Thailand's major national festivals are intertwined with Theravada Buddhist rituals celebrating the ebb and flow of life. The main festivals are:
Full moon, 3rd Thai lunar month - Magha Puja. Commemorating the Buddha's teaching of Ovada Patimokkha to a spontaneous gathering of 1,250 enlightened monks.
13 to 15 April - Songkran Festival (Thai new year). The prime holiday of the year, when many people return home for family reunions.
May (moveable) - Royal Ploughing Ceremony and Farmers' Day. Ceremony of blessing for Thailand's farmers. The date is astrologically determined and announced by the Royal Household.
Full moon, 6th Thai lunar month - Vesak. Commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha.
Full moon, 8th Thai lunar month - Asalha Puja. Commemorating the Buddha's first discourse, the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dharma).
First waning moon, 8th Thai lunar month - Beginning of Vassa (Buddhist Lent). Three-month retreat observed by monks during the rainy season characterised by meditation and prayer.
Other annual cultural attractions include:
June to August - Dok Krachiao Blooming Festival (Chaiyaphum)
October - Nakhon Phanom IIIuminated Boat Procession
October - Phuket Vegetarian Festival
November - Surin Elephant Round-up and Elephant Show
Sporting events attracting international participants and visitors include:
July - Pattaya Marathon (Chon Buri)
July - Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek regatta (Phuket)
August - Bhumibol Dam Invitation International Mountain Bike Championship (Tak)
August - Songkhla International Glorify Marathon (Songkhla)
September - Adidas King of the Road running championships (Bangkok)
October - FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour (Chon Buri)
October - Amari Watergate & BMW Thailand Charity Midnight Run (Bangkok)
November - Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon
November - Laguna Phuket Triathlon
December - PTT Jet Ski King's Cup World Cup Championship (Chon Buri)
Please note that entry requirements and visa regulations can change often and at short notice. We can provide general information about the passport and visa requirements for your trip and this information may be included after the itinerary section of your quotation. Your specific passport and visa requirements and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates. Neither we nor the principal(s) or supplier(s) accept any responsibility if you cannot travel because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. Please call your WEXAS specialist if you wish to discuss entry requirements.
Passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date of entry. Entry is normally refused if your passport is damaged or has pages missing.
Banknotes are issued in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 baht. Commemorative banknotes of unusual values are also in circulation, including an 80 baht note issued in honour of Queen Sirikit's 80th birthday in 2012, and a 60 baht note marking the 60th anniversary in 2006 of King Bhumibol's accession to the throne.
Coins are issued in denominations of 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht and 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 and 50 satang. At July 2013 exchange rates, £1 = 47 baht (so the largest 1,000 baht note is worth about £21).
ATMs can be found in all cities and large towns, and international withdrawals are straightforward. ATMs typically provide a much better exchange rate than a money exchange counter, but usually add a 180 baht surcharge. The yellow Kungrsi (Bank of Ayudhya) ATMs tend to offer a poorer exchange rate.
Cash and EFTPOS
Credit cards are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and shops catering to tourists. Fraud is fairly common, so use them sparingly. It's also a good idea to tell your bank in advance of your travel plans, so your card doesn't get locked. Many businesses add a surcharge of 2-3% for credit card transactions, so it's often cheaper to pay in cash.
Thailand remains generally inexpensive for Western visitors. Bangkok has become the second most expensive city in Southeast Asia after Singapore, but food stalls, markets and other retail outlets still offer competitive prices. Haggling is the norm at market stalls, and vendors will try and charge whatever they think you can afford to pay, so check out government-run craft stores and hotel souvenir shops to get a feel for local prices before jumping in. A meal for two in a mid-range restaurant can be had for around 500 baht, compared with less then 50 baht for a local dish at a food stall. Expect to pay around 60-80 baht for a beer, 50 baht for a coffee, 15-20 baht for a soft drink and 10 baht for a small bottle of water. Taxi fares around Bangkok are generally less than 100 baht per trip.