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thailand and back

Thailand and Back First published ­ September 2004 Reprinted ­ September 2005 & June 2006 Updated ­ October 2007 Specially produced by Lonely Planet Business Solutions for The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) Published by: Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd ABN 36 005 607 983 90 Maribyrnong St, Footscray, VIC 3011, Australia Lonely Planet offices Australia Locked Bag 1, Footscray, VIC 3011 613 8379 8000, fax 613 8379 8111 USA 150 Linden St, Oakland, CA 94607 510 893 8555, Toll Free 800 275 8555 fax 510 893 8572 UK 2nd Floor, 186 City Rd, London, EC1V 2NT 20 7106 2100, fax 020 7841 9001 Text © Lonely Planet Publications 2007 All boxed text, except p3 © Commonwealth of Australia 2007 Images © Lonely Planet Images Many of the images in this guide are available for licensing from Lonely Planet Images: At Lonely Planet: Publisher Jeff Trounce Project Management Nancy Ianni Cover Design Nic Lehman Design Jennifer Smith Proofer Charlotte Harrison Printing Printgraphics, Melbourne Lonely Planet, Lonely Planet Images and the Lonely Planet logo are trademarks of Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd and are registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved. Although the authors and Lonely Planet have taken all reasonable care in preparing this book, we make no warranty about the accuracy or completeness of its content and, to the maximum extent permitted, disclaim all liability arising from its use.



DestInatIon FaCts Bangkok ChIang MaI saFety & seCurIty Money


3 3 3 3 4

Bargains & Basics

Best Buys Worst Buys


5 6

top shops shop smart

BeFore you return

7 9


Important tips Important Information

10 11

thailand and back Bangkok will cater to every indulgence, from fun nightlife to shopping sprees, but it can also transport you into the old-fashioned world of Siam. Rise with daybreak to watch the monks on their alms route, hop aboard a longtail boat into the canals that once fused the city, or forage for your meals from the numerous and lauded food stalls.

DestInatIon FaCts

Full name: Kingdom of Thailand Population: 62 million Area: 517,000 sq km Capital city: Bangkok Language: Thai For more information, check out Lonely Planet's extensive range of books on Thailand.

ChIang MaI




hailand's virtually irresistible combination of historic temples, robust cuisine, natural beauty and renowned hospitality make it a must-visit destination. From the stupastudded mountains of Mae hong son to the evergreen limestone islands of the gulf of thailand, from the throbbing dance clubs of Bangkok to tranquil villages moored along the Mekong river, this country offers something for every predilection. thailand, like other asian countries, has been influenced by contact with foreign cultures. often depicted as fun-loving, happy-go-lucky folk (which indeed they often are), the thais are also proud and strong, and have struggled for centuries to preserve their independence of spirit.

In recent years, Bangkok has broken away from its old image to be voted by numerous metro-watchers as a top-tier global city. The sprawl and tropical humidity are still the city's signature ambassadors, but so are gleaming shopping centres and an infectious energy of commerce and restrained mayhem. The veneer is an ultramodern backdrop of skyscraper canyons containing an untamed universe of diversions and excesses. Meanwhile the urban populous is as cosmopolitan as that of any Western capital. But beside the 21st-century façade is a traditional village as devout and sacred as any remote corner of the country. This is the seat of Thai Buddhism and the monarchy with the attendant splendid temples. Even the modern shopping centres adhere to the old folk ways with attached spirit shrines that receive daily devotions.

Chiang Mai is easily managed, very traveller-friendly and quite relaxing compared with hectic Bangkok. It has a striking mountain backdrop, more than 300 temples and a quaint historical aura. It's also a modern, friendly, internationally flavoured city with lots on offer ­ food, accommodation and shopping are all top quality and cheap, and the nights are relatively cool.

saFety & seCurIty

The Australian Government does not recommend travel to certain parts of Thailand. Travellers should check for current travel advice. Travellers should be aware of occasional violence and banditry in some border areas, petty theft in cities and resort areas, and security issues on public transport, particularly those affecting women travelling on their own. In Bangkok, unlicensed taxis should be avoided ­ you can recognise them by the black-and-white licence plates. Hotel rooms should be locked

and bolted at night, and cheap, thin-walled rooms checked for peepholes. Obtain an itemised receipt for valuables left in hotel safes, especially around Chiang Mai.

thailand and back increasingly accepted in quality shops, hotels and restaurants. Visa is the most useful, followed by MasterCard. ATMs that accept Visa and other credit cards are easily found in the larger cities, and many exchange booths will give you a cash advance on your credit card.

thailand and back

Bargains & Basics

Many bargains await you in thailand if you have the luggage space to carry them home. always haggle to get the best price, except in department stores. and don't go shopping in the company of touts, tour guides or friendly strangers as they will inevitably take a commission on anything you buy, thus driving prices up. Best Buys

Sensuous silks & cool cotton In Thailand, fabric is possibly the best all-round buy. Thai silk is considered the best in the world. Excellent tailor shops can make your choice of fabric into almost any pattern. Be wary of the quickie 24-hour tailor shops. Cottons are also a good deal and the hard, triangle-shaped cushion made in the northeast makes a good souvenir. However, you must remember to declare the cushion and have it treated by Quarantine on your return, as they are usually stuffed with plant material. Old-time lovin' Be careful about buying statues or images of Buddhas and other deities. It can be an administrative nightmare taking them home ­ you need a licence from the Department of Fine Arts (%0 2628 5032) and a permit from the Ministry of Commerce (though the small Buddhas meant to be worn around your neck are fine). The same applies to taking an antique home. Also, some statues of Buddha are stuffed with organic material, which presents a quarantine risk to Australia. Remember to declare statues to Quarantine for inspection. Sparkling gems If you know what you are doing you can make some really good buys in both unset gems and finished jewellery. Buy from reputable dealers only, preferably members of the Jewel Fest Club ( Be wary of special `deals' that are offered for one day only or that set you up as a `courier' in which you're promised big money. Shop around and don't be hasty. Remember, there's no such thing as a `government sale' or `factory price' at a gem or jewellery shop. Wooden it be lovely Rattan and hardwood furniture items are often good buys and can be made to order. Avoid items with bark, borer holes and insects and remember to declare your goods so they can be inspected (and maybe treated) by Quarantine. Hill-tribe treasures Embroidery, clothing and bags made by the hill tribes of the northern provinces make divine souvenirs. You must declare


Currency The basic unit of Thai currency is the baht, which is made up of 100 satang. Paper currency comes in denominations of 10B (brown), 20B (green), 50B (blue), 100B (red), 500B (purple) and 1000B (beige). Changing money The best rates are usually offered by banks or legal moneychangers. For buying baht, US dollars are the most readily accepted currency, though travellers cheques get a better rate than cash. Credit cards are

Going offshore...know the medicine law. It's illegal to take PBS medicine (subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) out of Australia, unless it's for your own use or the use of someone travelling from Australia with you. Penalties are steep; fines of up to $5000 and/or two years imprisonment. If you do take PBS medicine overseas, follow these simple steps: · contact the embassy of the country you're visiting to ensure the medicine is legal there · carry a letter from your doctor with the medicine, stating what the medicine is, how much you'll be taking, and that it's for your personal use · leave the medicine in its original packaging, so it's clearly labelled with your name and dosage. For more information about taking PBS medicine overseas, call the Travelling with PBS medicine enquiry line on %1800 500 147, or log onto

anything made from plant material and animal products to Quarantine when you return into Australia. Basket cases Yaan líphao is a type of intricately woven basket made from a hardy grass in southern Thailand. Ever since the queen began carrying delicate yaan líphao purses, they've been a fashion staple. Items made from plants need to be declared and may need to be treated upon arrival back into Australia.

thailand and back

thailand and back

hot tIp ­ BargaInIng

Thais respect a good bargainer, someone who can get a reasonable price without either seller or buyer losing face. Here are some hints: · Don't start bargaining unless you intend to buy · Do your homework on prices · Don't be aggressive or raise your voice; be friendly and try to have fun · Remember that there's a fine line between bargaining and niggling ­ how much is 10B really worth to you anyway?

When you're shopping, it's important to know what you can and can't bring back to Australia. Common items from Thailand not allowed into Australia include: · Banana chips and bars · Banana leaf goods, including food, photo albums and notebooks · Items filled with sand, including toy animals · Plant material such as water hyacinth products, including handbags · Moon cakes containing egg or meat · Vacuum-sealed products, including noodles and soup, that contain meat. Some of these items are allowed in if accompanied by an import permit and/or treated by Quarantine (which will cost you money). Talk to Quarantine prior to departure about obtaining an import permit. For more information about what you can't bring back into Australia visit

Worst Buys

top shops

Don't get so overwhelmed by all the great buys that you spend your money on stuff that won't be allowed back into australia. snakes and live chickens are a definite no-no, and anything made from animal products and plant material must be declared to Quarantine (and may need treatment) when you get home.

Rasi Sayam 82 Soi 33/Daeng Udom, Th Sukhumvit % 0 2262 0729 Rasi Sayam sells charming wall hangings, benjarong (Thai ceramics), basketry and pottery made exclusively for this shop by local villagers. Chatuchak Market Talat Nat Jatujak This is it, the big one you've heard about. The behemoth of Thai markets where everything imaginable is for sale ­ from handmade silks from the provinces, extra-small fashion for the art-school fashionistas, fighting fish,


fluffy puppies and every imaginable souvenir. Although variety is its claim to fame, the market's speciality is clothing. Don't forget to try out your bargaining skills. Jim Thompson 9 Th Surawong %0 2632 8100 The company credited with creating an international market for Thai silk is now solidly positioned with the tastes of the middle-aged mamas. Fabric, silk scarves and neckties, and table accessories are all of the highest quality. Beware of touts hanging around this store trying to divert customers to another shop that pays commissions.

from endangered species (for example turtle, sea horse, snake, crocodile and orchid) could contribute to the extinction of the species in the wild. However, some species can be imported with the right permits ­ for more information see Note: if you import wildlife products without the right permits, your products may be seized by Customs and you could face stiff penalties.

WarnIng! Endangered plants and animals. Buying products made

Carrying funds in or out of Australia? In 2006, the Australian Government introduced stronger laws to protect Australians from money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Under this new law, you have to report travellers cheques, personal cheques, money orders, postal orders, promissory notes and other bearer negotiable instruments of any amount if a Customs or police officer asks you to. You still have to report AUD$10,000 cash (or the equivalent amount in foreign currency) using a form available in the Customs area of airports or seaports. Check out for more information.

Banglamphu Market Th Chakraphong, Th Tanao & Th Tani Spread out over several blocks, this market attracts a no-nonsense crew of street vendors selling snacks, handbags, brassieres, pyjamas, household items and phuang malai (Thai flower garland). You may never come here on purpose, but passing through invariably leads to a purchase.

thailand and back Sipsong Panna Nantawan Arcade, 6/19 Th Nimmanhaemin %0 5321 6096 This is a more upmarket place for jewellery collected in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Southwest China. It also stocks some very cool, heavy, chunky hill-tribe stuff. Chiang Mai Night Bazaar Th Chang Khlan The ultimate souvenir stand, Chiang Mai's Night Bazaar stretches for a half-dozen blocks, bringing together the good, the bad and the ugly. Kachama Th Nimmanhaemin, Soi 1 %0 5321 8495 If you're interested in textiles as works of art, visit Kachama. The wall hangings have been created using traditional weaving techniques, mixed with innovative design using natural materials. Even if you can't afford to buy, it's worth coming for a look.

thailand and back

shop smart

Before you spend your shopping money, it's a good idea to know what you can and can't bring back into australia. that way, you get to keep your travel treasures and save money on any necessary quarantine treatments (or fines).

All food, plant material and animal products from overseas ­ including many common souvenirs ­ must be declared for quarantine inspection (and may need treatment) when you return to Australia. For more information about what needs to be declared to Quarantine visit Common items from Thailand that must be declared (and might need treatment and/or an import permit) include: · Rawhide items, including picture frames and drums · Thai cushions ­ usually stuffed with organic material ­ require quarantine treatment · Hackey-sacks ­ these contain plant material or sand · Wooden items ­ when you're shopping, avoid items with bark, borer holes and insects · Bark items, including pencils, candle holders and toy motorbikes ­ require quarantine treatment · Shells, including jewellery and souvenirs, and shells collected from the beach or ocean ­ coral and some shells are prohibited · Feathers, bones, horns and tusks · Fresh flowers and leis ­ some flowers are prohibited · Safflower ­ sometimes thought to be saffron · Spices, herbs and seasoning, including gift packs · Herbal and traditional medicines, remedies, tonics and herbal teas · Fresh orchids. In many cases, declared goods are returned to you after inspection. However, any item that presents a disease risk or is found to contain insects or larvae will be withheld by Quarantine. You will be given a range of options for the item depending on the quarantine risk that it presents. These options include: treatment (for example fumigation) to make the item safe; holding the item until an import permit is presented; re-exporting the item; or destroying the item. Most of these options will cost you money.

ChIang MaI

Hill-Tribe Products Promotion Centre 21/17 Th Suthep %0 5327 7743 If you want hill-tribe souvenirs that aren't just for tourists head here; it's a royally sponsored project and all profits go to hill-tribe welfare programs. Living Space 276-278 Th Tha Pae %0 5387 4156 For a contemporary angle on lacquerware Living Space does some beautiful, brightly coloured boxes, trays and other accessories.

Prior to travel, you should consult your doctor for advice on how to reduce your risk of illness while travelling, including required and recommended vaccinations and whether booster doses of childhood vaccinations are necessary. Monitoring your health whilst away and when you return is important for your own wellbeing. There is a chance that during your travels you could have been exposed to infectious diseases such as influenza, gastroenteritis or malaria. It is very important that you consult with your doctor if you feel unwell, even after you return to Australia, and consider your recent destinations as a possible source for your illness.

BeFore you return

· Make sure you clean ALL soil from your hiking boots, sports shoes, golf clubs, camping gear and

0 mountain bikes ­ you still have to declare these to Quarantine · Make sure you eat or throw away all fruit, vegetables and uncanned meat products before you land in Australia ­ they're not allowed in · Leave ALL aircraft food on board, including nuts and snacks · Pack items for quarantine inspection together, and keep them at the top of your bag so they can be easily reached

thailand and back · Wash shoes that have been worn in rural areas including farms, markets and zoos, or near animals such as elephants, monkeys, cattle and chickens.

Important Information

With increased quarantine activity at Australia's airports, you'd be mad not to declare all items made from food, plant and animal material. The detector dog's sense of smell (100 times greater than ours), won't miss a beat ­ and neither will the X-ray machines or Quarantine officers. Don't risk an on-the-spot fine or prosecution, or worse, threaten our flora, fauna and important agricultural industries with exotic pests and diseases. Some people don't realise that a lot of things you can get overseas are illegal in Australia and will be seized by Customs if you bring them back. These include blowpipes; BB guns; flick knives; crossbows; nunchakus; knuckledusters; electric flyswats; and cigarette lighters designed to look like weapons; coral; orchids; and reptile skin or ivory goods. Don't forget to check for A Guide for travellers ­ know before you go or call the Customs Information and Support Centre on %1300 363 263 for advice about your customs clearance and items that must be declared. Shopping on holidays? If you are 18 or over you are entitled to bring A$900 worth of goods back into Australia. This includes goods purchased overseas, in Australia duty/tax free before you left, or goods for which a refund of tax has been approved through the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS). You can also bring back 2.25 litres of alcohol and 250 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco products. Please note: Customs must verify your TRS purchases at least 30 minutes prior to departure. For details contact Customs on %1300 363 263 or check Remember when overseas, you are subject to local laws. Local laws and legal processes can be very different from those in Australia. A violation of local laws may result in a jail sentence, served in a local prison. Consular assistance cannot override local law, even where local laws may appear harsh or unjust by Australian standards. Penalties for drug offences can be severe and include the death penalty.

Important tips

Before travelling overseas register your travel and contact details online at, or in person at the Australian Embassy, 37 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok, % (66) 2 344 6300, once you arrive so we can contact you in an emergency. Check the latest travel advice for your destination at before you go. Subscribe to receive free email notification each time the advice is updated. Take out travel insurance to cover hospital treatment, medical evacuation and any activities, like adventure sports, in which you plan to participate. Obey the law of the country you're visiting. Don't expect to be treated differently to the locals just because you're Australian, even if local laws appear harsh or unfair by Australian standards. Make copies of your passport details, insurance policy, travellers' cheques, visas and credit card numbers. Carry one copy in a separate place to the originals and leave a copy with someone at home. Ensure your passport has a minimum six months' validity. For more travel tips and advice, check out

thailand and back

The latest independent travel information and advice from experts and like-minded travellers


Travelling to Thailand? Whether you're heading for the stupastudded mountains of Mae Hong Son or the pulse-pounding nightclubs of Bangkok, you'll need the lowdown on getting the most from your trip. The `Thailand and Back' guide has a wealth of information on travel in Thailand: safe shopping tips to help you avoid wasting money on purchases that won't pass Australian Quarantine; steps to follow when taking medicine out of Australia; travel insurance hints and other useful advice. INFORMATION, TRAVEL TIPS, ADVICE...SMARTER TRAVEL


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