Most government offices open from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm, Monday to Friday, but close from 12 noon to 1 pm for lunch. Banks open at 8.30 am and close at 3.30 pm Monday to Friday. However, in major tourist areas currency exchange offices will open every day from 9.00 am until around 6.30pm, with some staying open until late evening.
Most shops and large department stores open every day from around 10.00 am and until 9.00 or 10.00 pm. In large towns and cities you will find convenience stores and some services stations open 24 hours.
Thailand is seven hours ahead of GMT so 12 noon in Bangkok is 5 am in London, 1 am in New York, 10 pm the previous day in Los Angeles, and 3 pm in Sydney.
Electric current is 220 volts, 50 cycles. Many large hotels will also have 110 volt sockets. Most modern appliances such as shavers etc. are suitable for a range of voltages, but if in doubt check before leaving home.
The telephone system is modern and efficient, and you can dial direct to most international destinations from larger hotels. Public phones (which accept a card) are readily available, but not all are capable of making international calls. Cards can be purchased at most hotels and news stands etc. Local calls, on land lines, are generally charged at 3 Baht per connection, there is no time charge, though there are moves to introduce a time charge.
The country code for Thailand is 66.
When calling a number in Thailand it is necessary to dial the whole number, including the area code, even if you are in the same area. All area codes are prefixed with a 0. The 0 is dropped if you are dialing from outside Thailand.
Most mobile phones can be used in Thailand whilst you are on holiday, check with your local company before leaving home. If you are planning a long trip here it may be worth considering buying a pre-paid Thai SIM card for your phone, all major providers offer this service. This will give you a local phone number in Thailand and also allow you to phone home without the rather high roaming charges that most companies require. A SIM costs around 50 Baht and you can buy credit at mobile phone shops and many convenience stores. Local calls are cheap. Overseas calls are charged at the standard rates with no surcharge. Re-charge cards come in denominations like 100, 200, 300, 500 Baht.
Internet facilities are available thoughout the country. Even the smallest town will boast an Internet Cafe of some sort and charges are very low, less that 30 Baht per hour.
5 star hotels may offer a broadband connection, but the costs are quite high. 3 and 4 star hotels often have free Internet access. In the large cities like Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai you will also find many Wireless HotSpots.
If you plan t stay for several weeks or longer a convenient way to get Internet access is to purchase an AirCard. This is a USB dongle that plugs into your PC. They cost around 500 to 1000 Baht including a SIM card. You then need to purchase air time. Packages are available from 1 to 5Gb and last one month. They cost from 300 to 1000 Baht and will give you a 7.2Mb connection. Actual speed depends on your location but in major citioes is usually around 5Mb dwnload and 1 to 2Mb upload. Once your prepaid amount of data is used up the speed drops to 384Kb unless you purchase a top up.
The postal service is generally very efficient and inexpensive. Most post offices are open on weekdays from 8:30 am to 4.30 pm. However, those in major tourist destinations may be open until 8 pm. Poste restante services are usually very reliable, but you may encounter some confusion between surnames and given names. Ask people who are writing to you to print and underline your surname, this should ensure letters are filed correctly. You will need to produce your passport before you can claim your letters.
Thailand has five Thai language TV channels, plus several cable services in both Thai and English. At least one of these cable services will be offered by many medium sized hotels and all large establishments.
There are two excellent English language daily newspapers, the Bangkok Post and The Nation. Larger tourist venues have their own local magazine.
Major credit cards are accepted in all larger hotels and shops. You may be able to use your card at some ATM machines to withdraw cash. Check with your bank or card company before leaving home.