White beaches, coconut trees and stunning underwater world, Thailand is a true diver’s paradise. From east coast to west coast, crystal blue waters welcome travelers. It can only helps that Thai people are warm and friendly (one of the reason why Thailand is called the Land of Smiles), food is cheap and travelling is safe.
From Khmer-inspired temples of Ayutthaya to the sandy beaches of the gulf islands, not to mention the vibrant energy of its capital, Thailand offers a variety of landscape to discover. Bordered by Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), the land of smiles is easy to get to by bus or flight.
Money and ATM
Unlike other South-East Asian countries which may accept US Dollar or Euro, Thai Baht is the only used currency in Thailand. You may easily change your home currency into Thai Baht at one of the many foreign exchange counters. In most cases, there is no fixed commission but the exchange rate is usually not in your favor.
Traveler’s checks are accepted in most banks and foreign exchange counters, however most will charge a commission on each check. In all the major tourist places, there are ATM available. Some take a fixed commission, some do not. Be also aware that your bank may charge commission as well.
Visa and Embassies
Most countries can obtain a 30-day visa when arriving at Thailand’s international airports. You may find the complete list of countries on Thailand official immigration website.
When arriving via land border, you will only be granted a period of 15 days. If you wish to stay longer, you may apply beforehand for a 60-day visa to a Thai embassy. Find the Thai embassy or consulate closest to you on ThaiEmbassy.org
Health in Thailand
As a tropical country, your worst enemies in Thailand are mosquitoes. Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes range from dengue to malaria. Needless to say, a strong mosquito-repellent is a must-have. Wearing long sleeves and pants, especially at dawn and dusk, is an easy, chemical-free way to protect yourself from these little annoyances.
Second to mosquitoes, most common annoyances are motorbike accidents. Do not venture past your driving abilities or drive under influence. Most high-standard hospitals are in the major cities (Bangkok, Koh Samui, Phuket). However, you will find clinics near you anywhere in the country. For minor issues, pharmacists are of good advices and can distribute most medications over-the-counter in Thailand.
Best season in Thailand
Best time to visit Thailand is from November to June, summer being the monsoon season for most of the country. However, note that the islands of the gulf such as Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao get most of their rain from November to February.
Temperatures are usually between 28°C (82°F) and 35°C (95°F), although you may encounter lower temperatures if you are hiking in the mountain of northern Thailand. Even though Thailand offers quite a flip-flop&short climate, do pack a sweater or two for air-conditioned bus/trains.
How to get there?
Thailand has many airports scattered across the country. However, to get anywhere, most flights stopover at Bangkok airport first. You may then flight off to Krabi or Phuket airports to dive around the archipelago of Koh Phi Phi.
Krabi is closest to Koh Lanta on the Andaman coast while Phuket airport would be a better destination to reach the coast of Khao Lak to dive in the Similan Islands.
The quickest way to reach islands in the Gulf is to land in Koh Samui airport and then take a boat to the neighboring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
Diving in Thailand
Thailand is one of the best diving destinations. From the emerald Andaman Sea to the crystal blue waters of the island paradises in the Gulf, diving in Thailand offers a variety of dives sites, conditions and underwater sea life.
If you’re new to diving, learn to dive in Koh Tao, renowned for its many diving schools, cheap prices and easy dives. Diving schools on Koh Phangan and Koh Samui offer daily trips to Sail Rock, a dive site famous for its vertical chimneys and the seasonal whale shark sighting. Up north, the island of Ko Samet is a beautiful spot for diving with shallow waters and stunning coral reef.
On the west coast of Thailand, go diving in Phuket, in the archipelago of Koh Phi Phi or from Koh Lanta. Higher north, dive in the Similian Islands off the coast of Khao Lak.