Getting to Thailand
There are 2 international airports in Bangkok. The Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) primarily services flights from outside of Southeast Asia. The Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) primarily services flights from in and around Southeast Asia. Either airport is recommended for entrance to Thailand.
Regarding entry to Thailand, passport holders of many countries can enter Thailand with no visa or with a "visa on arrival." Check the Thai embassy in your country for more information on entering Thailand. Let us know if you require any documentation to get a tourist visa, for example a letter of invitation.
Arriving in Bangkok
It is recommended to exchange some money into Thai Baht at the airport for taxis and small purchases. You may also want to get an inexpensive SIM card for your phone (see below for more information about mobile phone service). After exchanging money and possibly getting mobile phone service, head to the taxi stand. Both airports have regulated taxi stands with clear signage. Avoid anyone offering taxi services in the airport lobbies. After waiting in line for a taxi, be prepared to show the name of your hotel to the staff arranging taxis. There is a 50 Baht (1.50 USD) surcharge added to the taxi meter rate for the airport pickup service.
A taxi from either airport will generally cost around 300-500 Baht (10-15 USD), depending on distance. Your taxi driver may or may not use a navigation app (i.e. Google Maps). Be prepared to show your driver the name of your hotel.
Another option to get from each airport is to use the Grab app to book a ride (see below for more information about the Grab app). Also, Some hotels offer airport pickup. It is not recommended to rent a car in Bangkok.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport also has the Airport Link, which will take you to Bangkok’s convenient skytrain system, the BTS. If you know that your hotel is near a BTS station, you could take the Airport Link, however, taking a taxi from the airport is generally easier and faster.
The Grab App
The Grab app has become the go-to app in Thailand to book rides (similar to Uber). The app makes it very easy to book rides now or at selected times. You can link a credit or debit card to the app to avoid handling money, although, there is usually a small surcharge if using a card from a foreign country. Taxis will commonly use Grab, so when your car arrives it might look like a regular car or a taxi. The app can also be used to order food and do other tasks like send packages.
Getting Around Bangkok
Public transportation in Thailand is both plentiful and inexpensive. We recommend using the Grab app to order a ride, although, regular taxis can be found on the street in most places and are quite inexpensive. You might also be in a situation where there are taxis in front of you and you don’t want to wait for the Grab ride to come.
Here are some suggestions for dealing with regular taxis. If getting a taxi on the street, be forewarned that most drivers don’t speak English. The best way to tell them where you want go is to show them the name of it in Thai. To help with this we will email all attendees a list of popular places with names in both English and Thai. Be aware of taxi drivers that offer a flat rate, as it will be higher than the meter rate. If a taxi driver offers a flat rate, we recommend to move on to the next taxi. You should have Thai Baht to pay taxi drivers you find on the street.
In Bangkok the BTS skytrain is a very convenient way to get around, especially if your hotel is near a BTS station. The BTS system goes directly to or within a short walk of many of Bangkok’s main attractions. Bangkok also has an extensive bus system, but it is complicated to use and not recommended.
It is also possible to hire drivers for a relatively low rate. Drivers will usually drive a sedan or van, and can be hired by the day or week. There are several websites that offer these services. For more information about vacations or local activities, see our webpage "Vacations and Local Travel." For information on how to get the College of Music, see the "Conference Site" webpage.
There are currently no Covid requirements for entering or traveling around Thailand. In general Thailand is very careful about Covid and most people wear masks when in public. It is recommended that IDRS Conference attendees wear masks and take other precautions when possible.
Thai Baht and Payment
Thai Baht is about 37 to 1 USD. Here are common bill sizes and their approximate US dollar equivalents:
It is recommended to have some Thai Baht on hand for taxis and other small purchases. There are ATM machines everywhere that accept international debit or credit cards and the fees for withdrawing Thai Baht are reasonable. Most companies accept credit cards but in Thailand we often find ourselves eating or shopping from small shops that don't accept credit cards.
The official language of Thailand is Thai. English is the unofficial second language. Visitors who can speak English should have little problem traveling in Thailand. Sometimes it may be difficult to find someone who speaks English well, but Thai people are always very kind about communication or other problems.
Climate and Weather
The conference will take place during Thailand’s “Rainy Season.” The weather at this time is hot and humid, with temperatures getting as high as 38 Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) during the day. There is cloud cover throughout much of the day and it will often rain in the late afternoon. The temperature will drop after it rains and in the evening, but it doesn’t get cool at night. Visitors should bring light, loose fitting clothing and drink lots of water throughout the day. An umbrella is also advisable to use for rain or sunshine. All conference facilities are air conditioned.
One of the joys of visiting Thailand is the food. It is possible to eat very inexpensively in Bangkok, while trying many of the dishes that make Thai food famous the world over. Thailand is also famous for its street food and some of the best restaurants in Bangkok are either on the street or in a nondescript restaurant near the road. While adventurous visitors will try every type of street food, you can ask at your hotel for nearby recommendations if you want to try some street food.
Thai food traditionally has many spicy dishes. If you want to know if a dish is spicy you can ask in Thai, “pet mai?,” which means is it spicy.? The answer will be either “pet” (spicy) or “mai pet” (not spicy). If it is a spicy dish and you want to try it, you can say, “ow pet nitnoy” (I will have it a little spicy). You should not try to order a spicy dish as not spicy. When asking to do this, they would just make it less spicy, which could still be very spicy.
There are also many restaurants with international food and fast food chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King. Finally, it is always possible to find vegetarian dishes.
Thailand uses 240V, 50Hz. Nowadays most electronic devices can use this voltage, including phone and laptop chargers. Exceptions to this could be handheld appliances that draw a lot of electricity, for example hair dryers. Visitors should make sure their electronic devices can use this voltage. Most electrical outlets accept two flat or two round electrical plugs. Older plugs that only accept two round plugs are becoming rare, but can still be found in some older hotels. Here the plugs found in Thailand:
Mobile Phone Service
There are three mobile phone carriers that service Thailand: AIS, DTAC and TRUE. The quality of service is comparable and so are the fees of each. It is recommended to use AIS over the other companies. AIS has a very strong wi-fi system at the university and this will allow you to connect a secondary device to the internet while at the College. Plans start at around 10 USD for 8 days. The SIM cards sold by these shops will work in any carrier unlocked phone, and the shop will help you set up service on your phone. It is becoming more common to offer E-SIM in place of standard SIM cards if you prefer that.
Liability and Insurance
All participants are reminded that neither the IDRS nor the College of Music, Mahidol University are liable for any loss, accident or damage to persons or private property. Participants and accompanying persons are requested to make their own arrangements in acquiring health, instrument and travel insurance.
Thai Baht Bill
US Dollar Equivalent