Travel Tips – Thailand U.S. Embassy, Bangkok 120/22 Wireless Road Bangkok 10330, Thailand Telephone (66) 2-205-4000 Email: email@example.com Canadian Embassy, Bangkok 15th Floor, Abdulrahim Place 990 Rama IV Road Bangrak, Bangkok 10500 Thailand Telephone 66 (0) 2636-0540 Fax: 66 (0) 2636-0566 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tipping Tips are generally given for good service, unless a price has been negotiated in advance. A taxi driver is tipped when hired as a private driver. It is customary to round the fare up for a metered taxi to the nearest 5 baht. Hotel porters expect at least a 20 baht tip and hotel staff who have given good personal service are usually tipped as well. It is customary to tip 10% in a restaurant when a service charge has not been added to the bill. Suggested tips are as follows: porters, 50 cents per bag; waiters/waitresses, $1.00 per person (dinner); chamber maid, 50 cents per person, per day; driver/guide, $2.00 per person, per day; bus driver, $1 per person, per day; tour manager, $6 per person, per day. Climate Throughout the year, the temperature is the in the high 80s to mid-90s Fahrenheit with high humidity. The southwest monsoon arrives between May and July and lasts into November. This is followed by a dry period from around November to May, which begins with lower relative temperatures until mid-February. Behavior and Etiquette • The airport has many hustlers who often wear official-looking uniforms. They will try to get you to change your hotel to one that pays them a large commission. They will also attempt to place you in overpriced taxis and limousines. • Avoid anything proffered for free. An offer of a free taxi may include stops at different shops. Even when you pay for a ride, drivers may try to deliver you to a shop en route to your actual destination. • Stay away from ice, uncooked food and non-pasteurized milk and milk products. Drink only water that has been bottled or boiled for at least 20 minutes. • Thai people address one another by their first name, preceded by Khun (for example, Khun Sariya). If the person holds a professional title, such as doctor or general, this would be used instead of khun. • You should pass and receive gifts with the right hand only, unless the object is heavy. Then you may receive the object with both hands. • It is customary to remove one’s shoes when entering a temple or someone’s home. It is also considered improper for a woman to touch a monk. (Probably a long shot, but we included it anyway!) • Visits are usually by invitation or by arrangement. It is not necessary to take a gift to your host. However, it is customary to offer compliments on the home or children. Avoid excessively admiring an object. The host may become embarrassed or feel obligated to offer the object as a gift. In the home, people usually sit on the floor. Women generally tuck their legs to the side and behind them, while men sit cross-legged. • A spoon is held in the right hand and the fork in the left. Second helpings are common and encouraged. Diners chose small portions from various dishes at the center of the table. It is customary to drink water after the meal and not during. When finished eating, place your utensils together on the plate. • The Thai people hold the royal family in very high regard. All images of the King are held in high respect. For example, rather than lick a stamp with the King’s picture on it, it is moistened with a sponge. It is polite to rise when the national anthem is played in public, usually at 8 a.m. and again at 6 p.m. • Dress is conservative. Speak quietly and with light gestures. Do not call attention to yourself. To show irritation or frustration will only make things worse. • The wai, the slight bow with fingertips touching in front of one’s face or chest, is a way of showing respect or thanks. However, it is more complicated than that due to the social status structure of Thailand. It is better to simply smile. Education The school year in Thailand runs from either May or June - March. Thai children enter first grade at either age 6 or 7.They attend six years of elementary school – grades 1-6 – and three years of lower secondary school, similar to middle school in the United States (grades 7,8 and 9). Students then go on to various programs. Some may enter vocational programs; others will enter college-preparatory programs. The grading system is equivalent to that in the United States.