the worst-case scenario you could even find yourself behind bars. This includes not defacing in any way pictures of the royal family, which includes banknotes and coins.

In Buddhism, the top of the head is the most sacred part of the body and the soles of the feet are the lowest, dirtiest part. This means you should never touch or pat someone on the top of the head, likewise, you should never point the soles of your feet at anybody as this can offend quickly. In the same vein, never step over someone lying down as this exposes them to the soles of your feet.

Always remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or a temple, and remember that at temples, attire must be conservative, which means that ladies must cover both their shoulders and their knees and men should not wear sleeveless vests. Don’t point with your finger, point with an open hand, and use your right hand, and certainly don’t point at people.

And no matter what happens to you, always remain calm. In Thai culture, getting visibly angry is a huge loss of face and will get you nowhere fast. You will resolve any problems much easier by being calm and polite, that is the Thai way. Foreigners getting angry at petty issues such as poor service in a restaurant or a cancelled train are a never-ending source of amusement to the Thais, here they have a much more relaxed attitude to life, and unfortunately, this also includes timekeeping, which with most Thais is simply atrocious. Don’t be surprised if your Thai friend turns up an hour late, it’s just how things work here. To find out more about Thai culture, take a look at our travelers guide to Thai culture & do’s and dont’s.

Thai Language & Basic Phrases

The Thai language is tonal, and as such can be hard for westerners to master. However, any attempts to learn a few Thai words and phrases for your trip will be very much appreciated. Something to note is that when Thai is transliterated into English script, it is rarely pronounced as you would expect. As an example, the name of Bangkok’s largest airport is officially Suvarnabhumi, however, it is pronounced “soo-wan-na-poom”, which you would never have been able to guess. Also, Thais often end sentences with a polite particle. This is “khrap” (often pronounced as “cap”) for men and “ka” for women. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right first time (you won’t), just give it a try and improve as you go. Here are some basic Thai phrases with English transliterations first, followed by phonetic pronunciation:

Hello. – Sawasdee khrap (M), Sawasdee ka (F).

Pronounced as: Sa-wat-dee cap/Sa-wat-dee car

How are you? – Sabaidee mai?

Pronounced as: Sa-bye-dee my?

I am fine, thank you. – Sabaidee khrap (M), Sabaidee ka (F).

Pronounced as: Sa-bye-dee cap/Sa-bye-dee car.

Thank you. – Kawp khun khrap (M), kawp khun ka (F).

Pronounced as: Corp coon cap/corp coon car.

Money Saving Tips

Thailand has traditionally been a great value holiday destination, and many things such as accommodation and eating out are still remarkably cheap. However, with the unstoppable strength of the Thai baht in recent years, combined with price rises and weakness of many other foreign currencies around the world, you may be surprised to find that Thailand is no longer that much of a bargain, with many items being more expensive than in your home country. So, to help you get the most out of your travel cash, here are some great money-saving tips to make your money go further.

First of all, never buy Thai baht in your home country. Bring your home currency to Thailand and change it here, the rates in Thailand are excellent and can easily be 10-15% better, which should make a huge difference to your budget.

Next, try to avoid using your foreign bank card in a Thai ATM, it will costs you a small fortune if you make several withdrawals. There is an unavoidable 220 baht ($7.28) charge per transaction, plus whatever your home bank charges, and you may get a less favourable rate. Expect to lose $20-$30 per ATM withdrawal. Other options include accounts with no foreign transaction fees, travel money cards and travelers cheques. But the best option is to bring as much as you feel comfortable with and change in when you arrive (but not in the arrivals hall!).

Only use taxis which will use the meter to avoid paying double or even more for each journey. Don’t be afraid to try the street food vendors, the food is invariably clean and tasty and starts from $1. Don’t use your hotel laundry services as they will usually charge exorbitant fees, find a local laundromat where they will do everything for you or just buy some new clothes at the market, it will be cheaper! And last but not least, don’t be afraid to haggle in Thailand, particularly at the local markets and when choosing accommodation.

Thailand has many different kind of accommodation from budget to luxury. It included Guesthouses, bungalows, hostels, hotel and resort.

Most of Thailand’s budget accommodation is in guesthouses and bungalows. These are small, traveller-friendly hotels whose services nearly always include an inexpensive restaurant and safe storage for valuables and left luggage, and often also run to internet access (sometimes even in-room wi-fi). The difference between guesthouses and bungalows is mostly in their design, with “bungalows” – which are generally found on the beach and in rural areas – mostly comprising detached or semi-detached rooms in huts, villas, chalets or indeed bungalows, and “guesthouses” being either a purpose-built mini-hotel or a converted home. En-suite showers and flush toilets are common in both, but at the cheapest places you might be showering with a bowl dipped into a large water jar, and using squat toilets.

Many guesthouses and bungalows offer a spread of options to cater for all budgets: their cheapest rooms will often be furnished with nothing more than a double bed, a blanket and a fan (window optional, private bathroom extra). In the north of Thailand in the cool season, air conditioning is more or less redundant, but you might want to check that your room has a hot shower.

In the most popular tourist centres at the busiest times of year, the best-known guesthouses are often full night after night. At most guesthouses checkout time is either 11am or noon.

Budget hotels

Thai sales reps and other people travelling for business rather than pleasure rarely use guesthouses, opting instead for budget hotels. Usually run by Chinese-Thais, these functional three- or four-storey places are found in every sizeable town, often near the bus station or central market. Beds are large enough for a couple, so it’s quite acceptable for two people to ask and pay for a “single” room (hawng thiang diaw, literally a “one-bedded room”). Though the rooms are generally clean, en suite and furnished with either a fan or air-con, there’s rarely an on-site restaurant and the atmosphere is generally less convivial than at guesthouses. A number of budget hotels also double as brothels, though as a farang you’re unlikely to be offered this sideline, and you might not even notice the goings-on.

Advance reservations are accepted over the phone, but this is rarely necessary, as such hotels rarely fill up. The only time you may have difficulty finding a budget hotel room is during Chinese New Year (a moveable three-day period in late Jan or Feb), when many Chinese-run hotels close and others get booked up fast.

Tourist hotels

The rest of the accommodation picture is all about tourist hotels which, like anywhere in the world, come in all sizes and qualities and are often best booked with Asia Discovery Travel – The best tour operator. You can expect many of the trimmings of a top-end hotel – air-con, TV and mini-bar in the room, plus an on-site pool, restaurant and perhaps nightclub – but with dated and possibly faded furnishings and little of the style of the famous big names; they’re often the kind of places that once stood at the top of the range, but were outclassed when the multinational luxury hotels muscled in.

Many of Thailand’s expensive hotels belong to the big international chains: Sheraton, Marriott and Sofitel all have a strong presence in the country and are closely followed by upmarket home-grown groups such as Amari, Dusit and Centara.

Thailand also boasts an increasing number of deliciously stylish luxury hotels, many of them designed as intimate, small-scale boutique hotels, with chic, minimalist decor, exceptional service and excellent facilities that often include private plunge pools and a spa. It may set you back more than twice as much, though they’re still often outstanding value for the honeymoon-style indulgence that they offer; see accommodation listings for Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ko Samui, Khao Lak and Phuket for some suggestions. As in the West, however, the term “boutique” is overused, and a “boutique” guesthouse or hotel may in practice be little more than “small”. Some luxury hotels quote rates in US dollars, though you can always pay in baht.

campsites inside town perimeters, though camping is allowed on nearly all islands and beaches, many of which are national parks in their own right.

Bathroom Etiquette in Thailand

Although modern, Western-style bathrooms are commonplace throughout Thailand, it’s as well to be forewarned about local bathroom etiquette.

Sit-down toilets are the norm but public amenities, especially at bus and train stations, and in some homes and old-style guesthouses and hotels, tend to be squat toilets. Thais traditionally don’t use paper but wash rather than wipe themselves after going to the toilet. Modern bathrooms are fitted with a special hose for this purpose, while more primitive bathrooms just provide a bucket of water and a dipper. Thais always use their left hand for washing – and their right hand for eating. As Thai plumbing is notoriously sluggish, where toilet paper is provided, it’s normal to throw it in the waste basket and not down the U-bend. If a toilet is not plumbed in, you flush it yourself with water from the bucket. In really basic hotel bathrooms with no shower facilities, you also use the bucket and dipper for scoop-and-slosh bathing.

Homestays

As guesthouses have become increasingly hotel-like and commercial in their facilities and approach, many tourists looking for old-style local hospitality are choosing homestay accommodation instead. Homestay facilities are nearly always simple, and cheap. with guests staying in a shared spare room and eating with the family. Homestays give an unparalleled insight into typical Thai (usually rural) life and can often be incorporated into a programme that includes experiencing village activities such as rice farming, squid fishing, rubber tapping or silk weaving. They are also a positive way of supporting small communities, as all your money will feed right back into the village. As well as listed homestays in Amphawa, Doi Inthanon, Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Ban Prasat, Mukdahan, Ban Khiriwong, Khuraburi and Krabi, there are many others bookable through Asia Discovery Travel.

National parks and camping

Nearly all the national parks have accommodation facilities, usually comprising a series of simple concrete bungalows. In a few parks, private operators included Asia Discovery Travel have set up low-cost guesthouses on the outskirts, and these generally make more attractive and economical places to stay.

Camping

You can usually camp in a national park. Unless you’re planning an extensive tour of national parks, though, there’s little point in lugging a tent around Thailand: accommodation everywhere else is very inexpensive. If you would like to book accommodation, you should get an advisor from Asia Discovery Travel.

Travel Planning & Booking With Asia Discovery Travel

The rise of the internet has made everything so much easier. With modern website. In only a few minutes you can know prices for flights, hotels, guest-houses, transport, entertainment, tours and activities, with most of Thailand now embracing the internet as a way to boost their business. If you’ve decided to visit Thailand and know what dates you intend to visit, the first thing to get all advise information from Asia Discovery Travel.

Travel Gear & Packing

The first thing to mention here is that packing too much is a common mistake people make when going to Thailand for the first time. Lugging around multiple heavy suitcases will be annoying at best and could become a real headache fast, particularly if you plan to travel around the country. Almost anything that you need for your holiday can be bought in Thailand and usually much cheaper than at home. Particularly things like clothes, shoes, toiletries, first aid supplies and such like can be bought very cheaply and easily in Thailand. Plus, you will need plenty of room in your suitcase for all the bargains you pick up during your stay. It’s completely feasible to turn up at Bangkok airport with little more than your passport and wallet and buy everything you need here, including a new suitcase, for a fraction of what you would spend back home.

One thing to note for backpackers is that rucksacks bought in Thailand are not as good quality as in the west, so consider buying something a bit more durable, especially if you are planning to travel a lot or stay for several months. Amazon’s basic range offers some very good quality packs at excellent prices, but if you want to spend a bit more, a bag from Deuter, North Face, Osprey or Berghaus are all excellent choices.

Things like towels, suntan lotion, sunglasses, flip flops, bikinis and swimming shorts can all be bought in Thailand cheaply and easily. Something to consider, however, is that Thai sizes are small, so if you are larger or taller than average in your home country you should bring you own clothes as your size may only be available in certain places such as Platinum mall or MBK in Bangkok, for example.

Another key thing to consider is medication. Not all western medications and brands will be available in Thai pharmacies, however, the pharmacists are very professional and helpful. If you rely on regular medication, make sure you bring enough for your entire trip. Certain medications are viewed with contempt by the Thai authorities, including sleeping tablets, anti-anxiety medication, and any stronger pain relief than paracetamol or ibuprofen. Such medications may be confiscated at the airport unless you provide a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor, these medications are highly controlled in Thailand and possession could get you into trouble. Contact to Asian Discovery Travel to know more detail for your trip.

 

 

Asia Travel Guide

Asia Travel Guide

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Asia is comprised of 48 countries, so it can be hard to narrow down where to begin your visit. It also contains the two most populated countries in the world, China and India!
While it would take years to truly explore every corner of this continent, most travelers begin in Southeast Asia. Backpacking is the most popular way to travel through the countries of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia (hello, Bali!). While these countries attract a large backpacking crowd, there are luxury gems at every corner too.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Central Asia: Central Asia is made up of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan. While it’s not as popular as other destinations in the region, more and more travelers have started to explore these countries in recent years. Some of it’s most popular attractions are the gas crater known as the “Gate of Hell” and the cities of Uzbekistan’s ancient Silk Road.
East Asia: East Asia is one of the most traveled regions for international visitors. It’s made up of China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Macau. It’s home to more than 22% of the global population as well as some of the top city break destinations in the world. It also boasts some of the region’s most impressive natural and human-made wonders like Mount Fuji, Huangshan Mountain and The Great Wall of China.
South Asia: South Asia is the most densely populated area in the world. It’s where you’ll find destinations like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives. They are most well-known for impressive cultural heritage sites like the Taj Mahal and the Sigiriya Fortress.
Southeast Asia: Southeast Asia is a popular destination for budget travelers. It’s divided into 15 countries with the most popular countries for budget travelers being Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
There’s never a bad time to visit Asia. The region boasts some of the world’s best beaches, lush jungles, beautiful temples, and bustling markets. No matter what the weather is like, there’s always something to see and do!
The only thing you might want to keep in mind when planning a trip to Asia is the monsoon season. It varies from country-to-country, so it’s easy to pick a destination where the rain has yet to hit. Do some research and get an advisor before booking your trip with Asian Discovery Travel!

Euro Travel Guide

Euro Travel Guide

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There are 44 countries in Europe today, according to the United Nations. Europe is one of the most diverse continents you can visit. It has a deep-rooted history and is a melting pot of cultures from all over the world, not to mention the unique architecture and cuisines that vary from country to country. If you would like to get a tour to discovery Euro, please contact to Asia Discovery Travel. We are one of the best tour operator to make a great holiday for you.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Eastern Europe: Eastern Europe generally refers to the countries that were behind the Iron Curtain. It’s made up of Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine. It’s a cheaper destination for budget travelers, and some of its top historical sites include the Prague Castle, the State Hermitage Museum and Word War II history.
Northern Europe: Northern Europe is known for its stunning fjords, wintery landscapes, and the most beautiful natural phenomena, the Northern Lights. If you want to see them, you’ll need to visit in the winter when conditions are at their best. Northern Europe encapsulates Scandanavia, the Baltics, and the United Kingdom.
Southern Europe: Southern Europe is made up of all the countries close to the Mediterranean Sea. Spain, Italy, Malta, Greece, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro are some of the most visited destinations in the region. It’s known for its incredible sailing, natural wonders, and ancient history. And the food! Talk about a wine lover’s dream destination.
Western Europe: Western Europe is one of the most popular regions in Europe. It’s home to countries like Austria, France, Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland that attract millions of visitors each year. Some of its most-traveled cities are Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Amsterdam!
Europe’s peak tourist season is summer! From June to August, travelers from all over the world flock to the region to soak in the sights with beautiful weather.
The best time to travel to the region is during the offseason—from October through April. Depending on the destination, winter can be a busy time of year for people planning a ski vacation or wanting to experience the European Christmas Markets. However, get a package tour through Europe with Asian Discovery Travel, It is better and easier for you.

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