HOW TO GET TO THAILAND:
* BY AIR
Bangkok is Thailand's major gateway. Most visitors arrive through Bangkok's Don Muang International Airport which is connected by daily flights to Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia aboard the world's major airlines. Further international flights, mostly from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Hong Kong, land on a less regular basis at the southern airports of Phuket and Hat Yai and Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Charter flights from Europe and the Orient sometimes land in Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai and at U-Taphao for Pattaya.
* BY RAIL
Regular rail services link Singapore and Bangkok. Intermediary stops include Kuala Lumpur, Butterworth and major southern Thai towns.
Overland entrance to Thailand is restricted to three road crossings on the Thai-Malaysian border in Songkhla, Yala and Narathiwat.
* BY SEA
There are no regular steamship connections with Thailand. Cargo ships calling at Bangkok's Klong Toey port sometimes have passenger cabin facilities. Cruise ships, such as Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 11, Royal Viking, or Pearl of Scandinavia periodically visit Pattaya.
TRAVEL WITHIN THAILAND
Domestic air, rail and road transport in Thailand is surprisingly inexpensive.
Thai Airways International, Thailand's national airline, Bangkok Airways, Orient Thai Airline and Angel Airlines.
* Thai Airways International
Thai Airways International, Thailand's international airline, flies to eight destinations in the North (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Mae Sot, Nan, Phitsanulok and Phrae), seven destinations in the Northeast (Buri Ram, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Panom, Ubon Ratchathani and Udon Thani), and six destinations in the South (Hat Yai, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Phuket, Surat Thani and Trang). With a fleet of mostly new planes and a fully computerized booking system, the airlines also meet international safety standards. The head office in Bangkok is located at 89 Vibhavadi-Ransit Rd,
Tel (66 2) 513-0121, Fax (66 2) 545-3832. Ring (66 2) 260-0060 for information and booking.
* Bangkok Airways
Bangkok Airways, a smaller privately owned carrier, flies from Bangkok directly to Samui Island, Ranong and Sukhothai. It also flies to Chiang Mai (via Sukhothai) and Phuket and from Samui to U-Tapao (Pattaya) and has services linking Samui and Singapore. Ring (66 2) 229-3456 for information and booking.
* Orient Thai Airlines
Orient Thai Airlines, also privately owned, has given up competing with the two airlines mentioned above for the domestic market and now only offers regional flights to Cambodia and Singapore. However, unless its appeal to the government to extend range of its operating licence is approved, it could already be defunct by the time you read this (the government has an aviation rights policy which protects the national flag carrier).
The airline can be reached by ringing (66 2) 267-3210-5
* Angel Air
The other "duckling" is the recently launched Angel Airlines, meant to be the country's second official domestic carrier, which also has been experiencing difficulty getting off the ground. If ultimately successful, and unless the government changes its protectionist policies, Angel Airlines might mean the demise of Orient Thai. The airline currently flies to Chiang Mai, Udon Thani and Phuket several times a week (using a Boeing 737-500 and a Dornier turbo-prop on Chiang Mai-Udon route), but considering that its operations are still at a fledgling stage, it might be wise to stick to the more established airlines with proven safety records.
Reservations for all the airlines can be made through any authorized travel agent or by ringing (66 2) 953-2260
An efficient rail system links major northern and northeastern towns with the capital. A southern route permits the visitor to travel by train into Malaysia and Singapore. Domestic express trains comprise first, second and third class carriages. Slower trains may have only third-class seats.
The State Railway of Thailand organizes oneday, two-day economy tours to various destinations on Saturdays, Sundays and official holidays. Other tours include trips to Surat Thani (for Koh Samui), Chumphon and Chiang Mai. Railway schedules can be obtained from Bangkok Railway Station, Tel: 223-7010, 2237020.
* BY ROAD
A modern highway system reaches into all corners of the kingdom. Domestic bus services offer fast means of travel. Air-conditioned tour coaches offer more comfort. Bangkok's Northern/Northeastern Bus Terminal is on Kam Phaeng Phet 2 Road, Tel: 9363674, 9363667-8.
Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal is on Pinklao-Nakhon Chaisri Road, Tel : 4351190, 4351200 (air-conditioned) and 4345558 (regular).
Bangkok's Eastern Bus terminal is on Sukhumvit Road, Tel: 3929227, 3919829 (air-conditioned) and 3912504, 3922521 (regular).
HOW TO GET TO (TRANSPORTATION DETAILS)
Chiang Mai Chiang Rai Mae Hong Son Sukhothai Phitsanulok Ayutthaya Kanchanaburi
Cha-Am Hua Hin Pattaya Kho Samui Phuket Krabi Kho Phi Phi Phang Nga Khon Kaen
Lampang Nakhon Ratchasima Nong Khai Buriram Ubon Ratchathani
TRAVEL INSIDE BANGKOK
Public buses are plentiful and cheap, with 3.50 Baht minimum and 5 Baht maximum fares to most destinations within metropolitan Bangkok- Air- conditioned buses within Bangkok have minimum and maximum fares of 6 and 16 Baht respectively. Red and grey Micro-Buses, also air conditioned, cost 20 Baht for single journey. A Bus Route Map is available at most hotels, bookshops and the TAT head office for 35 Baht.
TAXIS AND TUK TUKS
Hotel taxis have fixed tariffs. Taxis cruising the streets of Bangkok, and designated "taximeters" charge 35 Baht for the first 3 kilometres and approximately 5 Baht for every kilometre thereafter. Tuk-Tuk or three wheel taxis are quite popular among the tourists for short journeys inside Bangkok. Fares range from a minimum of 30 Baht to a maximum of 150 Baht. Fares must be bargained for.
There are many boats plying the Chao Phraya River. Some criss-cross between landings on opposite banks while the Chao Phraya Express boats travel upstream and downstream within the metropolis. Fares range between 5 and 15 Baht.
As promised the BTS Skytrain service was launched on 5th December 1999, to celebrate the 72nd birthday of the King of Thailand.