Thai money is the Baht (THB).
Check the rate for the Baht in your currency
Banks are open from 08.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays.
Many money exchange offices are open 7 days a week, in the main town until 10.00 p.m. All foreign currencies are accepted in cash and traveller’s cheques in any bank or exchange office, it is actually very easy to change money and get cash.
Visa card, Mastercard and American Express cards are accepted in all banks and exchange offices...
Many ATM and agencies of all Thai Banks are now widely available in Koh Samui.
Contact number in case of loss of your Credit Card:
Visa & Mastercard (Bangkok) 02-299 1990
American Express (Bangkok) 02-273 0020
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Thai language might sound difficult to most westerners, due to its tone rules. Nevertheless, it is not that hard to learn the basics, as most words are mono-syllabics (only one syllab), so very easy to remember and with a bit of practice you will soon be able to speak Thai and have small conversation with locals.
There are numerous books to learn Thai in most of Thailand Bookshops and if you like foreign languages, Thai people will be very happy to see a Farang speaking their mother language.
If you want to experiment different relationship with locals and need Thai basics, here are some basic Thai words and Thai expressions for the everyday conversation:
The first word you definitely need to learn is FARANG which means literally FOREIGNER, you will hear this word everywhere you will go in Thailand...
Goodbye (barely used)
That´s nothing, it is Ok
Mai pen raï
|How are you ?
I am fine, thanks
What is your name ?
My name is...
Where are you from ?
I am from...
See you soon
|Sabai dee mai ?
Kun cheu araï ?
Ma jak Tee Nai
Ma jak ...
Pop kan maï
|Where do you go ?
I go to ...
Where is the ... ?
the... is here
|Pai naï ?
... you tee Naï ?
... you tee Nee
|Do you Have ...
Yes I have
No, I haven´t
How much is this ?
this is ... bahts
I come back
Where are you coming from ?
|Mee ... Maï
A-nee Tao laï ?
A-nee pen ... bahts
Dio Klaap Ma
Pai nai ma ?
You have to notice that you should add "Krap" (if a man is speaking) or "Khaa" (if a woman is speaking) at the end of each sentence as a mark of politeness.
i.e: you should say "Sawadee Krap, Sabai de mai, Krap ? instead of "Sawadee, Sabai dee mai ?. To make a long story short, consider using Krap or Khaa as you will use "sir" in proper british language.
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In the big cities of Thailand, post offices are open between 8.00 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. However, in Samui they only open from 8.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, and between 8.00 a.m. and 12.00 p.m. on Saturdays. Their services are quite good and there's also a packing counter where you
can buy envelopes, boxes and everything else you’ll need to send your parcels. The staff can help you to make up your boxes. If you send a parcel by boat (the cheapest way) it will take about 2-3 months to get to Europe. A letter or a postcard takes between one and two weeks.
Check here for information about services offered by the Thailand Post.
Overseas calls are available in almost all post offices, hotels and travel agencies as well as street phones (with phone cards or credit cards). Collect call is also possible in some places.
To take advantage of the competitive international fees of local providers, you can easily get SimCards from local phone shops, to put in your mobile. You just refill your credit using pre-paid cards. The international access code for discount prices is 008 or 009 instead of the standard 001.
Check here to have all international dialing codes and know how to call from one country to another
Thailand has numerous Cyber-cafes, and it is very easy to get connected all around the country (except of course in the small villages of North East Thailand). High speed connection (ASDL) and Wi-Fi is now widely available in many Internet Shops in Samui with over 2MB/s speed available. The price is about 1-2 baht/minute with a minimum of twenty
You can also find now many places, Resorts, Hotels, bar & Restaurants, offering free Wi-Fi to their customer.
Check here for a list of registered Wi-Fi locations in Thailand. (Note: Krungthep means Bangkok)
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Photos. For those still travelling with older camera, there are plenty of shops selling films and developing pictures, it's much cheaper than in Europe and the quality
is very good. The service is quite fast as you can get your photos in a few hours or the next day. Beware if you use ektachrome, as not many shops are equipped to process it and don’t sell it
Digital Cameras. Nowadays it is very easy to use digital cameras in Samui, as many shops are now equipped with the appropriate
softwares and tools. If you use a digital camera don’t forget to bring the USB cable and the CD with your camera’s software. This way you'll be sure you can get anything done. Some
internet shops even burn CDs.
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Health in Koh Samui.
No specific vaccines are required for travellers from Europe. It's better to drink bottled water, as the water from
the tap is not always safe. Bottles of drinking water, and even mineral water, are available everywhere and cost very little. The water carafes and the ice cubes served in Thai restaurants are generally safe purified water.
Just beware of crushed ice.
Nevertheless, if you are the hypochondriac kind of person, you can check here to get all advices about the traveller´s Health.
Hospital on Koh Samui.
There are now five or more hospitals in Samui. The public hospital in Nathon is quite Ok, but if you are a bit scared of testing a
typical Thai style hospital, you can go to the Samui International Hospital (SIH) in Chaweng that has a good reputation and offers very good services (X-rays, Scanners, Surgery, Check ups, etc.) at
very reasonable prices. The Bandon International Hospital between Chaweng and Bophut offers the same services, but is much more expensive. These two latter hospitals accept most foreign insurances.
Other hospitals from around Thailand, like the Bangkok Hospital, have recently opened branches here, with international quality standard and much much cheaper prices than western countries.
It's actually a fact that a new kind of Tourism is emerging in Thailand, since 1 or 2 years : the "Health tourism", many westerners as well as people from the Emirates, comme here, to have heavy
surgery undergone, with brilliant results and... an amazingly superb convalescent place....
Samui Dog Rescue.
Since 1999, a small clinic is taking care of our friends the animals. Samui Dog rescue Center. It's a non-profit association, run by volunteers from all over the world and working with thai vets, all year long. Volunteer vets from everywhere also follows each other here and spend from few days to few
months in the clinic, helping all thoses who need. They practice surgery, neutering, vaccination and love providing to all these cute animals from the cat and dogs to the monkey, turtles and even
pelicans... they run on a short price basis (only to cover their charges !).
Many donation boxes can be found in different businesses on the island, any help will be grantly appreciated (money, of course, but not only, any old clothes, hammock, whatever may
help to provide beds or else to animals...). If you need them, they can be found just at the end of Chaweng Road.
Clinic and Nursing Unit.
There are also plenty of small private clinics and nursing units managed by doctors or nurses which provide good advice
and are ok for minor injuries.
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You need to be aware that drugs are prohibited under Thai laws and use or possession are punished
with very strong penalties. The most common drugs in Thailand are marijuana ("ganja"), opium and heroin ("yaa-fin") and "yaa-ba", a Burmese methamphetamine of very bad quality, which is very
dangerous and has already done a lot of damage among Thai youth all around the country, another purer quality is available since early 2007, better known in western countries as "Ice". To these local drugs, some more can be found, like LSD (liquid acid or acid blotters) and MDMA (ecstasy pills or crystal mdma), that are actually brought back here in small
amounts by unscrupulous travellers. In February 2003, The former Prime Minister, Taksin Chinavatra, did launched a countrywide war against drugs in Thailand. There were many arrests, money and goods confiscated and many
received the death penalty (over 3000 dead in as less as 3 months...).
Anyway, even if things seems to have slowed down nowadays, and drugs are not that difficult to get by now, remember that the use of drugs is dangerous and it's better to stay clear of them,
bearing in mind that the Prisons in Thailand are about of the same standards that they were in Europe 100 years ago... So better beware !
In Thailand, as suprising as it may sound, Prostitution is prohibited by the law, and not only pimping as some people like to say.
And from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, from Pattaya to Pukhet, from Hat Yai to Koh Samui and even in Koh Phangan, the many beer bars, massage
parlours and karaoke places heat up the night.
For your information, know that the girls working in the bars for Farang are "independant" workers and therefore do not work for anybody but themselves (or their family...)
No bought children from the North or forced prostitutes working here, but it does not mean it doesn´t happen, it actually massively exists around Thailand, and since a very long time, but it is a hidden business only for locals.
Most of the time, the ladies you will find in the tourist areas are girls from a poor family who left home in the hope of making better money than in a factory or in the rice fields.
Often, they are just hoping to find a husband who will give them money, protection and a better life. Remember that in Thailand, love has much less to do in "love relationship" than money does...
You also need to know that prostitution is not exclusively feminine and that you will also find many "Lady-boys" (Katoeys), that do not tell you they are and might look amazingly sexy (take care of bad surprises...). There are also few Gay Bars (with or without prostitutes) in Bangkok and in Koh Samui.
Check the wikipedia files to learn more about Prostitution in Thailand
If you like to go deeper with this topic, some very good travel books exist and are available in Thailand. We advice you "Private Dancer" and "Confessions of a Bangkok Private Eye" by Stephen leather,
"The scribe" by David Young or "My name is long, you like me ?" a very interesting book, written by a former prostitute in Pataya, speaking about prostitution in thailand and education and lifestyle of women in the North east of thailand.
All these very interesting books, and more, are edited by Bamboo Sinfonia Editions in Bangkok and are available in many languages (English, Swedish, German, French...), don´t miss them !
Another very smart book to better understand Thai culture and relationship between Thais and Foreigners, especially if you plane to marry a Thai, is "Thailand Fever" by Vitida Vasant (a Thai woman living in LA since more than 20 years) and Chris Pirazzi (an american living in Thailand since more than 15 years) at Paiboon Publishing, explaining the basis
of the Thai culture and education compared with the western one. A very interesting book, that helps you better undersand local people and makes you realize how far from each other our different cultures are, despite the apparent modernism of Thailand... It is already available in English, German, Dutch and Italian.
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Dangers and annoyances.
Except, of course, if you get caught with drug (and it often arrive that unlucky tourists with little amount of Ganja get searched at a police check on the side of the road, and go straight to the brand new district prison, in Lamaï on Koh Samui), Thailand and especially Koh Samui is a safe place.
Sure, apart from the drugs risks, there are scams, especially in Bangkok, around tourist places, but they are now so much reported in all travel guides that everybody knows about them... check here to learn the latest information about Bangkok scams.
Whatsoever, you need to keep your wits about and take care of your belongings, especially when travelling by bus, as there
are many thefts reported every year. The trains are rather safe as they have security guards on board. We have also heard about
problems in some bars where the girls working there would have slipped some sleeping pills in their customers’ glass to
rob them off. But these reports are quite rare and usually related to "Lady-boys" (Katoeys) rather than to "regular girls".
It’s also worth bearing in mind that many of the theft reports involve foreigners, often desperate backpackers who have run out of money
and have developed a sharp eye for easy targets. Hence, we strongly recommend to be very careful with your belongings and not to trust anybody to look after them.
On party nights, take care of your valuables (better not take 'em with you and give 'em to your hotel)
If you run into problems and have to go to the police, you need to be aware that there are two different police forces in the tourist
areas. First, you'll normally have to go to the Tourist Police. They speak English and are dedicated to the foreigners. Then you'll have to go to the Royal Thai Police with the form from the tourist police.
Don´t expect too much help from them, just official loss or theft papers, no more.
To deeper explore this topic, Check the public relationship web site of the Thai Police here.
If you have the time, you can visit foreigners in Thai prison. It is much more easy than you may think, and can provide hope to a grateful soul.
Check also this very good site about Life in the Prisons of Thailand if you want to know more about the living conditions of the inmates here !
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Samui Channel Television and Productions is Koh Samui's very own local television station. Established in 2003, Samui Channel now reaches more than 25,000 households and is shown in over 250 resorts on the island. In 2006, Samui Channel also expanded to Pattaya, broadcasting on BTV local cable TV which has over 30,000 subscribers.
Aside from regular music and movie (american blockbusters subtitled in thai and few thai movies) programming, Samui Channel has over twelve regular programs touching on the island's vibrant culture, cuisine and lifestyle, the channel also delves into environmental conservation and other topics on sustainable community development.
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Tourist Police (Samui)
Tourist Police (Surat)
Koh Samui Hospital
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