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Travelling to Thailand

Arrival

There are direct international flights to some of the provincial airports, notably Chiang Mai and Phuket, which eliminate the need to change planes in Bangkok. If you come to Bangkok on the international express train from Malaysia, the terminus is Hualampong Railway station, in the middle of Bangkok, which is also a terminus of the underground railway (subway). The station is well served by taxis and buses.

Entry Restrictions

Visas are not necessary for tourists staying up to thirty days. For some nationals only fifteen-day visas are available. If you plan to stay longer, you should get your visa in advance from a Thai embassy or consulate. Check mfa.go.th for up-to-date immigration regulations. Do not outstay the period indicated in your visa; the penalties for doing so are a fine or imprisonment.

Transport in Bangkok

Bangkok is a tremendously congested city and it may take longer to get to your destination than you expect by road. The new overhead mass transit railway (the Skytrain) is fast and cheap but has only a few routes so far. The city's underground railway (subway) links up with it.

Buses

The ordinary buses are cheap but tend to get crowded and the seats are designed for petite Thais rather than large-limbed foreigners. If you want to use public transport treat yourself to an air-conditioned bus. These are a little more expensive but are usually reliable and have English-speaking bus conductors aboard. Note that the back seats of buses are reserved for monks, and if you are sitting there and a monk boards the bus you should give it up.

Taxis

Taxis are cheap-only those in Kathmandu are cheaper, according to a globe-trotting friend-but a taxi driver may refuse to take you to the destination you want at peak times because he does not want to get stuck in a traffic jam (rot tit, "the cars are stuck," will be his excuse). Three-wheeled motorized trishaws (samlor) with their characteristic "tuktuk" sound are cheaper than the four-wheeled taxis, but are also slower and less safe. However, they are an excellent mode of transport on the quieter roads. You usually have to negotiate a fare at the outset.

Water Transport

There is a frequent river-bus service that zigzags between the banks of the Chao Phraya River. This is faster than going by road and much more fun. If you are visiting Thailand as a tourist, it makes sense to stay at a place close to the river since transport to the main sights will be easier and more pleasurable.

Walking You are unlikely to want to walk far on the pavements of Bangkok because of the pollution, the heat, and the humidity. However, a saunter around Sanam Luang, Lumpini Park, or some of i the temple complexes is more bearable. Be careful when crossing the road; even at pedestrian crossings the traffic is unlikely to slow down to let you cross.
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