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FESTIVALS, HOLIDAYS AND OTHER ANNUAL EVENTS IN Bangkok

There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in Bangkok each year. The main ones are listed below.

January 1 : New Year's Day (national holiday)

January/February : Spring Festival (Chinese New Year, national holiday)

In Bangkok, as in other Thai cities, a significant percentage of the population is of Chinese ancestry and the Chinese New Year is therefore celebrated on a grand scale. The streets of Chinatown are entirely given over to spectacular festivities, including concerts, lion dances, other entertainment and fireworks, with food stalls lining the sidewalks.

April 13–15 : Songkran (national holiday)

The celebration of the Thai New Year is one of the most important festivals of the year in the country. Traditionally, it involves a purification ritual in which water is sprinkled on statues of the Buddha, and over the shoulders and hands of monks and elders, for good luck and good health in the New Year. More recently, perhaps encouraged by the fact that Songkran falls during the hottest time of the year in Thailand, the festival has evolved into a countrywide water-throwing extravaganza, thus washing away negativity for everyone, locals and tourist alike. For the three days of the festival, it is difficult to walk the streets of Bangkok without getting soaked by water from buckets or water pistols.

Mid-September–mid-October : International Festival of Dance and Music (local event)

Featuring over 20 performances spread over five weeks and the participation of more than a thousand performing artists, this festival presents ballet, opera and musical theatre productions, as well as symphonic and pop concerts.

October – Full moon of the eleventh lunar month : Ok Phansa (national holiday)

This day marks the end of the Buddhist “lent”, the three-month rains retreat during which Buddhist monks remain in their monasteries to study and meditate, and introduces the Kathin period when new robes are offered to the monks by the population. In the streets of Bangkok, celebrations include religious processions with traditional music and dancing.

November : Bangkok Marathon (local event)

Covering 42 kilometres (26 miles) and winding through the Thai capital's historic districts, this is one of the world's most popular marathons. Half- and mini-marathons are also held on the same day. Spectators gather along the route and especially at the finish line, on Sanam Chai Road in front of the dazzling Grand Palace.

December 5 : His Majesty the King's Birthday (national holiday)

Showing the deep respect the Thais have for their king, his birthday is celebrated with great pomp and enthusiasm. Government buildings and private homes are elaborately decorated for the occasion. In Bangkok, the area bordered by the Chitralada Palace, the National Assembly and the Grand Palace is the backdrop to a variety of events and festivities: open-air cinema and other outdoor entertainment, dance performances and concerts.

December 25 : Noël (celebrated nationwide)

December 31 : Western New Year's Eve (national holiday)

Festivities in Bangkok include spectacular fireworks displays, live performances, light shows, a beer garden and a prize drawing.

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CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN Bangkok

Bangkok's weather is dominated by its tropical monsoon climate and is often hot and humid. Like the rest of Thailand, the city experiences two seasons: the rainy season (May to October) and the dry season (November to April). The arrival of the south-west monsoon marks the start of the rainy season and involves heavy downpours.

Month Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Average Rains (MM) Best Time to Travel
January 21/70 33/91 8/0.3 Not the best period to go
February 23/73 34/93 19/0.7 Not the best period to go
March 25/77 35/95 35/1.4 Good period to go Good period to go
April 26/79 36/97 57/2.2 Good period to go Good period to go
May 26/79 35/95 197/7.8 Good period to go Good period to go
June 25/77 34/93 159/6.3 Good period to go Good period to go
July 25/77 33/91 159/6.3 Not the best period to go
August 25/77 33/91 174/6.9 Not the best period to go
September 25/77 33/91 304/12.0 Not the best period to go
October 25/77 32/90 205/8.1 Not the best period to go
November 23/73 32/90 65/2.6 Not the best period to go
December 21/70 32/90 5/0.2 Not the best period to go
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Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

One of two international airports serving Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi Airport is located 25 kilometres (16 miles) east of the Thai capital, in Samut Prakan province.

  • Three terminals:
    • Terminal 1
    • Terminal 2 (Air France)
    • Domestic Terminal

Getting from the airport to Bangkok and back:
  • By car
    • Accessible via five different routes from Bangkok and its surrounding area, ranging from four-lane roads to an eight-lane elevated highway.
    • Two five-storey parking garages with capacity for 5,000 cars are located opposite the main terminal building. The fifth floor of both garages connects directly to the third floor of the terminal building. There are also two outdoor parking lots adjacent to the garages for additional short-term parking and a long-term parking lot near the Public Transport Centre.
    • Several car rental companies have counters on the second floor of the terminal building between exits 7 and 8.
  • By rail
    • Airport Rail Link: the most convenient and least expensive option, with service to Phaya Thai station in central Bangkok directly from the basement (B floor) of the main terminal building (THB 150 each way).
  • By bus
    • Free shuttle buses to the Public Transport Centre at the airport depart from Gate 5 on the 2nd or 4th floor of the main terminal building. From there, take Bus 551 to Victory Monument in the city centre, with service from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. (THB 40 per person).
  • Taxi
    • Metered taxis are available outside the first floor (the level below arrivals).
    • The fare to the city centre is about THB 400, plus THB 70 for highway tolls.

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GETTING AROUND Bangkok

Getting around Bangkok can be a challenge at times, due to its notorious traffic congestion and the hectic and chaotic pace of life in the city. Fortunately, there are many public transport options. Although the city is well known for its tuk-tuks and multicoloured taxis, there are other ways to get around Bangkok.

By rail

Bangkok has two mass transit rail networks, the BTS Skytrain (an elevated line) and the underground MRT. Both systems are clean, efficient, comfortable and air-conditioned. Trains on the BTS Skytrain run daily every 3 to 6 minutes from 6:30 a.m. to midnight, and those on the MRT run daily every 4 to 10 minutes from 6 a.m. to midnight. Fares are calculated by distance and range from THB 15 to THB 40. An unlimited 1-day pass is available for THB 120.

By bus

Bangkok's bus lines offer good coverage of the entire city centre. Fares range from THB 7 to THB 24 depending on the distance travelled and whether or not the buses are air-conditioned.

By tuk-tuk

A motorized vehicle inspired by the traditional pulled rickshaw or cycle rickshaw, the tuk-tuk is a convenient and rather rustic way to get around Bangkok. Allow between THB 100 and THB 150 for a single ride.

By songtaews

These are covered pick-up trucks with rows of seats in the back that transport people along set routes and make stops by request. You just need to flag one down with a hand signal. When you would like to get off, tap on the window behind the driver and pay for the ride as you exit. Allow about THB 30 to THB 40 for a journey.

By taxi

Taxis are plentiful in Bangkok. Some of these are metered taxis, while others propose fixed fares. The initial charge is between THB 35.00 and THB 50.00, including the first kilometre (0.6 miles), and then between THB 5.00 and THB 8.50 for each subsequent kilometre. Waiting time in traffic is charged at THB 1.30 per minute.

By boat

To avoid traffic congestion and get a break from Bangkok's frenetic pace, the city's maritime services are a great option. The Chao Phraya River winds through a labyrinth of khlongs (canals). Fares range from THB 10 to THB 29 for each trip on the Chao Phraya Express boats, the ferries and the traditional long-tail boats.

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Visitor information

Upon your arrival in Bangkok, you can get in touch with local tourism professionals for further information and to help organize your stay.

Bangkok Tourist Division (BTD)

Offers practical information and many useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).

Further information available online for visitors to Thailand

The official website of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), provides a wealth of information on Bangkok.
Website: http://www.tourismethaifr.com/

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Currency and Exchange Rates

The currency used in Thailand is the baht (฿).

HKD 1 = THB 4.30

THB 1 = HKD 0.23

The above exchange rate is given for information because is variable.

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Medical information

See your doctor before you travel.

Visitors to Thailand are required to declare any prescription medication being brought into the country and prior authorization may be necessary in some cases. If you need to take along prescription medications for your personal use, check with your nearest Thai embassy to make sure that your medications are allowed into Thailand.

In recent years, Bangkok has eliminated many of the most toxic components of air pollution (lead and sulphur dioxide), but the city still contends with dangerous levels of particulate matter from automobiles and construction projects. Visitors with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory ailments should take the necessary precautions.

Vaccinations

Obtaining a booster vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio is recommended.
Vaccinations against typhoid fever as well as hepatitis A and B are also recommended.

For more information, contact Air France's international vaccination centre:

Food safety

Standards of hygiene in restaurants are satisfactory overall. However, health inspections are not conducted at regular intervals. Exercise caution when eating food at local markets and street stalls.

Water

Drink only bottled water provided in sealed, tamper-proof containers.

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Administrative formalities

Entry requirements for Thailand

As a general rule, a visa is required to enter Thailand. However, Thailand has entered into visa exemption agreements with a number of countries.

For further information, visit the website of the Thai Immigration Bureau:
http://www.immigration.go.th/nov2004/en/base.php?page=visa

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Essential phrases

Here are a few basic Thai phrases that will make your stay in Bangkok a little easier:

Hello / Good morning / Good afternoon: Sawàt dii khâ (female speaker) / Sawàt dii khráp (male speaker)

Good evening: Sawàt dii khâ/khráp

Good-bye: Sawàt dii khâ/khráp

Yes: Châi

No: Mâi châi

No, thank you: Mâi ao khàwp khun khâ/khráp

Thank you very much: Khàwp khun máak khâ/khráp

I don't understand: Chán mâi khâo jai khâ/khráp

Could you repeat that: Phûut iik thii dâi mái?

Please: The closest equivalent to the English usage of this word is to add the appropriate polite ending to your request, khâ (for a female speaker) or khráp (for a male speaker).

What time is it: Kìi mohng láew khâ/khráp?

Excuse me: Khaw thoht

Airport: Sà-năam bin

Train station: Sà-thăa-nii rót fai

Bus station: Sà-thăa-nii rót meh

Taxi: Taxi

Hotel: Rohng raem

Hospital: Rhong phayaabaan

Bank: Thá-naa-khaan

Telephone: Thohrasàp

My name is (…): Chán chêuh (…)

I'm looking for (…): Chán ha (…)

How much is this: Raa-khaa thâòrài?

Do you have (…): Khun mii (…) mái khâ/khráp?

Where can I find (…): Ha (…) tii nâi khâ/khráp?

Where can I buy (…): Ha suu (…) tii nâi khâ/khráp?

I'd like (…): Yaak dâi (…)

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Good to know

00 66
+ phone number without the 0 (calls to Bangkok)
-1 : 00
of time difference with
Hong Kong

Usually open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Usually open Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon
230 V / 50 Hz

And what about tipping?
Tipping is not customary in Bangkok, although in the major hotels and in the areas of the city most visited by tourists this practice has become widespread. In restaurants and in tourist areas frequented by Westerners, many visitors round up the bill to the next even amount.