In a Nutshell

Food and Drink in Cambodia

Food and Drink in Cambodia
Food and Drink in Cambodia
Food and Drink in Cambodia
Travellers who suffer from a chilli intake problem will be pleased to discover that the food in Cambodia is much less hot than in the neighbouring nations of Thailand and Vietnam. However, that doesn’t mean that the dishes here are bland, as they are seasoned instead with herbs such as coriander and lemongrass, giving them a unique tanginess. The main staple here is rice, which is served alongside most curry, soup and stew dishes.
Those with a strong sense of adventure who want to sample authentic local food should check out the food stalls that crop up at Cambodia’s night markets. These are also the cheapest places to dine, while those who are looking for a taste of home will find a wide range of international restaurants in tourist hubs such as Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh.

Here is a selection of dishes that you will discover as you travel through Cambodia:

Amok trey – one of Cambodia’s signature dishes, featuring fish, pork or chicken in a rich and lightly spiced curry sauce.

Lou – short, thick noodles with added egg and chicken.

Caw – this is a slightly sweet dish of braised chicken or pork and egg stew flavoured with delicious caramelized palm sugar.

Bai cha – a delicious dish of Chinese sausage fried with rice.

Somlah machou khmae – a sweet and sour soup dish that is made with tomatoes, pineapple and fish.

K’dam – a speciality from Kampot, this is a delicious dish of crab cooked in pepper.

Visitors to Cambodia should avoid drinking tap water as well as drinks with ice in them. Bottled water is cheap and easy to find throughout the country and should be used even for brushing your teeth.  

Green tea is popular in Cambodia and served free of charge along with most meals in restaurants. Tea lovers will also want to try the local drink known as dtai grolab, which is created by brewing tealeaves in a glass with a saucer on top. Both Indian tea and coffee are readily available in Cambodia, although they are usually served with plenty of ice.  

Those who like to relax with a beer or two in the evening will find bars located all over the country, while beer also tends to be served in restaurants and at night market stalls. However, the local tipple of choice is a type of rice wine that is extremely strong an should be approached with caution.
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Survival Tips in Cambodia

Survival Tips in Cambodia
Survival Tips in Cambodia
Survival Tips in Cambodia
This is a great time to visit Cambodia as the years of war and instability are finally over and the country is rebuilding itself slowly but surely. People are generally friendly and honest and roads are much better than they have been in recent years. However, you still need to apply a certain amount of common sense when travelling through Cambodia and there are a few things to watch out for or avoid.

Avoid drinking tap water and drinks with ice in Cambodian. Bottled water is cheap and easy to find.  

Avoid deals that seem too good to be true such as buying ‘precious gems’ as they are often worthless stones that have been chemically treated. There is also a considerable amount of counterfeit medication around, so only buy from trustworthy pharmacies and clinics.

Despite the efforts being made to sweep the countryside for landmines, there are still believed to be as many as six million unexploded landmines in Cambodia. Visitors should take extreme caution when wandering off the beaten track, and it is best to hire a guide when exploring rural areas independently, preferably someone who knows the area extremely well and can steer you away from danger.

Keep abreast of the current political situation while visiting Cambodia by reading the local newspaper regularly. Violent outbursts do spring up from time to time as well as demonstrations and political gatherings and should be avoided at all costs.

Although you should always keep valuables hidden, extra caution should be taken at night and it is a good idea to take a close-sided taxi rather than a cyclo or moto, especially when exploring touristy areas such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

Cambodia is famed for its corrupt police force, who are known to try almost every trick in the book to get fines from tourists. If you are stopped by the police at any time, make sure you keep a close eye on your belongings, as it has been known for the police to plant drugs on foreigners in the hope of receiving a fine or a bribe. In confrontations with the police it is important to keep your cool, arguing in a firm yet friendly manner and solving the situation without heading to the police station.
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Location and History of Cambodia

Location and History of Cambodia
Location and History of Cambodia
Location and History of Cambodia
Covering a total area of just over 180,000 square kilometres, Cambodia is one of the most diminutive countries in Southeast Asia. The nation is bordered by Laos in the north, the Gulf of Thailand in the south, Thailand to the west, and Vietnam in the east.
Sometimes referred to as Kampuchea, Cambodia people are known as Khmer. Visitors witnessing the warm and generous nature of the Khmer people could hardly guess at the hardship they have undergone for the last 500 years or so. Angkor fell in 1431 and since that time Cambodia has been pillaged by a number of nations.

Consequently the people of Cambodia are very poor, with many living on less than US$1 per day. However, the situation is slowly improving and the many monuments that were decimated or lost are being rediscovered and restored, while the rise in tourism allows businesses to open all over the country and employment rates to improve.

Up until the start of the 15th century Cambodia was a prosperous nation, and examples of this can be seen in the magnificent temple complex of Angkor Wat. When the nation fell Cambodia was largely dominated and became under French political control. Prince Sihanouk declared Cambodia’s independence during WWII, but his hopes for the nation were soon crushed.

Prince Sihanouk’s reign was not appreciated by everybody as he was criticized for restricting education to the elite and his obsession for writing and starring in movies. Many of the educated elite were angry over the lack of descent jobs and bad economic system and sought a solution in politics, joining first the Indochinese Communist Party, and then the Khmer Rouge.

The dawning of Second Indochina War caused the US to take an interest and Sihanouk abdicated and supported the Khmer Rouge, with many people following his example. After a five year resistance the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh in 1975 and forced the evacuation of all towns and cities, with those who refused to leave being killed instantly.

For three years the majority of people in Cambodia were put through unimaginable hardships, with more than one million and probably closer to three million (more than half the population) dying from torture or poor conditions. Everyone was forced to live in the countryside and work for the Khmer Rouge, with families being separated and everyone living in fear as the consequences for refusing were horrific punishments and death.

When the Vietnamese finally put an end to the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror in 1978 there was no infrastructure left and the country had to be entirely rebuilt. There were elections sponsored by the UN in 1993 and since the end of the 20th century things have steadily improved. Leng Sary, Pol Pot's brother in law, is currently on trial for 'crimes against humanity'.
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Types of Transport in Cambodia

Types of Transport in Cambodia
Types of Transport in Cambodia
Types of Transport in Cambodia
The poor condition of both roads and vehicles in Cambodia can make it difficult to travel through the country at times, and travellers need to allow plenty of time and apply patience when planning their trip. However, the situation is improving, and major roads such as the road that leads through the countryside from the border with Thailand to Siem Reap has finally been sealed, cutting the journey time dramatically.

Travel by plane

There are two major airports in Cambodia, which connect the major cities of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh with destinations in Thailand, Laos and other neighbouring nations. There are also small domestic airports in places such as Sihanoukville, Stung Treng and Koh Kong. Siem Reap is the country’s main domestic airline, which provides reasonably priced flights between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh

Travel by boat
The Cambodian countryside is full of waterways, and taking a boat is a great way to see the nation’s natural beauty. Although this is by no means the fastest way of getting around, taking a boat between places such as Siem Reap and Battambang offers travellers the chance to watch local life unfold and meet new people along the way. While those who are in a hurry to get to their next destination may be tempted to take one of the new fast boat services, the safety records on these are often poor, while the fee tends to be rather step.

Travel by bus
The buses in Cambodia are reserved for long distance journeys between towns and cities, as there is currently no public bus network here. However, most places are small enough to explore on foot, making this no real hardship. Many of the buses that are used for long distance journeys tend to be rather worn out and often break down mid journey. However, those who spring for a VIP bus ticket will be offered a reasonably comfortable seat in one of Cambodia’s newer buses.

Travel by cyclos and motos
Cyclos and moto are cheap Cambodian forms of taxis and feature open sides that serve as a natural form of air-conditioning. Fares need to be negotiated between the passenger and driver in advance as there is no metre system in Cambodia, and it is a good idea to suss out the going rate in advance.

Hiring a car or a motorcycle
Private vehicle hire is an excellent way to really get to know Cambodia and visitors will be able to travel wherever the mood strikes them. However, driving in Cambodia can be a little bit challenging for those who are unused to the rules of the road, and it is best to hire either a car with a driver or negotiate the fee for daylong moto hire.

Travel by bicycle
For the ultimate sense of freedom, hire a mountain bike and simply cycle away. Although most roads aren’t in great condition, there is a flat trail along the side, which is perfect for bicycles. If you don’t mind getting a little hot a sweaty, this is by far the best way to explore.

Explore by helicopter
Although not really a form of transport, a helicopter ride is an interesting way to see the city of Phnom Penh or the ancient temples near Siem Ream.
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When to Visit Cambodia

When to Visit Cambodia
When to Visit Cambodia
When to Visit Cambodia
Cambodia’s climate is tropical and the weather is hot and humid practically all year round. However, there are four main seasons; the cool and dry season from November to February, the hot and dry season from March to May, the hot and wet season from June-August, and the cool and wet season that lasts from September-October.

The temperatures in Cambodia are significantly higher than other Asian countries such as Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, with average temperatures of between 28-35?C in the hot season. The weather is also very humid during this period. April is by far the hottest month, and only travel during this time if you are used to walking around in the heat.

However, things cool down to around 25-30?C in November to February, and this is a good time for temple hopping. There are occasional cool evenings, but Cambodia could never be referred to as cold and you will rarely need a jacket, if ever.

The rain descends on Cambodia from June to October, with heavy showers and storms sweeping the entire country. However, the rain is mainly restricted to the afternoon, so it is still possible to rise early and spend the morning exploring and relax in the afternoon and evening.
Tourist numbers are low during the rainy season, so this is a good time to beat the crowds.

The peak tourist season is from December to January and if you are travelling in Cambodia during this time it is a good idea to book popular hotels in advance, although there is usually plenty of accommodation available.

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Festivals and Holidays in Cambodia

Festival and Holidays in Cambodia
Festival and Holidays in Cambodia
Festival and Holidays in Cambodia
The people of Cambodia love to party, and visitors will want to time their visit to coincide with at least one of the vibrant festivals and holidays that take place throughout the year. while many are held to mark special religious events and focus around the country’s temples, others are simply ways to mark historical and cultural events.
Whatever the occasion, the Khmer people celebrate with style, and most festivals are colourful events that feature fireworks displays as well as feasting, drinking and dancing. All are welcome to join in the fun, and foreigners especially are persuaded to get involved and let their hair down for a while.

Here are some festivals to put in your diary:

National Day
Held on January 7th, this holiday marks the end of the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror.

Chinese New Year
Held somewhere between the end of January and the start of February, this vibrant festival features firework displays and parades through the streets.

Khmer New Year
This festival takes place in the middle of April and marks the end of the harvest. The people of Cambodia decorate their houses and gather for elaborate family feasts. The streets also erupt in all out war as people keep their cool during the hottest part of the year by firing water pistols at each other.  

Royal Ploughing Day
Taking place in May, the Royal Ploughing Day pays homage to the mighty ox. The best place to take in the festivities is in Phnom Penh, particularly near the Royal Palace and the National Museum.

King Sihanouk’s birthday celebration
October 31st is a special day for the people of Cambodia, who gather at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh and all along the river in order to pay their respects.

Water Festival
Held at the end of October, the Water Festival lasts for three days. Like the Khmer New Year, part of the fun here is the street water fights, and those who plan to keep dry at this time of your will have to stay well hidden indoors. However, those who dare to join in are sure to have fun and among the highlights at this time of year are the boat races along the Tonle Sap and Monkong River.  

Independence Day
November 9th is the day for the Khmer people to celebrate their independence, which was finally granted by the French government in 1953. To witness the festivities, head to Phnom Penh’s Independence Monument.
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Dos and Don’ts in Cambodia

Dos and Don'ts in Cambodia
Dos and Don'ts in Cambodia
Dos and Don'ts in Cambodia
The Khmer people highly value manners and respect, especially regarding religion. They are warm and welcoming by nature and will generally forgive foreigners for their mistakes, but taking the time to learn the local customs will make a big difference to your travel experience.

Clothing
Take a look around and you will soon notice that the people of Cambodia tend to dress conservatively, and it is best for visitors to follow suit, especially when visiting sacred places such as temples. Despite the heat, men should keep their shirts on at all times, while it is also best to avoid wearing sleeveless t-shirts and shorts in temples. It is also impolite to wear shoes inside temples as well as family homes and some businesses.

In the Temple
Be careful in your treatment of Buddha images as they are extremely sacred. It is better to avoid touching them altogether but if you do have to touch them, handle with extreme care and never touch someone’s personal Buddha statue or amulet unless you are invited to. It is rude to point the soles of your feet towards a Buddha image, and it is best when sitting to tuck your feet to one side so that the soles point backwards. There are certain parts of the temple that you may not be allowed into or cannot touch or sit on. Look for signs or follow the examples of others if you are unsure.

Monks
Monks are forbidden from having female contact, so women must take care to keep out of their way if coming across a monk in a crowded street or bus. Although women are permitted to talk to monks, even their mothers and sisters must first pass any objects such as food to a man before the monk can handle it.

At Home
If you are lucky enough to score an invitation to a Khmer family home, it is important to observe the correct etiquette. Each home has a special place, either just inside the doorway or just outside, where shoes are kept. Make sure that you remove your shoes and place them here and follow the actions of the other diners when it comes to eating. The head is considered sacred by Khmer people and it is important to avoid touching people’s heads, while the feet are unclean and should not be used to point with.

Showing Affection
In the conservative Khmer society, kissing and holding hands in public with members of the opposite sex is taboo and should be avoided.
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Khao San Road Transport

Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Getting to and from Khao San Road is easy as this area is well connected to the rest of Bangkok by bus and ferry. Most taxi and tuk-tuk drivers also know this area well, so visitors should have no trouble getting here from any part of Bangkok or the surrounding area.

There is a direct bus to Khao San Road from the airport, and the journey takes around an hour. The air-conditioned AE2 bus takes passengers to the top of Khao San Road for 150 baht, while there are also small local buses that complete the journey for just 35 baht. Those who are travelling in a group may find it more economical and convenient to catch a taxi from the booth outside the main entrance. The fare should cost around 350 in total, including a small charge to cover the toll way tax.

Khao San Road isn’t located near either the underground or sky rail system. However, the Chao Phraya River is just a ten-minute walk away and pier 13 is located at the end of Phra Athit Road. Taking the ferry along the river is a great way to see the sights and it stops at a number of different districts such as Chinatown and Thonburi. There is a Skytrain station at Central Pier, which whisks visitors into the heart of Bangkok in a matter of minutes.

Buses pass by Khao San Road on their way to most parts of Bangkok and those in the know will be able to get around fairly easily by bus. The travel agencies on Khao San Road are a good source of information and most are happy to give advice about which bus to take.

All air-conditioned taxis in Bangkok are supposed to use the meter, which starts at 35 baht. However, most of the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers that par at either end of Khao San Road have to pay a fee to stay there are unwilling to use the meter. The fee they charge for trips is often quite high and it is better to walk a few meters from Khao San Road and flag one of the passing taxis, insisting that they use the meter.

The three-wheeled vehicles known as tuk-tuks are good at nipping through the Bangkok traffic, which can save time in the rush hours. It is important to negotiate the price before getting into the tuk-tuk as fare prices are not fixed. The quoted fare will usually be high to start with, but with a little gentle persuasion it is possible to end up paying around half the starting price.

There are a number of tuk-tuk drivers on Khao San Road who offer to take tourists on a trip around the city for just 20 baht. While this may seem like a cheap way to see the sights, visitors should know that these drivers make their money by taking tourists to a number of different jewellery shops on the way. They make a commission for anything you buy and if you plan to make a purchase anyway this could still be a good deal, but unsuspecting travellers could end up with more than they bargained for.

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Khao San Road Travel Agents and Dive Shops

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khao_san_road_travel_agents_1
Khao San Road Travel Agents and Diving Shops, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Travel Agents and Diving Shops, Bangkok, Thailand

When it’s time to finally leave Khao San Road, deciding where to go and how to get there is made simple with the travel agencies and dive shops located in this area of Bangkok. The staff in these shops are able to speak good English and discuss with travellers the full details of their trip. Many people are happy to give free advice to travellers, which helps you to take the next step on your journey with confidence.

Anyone who needs to renew their visa but is unsure of where to go or how the process works will be able to get their questions answered here and even book a trip to one of the borders and back.

Because there are so many different agencies offering plane, bus and boat tickets in this area, prices tend to be very competitive and those who take the time to shop around should be able to find a great deal. Travel agencies also provide a wide range of other services such as confirming flights, arranging accommodation and even offering tours to travellers who wish to be shown the sights by a professional guide.

If you’re not sure where to go next, simply stop by one of the travel agent shops to gain a little inspiration. There are hundreds of different trips and tours available, ranging from luxurious cruises down the Chao Phraya River to adventurous jungle tours in the north of Thailand, where travellers get the chance to interact with the people from the hill tribes that live there.

These travel agencies can also arrange package trips that include accommodation, meals and special activities such as rock climbing, trekking, volunteering or even pilot’s lessons.

For many visitors to Khao San Road, the next step on their journey will be a trip to one of the sunny southern islands to practice scuba diving or snorkelling. Thailand is widely acknowledged as one of the best places in the world to indulge in underwater pursuits, as the water is clear, warm and simply teeming with colourful marine life. Because there are so many great places in Thailand to dive and snorkel, many people like to visit one of Khao San Road’s dive shops to seek professional advice. The staff at these dive shops are extremely knowledgably and are able to use their expertise to put together travel, accommodation and diving packages for travellers. Anyone who is new to diving or snorkelling will be able to discuss the experience with these professionals and get a good idea of what to expect before they take the plunge.

Wherever you’re headed, make sure you come back to Khao San Road soon. A warm welcome is guaranteed whenever you return. ????????????????????????????????

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Khao San Road Services

Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
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Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Services, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road isn’t just about partying. Visitors to Khao San Road and the surrounding areas will also discover a wide range of reasonably priced services. This is the perfect time to book the dentist’s appointment you’ve been putting off, visit the optician or simply post a parcel back home. Virtually any type of business can be taken care of smoothly and simply with the help of the English speaking staff in this area.

There are a number of different booths offering money changing services set up on and around Khao San Road. The staff at these booths stock a good selection of different currencies and can usually change traveller’s cheques as well. Visitors will need to show their passport before they can use the services at these booths. 

Just opposite the entrance to Khao San Road on the corner of Soi Rhambhutri is a branch of Western Union, which may come in handy if you run out of money. It is possible to wire money through Western Union from just about any country in the world. However, some people find that the percentage the company charges is rather high.
If you’ve been indulging in some serious shopping and jut can’t fit everything into your backpack, you may want to make use of one of the postal services in the area. The main post office can be found in a small lane near Victory Monument. Opposite one end of Khao San Road is a branch of Burger King and if you follow the lane behind the fast food franchise for about 100 meters you will come to the post office. There are also a number of other businesses located on Khao San Road and in the surrounding area that offer to send parcels, postcards and letters to international destinations for a small fee. 

When you’re constantly on the road it is easy for the laundry to start piling up and before you know it the contents of your backpack might smell like it’s been swimming around in a sewer for a week. Luckily, there are also people in this area that provide laundry services for a small fee. The going rate on the street and in cheap guesthouses is usually 30 baht per kilo and your laundry bag will be weighed before you are charged. However, in more upmarket hotels laundry is often priced individually and can be considerably more costly. In both cases your laundry will be washed in a machine, ironed and returned within 24 hours.

Although most people dread having their teeth examined, the friendly and professional dentists that have set up businesses in this area make the process almost pleasant. Dental procedures are much cheaper in Thailand than in most Western countries and these dentists offer a wide range of services such as checkups, teeth cleaning and teeth whitening.

Several different opticians’ shops can be found in this area as well and this is a good time to stock up on contact lenses or replace road-worn glasses.

There is also a wide range of other small, yet essential services available here such as shoe fixing, key cutting and people with sewing machines who can fix garments for just a few baht.

When it comes to taking care of business, Khao San Road has it covered.
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Khao San Road Attractions

Khao San Road Attractions, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Attractions, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Attractions, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Attractions, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Attractions, Bangkok, Thailand
When it comes to sightseeing, visitors to Khao San Road never have to go far to be entertained. In fact, a large number of interesting attractions are located within a short walk of Khao San Road, making it easy for tourists and travellers to take a look around before heading back for a beer or two.

One of the most prominent sights here is Democracy Monument, which can be found at the Burger King end of Khao San Road. Situated on a small concrete island in the centre of Ratchadamnoen Road, Democracy Monument was built to mark the military coup of June 1932, which resulted in Thailand’s first democratic constitution. Democracy Monument is surrounded by four 24-meter wing shaped structures, which symbolize the four branches of Thailand’s armed forces that guard it and in the centre is a copy of the original constitution from 1932.

Just up ahead of Democracy Monument is the bell-shaped dome of Wat Saket, which is also known as the Golden Mount. This large temple featuring a glittering golden chedi and is located at the top of a hill just a ten-minute walk from Khao San Road. This is a very peaceful place to visit and visitors to climb the winding staircase to the very top of Wat Saket will be rewarded with spectacular views of most of Bangkok.

Also just around the corner from Khao San Road is Phra Sumen Park, which is located on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. This pretty park is a good place to escape from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and read under the shade of one of the park’s large trees of watch the many weird and wonderful characters who make their way through the park. All the sun sets people come here to play instruments, jungle and play sports such as the traditional team game of takraw.

Next to Phra Sumen Park is Phra Sumen Fort, which was one of 14 forts built to defend Bangkok against potential naval invasions. The fort is surrounded by cannons and has 38 rooms for ammunition and weaponry in its centre.

At the end of Khao San Road opposite Gulliver's Travellers Tavern is the magnificent temple known as Wat Chana Songkran. The name means war victory temple in English and was built by the Mon people, who were originally given the land in this area as reward for helping the Thai people to fight against the Burmese many centuries ago. The temple features a number of pretty murals and the grounds are a peaceful and pretty place to wander as they are surrounded by Bougainvillea vines and picturesque trees.

Art lovers will discover a number of different art galleries in this area. Just around the corner is the National Gallery, which contains work by prominent Thai artists that dates back to the 17th century. Another interesting gallery is the Queen Sirikit Gallery, which displays modern works of art by up and coming young Thai artists. There are also some small art galleries to be found here which display a wide range of art collections. 

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Khao San Road Tattoo and Makeovers

Khao San Road Makeovers and Tattoos, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Makeovers and Tattoos, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Makeovers and Tattoos, Bangkok, Thailand
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When you see a traveller wandering around Thailand sporting a new tattoo, piercing or hair extensions, the chances are that they got them in Khao San Road. A number of talented tattoo artists and piercers have set up shop in this area of Bangkok and there are plenty of places to choose from.

Many modern travellers decide to get a tattoo in Thailand as it serves as a permanent reminder of their visit to the Land of Smiles. Customers can choose from either the traditional bamboo tattoo technique known as sak yant or the more common modern method. All tattoo artists provide a large catalogue of images for customers to choose from, and some even offer to create special unique images for a small extra fee.

Khao San Road is a safe place to get a tattoo, as the tattoo artists here have to have certificates and awards for their work, which are checked regularly by the authorities. A large number of famous people have chosen to get their tattoos done in this area, including the actress Angelina Jolie.

Many of the tattoo parlours located on and around Khao San Road also offer body piercing. Quality jewellery tends to be much cheaper in Thailand than in many parts of the world and this is a good time to bite the bullet and get whatever piercing has been on your mind. Again, when it comes to qualifications and cleanliness customers will find that the piercing studios in this part of Bangkok pride themselves on their high standards. Many of the piercers here design and create their own jewellery, while others are willing to use pieces that the customer brings to them from elsewhere.

Some people find that taking care of their hair while travelling is too much of an ordeal. However, Khao San Road has the perfect solution for these people as well as stalls offering hair braiding line the sides of the street. It is possible to relax with a beer and watch the world go by while the hairdressers here add colourful hair extensions or tease and tweak your hair into a range of different styles. If you’ve ever fancied dreadlocks but don’t want the hassle of letting them happen naturally, the women here can work their magic and achieve the classic hairstyle in a matter of minutes.

If all else fails, there are also professional hair salons located in this area, which offer a range of services including shampoos, perms and even head shaving.

For the final step in you Khao San Road makeover, visit one of the massage parlours and choose between traditional Thai, Swedish or oil massages. These establishments also offer services such as manicures, pedicures and waxing to leave you looking and feeling fantastic.

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Khao San Road Shopping

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Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Shopping, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road is a great place for shopping as there is so much to choose from. It seems that just about anything and everything is bought and sold here, including a large number of second hand goods. Market stalls line the sides of the street, while there are also dozens of small shops to be found here as well as larger specialist shops.

The best time to go shopping is in the morning, just when the stalls are setting up for the day. Most traders believe that the first sale of the day is lucky and will drop prices dramatically rather than lose their first customer.

One of the great things about shopping on Khao San Road is that most prices are negotiable and it is possible to get a great discount, especially if you speak a little bit of Thai. To ask the price, simply say “tow-li”. The seller will often put the price into a calculator and hand it too you. If the price is too high, simply enter the price you want to pay in the calculator and continue from there until a deal is struck.

There are a good number of jewellery shops on Khao San Road and in the surrounded area that specialise in quality wholesale jewellery. These shops offer some of the best bargains in the area as the jewellery here is available for a fraction of the price of many Western countries and even other parts of Bangkok.

Those who are looking for a unique souvenir to take home with them should visit one of the area’s many tailor’s shops. The talent tailors here are able to recreate virtually any design and offer customers a selection of the latest fashion catalogues to choose their garment from. Customers can also choose the fabric that will be used from a large selection of rolls on display inside the shop. The best bargain here is sets of suits, shirts and ties and it is possible to get a specially made Savile Row-style suit and all the trimming for just a remarkably low price.

The market on Khao San Road has gained quite a reputation in recent years for its counterfeit goods. Just about anything that can be copied convincingly is sold here, from Billabong shorts and Levi jeans to CDs, DVDs and even driving licences.

As you wander along Khao San Road you may be approached by one of the people who wander the streets selling a colourful collection of goods such as bags, bracelets and hammocks, most of which have been made by the Hill Tribes in the north of Thailand. While friendly, these merchants can be extremely persistent and it is best to only ask the price of an item if you are seriously interested.

Those who are short on cash can sell their surplice items at one of the stalls on nearby Soi Rambhutri. Just look for one of the sighs announcing “We buy everything”. This is a great place to trade items such as books, tents, backpacks and boots for a few baht.

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Khao San Road – An Overview

Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Situated in the area of Bangkok known as Banglampu, Khao San Road (or Khaosan, or Kaosarn, or a multitude of other spellings) is one of Bangkok’s most famous streets. While once this vibrant road was mainly a hangout for hippies and budget travellers, over the last few years people from all walks of live have discovered Khao San Road and it has become a real melting pot.

While Khao San Road has managed to retain much of its cheap and cheerful atmosphere with budget guesthouses lining the road, this is also a meeting place for Thai students, artists and even well heeled tourists and businessmen.

A large number of travellers use Khao San Road as a base to explore Bangkok and there are plenty of Khao San Road hotels to choose from, ranging from basic rooms with shared bathrooms to top end hotels that provide all the trimmings.

Khao San Road is the starting point for many visitors to Thailand and there are a large number of businesses geared towards helping travellers and tourists find their feet.

The travel agencies on Khao San Road offer a wide range of different trips and packages and travellers can book anything from a tour of Bangkok to diving trips to one of Thailand’s picturesque southern islands.

Market stalls line the sides of Khao San Road and it is possible to purchase just about anything here, from souvenir t-shirts to artwork and second hand books. The shops along the side of the road and down the winding alleyways that branch off Khao San Road also sell items such as silver jewellery, lanterns and handicrafts.

When it comes to dining, there is an excellent selection of restaurants and cafes located on Khao San Road. While many restaurants offer a selection of both Thai and Western favourites, there are also some excellent restaurants specializing in cuisine such as Italian, Japanese, Indian and Korean food. Vegetarians will find plenty to tickle their taste buds here are cheap bites and food carts on the street provide snacks such as pad thai and barbequed corn.

Khao San Road has gained a reputation as a party area over the last few years and once the sun sets people from all over the city come here to play. This is a good place to listen to live bands as a number of bars host Thai bands that play popular Thai and Western pop and rock songs. There are plenty of places to sit with a drink or two and watch the world go by and in the evening a number of stalls set up offering cheap yet surprisingly strong cocktails.

Khao San Road is also a good place for clubbing and many of the clubs located here hire international DJs, pumping out a range of music such as house, hip hop, trance and techno.

Whatever you are looking for, you are sure to find it on Khao San Road. The only difficulty might be leaving the vivacity of this interesting area behind in order to explore other parts of the city. Luckily, there are a wide range of transport options available including taxis, tuk-tuks, boats and buses, so getting here and around is simple.

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What to do in Thailand

What to do in Thailand
What to do in Thailand
What to do in Thailand
What to do in Thailand
In this exotically inviting land where the weather is usually hot and sunny, travel is easy and the food is delicious and plentiful, there isn't really much that you can't do. No matter what you are into, whether it be extreme sports, sunbathing, exploring, discovering a new culture or pure hedonism, Thailand is the perfect place to do it, whilst getting a tan at the same time.

Thailand's temples - known as wats - are big, richly decorated and contain an interesting assortment of treasures. Every town has a large assortment of temples, with perhaps the highest concentrations in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya. Some temples not to be missed are Wat Arun on the Chaopraya river in Bangkok, Wat Po, also in Bangkok and Chiang Mai's Wat Benchamabophit. Whilst in Chiang Mai, climb Doi Suthet to see Wat Doi Suthep, which offers stunning views over the area.

As well as spectacular scenery, Thailand's islands and beaches offer a good opportunity to take part in diving and snorkeling, the clear blue water offering glimpses of colourful coral and fish. Koh Tao is rapidly becoming the most popular island for diving and snorkelling, whilst Koh Phi Phi and Phuket are also popular. Other water ports available include sailing and windsurfing. At many places, bungee jumping and rock climbing are the order of the day, whilst paintballing offers a good opportunity to let of some steam.

Thailand has some beautiful golf courses, some designed by skilled international golfers. Muay Thai is the national sport and no trip is complete without watching a match or even training and competing yourself.

The amazing landscape makes Thailand a great place for walking and trekking, the hill tribe villages to the north making a great stop over or a three or four day trek.

Many come to this deeply spiritual country to learn about meditation, and there are numerous meditation courses available. Whilst here, you can also learn the ancient art of massage or join yoga classes on the beach.

Thai food is some of the best in the world, and you will find some outstanding restaurants, offering everything from international style dining, dining aboard river cruises or simply eating at a tiny table on the street.

The spas and saunas are also a great place to unwind and be pampered; whilst for many cosmetic surgery and cosmetic dentistry provide the opportunity for self improvement. Also, there are plenty of chances to indulge in a little retail therapy.

Thailand has a great selection of outdoor markets, floating markets, stores and shopping centres. Do not miss Bangkok's Chatuchak market, MBK, Paragon or the night bazaar at Suan Lum, whilst Chiang Mai's Night Market draws visitors from all over the world.

For people wishing to take in some culture there are some interesting museums, art galleries, exhibitions and displays of Thai dancing. Thailand also has some interesting theme parks, shows and zoos such as Sri Racha Tiger Zoo.

There is always something to see and do in Thailand, and the numerous festivals can add colour and life to your holiday, especially if you are lucky enough to be in the country during Songran or Loi Krathong.

There are plenty of opportunities to get in touch with nature in the national parks, such as Khao Yai where parts of the movie The Beach was filmed or Koh Samet, where the outstanding natural beauty has led to its being preserved as a national park.

Whatever you decide to do, there never seems to be quite enough time, and it is almost certain that Thailand's charms will draw you back time and again.

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Sport in Thailand

Sport in Thailand
Sport in Thailand
Sport in Thailand
Sport in Thailand
Undoubtedly the most famous Thai sport is Muay Thai, which is Thailand's unique version of boxing. This sport, which originated in Thailand, is a type of martial art and is now practiced in countries all over the world. Known as The Art of the Eight Limbs, Muay Thai is Thailand's national sport.

Unlike Western boxing, in Muay Thai the hands, shins, elbows, and knees are all used extensively. The origins of Muay Thai come from Muay Boran (ancient boxing), which was the type of unarmed combat used by Siamese soldiers hundreds of years ago. Muay Thai has been practiced as a sport in its own right for centuries, and in fact the first written documents describing the Muay Thai appeared in Chiang Mai around the start of the 15th century.

There are many strict rules governing public Muay Thai matches. For example, only boxing shorts are permitted to be worn, and the colour depends on which corner the fighter is in; red, pink, or maroon or with a red stripe for the red corner; blue, bright blue, black for the blue corner.

Long hair and/or beards are prohibited and amulets can only be worn on the arm or waist and covered by material.

Both fighters perform the Wai Kru (paying respect to the teacher) before the start of the first round, and a special dance called Ram Muay (accompanied by the appropriate Thai traditional music.

A Muay Thai matches last for five rounds; 3 minutes per round with a 2 minute break between each round.

Muay Thai matches can be scene all over Thailand, especially in tourist areas, where small rings are often set up in go-go bars.

A great place to enjoy a match is Lumpini Stadium, where matches are generally of a very professional level.

Another uniquely Thai sport is takraw which is very similar to volleyball except that it uses an odd looking rattan ball and players are allowed to touch the ball using their feet, knees, chest and head. Traditional Western-style boxing is also very popular.

Groups of people (usually boys and young men) can be seen in the streets all over Thailand playing this highly addictive and entertaining sport.
 
There are even murals at Wat Phra Kaew that show the Hindu god Hanuman playing takraw in a ring with a troop of monkeys.

All you need to play is a special rattan ball, a net and an area of roughly 13 m x 6 meters free from all obstacles.

Football is naturally very popular in Thailand and many people worship teams from the English Premier League such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. Thailand also has its own Thai League.

Golf is also quite popular and there are many beautiful golf courses throughout the country.

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Shopping in Thailand

Shopping in Thailand
Shopping in Thailand
Shopping in Thailand
Shopping in Thailand
Many items can be purchased inexpensively in Thailand, as long as you know where to look. Reasonable copies of Billabong shorts, Nike trainers and hundreds of other products can be bought for surprisingly low prices. However, quality varies widely, so have a close look before you buy.

Thailand operates under a bartering system, which means that goods sold by street vendors in markets or in some shops are flexibly priced and you can get a very good deal if you know how to haggle powerfully and politely. Like many aspects of Thai culture, bartering is an intricate system that is easy to underestimate. The trick is to let the vendor make the first offer then ask 'Can you make a discount?' A good benchmark is to offer half the quoted price. Be firm, but make sure that you smile and possibly make a joke - if you are seen as too pushy or aggressive you will not be taken seriously and many traders will refuse to deal with you. Remember not to start to bargain unless you're serious about buying. Also remember that a difference of a few baht may not really make much difference to you, but it may be a big deal to the vendor.

The best bargains can usually be found at large markets. Chatuchak Market in Bangkok is a great place for bargain hunting, as is the night market in Chiang Mai.

Most towns have at least one large local market, where you can find everything from kitchen utensils, cheap clothes, bags and baubles at incredibly cheap prices.

Night markets are also a great place to shop. Usually opening around 5 pm and often packing up as late as 11 or 12 pm, these are also a great place to find a cheap meal, buy fruit and people watch.

Thailand's Floating Markets are much photographed and provide an interesting appeal for tourists. The most visited floating market is Damnoen Saduak, which is also the largest. Most tour operators in and around Khaosan Road offer tours to Damnoen Saduak. However, these days the market is very crowded and sells mainly souvenirs and other tourist items. For a more authentic experience, head to the Bang Khu Wiang Floating Market, which is open daily from 04:00 and 07:00, or the Taling Chan Floating Market, which is open on weekends until around 2 pm.

If you're looking for cheap technology, Panthip Plaza in Bangkok has it all. With 5 floors filled of every type of technological gadget and gismo you could possibly dream of, it is easy to spend half a day here. Remember to barter as most prices are negotiable and seem to be cheaper on the upper floors.

Siam Square in Bangkok is the place to go if you like large shopping centres. There are a wide range to choose from, including MBK, Paragon and Siam Discovery.

Big C is another shopping center chain and can be found all over Thailand in towns, cities and even quite small villages. As well as having its own store, which usually spans several floors, you can usually find dozens of other stores, including international stores such as Boots and The Body Shop.

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Nightlife in Thailand

Nightlife in Thailand
Nightlife in Thailand
Nightlife in Thailand
Nightlife in Thailand
From fantastic costumes and gorgeous girls, pumping beats and delicious cocktails to simply relaxing under the stars, Thailand offers a wide range of entertainment options for those out and about in the evening.

Most of the more vibrant nightlife can be found in Bangkok, but there are also colourful options in Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai and large towns. On the islands, wild beach parties and bar hopping form the main types of entertainment. It is worth remembering that most bars, restaurants and clubs have a 1 am curfew. However, there are usually one or two places around where you can continue drinking if you want.

Here is a rundown on some of the types of entertainment available.

Cabaret Shows can be found in the cities and large tourist areas. This is an extremely colourful affair where dozens of stunning women dance on stage in dazzling sequin covered outfits. Thailand also offers Tiffany Shows, a own unique twist on the traditional cabaret show. Now world famous, these transvestite or 'lady boy' shows are extremely entertaining. The performers are stunning and the shows contain comedy and dramatic displays as well as singing and dancing.

Bangkok is by far the best place to go clubbing in Thailand. There is an incredible variety of clubs where you can dance the night away, from the classy Bed Supperclub in Sukhumvit, to the male-orientated DJ Station in Silom. Another great option is Royal City Avenue (RCA), where there are dozens of clubs and bars playing everything from Thai disco music to hardcore Drum and Bass, Hip Hop and Techno. Expect to pay a cover charge at most clubs (300 baht+) and take a photocopy of your passport for identification.

Go-Go bars can be found in most cities and large towns, especially Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya. They are generally located in special areas and can be easily identified by the flashy neon signs and scantily dressed women in the doorways. In Bangkok, head for Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza or Patpong.

Karaoke Bars can be found all over Thailand. Imported from Isaan, these bars specialise in loud Isaan music, flashing coloured lights and sexily dressed women crooning on stage. Many bars also have a selection of Western songs and Westerners are welcome to sing, although be aware that a charge for this is often included in your bill.

Full Moon Parties are another Thai speciality. The most famous of these can be found on Koh Phangan, where is it so popular that they now hold a half moon party as well. Other good places to party on the beach include Koh Phi Phi and Raleigh Beach. Bars usually play loud music until dawn and you can expect a selection of DJs, spectacular decorations and fire shows.

Alternatively, if you just want to take it easy, there are movie theatres all over Thailand. All show movies in English with Thai subtitles, even in small villages. When booking, make sure you ask for the 'subtitle' movie. A tribute to the king is played at the start of the movie, and you are expected to stand and show respect along with everyone else. The movie theatres are highly air conditioned and can be a bit chilly, so it is a good idea to take along a light jumper or jacket.

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Money Matters in Thailand

Money Matters in Thailand
Money Matters in Thailand
Money Matters in Thailand
Money Matters in Thailand
The currency used in Thailand is the Baht. Baht notes come in denominations of 20 (green), 50 (blue), 100 (red), 500 (purple) and 1000 (brown). All notes feature pictures of the current king, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and you must be careful when handling the notes not to tear them as it is an offence to defile his image. Coins are large 10 Baht coins, 5 Baht, 2 Baht and 1 Baht. The two Baht and 1 Baht coins look very similar, although the 2 Baht coins are slightly bigger and have a picture of The Golden Mount on the back.

Satang coins are much smaller and bronze coloured. There are 100 satang in one Baht and these coins are available in 25-satang and 50-satang pieces.

Compared to the West, Thailand is actually a very inexpensive country for visitors. If you are willing to dine at small street stands or markets, you can eat a good meal for less than 50 Baht. Public transport is very cheap too, as are clothes and accessories.

For those travelling on a tight budget, 500.00 Baht a day should be enough anywhere in Thailand. If you want to stay in comfortable hotels and eat at restaurants, you should increase your budget to around 600.00 - 1000.00 Baht a day outside Bangkok and major tourist hot spots such as Phuket, where you can expect to pay around double.

For those with deep pockets, there is no end to the luxury that you can find in Bangkok and key tourist destination. Bangkok boasts some excellent dining options, top of the range hotels and shopping opportunities.

Changing Your Money

Banks or legal money-changers offer the best rates. ATMs that accept Visa and other credit cards are easy to find throughout Thailand, although an obvious exception is small villages to the north of Thailand. Many exchange booths will give you a cash advance on your credit card.

When buying Baht, US dollars are the most eagerly accepted currency and it is a good idea to have a supply of travellers' cheques as they receive a better rate than cash. British pounds are the next-best alternative. Credit cards are becoming increasingly acceptable in shops, hotels and restaurants, with Visa being the most useful, followed by MasterCard.

Sample Prices:

Pad thai on the street: 40 Baht
Bottled water: 10-12 Baht
Bus fare: 6-16 Baht
Small Singha beer: 70-100 Baht
Souvenir t-shirt: 200-300 Baht
Cinema tickets: 120-170 Baht +

Average Room Prices Baht:

Budget: 130 (limited number) -600 Baht

Mid: 600-1500 Baht

High: 1500+ Baht

Tipping

Tipping is not generally expected in Thailand, although change is often left at the end of a large, expensive meal. However, most Thais will generally only leave a token tip of 20 baht or so.

There is often a 10% service charge will be added to your bill at many top class restaurants and in this case tipping is not expected.

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Accommodation in Thailand

Hotels, Guest Houses and other Accommodation in Thailand
Hotels, Guest Houses and other Accommodation in Thailand
Hotels, Guest Houses and other Accommodation in Thailand
Hotels, Guest Houses and other Accommodation in Thailand
Thailand offers a wide range of accommodation options, from the flimsiest wooden shack to luxury, five star hotels. Generally, accommodation goes up by as much as a third during the peak tourist seasons and around two or three days before the full moon party on Koh Phangan. Opting for a room with a simple fan and cold water can save a lot of money, whilst luxuries such as power showers, air conditioning and satellite television are often available but don't come cheap.

Here is an overview of what is available and how much you can expect to pay:

Beach Huts tend to be very rough and ready. If you are looking to save a few baht this might be a good place to hang your hat, although it is a good idea to keep your valuables in a separate safety deposit box - most places offering beach huts also have these. It is a good idea to make sure that your hut comes equipped with a mosquito net as insects come as standard. Prices start from as little as 50 baht per night for the most basic hut away from the beach to 1000 baht for a hut with a bathroom and ocean view.

Tents are another cheap option, especially if you are spending the night in a national park. You can generally get away with paying just 30 baht per night if you have your own tent, or tents can be hired for around 100 baht. Many camp sites have very limited facilities, so it is a good idea to bring your own provisions.

Bungalows are usually found in beach areas. They are generally more comfortable than beach huts as the mattress tends to be thicker and the amount of insects fewer. Most bungalows also have bathrooms, which saves you staggering into a tree in the middle of the night. Prices range from 150 baht for a basic bungalow with a fan and bathroom with cold water to around 500 baht for air conditioning.

River Rafts make an interesting way to view an area, especially if you are staying in a place with stunning scenery such as Kanchanaburi. Most river rafts have large wooden balconies where you can sit and watch the world go by. Expect to pay a minimum of 600 baht for a fan room on the river.

Guesthouses are generally very cheap and cheerful. Many are set up to cater for backpackers and you can get a basic room with a fan and shared bathroom for as little as 100 baht. Most guesthouses serve popular backpacker food such as French fries, pad thai and banana pancakes.

They usually have a communal garden or restaurant to chill out in, which can be a good place to meet other backpackers and swap tall tales and travel advice. Most guesthouses do not make a profit from renting out rooms, so it is a good idea to sample one or more of their other services such as food or booking a tour.

Hotels vary dramatically in terms of luxury, facilities and cleanliness. The most basic hotels rooms tend to be very small, have noisy fans and shared bathrooms. Prices start from around 200 baht, whilst the equivalent rooms with air-con start at around 400 baht.

If you have more money to spend there is no limit to the kind of luxury you could find. All the standards found in luxury hotels in the west are available, still at a fraction of the price. The best hotels have rooftop swimming pools and bars, gymnasiums, spas and saunas and just about anything else you could ask for. Be aware that most of the top hotels add a 7% government tax and an additional 10% service tax.

Although resorts often have all the same facilities as luxury hotels, with prices to match, in Thailand the term can refer to general accommodation and it is a good idea to check out the facilities before you book.

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Food and Drink in Thailand

Food and Drink in Thailand
Food and Drink in Thailand
Food and Drink in Thailand
Food and Drink in Thailand
Thai food: colourful, inexpensive, full of flavour, often spicy and always available - you just can't beat it. There are five flavours which make up every Thai meal - hot (spicy), sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Thai people are very passionate about their food, and love nothing more than sitting down to a huge meal with family or friends. Usually, several dishes will be ordered at one time for people to share. Most visitors quickly become hooked on trying the hundreds of Thai dishes, which can be anything from extremely spicy vegetable salads, rich curries or incredibly sweet deserts.

Although each dish is different there are certain ingredients that are essential for Thai cuisine. Almost all dishes contain nam pla, a pungent and strong tasting fish sauce as well as shrimp paste, a combination of ground shrimp and salt. Most Thai dishes contain a range of chilies and spices as well as curry pastes, soy sauce, dried shrimp, Thai pepper, and roasted chili paste.

Vegetarian food can be found if you know what to ask for. If you tell a waitress you are vegetarian (mung-sawirat), they will usually be able to suggest vegetarian dishes. Fish and seafood is easy to find.

Here are some of the most popular Thai dishes which should not be missed.

Breakfast is very different to what is served in western countries and can take a little getting used to. There are two main breakfast dishes, Jok, a kind of rice porridge with pieces of meat, ginger and herbs and Khao Tom, a Thai style rice soup.

In Thailand, main meals can be eaten at any time of the day and are often enjoyed 3, 4 or even 5 times a day.

Khao Pad literally means friend rice and is very popular. It is usually made with chicken, beef, shrimp or pork.

Pad Thai is pan fried rice noodles with fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, chopped peanuts, and egg mixed with chicken, seafood, or tofu. Look out for carts selling this incredibly cheaply on Khaosan Road.

Tom yam is rather spicy and sour soup with meat. With shrimp it is called Tom yam goong or Tom yam kung with seafood. Eat this dish with rice to reduce the spiciness.
Tom kha gai is hot sweet soup with chicken and coconut milk.

Rad na is wide rice noodles in a thick gravy-like sauce with beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, or seafood.

Khao pad naem is found in the Northeast and is fried rice with fermented sausage.

Pad see ew is noodles stir-fried with thick soi sauce, fish sauce and pork or chicken.

Gai Pad Khing is chicken stir-fried with sliced ginger.

Red curry or gaeng phet meaning 'hot curry', is made with large amounts of dried red chillies.

Green curry or gaeng khiew-waan, meaning green curry, is made with fresh green chillies and Thai basil, chicken or fish balls. This dish is spicy, rich and creamy.

Massaman curry is an Indian style curry which is not quite as spicy as the Thai alternatives, containing roasted dried spices, chicken and potato.

Pad pak ruam - stir fried vegetables, great a vegetarian option or side dish.

Som tam is a fresh, spicy grated papaya salad, where the flavours are pounded with a mortar and pestle to combine them. Som tam poo is made with salted black crab, Som tam Thai has peanuts, dried shrimp and palm sugar and Som tam plara is from north eastern part of Thailand with salted gourami fish, white eggplants, fish sauce and long bean.

Larb are very spicy sour salads containing meat, onions, chillies, roasted rice powder and garnished with mint.

Yam is the name for any type of sour salad, such as those made with glass noodles.

There are a large selection of deserts available, all sweet and many involving banana or another fruit and coconut cream.

Kao niao ma muang is the world famous sticky rice and ripe mango.

Kao niao Durian is sticky rice and durian in coconut milk.

Gluay buad chee is banana in coconut milk.

Make sure you try Cha Yen - Thai Iced Tea and Kah-Feh Yen - Thai Iced Coffee. Very sweet and creamy, they can be a good way to cool down.

Although beer is widely available, most Thais choose to drink whiskey, sharing a bottle between the group and adding water and ice.

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Festivals and Holidays in Thailand

Festivals and Holidays in Thailand
Festivals and Holidays in Thailand
Festivals and Holidays in Thailand
Festivals and Holidays in Thailand
Festivals and Holidays in Thailand
festivals_and_holidays_6
Festivals and Holidays in Thailand
There are a wide variety of festivals in Thailand, all of them vibrant and colourful. Although the majority of festivals take place from November to February when the weather is cooler, practically every month is marked by some sort of celebration or public holiday.

Most festivals are full of traditional cultural practices, and although many celebrations seem light-hearted, most are also marked with a visit to the local temple to give gifts, say prayers and make wishes (known as making merit).

Although usually revolving around traditional Thai and religious practices, most Thai people are happy for westerners to join in the festivities and welcome the opportunity to show off their culture and as a way to make new friends.

Here is a list of the main festivals. Most festivals revolve around the phases of the moon, so these are only rough dates.

King's Birthday

December 5th provides people with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate their love and devotion to His Majesty the King. The best place to experience this festival is Bangkok, which is lavishly decorated, especially along Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang, near the Grand Palace.

That Phanom Festival

This festival is celebrated in January and involves 10-day homage to the northeast's most sacred Buddhist stupa (Phra That Phanom) in Nakhon Phanom Province. The festival is attended by pilgrims from all over Thailand and Laos.

Bangkok International Film Festival

Also in January, this is a great way to enjoy some award winning films and get an introduction into Asian cinema. (www.bangkokfilm.org).

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

A must see if you are in Chiang Mai in January. The city explodes in colour as the streets are filled with floats and parades exhibit Chiang Mai's diverse plant life.

Chinese New Year

Not to be missed, this vibrant festival usually takes place around the end of January and is known as trut jiin in Thai. Celebrated all over Thailand with a week of house-cleaning, lion dances and fireworks, a good place to witness the festivities is Bangkok's China Town.

Magha Puja

Held around the full moon of the third lunar month, this festival commemorates Lord Buddha's preaching to 1250 enlightened monks who came to hear him 'without prior summons'. Naturally, alcohol is banned during this festival, which features a candle-lit walk around the (main chapel) at every wat.

Songkran

Also not to be missed, this celebration of the Thai New Year takes place between April 13 - 15. Perhaps the liveliest festival of the year, people celebrate by visiting the temple, exchanging gifts and throwing water at each other.

Khao Phansa

In mid-late July, this festival marks the start of Buddhist 'Lent'. This is the time of year when many young men enter the monkhood, where they will stay for three months during the monsoon season. The festival is celebrated in most towns and especially schools by parades of huge carved candles on floats in the streets, culminating in a visit to the temple, where offerings are made to the monks.

Vegetarian Festival

Usually taking place in October, this is a great opportunity for visitors to try the delicious selection of Chinese and Thai vegetarian food which suddenly fills the streets during this nine-day festival. As well as visiting the temple, many people demonstrate their devotion with displays of self-mortification, especially in Phuket!


Loi Krathong

One of the most awaited festivals of the year, Loi Krathong takes place at the start of November, when people float small boats made from lotus leaves, candles and incense to apologise to the water spirits for polluting the water. This is a vibrant celebration filled with fireworks, dancing and drinking.

Surin Annual Elephant Roundup

Held on the third weekend of November, Thailand's biggest elephant show is an unusual experience which is worth a look if you are around Surin at the time.

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Survival Tips for Thailand

Survival Tips in Thailand
Survival Tips in Thailand
Survival Tips in Thailand
Survival Tips in Thailand
Generally, Thailand is a very friendly place to visit, however a few precautions and a measure of common sense can go a long way to making your experience smooth and enjoyable.

It is a good idea to carry a selection of change such as 20 baht notes and coins as many people cannot change large notes, especially in small towns and villages. If you are stuck for change, buying an inexpensive item at 7/11 or a similar shop usually does the trick.

Touts at airports and other tourist areas are there for one reason only: to make money. Unfortunately, this usually involves parting unwary travelers from their cash. You should always question any offer that seems 'too good', and get a good idea of average hotel prices before agreeing to go with someone.

Always use the meter in taxis or, if taking a tuk-tuk or motorbike taxi, makes sure you agree the price before hopping on board.

Young, fresh coconuts are much more refreshing than water, great if you are spending the day on the beach or suffering from a hangover.

Although the tap water is drinkable in large cities, it is best to stick to bottled water. The larger bottles of UV treated water are the cheapest, although not the healthiest. It is worth paying a few baht more for brands such as Singha or IO.

In Bangkok, the entire city becomes gridlocked during peak commuting hours of 8-10 am and 5-7 pm. It is best to try to avoid travelling at these times.

Essentials such as suntan lotion and mosquito spray tend to be a little bit more expensive on the islands, so it is a good idea to stock up before you go. Internet access is often much more expensive as well.

Guesthouse owners a generally a good source of local information, it is worth getting to know them.

Make sure you check the expiry date of your visa carefully as there is an overstay fine of 500 baht per day.

Many bathrooms do not provide toilet tissue, so it is a good idea to carry some with you. Remember to throw it into the bucket provided rather than into the toilet.
 
Sarongs are an essential item as they dry much quicker than towels and can also be used as a blanket, a privacy screen and an item of clothing.

Learning a few words in Thai can go a long way to getting what you want and forming friendships. Compliments and jokes are always effective.

It is a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport, especially when going out drinking as police perform random checks and may ask to see it.

It's easy to become dehydrated, make sure you carry water and drink small sips frequently.

If you need to get away from the heat for a while, cinemas, expensive hotels and even 7/11 shops provide sanctuary.

A small dab of perfume or aftershave under your nose is a great way to avoid suffering from bad smells.

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Dos and Don’ts in Thailand

Dos and Don'ts in Thailand
Dos and Don'ts in Thailand
Dos and Don'ts in Thailand
dos_and_dots_in_thailand_4
Thailand is a rather liberal country and Thai people are very accepting of the differences in the behaviour of foreigners. Generally, the need to save face means that Thai people will not draw attention to it if you have made a mistake or comment if you have offended them, so it is up to you to be aware of expectations.

However, there are a few things which are guaranteed to cause offence and should be avoided when possible.

The Monarchy

All Thai people think very highly of the royal family and will not permit criticism. In fact, Thailand's lese majeste laws mean that criticising the king can result in 7 years imprisonment, which applies to both Thais and foreigners. Pictures of the king should also be treated with respect and if placed on the wall - as they are in most homes and businesses - must hold pride of place. Defiling a picture of the king also carries a serious penalty, as a tourist in Chiang Mai discovered when he drunkenly drew a moustache on an image of the king. He was sentenced to 50 years imprisonment, but was later pardoned by the king and released.

Religion

Always dress 'politely' when entering a temple or religious shrine. Many temples require you to cover your knees and shoulders and it is very important to remember to remove your shoes. Shoes should also be removed when entering private homes and some shops.

Buddha Images

Buddha images are sacred and must be treated with respect. Never climb on a Buddha image, and be very careful about taking photos - some images are so sacred that photographs are forbidden. When sitting on the floor, you must be careful not to point your feet at a Buddha image. Sit with your legs crossed or with your feet tucked to the side, the soles pointing backwards.

Monks

Women must be careful not to touch monks as they are forbidden female contact. If a woman wants to give something to a monk it must first be given to another man or put on a piece of cloth. Often, special seats are allocated on public transport for monks only, be careful to avoid them and give up your seat for a monk if there are none available.   

Head and Feet

In Thailand, the head is very scared, whilst the feet are seen as unclean. Be careful not to touch a Thai on the head and avoid touching them with your feet or pointing to things with your feet.

Saving Face

In Thailand it is considered very impolite to shout and show of anger, regardless of the situation.

General

Showing affection between partners such as kissing and cuddling in public is frowned upon - especially amongst older Thais.

Thailand is quite conservative and people do not appreciate seeing too much bare skin. Men should avoid walking topless as what are often mistaken for looks of appreciation are actually shares of disgust! Spaghetti tops, sleeveless tops and bottom revealing micro shorts should also be avoided.

Smoking and dropping litter in the street are illegal a 2,000 Baht fine awaits anyone who is caught.

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When to Visit Thailand

When to visit Thailand
When to visit Thailand
When to visit Thailand
When to visit Thailand
Thailand has three main seasons: the monsoon or 'rainy season', which occurs from July until November, the cooler winter season from November to mid-February and the hotter summer season from March to June.

Many people find the summer season far too hot, whilst newcomers to Thailand find the monsoon season humid and sticky. Generally, it only rains for two or three hours a day during the monsoon season, usually in the early morning and then again around 5 pm.

Most people prefer to visit Thailand between November and February, when the weather is dry and relatively cool and the beaches are at their best. This is also when most of Thailand's festivals take place.

The peak tourist season is from November to late March, with a secondary peak season in July and August. However, this is also naturally when accommodation is the most expensive. People wishing to save money and avoid the crowds would do well to visit during September and October, when the fear of rain keeps most tourists away.

Regional variations:

Thailand's size and location naturally means that different areas of the country are better to visit at different times of the year.

Central Thailand and the East

Often roasting during the summer (40 degress C is not unusual), it rarely gets cold in the capital and surrounding area. If you want to beat the heat and the often torrential rain of the monsoon season, it is best to visit between November and February, with the coolest weather usually in January.

Northern Thailand and the Northeast

This region is quite a bit cooler than the rest of Thailand. Although you may need a jacket, November-February is the best time to visit as it is a good time to see the flowers and spectacular scenery. If in Thailand during April, the north is a little cooler, so this region makes a good summer retreat.

Southern Thailand

This region is probably best avoided during the monsoon season, especially if you are planning to visit the islands. The island regions often experience heavy storms during the monsoon season, and it can be difficult to travel by boat. Once again, November to April is probably the best time to visit this area.

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Introduction to Thailand

thai_mapThailand, a country of interesting contradictions and rich diversity, where just about anything is possible and likely to happen.

Most visitors are instantly captivated by the famous Thai smile - Thailand is often referred to as 'The Land of Smiles' - and the sense of fun that runs through every situation and even the most mundane task.

Although exotic and mysterious, Thailand is a lot more accessible than many other Asian countries. There are many familiar features, such as the 7/11 shops that grace every corner in cities and large towns and many people choose to wear western clothing such as jeans and t-shirts or brightly-coloured shorts.

The role of women is noticeably more equal than in many other countries, with female family members often inheriting property and controlling the finances. Women comprise roughly 50% of the workforce and there are a large number of female professionals in occupations such as doctors and dentists.

Thailand draws more visitors each year than any other country in Southeast Asia, and with its combination of stunning scenery, rich culture and history it is easy why many find it difficult to leave. Whether you want to go trekking in the jungle, climb rocks, become a dive master, party hard in trendy clubs, explore the countryside or simply soak up the sun on a beautiful sandy beach, Thailand is the perfect destination.

Situated in the tropical region of the northern hemisphere, Thailand was previously known as 'Siam'. In 1939 the name officially changed to Thailand or prathet Thai or Ratcha Anachak Thai in the Thai language.

Thailand consists of a total of 514,000 square kilometres, which is roughly the same size as France or about the twice the size of Wyoming in the USA. Located in Southeast Asia and bordering Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Malaysia, Thailand has a population of more than 65 million.

Thailand is a tropical country and the weather is typically hot and humid, with periodic rain during the monsoon season. Thailand has a variety of geographic regions - varying from mountainous regions, jungles, plains and plateaus, as well as a number of stunning beach areas and numerous islands.

There are 76 provinces in Thailand with Bangkok (krungthep) forming the capital. More than 10% of Thailand's population live in Bangkok and around 60% of the country's wealth is concentrated there.

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with a long and interesting political history. The current monarch is His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who celebrated his 60th year on the throne in 2006, making him the world's longest reigning monarch. The King is highly revered within Thailand and respected throughout the world.

Thailand's political history has proved rather turbulent, with an impressive total of 18 coups d'etat since 1932. However, not a single shot was fired during the last coup on September 19th 2006, and Thailand is generally a safe and friendly place for visitors.

Despite the economic crash in 1997, which severely affected the country's prosperity, Thailand now enjoys a booming economy once more. Thailand's strong export growth allowed the economy to expand by 4.5% in 2007.

Exports include computer technology, office machine parts, transistors, rubber, motor vehicles, plastic, seafood and rice.

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The Old Days on Khao San Road

The Old Days on Khao San RoadWhere you on Khao San Road when 'Hotel California' was still cool and Leonardo de Carpio still waiting to happen? If so, let us have your stories. Is it true there was tumble weed blowing down the middle of the street and a single bar called the "Titty Twister"? Is it true that there were so many Aussies on the strip that it was an Australian dependency? Is it true there were overland buses running direct from KSR to Kabul? Please explode (or otherwise) the myths and legends that have arisen about this noble strip of earth. If you have got some pictures, don't forget to send them, too!

Responses:

Stefan Lindholm writes: "September 3, 1991. We were going on a trip around the world. Our first stop was Bangkok, Thailand. It was me and me my best childhood friend. We knew in advance that the place to stay in Bangkok was called Khao San Road, at least if you were a backpacker. The place we ended up staying in was called something like 7 Holder Guest House. It was at the end of Khao San Road (Burger King side). We paid 300 baht for the taxi from the airport, probably a big ripoff at the time, hehe. The room was a double at 120 baht. Khao san Road felt magic and stayed a few days. We only left Khao San to go to watch the shows on Patpong! I remember having breakfast at a place called Hello on the second, and we liked it a lot. Went back to Khao San in 2004, to travel overland from Bagnkok to Cambodia and Vietnam I was shocked about the change that had happen to Khao San. Both good and bad changes. The magic and the charm was gone though, as in many other places in Thailand, like Koh Samui."

Matt Lawson (no email) writes: "My first experience of Kao San was in 1986 with my friend Vincent Smarro. Stayed at the PB (which appears to be gone now...but no surprise there) and within moments of entering was attacked by the owner\'s pet gibbon who occupied the territory between the snooker hall and the accommodation. The little guy was chained (at a height of about 2m) to a wire between the two building. This allowed him a couple of metres of travel and he entertained himself by welcoming the new guests by leaping onto their unsuspecting heads. The established guests learned to crouch while passing through his domain. The owner of the PB was an expert Scrabble player and he made short work of almost any farang who deigned to play on a rainy night (Yes, he beat me too but I was playing him and Singha beer so it was unfair)."

Pedrito writes: "I echo Pierre''s experiences of KSR and PB guest house (below) - couldn't possibly write on a public site exactly what I saw and experienced there. I do remember pool tables with fans above each table - watched one guy lift up the cue after a shot, the cue got caught in the fan, spun around, hit him in the head and knocked him for 6. That was a while ago and times have changed. All seems a bit tame now but still a place I like to visit."

Elise Kennedy writes: Flashback to 1991! Four 18 year old blonde aussie chicks the beginning of a six month thailand sojourn Ah I can't to this day not smile about the memories. A thai jeweller/artist we named no name because we could never remember it. His tiny flat on a rooftop around the corner, his amazing drawings which two of us still wear on our bodies today thanks to a friend of his who was a tattooist on khao san. Doing 'stuff you shouldn't do' on the rooftop overlooking the city that never sleeps. Rooms that you fell into the bed as that was all that fitted in there but for 50B a night mai pen rai (no problem} Those were the days my friend! In the four visits since then a small piece of me has cried for what once was and for how now is extinct!

Richard - England writes : My first experience of Khao San Rd was in April 1988. After 17hrs on a flight from London, via Europe and the Middle East, I arrived in Bangkok. Stepping from the air conditioned terminal was like suddenly being smothered in a hot wet blanket. Metered taxi's at that time were a thing of the future so I got on to a number 59 bus. Long before the elevated expressways, toll roads and sky trains, the traffic then as absolutely atrocious. Two and a half hours later I staggered on to Khao San Road.

Soaked in sweat, my pack seemed to weigh twice as much now as it did when I left home. I could feel my heart pounding above the music that blared from a cassette stall as it struggled to pump blood through my veins in the suffocating heat. A girl so beautiful I thought my heart would give out altogether shouted 'Hello you want loom?' Yes I did want a room. 'Have good loom for you' she said. 'You come holiday? How long you stay? Where you come from? Oh England number one,' she said. A few days later I saw another red faced Farang trailing behind her. 'Oh Sweden number onem,' I heard her say.

The 'loom' as it turned out was more like a cupboard. By the time I'd climbed the steep wooden staircases that lead up to it I didn't have the energy to object… B60 a night (about 1.50 quid at the time). No window, no bathroom, a fan mounted on the wall shuddered from side to side pushing the warm air around. The heat had flattened me. I just couldn't imagine being able to do anything at all other than step out to the shower then lie soaking wet under the fan just to try and cool down. It was three days before I could walk to the end of the street without stopping for a cold drink.

Khao San then was not quite the Khao San we see today with its new hotels and guesthouses offering air-conditioned comfort, satellite TV and mini-bars. These days young people come to see, and be seen, at the smart new restaurants, boutiques, bars, clubs and discos. It's a far cry from the time when bemused looking Thai's would visit just to gawp at the mad looking Farangs. It was a time before the street was closed to traffic in the evenings, a time before glass fronted shops, Internet cafe's and the sound of mobile phones. With instant access to the world from there there's no longer any need for the trek down river to the G.P.O to check Poste Restante for precious letters from home.

Back in 1988 Hello Coffee Shop, which seems to have been there forever, and in a slightly different guise, was one of a few places open 24 hours a day if you wanted to watch videos all night. Times change and things move on, as they should. Like Khao San I'm older now, though not necessarily wiser, and these days I stay across town. But I'd like to think that there's still a young girl on Khao San Rd leading foreigners to her guesthouse with the words 'Hello you want loom'?

James LeMay writes: "I took my first trip to Bangkok 13 years ago. I just jumped on a Japan Airlines flight from Los Angeles to BKK without even knowing where I was going to stay. 30 minutes before landing I asked some travelers on the plane where I could find a cheap room. The reply, Khao San Road. I never even heard of the place. Upon clearing customs I jumped in a taxi and said, "Khao San Road" and gave the driver the name of a guesthouse that the other travelers had said they were going to stay at. I ended up arriving before the guys who gave me the advice. They entered the lobby just as I was getting my room key. The woman behind the counter looked up at them and said, sorry sold out more no room\". I ended up offering my room to the two travelers but because it was a single bed, they declined. I wish I knew the name of the guesthouse. When I return to HSR I'm going to try to find it. Lots of great memories!"

Pierre writes: "Hello, I wont start off by saying it was better but it was - in every respect that is life ? why? prices, the night life was so much more simple and not complicated and right on Khao sarn, now everyone is in the surrounding areas as far away as Soi Samsen 28 and such another thing relations between Thai's and falang, you used to be able to meet Buddy at Buddy beer, Mr Lou at PB gust house was always fun to hang around with, Pang, the chines guy ?? selling jewelery on the street he has been there for ages... The other thing was the kind things that happened there you can not write about as it was so off far and NOT even the slightest bit possible today. It would get your site closed to talk about it.... ahhhhh memories... we left Ngam Duphli in 84 or 85 to head here as this was the place to be a local Bus 59 from Don Muang for 15 baht? the train was 5 baht? seriously even until recently... what to say...It was fanatastic nothing less and now different but never will be the same, times change. We still come back occasionally and freak out on the changes, ha ha Where is Mr Lou?"

Paul Regan "I stayed there 17 years ago when it was a few rough n ready crash pads, Thai cafes come restaurants, couple of travel agents and cheap clothing [now I think primark is cheaper]. I'm back in Bangkok next week for the 1st time since 1990, and apart from me being all grown up, it now sounds like Magaluf or Benidorm down there, MC DS , Boots, Starbucks, drunks, avoid me thinks HELP!!! I'm off to Soi Cowboy for some culture and a quiet life! Oh how we change!

Leave your comments below:

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The History of Khao San Road

The History of Khao San RoadWhen Bangkok was established in 1782, the center of the town was the Grand Palace area. For two centuries Khao San Road, which is 20 minutes' walk from the Palace, remained a quiet residential area for the locals. Thailand's most prominent lawyer/senator, Mr. Marute Bunnag and a billionaire medicine doctor/member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Decha Sukharom, started their careers in this prestigious area decades ago with small offices near the Police Station on Khao San Road.

How did the tranquil road turn out to be a Mecca for travelers? On the brink of Thailand's economic boom in 1982, the Thai Government issued its policy to commemorate Bangkok's bicentennial anniversary and celebrate the Buddhist calendar's lucky year "2525", by launching festive ceremonies in Bangkok to bring in tourist dollars. Tourists poured in from around the world, causing Bangkok's hotels to overflow with bookings. The most spectacular festivities were performed in the Grand Palace.

Some backpackers, unable to get an overpriced room, successfully convinced local residents on Khao San Road to rent out vacant rooms in their houses, reasoning that, in return, the guest house owners could earn some extra income and it was convenient for them to travel to their destinations. The guest house business generated more profits than any amateur entrepreneur ever expected. Before long, more guesthouses, restaurants and souvenir shops sprouted along the road in full bloom.

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Diving in Thailand

Diving in ThailandSawadee Krap!

Welcome to Thailand the land of smiles. Rich in culture and abundant in natural beauty, this tropical paradise is a SCUBA divers dream. We will take you to the warm clear waters in the gulf of Thailand where you can explore coral infested pinnacles and immerse yourself in shoals of barracuda and batfish or quietly seek out Nemo amongst the flourishing anemone gardens. We will take you to the west coast of Thailand to the Andaman sea where you will find some of Thailand's most stunning dive sites. Here, the heavily protected marine parks contain luxurious, multi coloured, coral quilts teeming with life. Manta rays, leopard sharks and turtles are not unusual here and in the right season expect to come face to face with gentle whale sharks as they migrate along Thailand's coastlines feeding on plankton. Whether you are a qualified diver or a total novice, there are experienced, multilingual instructors and divemasters eagerly waiting at PADI dive centers throughout Thailand, ready to lead you into these beautiful waters and teach you new underwater skills.


Welcome to Thailand and the underwater beauty it has to offer!

diving_in_thailand_2 diving_in_thailand_3 diving_in_thailand_4

THE WEATHER IN THAILAND - What's the weather like? Is it good for diving?

Generally the weather in Thailand is hot, and the dive seasons are dictated by the monsoons. On the west coast of Thailand there is a long monsoon, that runs from May through to October. Dive operations to the Similan and Surin Islands and the Burma Banks cease to operate during this time. Koh Lanta closes down! On the East coast of Thailand, the monsoon runs from November until mid January. Dive operations on Koh Tao will still continue during this period, but the visibility and weather can be unpredictable.

PADI DIVE COURSES - What sort of courses are available in Thailand? 

PADI OPEN WATER COURSE

Diving in ThailandWelcome to the underwater world! Over 4 days we will teach you basic dive theory and techniques to make you into a safe, happy and competent diver. There are many beautiful, shallow and protected bays or custom built swimming pools ideal for learning all the basic dive skills and adapting to breathing underwater in a gentle and controlled environment. Once these skills are mastered, we will take you into the sea for 4 `open water` dives - the real deal! Prepare to come face to face with cheeky turtles, immerse yourself in shoals of curious batfish and marvel at nature's treasure trove of colour amongst all the beautiful coral. We will take you to a maximum depth of 18 metres and the PADI open water license is internationally recognized - your passport to the underwater realm all over the world!

PADI ADVANCED OPEN WATER COURSE

Diving in ThailandNow you have your open water license, we want you to explore even more of the underwater world as you make 5 more dives over 2 days to attain another PADI license to add to your collection. We will take you deeper to 30 metres on the Deep Dive to get close to those bottom dwelling leopard sharks. On the Navigation Dive, you will learn how to use the compass, which will allow you to navigate around the vivid red fan coral to the nearby bright yellow table coral. You can also choose 3 more dives from the following - Night Dive - its like being on the moon! Watch everything glow when you turn off the torch and wave your hands about, Photography Dive - learn how to use an underwater camera to take pictures of all your favourite fishes! Multi Level Dive - use the wheel to plan your dives so you can say hello to the giant moray eel at 26 metres, pop up to check out the clown fish dancing in their anemone homes at 16 metres and then glide around at 10 metres with a graceful manta ray! Naturalist Dive - I spy underwater as you get to see and learn more about all the magnificent marine lifearound you ! Peak Performance Buoyancy Dive - practise your underwater balance using breathing control as you cartwheel above the coral and levitate like a leopard shark!

diving_in_thailand_6PADI EFR COURSE (EMERGENCY FIRST RESPONSE)

The EFR course takes 1 day and you will be taught resuscitation and heart massage as well as basic first aid relevant to many different situations. You will learn how to deal with a variety of emergency scenarios including choking, shock, hyperthermia and, bleeding as well as marine life and diving related injuries. This is a recognised first aid course and is valid for 2 years.

PADI RESCUE COURSE 

During this course, we will teach you how to anticipate and respond to problems to take care of other divers and yourself. We will return to the shallow bays close to the islands to learn underwater search patterns for missing divers. If your buddy starts to panic, don't worry! We will teach you how to rescue them above and below the water. We will show you how to rescue unconscious divers from the bottom and how to bring them to the surface and then how to use different lifting techniques to get them out of the water and resuscitate them. We will teach you to be a confident, aware and prepared diver.Lets keep the sea a safe place for us all!

Diving in ThailandPADI DIVEMASTER COURSE

The divemaster course usually runs as an internship and has unlimited time and unlimited dives depending where you make your course. ou make the DM course at your pace and will have theory lectures on physiology, physics, decompression sickness, skills and the environment, equipment as well as divemastership. You gain experience with instructors assisting OW, AOW and rescue courses as well as with our divemaster guiding certified divers.

You will map a dive site, make swim tests, an underwater equipment exchange, perform a skill circuit and another rescue scenario. Anytime during the course you can make fun dives. It is like being in your very own diving university! There is a great social atmosphere whilst you make the course and there will always be a lot of people diving of some sort and usually a big bunch of divemaster trainees all at different stages of their courses so you are guaranteed a lively atmosphere. Everyone is interested in diving and you are all living in a tropical paradise so you will find that many of these people and the instructors will become good friends for life.

PADI INSTRUCTOR COURSE (IDC) 

PADI INSTRUCTOR COURSE (IDC) For the IDC we work directly with BUDDHA VIEW 5 star IDC RESORT on Koh Tao. BUDDHA VIEW has a very experienced course directors- Mark from Brisbane who works with his team of staff instructors to hold an IDC every 2 months and sometimes every month. What makes these guys so successful is that they are very experienced and have been holding IDCs for many years so that whilst you learn in a professional atmosphere they are relaxed and you will have a lot of fun. The big plus for BUDDHA VIEW is that they have their own separate IDC center for the IDC candidates only, with air con lecture theatre, digital projector, surrounds sound and all the materials you will ever need during your IDC. It is the only IDC center in Thailand and means you will not be disturbed by open water, advanced courses etc being conducted nearby. During the IDC you will go through the divemaster theory exams again and you must simply get a higher percentage of questions right than in the DM course.Mark and the team will teach you how to instruct PADI dive courses the way PADI wants you to instruct and you will give lots of presentations so you know how to conduct the academics of PADI dive courses. They will show you how to brief on the dive boat before diving and how to debrief after dives with your students and they will show you how to problem solve underwater.You will also learn how to navigate the PADI standards and procedures manuel or CD ROM that every instructor uses. Well done you are now a PADI dive instructor !

Diving n ThailandEAST COAST DIVING - KOH TAO

Koh Tao (Turtle island as it is otherwise known) is Thailand's most popular diving island. Located 500 kms south of Bangkok in the gulf of Thailand, Koh Tao is tiny, beautifully natural, charming and most importantly close to a myriad of lovely dive sites. Koh Tao has rapidly developed in popularity since it was 'discovered' by backpackers in the late 1980's. In those days when the first backpackers arrived they were greeted by a few local fishermen harvesting coconuts. The word spread quickly amongst travelers around Thailand about this tiny island with beautiful beaches, lush jungle interior and surrounding crystal clear waters bursting with tropical marine life.

As more travelers arrived so did the first SCUBA diving sets of equipment, the first PADI dive schools commenced operations and Koh Tao's underwater secret was out! Today, there are now more than 30 dive operations on Koh Tao and the island boast more than 25 dive sites within close proximity that can suit every standard of diver with shallow protected bays for total beginners to deeper world class rocky pinnacles for experienced professionals. Expect to see shoals of barracuda, batfish, snapper and butterfly fish around the coral covered boulders. Small rays, moray eels and boxfish hide amongst the many cracks and crevasses whilst the titan triggerfish graze on the coral. Giant groupers and turtles are not uncommon and Koh Tao is famous for one giant seasonal visitor, the whale shark, which often appear around March and April. We work directly with BUDDHA VIEW dive resort who are based on the quieter Chalok Ban Kao beach in the south of Koh Tao.

Diving in ThailandWEST COAST DIVING - KOH LANTA

Koh Lanta is a bigger island just to the south of Krabi off the west coast of Thailand. Long rolling beaches with a dense vegetative interior make this getaway a nature lovers delight. Koh Lanta is a very tranquil island where peace and quiet is not hard to find and nestled in the Andaman sea is close to some superb dive sites. There are many lovely dive spots close to the island with beautiful corals and teeming with tropical aquarium fish.

Two of the best dive sites near Koh Lanta are the famous Hin Daeng and Hin Mouang which are world class dive sites. Deep pinnacles embalmed in spectacular soft and hard corals, they attract huge shoals of tropical fish and graceful Manta rays. Here, you will find exciting swim throughs and caverns festooned in dazzling gorgonian fans and soft corals. As you quietly drift through don't be surprised if you come face to face with a giant potato cod. We have teamed up with the excellent Scandinavian run LANTA DIVER who are a PADI 5 star IDC center.

Diving in ThailandTHE SIMILAN AND SURIN ISLANDS

The Similan islands are an uninhabited isolated tropical chain of islands located north east of Phuket in the Andaman sea. Just to the north of the Similan islands are a cluster of superb dive sites including the world renowned Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu rock famous for Manta rays and whale sharks. Further north, just before Burmese waters, await the Surin islands. This whole area is nestled like a cluster of jewels in heavily protected marine parks and offers the finest diving in Thailand without a doubt. The turquoise Andaman waters reveal 30/40 meters visibility in high season and contain luxurious coloured blankets of soft and hard corals that hug the rocky outcrops and granite pinnacles.

This whole area is a cosmos of marine life with huge shoals of roving assorted tropical fish. Manta rays are normally seen around the deeper dive sites and whale sharks often feed on plankton around Richelieu rock during March and April. Everywhere you will see leopard sharks, turtles and giant morays but keep an eye out for the small animals like seahorses and ghost pipefish. Diving in the Similan and Surin islands is conducted on specially modified dive boats that operate 3, 4 and 7 day liveaboard cruises. We work closely with 2 PADI dive centers that run cruises to the Similan and Surin island marine park. SEADRAGON DIVE CENTER who are based in Khaolak just north of Phuket and they have 3 boats that run 3 or 4 day dive cruises. WORLDWIDE DIVE AND SAIL who are based in Phuket and operate 7 day/7 night dive cruises aboard their boat the SY Sampai Jumpa that incorporates sailing as well as diving, kayaking and snorkeling.

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Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes

Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes
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Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes
Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes
Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes
Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes
Khao San Road Restaurants and Cafes
The area on and around Khao San Road offers one of the widest selections of restaurants in the entire city. Diners can choose between a large variety of both traditional Thai and international cuisine, and most of the restaurants in this area have menus written in English, Thai and a few other languages. The waiters in this area are used to dealing with customers from all over the world, which makes dining here a simple and pleasant experience.

When it comes to Thai food, the options are endless as most restaurants on Khao San Road serve a selection of the most popular Thai dishes. It is possible to order dishes to taste. Simply ask for ‘mai pet’ if you don’t like chilli, ‘pet nit noi’ for medium spicy or ‘pet pet’ if you want to enjoy eat Thai curries, soups and Thai salads at their full fiery strength. If you’re not sure how much chilli you can handle it is best or err on the side of caution as fresh chillies can always be added when eating to increase the firepower. 

Khao San Road and the surrounding streets are perhaps the best place in Bangkok to enjoy Indian food, as there are most than a dozen different restaurants in this area serving traditional Indian fare. Most restaurants employ Indian cooks and waiters and the food is served fresh. These Indian eateries here come in all shapes and sizes, from cheap and cheerful street stalls to luxuriously decorated restaurants.

There is also a wide selection of other cuisines available here including a handful of Israeli restaurants, Japanese restaurants, Italian restaurants and eateries specialising in authentic British grub such as fish and chips.

Vegetarians will find plenty of places to choose from in this area as well. Not only do many of the restaurants offer a large selection of vegetarian dishes, there are also around half a dozen restaurants that serve purely vegetarian and vegan food. These restaurants often serve as meeting places for like-minded travellers and the atmosphere inside is relaxed and friendly. Vegetarian travellers can choose between Thai, Indian and international cuisine and some of the eateries offer extra services such as a bed for the night, cookery courses and massage.

One of the great things about eating in this area is that there are plenty of places for the budget traveller to dine. There are dozens of different street stalls to choose from, which serve light bites and meals from as little as 25 baht. Many of these stalls provide tables and chairs to allow customers to eat in comfort. Simply grab a table, place your order and watch the world go by while you tuck into dishes such as som tam, pad thai, vegetarian food and Indian cuisine. Many of these street stalls also serve beer to those who want to relax for a while and indulge in a spot of people watching.

Sometimes it is nice to be able to treat yourself to something familiar and travellers will also be able to satisfy their food cravings at one of half a dozen different well-known fast food restaurants.

When hunger strikes, Khao San Road is definitely the place to be.

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