Good buys: Thai silk and tailor-made clothing, leather goods, jewellery and cheap designer-looking labels.
Local dishes: Thai cuisine is typically aromatic and spicy, seasoned with heaps of garlic, chillies and a mixture of lime juice, lemon grass and fresh coriander. Traditional dishes include hot and sour fish ragout, green and red curries, and various soups and noodle dishes. There is also an incredible variety of fruit available, fresh or juiced. Sugar-cane juice and rice whisky are favourite local tipples.
Funny fact: The official name for the city of Bangkok Thailand is ‘Krung thep mahanakhon bovorn ratanakosin mahintharayutthaya mahadilok pop noparatratchathani burirom udomratchanivetma hasathan amornpiman avatarnsa thit sakkathattiyavisnukarmprasit.’ Or ‘Krung thep’ for short, meaning City of Angels.
Good reading: Alex Garland’s much talked about novel, The Beach, which depicts a young backpacker’s search for the perfect beach.
Visas: Most visitors can stay for 30 days without a visa.
Public holidays: New Year’s Day; Makha Bucha (Feb); Chakri Day (6 April); Songkhran (Thai New Year, 13 April); Labour Day; Coronation Day (5 May); Visakha Puja (May); Mid-Year Day (1 July); Buddhist Lent (July); Queen’s birthday (12 Aug); Chulalongkorn Day (23 Oct); King’s birthday (5 Dec); Constitution Day (10 Dec); New Year’s Eve