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The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 11/24/2003 3:27 AM

The Kingdom of Thailand is located at a strategic crossroads in Southeast Asia. With an area of over 200,000 square miles, Thailand is the second largest nation in Southeast Asia. It adjoins Myanmar on the west and north, Laos on the northeast, Cambodia on the east, and Malaysia and the Gulf of Thailand on the south.

Topographically, Thailand presents a varied landscape of forested mountains, dry plateaus, fertile river plains, and sandy beaches. Mountain ranges extend along the border with Myanmar and down to Malaysia. Another range splits the country in half from north to south.

The Chao Phraya River originates in the north and flows southward. It irrigates the fertile ricelands of the Central Plains through a network of “klongs” (canals). This long river serves as the main water transportation route through the central part of the country. It empties into the Gulf of Thailand some 35 miles south of Bangkok.

Located at 20 degrees north latitude, Thailand is generally hot and humid with a climate that is classified as tropical monsoon. A pronounced rainy season lasts from July to October. From November to February, the northeast monsoon brings a cooler, drier period, when humidity drops from an average high of 95 percent to an average low of 58 percent. During this season, temperatures typically range from the mid-60s in the early morning to the mid-80s during the day. The period from March to June is Bangkok's summer, which is usually hot and humid; temperatures can reach 100° Fahrenheit.

Thailand’s warm, humid climate, particularly during the rainy season, can cause mildew. Air conditioning prevents serious problems, but employees are advised to periodically check clothing, furniture, rugs, books, luggage and other possessions to prevent damage. The usual tropical insects and small lizards live on ceilings and walls of residential units. The lizards eat mosquitoes and other insects and do no damage (the Embassy does not charge for this environmentally friendly insect eradication program). Ticks and worms are problems for pet owners.

Population Last Updated: 3/17/2005 6:44 AM

Bangkok, seat of the Royal Thai Government and site of the Embassy, is the largest city in the country and one of the largest in Southeast Asia. It is overpopulated and is located in a great bend of the Chao Phraya River, the city has a population of approximately 7-10 million. Chiang Mai, site of the Mission’s sole Consulate, is the second largest city in Thailand. With a population of approximately 200 thousand, Chiang Mai is the business hub of the north.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

Many scholars believe that the ancestors of the Thai (also known as Siamese) people migrated from southern China into what is now Thailand at least 4,000 years ago settling along the Chao Phraya River and its tributaries. These peoples created a series of independent kingdoms that competed with their Burmese and Khmer neighbors. In the 13th century, the Thai defeated the Khmer and created a kingdom with its capital at Sukhothai. A second kingdom, founded at Ayudhya, later eclipsed Sukhothai in importance. In 1767, the Burmese captured Ayudhya. Six months later the Siamese drove the Burmese out and established a new capital in Thonburi, across the river from what is now Bangkok. In 1782, the capital was moved across the river to its present location. Although Westerners have long called the city “Bangkok,” after a small fishing village once nearby, the Thai name of the capital is Krung Thep or “City of Angels.”

In Thailand's premodern Buddhist state, the King was protector of the Buddhist monastic orders and performed regular ceremonies to assure the progression of the seasons and the fertility of the land. Occupying the border between the human and the divine, the king was the apex of an earthly hierarchy, below which the Thai social and political order was formed. Thai kings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were a powerful modernizing force in the kingdom, introducing many important reforms and innovations while striving to protect the country from encroachment by colonial forces. Their limited reforms could not ward off a growing demand for an end to absolute monarchy, however, and a military-led coup d'etat in 1932 led to the creation of a constitutional monarchy. This was followed by experiments in developing a parliamentary system.

The King, now Chief of State, rules in conformity with the Thai Constitution. He plays an important symbolic unifying role and remains the protector of Buddhism, performing regular ceremonial roles. The King is served by the Privy Council, the Office of the Royal Household, and the Office of His Majesty's Secretary General. The legislative branch of government is the Parliament, which is divided into a House and Senate. Under the 1997 Constitution, both Representatives and Senators are chosen by election. (The Senate was previously an appointed body.) Only Representatives may belong to political parties, however. The term of office for the House of Representatives is four years, but the Prime Minister can dissolve Parliament before the end of its term. As head of government, the Prime Minister is assisted in his executive role by a cabinet drawn from the coalition of parties comprising the current governing administration. Among the larger political parties are the Democrats, the Thai Rak Thai Party, the New Aspiration Party, the Thai Nation Party, and the Thai Development Party. The judicial branch of government is made up of a Supreme Court, with Criminal and Appeals Courts at the provincial level. A Constitution Court has authority to rule in matters pertaining to the Constitution.

Thailand's government continues to be highly centralized, although some powers will gradually devolve to local authorities over time under the 1997 Constitution. The administrative structure is divided into four levels: province, district, sub-district, and village. Thailand's 76 provinces have governors who are appointed by the Ministry of Interior, with the exception of Bangkok which has an elected governor. Villages elect headmen (the first women to occupy these positions were elected in 1982), and a leader for each sub-district (group of villages) is elected from among the village heads. Cities and larger towns have local municipal governments responsible for maintaining public safety and hygiene and for providing schools. The Minister of the Interior — through the provincial governors, district officers, and municipal inspectors — supervises all local government functions. Thailand also has a large and active Non-Government Organization (NGO) community. NGOs are especially active in social and environmental areas.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

According to the 1999 edition of ONEC’s Education in Thailand, 94.7% of Thailand's population is literate. Primary education (grade 1-6) is compulsory, and 87.1% of the students enrolled at the grade 6 level continue on to secondary school. Of those who complete upper secondary school (which includes both vocational and general schools), 81.4% go on to post-secondary education. Thailand has 24 state institutions of higher education, 36 teachers’ colleges (now called “Rajabhat Institutes”), and 50 private institutions of higher education. Of that number, 28 are in Bangkok and its suburbs.

Admission to the traditional state universities is highly competitive. The language of instruction for most undergraduate courses is Thai, except for English classes. However, at present, Thai public and private universities offer over 300 international programs which use English as the medium of instruction, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Some of these international programs are the result of cooperative and joint degree programs established with many leading institutions from countries such as Australia, Japan, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and the United States. Webster University, Schiller University, and Johns Hopkins University are among American institutions that have joint degree programs in Thailand. Through these international programs, Thailand is trying to position itself to be a regional center for education. Nonetheless, admission requirements to these international programs will vary, with private institutions likely to be more welcoming of foreign students while some programs in public universities, such as business administration and engineering, still have highly competitive admission.

Hinduism and Theravada Buddhism have played important roles in the development of Thai culture. These traditions were transmitted through contact with ancient Mon, Ceylonese, and Khmer civilizations centered in what are the modern nations of Burma, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia. Chinese influence is also present in many aspects of Thai culture. In southern Thailand, long traversed by Muslim traders, elements of the classical Islamic tradition have been incorporated.

Traditional Thai art and design have evolved primarily from the decoration of religious objects made for and used by royalty and nobility, e.g., temple carvings and paintings, sacred manuscripts, and statues. The destruction of many cultural artifacts during the sacking of the capital city of Ayudhya in 1767 resulted in the scarcity of examples of Thai art for this and previous periods, although later periods are well represented in museums and other collections. Since the late 1940s, schools of modern Thai art have shown marked Western influences. Today, although many artists paint in styles derived from Western models, other artists are experimenting with expressing traditional Buddhist themes in contemporary forms.

The National Museum in Bangkok contains an extensive collection of Thai art, including prehistoric objects, sculpture, pottery, and paintings representing various periods and styles, as well as examples of the decorative arts and furnishings used by Thai royalty. Many private galleries exhibit the works of contemporary artists and artisans. The National Museum welcomes volunteers to serve as docents and conduct tours in various languages.

In recent years, the more traditional forms of Thai art, music, and dance have been revived. The Royal Siamese classical dances are performed frequently by troupes from the Department of Fine Arts, dance schools, and private groups. Traditional forms of painting and handicrafts (including work with silver, silk, bronze, lacquer and ceramics) are also enjoying resurgence, in part through the Support Foundation under Her Majesty the Queen’s patronage.

Air-conditioned theaters show first-run American, Thai, Indian, and Japanese movies daily.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 6/21/2004 3:43 AM

Though Thailand has traditionally been an agrarian country, its manufacturing and service sectors have grown tremendously in size and significance. Manufacturing now accounts for about 30% of GDP while the agricultural sector provides only about 10%. Thailand’s economy is a free enterprise system. The Royal Thai Government welcomes foreign investment, and investors who are willing to meet certain requirements regarding local content or ownership can apply for special investment privileges through the Board of Investment. Thailand has a 5-year development planning cycle, but in the context of a free enterprise economy the 5-year plan only sets national goals. The labor movement is weak in Thailand.

Although their significance in the national economy is declining, agricultural and fishery products continue to play a significant role in the economy outside of Bangkok. Rice remains Thailand's most important agricultural crop. It is estimated that about half of all Thai workers depend on agriculture for at least part of their livelihood, though this percentage is decreasing. Other agricultural commodities produced in significant amounts include fish and fishery products, cassava (tapioca), rubber, maize (corn), and sugar. Exports of processed food products, such as canned tuna, frozen shrimp, and canned pineapples, have increased dramatically.

Thailand's manufacturing sector has grown tremendously in recent years. Computers and related parts are Thailand's largest manufactured export item followed by electrical appliances, textiles, integrated circuits, footwear, and jewelry. Tourism is also an important source of foreign exchange for Thailand. According to the Tourism Authority of Thaiand, by 2004, the number of visitors reached 12 million, earning around $9.5 billion in foreign exchange income. Luxury hotels and tourist class facilities have opened in all parts of the country to serve tourists from East Asia, Europe, and North America who are attracted by Thailand's traditional hospitality, political stability and low prices.

In 2000, the U.S. was Thailand’s largest export market followed by Japan. Leading Thai exports to the U.S. are electronic equipment, fish and agricultural products, clothing, jewelry, luggage and shoes. Leading Thai imports from the U.S. are electronic and electrical products, machinery and aircraft. As of September 2000, Thailand had exported almost $12 billion to the United States and was our fourteenth largest source of imports. U.S. exports to Thailand during the same period totaled $4.4 billion, making Thailand our twenty-third largest market.

Japan, Hong Kong and the U.S. are the largest foreign investors in Thailand. In 1997, a total of 67 investment projects by U.S. firms were approved by the Thai Board of Investment with a value of $2.85 billion. The largest of these was a $400 million investment in an aromatics plant by Esso Thailand. The top 25 U.S. firms account for at least 80% of total cumulative U.S. investment in Thailand, which (including reinvested earnings) the Embassy estimates exceeded $16 billion in 1997. Included in this amount are U.S. energy companies Esso (Exxon) and Caltex (a joint venture of Chevron and Texaco), which are among the largest oil refiners and gasoline retailers in Thailand. Seagate Technology and IBM have made Thailand a base for production of computer hard drives. American consumer brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Gillette, Johnson and Johnson, and Colgate-Palmolive are well established in Thailand, selling products that are either imported or manufactured by local subsidiaries. The U.S. auto giants Ford and GM have committed to major investments in Thailand’s eastern seaboard area, which will serve the Thai market and export to Europe and Southeast Asia.

Bangkok and its environs have traditionally been the richest part of Thailand and the arid northeast, the poorest. An overriding concern of successive Thai governments has been regional income differences, which in recent years have been exacerbated by rapid economic growth in and around Bangkok. Too-rapid growth has also imposed massive strains on Bangkok’s urban infrastructure, particularly shown by the city’s unending traffic problems. In response the government has tried to encourage decentralization of economic activity out of Bangkok, most notably in the eastern seaboard area. The Board of Investment has also used investment incentives to encourage investment in the provinces. Despite these efforts, Bangkok is still regarded by most Thais as the place offering the greatest opportunity for economic advancement. Until the level of infrastructure and education in the provinces is dramatically improved, the opportunities available in Bangkok will continue to outpace those in the provinces by a considerable margin.


Automobiles Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:45 PM

Employees with diplomatic titles may import a vehicle duty free at any time during a tour. Employees holding diplomatic titles may sell their privately owned vehicle after it has been registered to them in Thailand for two years. If the buyer does not possess duty-free privileges, the seller should be aware of certain tax liabilities. Currently, customs duty is assessed by the following formula: original price of the vehicle, adding 15 percent for shipping and insurance, then subtracting a depreciation value of 10 percent per year that the vehicle is in Thailand, multiply the depreciated value of the vehicle by 275.71 percent to obtain the customs duty assessment. No customs duty is assessed on imported vehicles that have been registered in Thailand for five years or more or on vehicles sold to persons with duty-free privileges. (This does not apply to motorcyles. Duty must be paid when selling to a non privleged buyer regardless of time in country). Due to high customs assessments on privately owned vehicles registered in Thailand less than five years, it is difficult to find Thai buyers. Sale to persons with duty-free import privileges is easier, although the market is smaller.

Non-diplomatic personnel (members of the Embassy administrative and technical staff) may only import a vehicle during the first six months after arriving in Thailand. These vehicles cannot be sold until the employee is reassigned from Thailand. In rare circumstances (i.e., complete demolition of the car) the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has approved replacement of a vehicle by non-diplomatic personnel before the end of their tours in Thailand.

Prior to final departure from Post, an employee must dispose of his/her privately owned vehicle by either export or sale. Employees must obtain permission to sell a vehicle from the Management Counselor in accordance with Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations Section 136.

Newly assigned employees should notify the GSO Customs and Shipping Section immediately upon arrival that they have shipped a vehicle to Post. At that time, they must provide information for the proper identification of the vehicle so it can be cleared expeditiously through the various Thai Government Departments. Vehicles should not be shipped to Post too far in advance because Thai customs authorities will not clear vehicles until the employee is physically in country. Privately owned vehicles arriving at Post before the employee accrue storage charges for which the employee may be liable. Lengthy storage at the port of Bangkok could also result in damage from exposure.

Thai law requires that all cars imported into Thailand have catalytic converters. If an employee’s car does not have one prior to shipping, it is usually possible to install a converter in Thailand; employees planning to ship a vehicle without a catalytic converter should contact the Embassy’s Customs and Shipping Office for details before shipping the car. Although there is a law limiting tinted windows it is generally not enforced. However, before shipping a vehicle with tinted windows please check with the Embassy for current regulations. Because traffic in Thailand moves on the left, right-hand drive vehicles are the norm and are safest for driving on open highways. However, left-hand drive cars may be shipped to Post and many employees use left-hand drive cars without problems in the cities.

Because the hot, humid and polluted air makes driving with open windows unpleasant, air-conditioned vehicles are strongly recommended. Large cars or vans can be too tall or wide for some parking spaces and difficult to maneuver in narrow streets. They are also more costly to operate and difficult to sell. Japanese and European manufactured cars can be purchased locally, but there is often a 3-4 month wait for delivery.

Duty-free gasoline and oil are sold through the Embassy's American Community Support Association (ACSA). Unleaded gas is the standard throughout the country. A number of garages offer adequate automotive repair facilities. Labor costs are low, but most replacement parts for non-Japanese manufactured cars are expensive, and locally manufactured nonstandard parts are sometimes substituted for genuine parts. Owners of American and European cars might consider bringing essential replacement parts to Post or making contact with a dealer in the U.S. who is willing to mail parts to Bangkok. Tires are available locally at reasonable prices.

Cars are required to have third party liability insurance which must be purchased in Thailand. Several firms in Bangkok and Chiang Mai offer third party liability as well as full comprehensive insurance coverage. The Embassy strongly recommends that employees carry full comprehensive insurance on their vehicles.

Automobiles imported into Thailand must be registered with the Embassy’s GSO/C&S Section immediately upon arrival. The vehicle cannot be driven until it has Thai license plates affixed, which can take up to a month. All Embassy employees are required to obtain a Thai driver’s license through the GSO/C&S Section and renew it after a year. Upon the first renewal, the license will be valid for an additional five years. It can take up to 2 months to obtain a driver’s license, but if the employee has a valid U.S. or international driver’s license the embassy will issue a temporary driver’s letter.

Rental cars are available in Bangkok and Chiang Mai and can be rented with or without a driver. Companies include Hertz, Budget and Avis and smaller local discount firms. Some employees manage very well without a car by depending on public transportation, such as air-conditioned taxis and buses which are readily available except late at night.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 10/11/2004 10:32 PM

Major highways and roads in Thailand are generally good, although they are very congested in the larger cities, especially Bangkok. Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok has major drainage problems during the rainy season; smaller streets may flood, and large potholes and drain openings go unrepaired until the rainy season ends. Bangkok is connected to nearby cities with good four-lane expressways. Further afield, highways are primarily two lanes and employees are strongly cautioned not to drive at night.

Bangkok traffic is heavy at all times of the day. For the newly arrived employee, Bangkok traffic can be truly intimidating with its mixture of buses, cars, three-wheeled “tuk-tuks,” (small two- or three-passenger open-air vehicles, whose name derives from the sound of their motors) and weaving motorcycles. However, those who venture onto the roads soon find that Bangkok’s streets can be negotiated as long as one exercises defensive driving and patience.

Public transportation in Bangkok includes buses, taxis, motorcycle taxis, and three-wheeled “tuk-tuks”. In addition, the city’s metropolitan authority has opened an overhead commuter train system and is constructing a limited subway. Most members of the community using public transport rely on taxis and the Skytrain.

Non-air-conditioned buses, while cheap (25 cents a ride), are almost always hot and often crowded. Air-conditioned buses are cleaner and more comfortable; they cost between 25 and 70 cents, depending on the distance of the trip. Buses operate on established schedules and run frequently on special bus lanes provided on the major streets of the city. Bus maps are available at bookstores and hotel newsstands.

Taxis are generally air conditioned, and most now are metered, eliminating the need to negotiate one’s fare before entering the cab. Metered taxi fares begin at B35 and increase depending on the distanced traveled. Taxi drivers often do not speak English.

The Skytrain has two lines and is easy to use. Skytrain personnel can generally speak some English. It operates on a card system similar to the Metro in Washington, D.C., and the cost ranges from 10 baht to 40 baht, depending on the number of stops traveled. It is widely used by tourists and weekend shoppers.

The Subway system was opened July 2004. It has one line and operates on tokens or a "smart card". The cost of the Subway ranges from 12 to 31 baht depending on the number of stops traveled. Subway personnel generally speak some English. It is widely used by local commuters

TDY visitors to Post can arrange for reliable 24-hour airport limousine service at Don Muang International Airport to take them to their hotels in downtown Bangkok. Upon request, the Embassy can also arrange for a hotel to provide limousine service to meet the incoming TDYer. Visitors can arrange with hotels for limousine service to the airport upon departure.

A small percentage of Mission personnel with families hire drivers to avoid driving in the Bangkok traffic. The average cost of a full-time driver ranges between B6,000 to B8,000 or 140 and 185 dollars per month.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 6/21/2004 3:45 AM

Bangkok enjoys excellent air connections with the rest of the countries in Southeast Asia as well as throughout the world. This is one of the principal reasons why many USG agencies with regional responsibilities have elected to locate in Bangkok.

Many employees take advantage of their tour in Bangkok to visit countries in the region. All neighboring countries are represented by embassies in Bangkok, and visas can be obtained relatively for some of the neighboring countries.

Thailand has excellent air, rail and bus transportation facilities. Air travel is relatively inexpensive with flights to all major cities and resorts operating several times daily. Air-conditioned overnight trains and inter-city buses are very reasonable for travelers with a bit more time on their hands.

Major highways, many of them four-lane expressways, connect most large cities of Thailand and are generally in good condition. While the Embassy strongly recommends against night travel on these roads, travel by day is a good way to see the country.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 1/9/2004 2:18 AM

Telephones and Telecom: Mission personnel assigned to U.S. Government-leased housing have phones with International Direct Dialing capability installed in their quarters. Landlords are responsible for obtaining telephone service for USG-leased housing, and the embassy will do so for USG-owned housing. The rate for local service is 3 Baht (about 8 cents) a call, plus a small (Baht 100) monthly charge. Phone service to the U.S. and most other countries is good, direct-dial calls to the U.S. cost about $0.55 a minute. Calling Cards (such as AT&T, MCI, Sprint) are very useful and significantly reduce the cost of calls.

U.S. telephone equipment such as cordless phones, fax machines, and external modems will work in Thailand, but may require a small step-down transformer to operate on 220 volts. You may also need to use a U.S. style modular telephone plug to accommodate such devices. Both adapters and transformers are readily available locally at reasonable prices.

Internet Last Updated: 1/9/2004 2:18 AM

Internet: There are a number of Internet service providers in Thailand. Monthly costs are somewhat higher than in the U.S. but increased competition is driving prices down, and some companies are now offering DSL and cable-modem services as well. The quality of service and local connection speeds is generally good.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 1/9/2004 2:21 AM

Mail and Pouch: Be sure the forwarding address you leave with your last post, the Post Office, friends, and business firms is correct and complete. U.S. Government direct-hire personnel send and receive personal mail through the APO. The address for the Embassy is:

Name American Embassy Office symbol or Agency, Box No. APO AP 96546-0001

Box numbers should be obtained from your office or agency at Post before you arrive.

For military personnel stationed in Bangkok, other than those assigned to the Embassy, the APO address is:


Obtain box numbers from your organization before you arrive. Otherwise, check with your unit mailroom for this information.

APO airmail between Bangkok and the U.S. takes 5-10 days; space available mail (SAM) 10-20 days. U.S. domestic postage rates apply to APO mail.

For international mail, the address is:

Name American Embassy Office symbol or Agency, Box No. 122 Wireless Road Bangkok 10330 Thailand

Radio and TV Last Updated: 1/9/2004 2:21 AM

Radio & TV: Thai television stations as well as local cable TV companies use the PAL broadcast system, which is not compatible with domestic U.S. televisions or VCRs. U.S. televisions can be modified locally to receive PAL broadcasts, but it is expensive and the results are not always satisfactory. Multi-system TVs are available on the local market at a slightly higher cost than in the U.S. These sets have the added advantage of having bilingual features, which enables them to receive certain cable channels in either Thai or English.

Six TV stations operate in Thailand, all of them broadcasting from Bangkok with relay stations serving other cities. They offer local as well as international programming. Cable TV companies offer 24-hour a day service to almost all residences in Bangkok as well as in Chiang Mai (satellite reception is possible where cable is not available). The cable companies offer CNN and BBC news channels; a number of sports channels, including ESPN; and several movie channels, including HBO.

Videocassette recorders (VCRs) are very popular with Mission personnel. A wide variety of videocassettes are available for rent through local video clubs as well as through ACSA. ACSA videotapes are NTSC standard (American TV system) format. Local rental outlets (like Blockbuster) offer tapes in the PAL format.

A number of Thai-language and a few English-language radio stations operate on FM stereo and regular AM frequencies. Short-wave carries VOA, BBC, Radio Australia, and other international programs.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 1/9/2004 2:22 AM

Newspaper/Magazines: Bangkok has two excellent English-language dailies: The Bangkok Post and The Nation. Both offer home delivery and use Western wire services to supplement domestic news. Time and Newsweek (international editions), the International Herald Tribune, and USA Today are available by subscription or direct purchase in the Embassy snackbar and at newsstands. Use the APO for subscriptions to U.S. periodicals.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

The Embassy Medical Unit provides outpatient medical, laboratory, pharmacy, and x-ray services for Mission personnel and their families. It also serves as a regional medical evacuation point for personnel from neighboring countries.

Three American State Department medical professionals staff the unit: a regional medical officer, a regional psychiatrist, and a family nurse practitioner. Thai registered nurses, a laboratory technician, and an x-ray technician assist them. The unit provides care for all Embassy-attached U.S. Government personnel in Bangkok. All new arrivals receive a comprehensive medical guide and are advised to have a medical orientation as soon as possible after settling into Post.

Persons requiring hospitalization are referred to local hospitals. Bangkok has a full range of English-speaking, trained specialists who are often board certified in the U.S. or Europe. Hospitals used by the American community in Bangkok are modern and well-equipped. Employees in Chiang Mai use local hospitals for routine treatment; however, complicated cases requiring extensive medical investigation or care are usually referred to Bangkok for evaluation.

The city has a limited number of medical specialists qualified to offer care to handicapped employees and/or family members. Individuals who require these services may wish to contact the Embassy Medical Unit for consultations prior to accepting an assignment to Thailand.

Community Health Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

Many medical conditions occurring in Thailand are also common in the U.S., but may occur with greater frequency because of humid weather, air pollution, and local sanitary conditions. The persistent heat and humidity are fatiguing and contribute to a high incidence of fungal skin infections, ear canal infections, heat rashes, and intestinal disorders. Vehicle pollution creates serious air quality problems in Bangkok. Burning eyes, sore throats, and upper respiratory symptoms are common in the worst areas. Persons with respiratory problems (i.e., chronic bronchitis, allergies, asthma, and emphysema), should consult with the State Department's Office of Medical Services Clearance Division to determine the medical risk of living in Bangkok, as these conditions may become worse in this polluted city.

Other conditions such as intestinal disorders can be prevented by paying careful attention to sanitation and hand cleanliness, particularly when handling food. Mosquitoes of many types are found in Thailand, including those that carry dengue fever, Japanese B encephalitis and malaria. Among children infections from scratched bites occur. Although malaria is not prevalent in Bangkok or Chiang Mai, it is a potential risk for travelers to outlying areas. Wearing protective clothing, remaining in well-screened areas, and using insect repellents while in mosquito-infested areas are mandatory as preventive measures.

The large population of stray street dogs in Bangkok makes the risk from bites and rabies a real concern. Pedestrians in Bangkok will encounter stray dogs everywhere and should take extra care to avoid them.

In the larger cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai household water comes from water purification plants, but the probability of contamination in the distribution system due to inadequate sewage facilities is always present, especially during the rainy season. Boiled or bottled water must be used for drinking, making ice cubes, and brushing teeth. During times of flooding, drinking water often becomes contaminated by seepage into the delivery pipes and diarrheal diseases invariably increase in frequency. Since the water here contains no fluoride, the Medical Unit supplies fluoride drops and tablets. Children aged 6 months to 16 years should use a fluoride supplement.

Fresh milk and ice cream purchased from local supermarkets and the commissary are safe to consume. Meat, especially pork, must be cooked thoroughly to prevent parasitic infections. Some families wash fruits and vegetables with soap and water and let air-dry before eating.

AIDS is a serious problem in Thailand. The disease first appeared in significant numbers in 1988 among IV drug abusers. It has since moved into the heterosexually promiscuous population (i.e., prostitutes and their customers). In other parts of Southeast Asia the epidemic is at an earlier stage, but in all locales prostitutes have a very high rate of HIV infection. The rate of infection has decreased over the past three years and experts attribute this downturn to an increasing use of condoms. Those engaging in high-risk activities should be aware that precautions are necessary everywhere.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

Employees and their family members should check their immunization records with the Medical Unit on arrival and regularly thereafter to keep immunizations up to date. Recommended immunizations include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, polio, typhoid, tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis, and Japanese B encephalitis. Children should be current on all the routine immunizations of childhood. Thailand remains an endemic area for measles, so the MMR preventative immunization is a must for all children 15 months or older coming to this region. Additionally, at around age 7 months, infants are given a separate measles immunization.

Malaria does not exist in the major business and resort cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Multiple drug-resistant falciparum malaria exists in certain border areas. When traveling, consult the Medical Unit regarding the need for malaria prophylaxis.

Rabies shots for animals are not compulsory in Thailand, and rabies is widespread in the area. All personnel who are at risk of exposure to rabid animals, especially children, runners, and hikers should receive pre-exposure rabies immunizations before arrival. Any person bitten or scratched by a warm-blooded animal or bat should notify the Medical Unit immediately. Family cats, dogs, and other pets susceptible to rabies should have rabies shots before they are brought to Thailand.

Psychological stresses can accumulate in Bangkok due to many factors: the unpredictable time it takes to commute to work; the air and noise pollution; the feeling of isolation due to traffic conditions, which restricts one’s acceptance of social engagements; and the hot, humid climate. Self-reliance and the development of good coping mechanisms are a necessity.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 6/21/2004 4:45 AM

Employment opportunities for family members in Thailand are somewhat limited. Work permit regulations, local wage scales, and Thai language requirements are all major constraints for work on the local economy. In addition, college-educated Thais are also seeking work in Bangkok, which further limits opportunities available to family members on the local economy. Since July 1997, Thailand has undergone a major financial and economic upheaval with thousands of Thai and expatriate blue and white collar workers losing their jobs. This has resulted in an overall tightening of the job market for spouses seeking employment.

Most employed spouses work either directly or indirectly in U.S. Government-related activities, often in positions of a different professional caliber than they would seek in the U.S. The large number of family members, compared with the number of jobs available, also limits employment opportunities. Most available jobs are concentrated in the clerical/secretarial field or in teaching. No bilateral work agreement exists between Thailand and the U.S.; however, family members of Mission personnel can apply for and obtain work permits from a prospective employer under the same restrictions that apply to other foreigners. Under Thai labor law, many occupations are restricted exclusively to Thai nationals. These occupations include secretarial and clerical work, hairdressing, accounting, law, architecture, and engineering. There are some exceptions. It is necessary to obtain a work permit from the Thai Department of Labor to work in Thailand. The granting of work permits is discretionary, but in all cases the employer must apply for the permit and must justify why a Thai cannot be employed in that position.

The largest single source of family member employment is the Family Member Employment Program offered by the Mission. A security clearance is required for most U.S. Government positions. There are currently about 60 positions in the Mission, but some positions are also subject to current-year budget constraints. The Embassy advertises its job openings in the Embassy newsletter, and the Post Employment Committee can assist in the selection process. Post encourages family members who are interested in working to contact the Regional Human Resources Office or the CLO.

Other jobs, such as teaching and working with refugee programs and other official agencies (i.e., United Nations), are advertised within the hiring agency. The CLO makes every effort to have current available information about these jobs. In recent years, family members have also been employed in teaching positions at the International School of Bangkok, at private Thai schools, at the American University Alumni Association (English language instruction), and at local nursery schools. Family members who are qualified and experienced teachers interested in a teaching position should correspond directly with the particular school. Occasionally, family members have been hired to teach specialized subjects at universities. The addresses of schools where adult family members have been employed in recent years are:

International School of Bangkok (ISB) (K-12), Samakee Campus, 39/7 Soi Nichada Thani, Samakee Road, Amphur Pakkret, P.O. Box 20 - 1015, Hayaek-pakkret, Nonthaburi 11120 New International School of Thailand (NIST) (K-12), 36 Soi 15, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok 10110 Ruam Rudee International School (RIS) (K-12), 42 Moo 4 Ramkamhaeng 184 Road, Mooban Chokchai Pan-chasarp, Minburi 10510 American University Alumni Association (English teaching), 179 Rajadamri Road, Bangkok 10330 Some family members have been self-employed in the fields of photography, music, aerobic dance, swimming, writing, and tutoring. Free-lance work does not require a work permit.

Volunteer service opportunities exist with many organizations and groups such as: orphanages, the National Museum Volunteers, the American Women's Club (Sawaddi publication, thrift shop, and Christmas Bazaar), the CLO, the Community Services of Bangkok, and local churches, schools, and hospitals, as well as with many Thai charitable organizations.

For the last several years, the Embassy has had an 8-week (two 4-week sessions) summer-hire program for teenage Mission family members age 16 and older. Continuance of the summer hire program for teenagers is subject to current-year funding.

American Embassy - Bangkok

Post City Last Updated: 3/17/2005 6:40 AM

Bangkok is a large over populated city of contrasts. It has a tropical weather. It has high-rise air conditioned apartment buildings and modern department stores; crowded tiny stalls in local markets; jammed traffic, and crooked lanes bordered by canals where children bathe and fish. The blare of pop music and the tinkle of temple bells; spacious homes and thatched huts; the scents of jasmine, lemon grass, and of fish drying in the sun. There are several international restaurants. There are also food vendors squatting by small charcoal braziers on the sidewalk. A lifetime could be spent exploring Bangkok and its delightful mixture of cultures, customs, and peoples. This is the land of "Smiles".

Security Last Updated: 6/18/2004 4:02 AM

Thailand is a nation with a long history of democracy and positive economic growth. Since the Asian economic crisis of 1997, Thailand has successfully sought to regain and promote its position within the region. As with many environments, certain criminal activities are often tied to economic well being within a country. Traditionally, criminal activity in Thailand is limited to non-confrontational crimes such as pick pocketing or purse snatching. Other, more threatening criminal acts have occurred on occasion. Persons living in Bangkok should exercise good security awareness practices as they would in any other large city. The Regional Security Office is composed of a RSO, DRSO, 2 ARSO’s, RSO Administrative Staff, 10 Foreign Service National Investigators/Coordinators, and a Local Guard Force of more than 300 people. In addition to the RSO Staff, there is a Marine Detachment assigned to the Embassy in Bangkok. The Embassy Switchboard Operator and Marine Guard Post 1 are available 24-hours a day.

Traffic safety is a big problem in Thailand. There are increasing numbers of cars, motorcycles and pedestrians on the streets, and minimal traffic control. Accidents are commonplace. Personnel should always carry appropriate license and vehicle registration documents. Personnel should also remain at accident scenes, unless they determine the situation is potentially too dangerous to do so. A tour in Thailand can be a very enjoyable experience. However, it is always wise to prepare for worst-case scenarios. Contingency planning in advance can save many problems and headaches later.

The threat of terrorism is everywhere in the world, and Thailand is no different. The arrest in 2003 of some very high-level terrorist operators in Thailand serves to bolster the idea that such activities can take place anytime and anywhere. The Regional Security Officer hosts a detailed security briefing for all newly arrived personnel soon after their arrival at Post.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 6/18/2004 4:05 AM

As Chief of Mission, the Ambassador leads this very large mission which includes the Embassy, the Consulate General in Chiang Mai, DEA offices in Songkhla and Udorn, and IBB sites in Bangkok and Udorn. The Embassy is the official point of contact for relations with the Royal Thai Government as well as with international organizations such as the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and specialized U.N. agencies.

At present, more than 30 U.S. Government agencies and offices are represented in the U.S. Mission, making it one of the largest in the world. Included among the agencies are the State Department, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS), and the International Broadcast Bureau (IBB). In addition, the Department of Defense is represented by the Defense Attaché Office (DAO), the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group – Thailand (JUSMAG–THAI), Joint Task Force - Full Accounting (JTF/FA), the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Company C of the Marine Security Guard Battalion.

The Embassy also serves as a regional base for several specialized State Department offices serving Foreign Service posts in the region. These include the Bangkok Regional Diplomatic Courier Office (BRDCO), the Financial Services Center (FSC), the Regional Information Management Center (RIMC), the Regional Medical Office (RMO) and the Regional Human Resources Office (RHRO).

Beyond the traditional role the Embassy plays in the conduct of foreign affairs, the protection of American citizens and the promotion of U.S. business, the various elements of the Mission work closely with the Royal Thai Government in areas such as drug interdiction and enforcement, refugee screening and processing, research to control the spread of AIDS, investigations of counterfeit U.S. currency and documents, and maintaining international standards of airport security.

The State Department provides administrative support services in varying degrees to all U.S. agencies and their personnel under the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) system. The Management Section arranges customs clearances for the importation of personal effects, registration of personally owned vehicles, Thai drivers licenses, and Foreign Ministry identification cards for all employees and eligible family members assigned to the Mission.

The Chancery is located at 120/122 Wireless Road in the central business district of Bangkok. Directly across the street at 95 Wireless Road is the Chancery Annex, which houses the Consular and Public Affairs sections, FBIS, and FSC. The Embassy commissary is located on the Annex grounds. A number of agencies are located in offsite buildings away from the Chancery on military facilities or in commercially leased spaces. All agencies and offices can be reached through the Embassy switchboard, which is manned 24 hours a day. The number is 205-4000 (country code: 66; city code: 2).

The Embassy’s official workweek is Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. A Marine Security Guard is on duty around the clock in the Chancery.

The Embassy operates an active sponsorship program for newly assigned personnel. Sponsors meet new arrivals at Don Muang International Airport, accompany them to their assigned quarters, and assist them during their first few days, including the initial check-in process at the Embassy. U.S. air carriers arriving in Bangkok from the United States land late at night. Incoming personnel should ensure that their sponsor, the CLO and their new office are informed of their arrival plans. In addition to sending front channel cables, employees can communicate with the CLO using the following Internet address:

The Community Liaison Office (CLO) organizes two Embassy-wide orientation programs a year for newcomers. These programs, which last one full day, are mandatory for employees (eligible family members are invited and encouraged to attend) and cover the wide range of activities of the agencies and offices working in the Embassy.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

Most agencies at the Embassy and at the Consulate in Chiang Mai participate in the Post’s Housing/Furniture Pool (for details see section below). For employees of those agencies that do participate in the pool, the goal is to have permanent housing ready for occupancy at the time of the employee’s arrival. During the annual summer turnover, however, there is a possibility that permanent housing cannot be readied in time for an employee’s arrival. In such cases, the GSO may assign incoming employees and their families to alternative Embassy-owned or leased quarters pending the final preparation of the residential unit assigned as permanent housing. On some occasions it may be necessary to place incoming employees and their families in hotels or serviced apartments for a temporary period.

Employees of agencies that do not participate in the Post Housing/ Furniture Pool must locate and rent their own residential units. This can be a time-consuming process, during which the employee and family members must reside in local hotels or serviced apartments.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 10/11/2004 10:36 PM

The majority of agencies at the Embassy, and all agencies in Chiang Mai, participate in the Post Housing/Furniture Pool. The following agencies do not: JUSMAGTHAI, AFRIMS, CDC/HIV, and Peace Corps. Employees should direct inquiries concerning their agency’s participation in the pool either to headquarters or to the agency’s Management officer in Bangkok. Those employees of agencies not participating in the Housing/Furniture Pool are authorized an Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) or Living Quarters Allowance (LQA), depending on whether they are military or civilian. The local offices of these agencies are prepared to help incoming employees work with real estate agencies to identify suitable housing.

The Embassy housing pool in Bangkok is administered by the Embassy's Supervisory General Services Officer. All units in the pool, with limited exceptions, are in high-rise apartments. The majority of pooled residential units are located close to the Chancery. In addition, the Embassy rents approximately 40, 4-bedroom townhouses located close to the International School of Bangkok (ISB), which is located some 20 kilometers from the Chancery.

Most apartments are two- to three-bedroom size, some with small dens. Four-bedroom residential units are hard to find. Consequently, housing for singles and small families is fully adequate; housing for large families can be somewhat crowded. Most apartment buildings have swimming pools and a few have tennis courts. Some of them offer exercise facilities of varying quality. Green space and playground areas are limited, although some apartment complexes have areas for bicycle riding or skateboarding.

The Post's Inter-Agency Housing Board makes all assignments of employees to units in the Housing/Furniture Pool. In accordance with State Department regulations, the Board makes these assignments on the basis of position rank and family size. An employee's arrival date and the availability of units within the pool are also key factors in determining where a new employee may be assigned. Larger quarters will be assigned to the extent possible to larger families, even though smaller families may arrive earlier at Post. Efforts are also made to ensure that children need not share bedrooms. In periods of tight housing, it may be necessary to assign quarters whose size requires children to share bedrooms. This especially can occur with large families with four or more children. If this should be necessary, the housing officer will try to ensure that no child over 6 years of age will share a bedroom with another child of the opposite sex.

Only a limited number of apartment buildings accept pets. Consequently, newly assigned employees should notify Post as far in advance as possible if they plan to bring pets. In general, Bangkok is a difficult place to keep pets. Exercise areas are limited or nonexistent.

Furnishings Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

All government-owned housing and housing leased for the housing pool in Bangkok are fully furnished. The same is true at the Consulate in Chiang Mai. Consequently, Bangkok and Chiang Mai are considered furnished posts for those in pooled housing and employees are authorized a limited weight allowance of 7,200 pounds. Because almost all housing units in Bangkok are moderately-sized apartments, and because the Embassy has no facility to store excess personal effects, employees must exercise caution in deciding what to bring to Post.

Depending on the apartment building, an apartment may be partially furnished by the landlord or fully furnished by the Embassy. For those units that are landlord-furnished, the Embassy GSO will augment with additional pieces of furniture as necessary. Consequently, all apartments are provided with a complement of furniture that typically includes the following (the exact number of pieces will vary according to the size and layout of an apartment):

Living Room: sofa, love seat and/or 2 easy chairs, coffee and end tables, table lamps;

Dining Room: table with 1-2 leaves and up to 10 chairs, china cabinet, credenza;

Bedrooms: beds (queen and/or twin), night tables, lamps, dressers with mirror, side chairs.

All apartments are furnished with draperies, kitchen and laundry appliances (including vacuum cleaner and microwave) and area rugs for main living spaces. The furniture pool has limited quantities of special purpose items (bookcases, desks, TV stands). All housing is air-conditioned. Baby cribs can be borrowed on a short-term basis from the GSO Property/Supply Office.

Many local firms specialize in made-to-order teak or rattan furniture and many Embassy employees take advantage of the opportunity to buy such pieces. Prices have recently increased for wood items due to a severe shortage of timber in the country but are still reasonable compared to similar items in the U.S.

All personal effects shipped to Thailand should be insured. Valuable or delicate belongings are subject to damage by heat, humidity, insects, and mold or mildew. Books are particularly susceptible to mildew. Pianos should be tropicalized.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

Electricity in all government housing is 220 volt, 50 cycles. Most 110-volt appliances can be used with step-down transformers, which the Embassy provides for those agencies in the housing/furniture pool. Grills, frying pans, toaster ovens, irons, and coffee makers and milk warmers run well on 50 or 60 cycles. Motor-driven appliances such as fans, film projectors, mixers, vacuum cleaners, hair dryers and the like work well on transformers, but may run more slowly than they would on 60 cycles, and may overheat. Clocks, stereo systems and tape recorders that do not have a built-in cycle converter and are designed to operate on 60 cycles may require adjustments to run correctly. These appliances can generally be converted locally.

Thai 220V electrical outlets are virtually identical to U.S. 110V outlets. Employees must exercise great care when plugging in electrical devices. Otherwise, the future of the devices will be extremely short as they burn up with the higher voltage.

Apartments and townhouses are equipped with either electric or gas stoves, depending on the landlord. All GSO-furnished stoves are gas. All residential units are furnished with split air-conditioning units and many with ceiling fans. Although the furniture pool does not include oscillating fans, these are available locally at reasonable prices. Government-owned and leased housing is provided with electric hot water heaters.

Small kitchen appliances on the local market are expensive, and employees are advised to bring their own or plan to purchase them through mail-order catalogs.

Food Last Updated: 1/11/2004 10:38 PM

There is no need for employees to ship food to Bangkok. There is a plentiful supply of foodstuffs both in the Embassy’s commissary and on the local market. Restaurants abound in the city, catering to most tastes and all ranges of income.

The American Community Support Association (ACSA) operates a commissary, “The Emporium,” which is located on the grounds of the Embassy Annex and is available to all U.S. Government personnel assigned to Thailand as well as to employees here on temporary duty. The Emporium imports from the United States a good selection of American items including cereal, frozen vegetables and meat, canned foods, soft drinks, pet food, dairy products, baby food and microwavable goods. In addition to food items, The Emporium carries alcohol, cigarettes, household cleaning items, paper products, personal toiletries and some over-the-counter medicines. For employees assigned to posts within Thailand, ACSA charges a one-time nonrefundable membership fee of $75.00 for single employees and $150.00 for married employees regardless of family size. TDY employees coming to Thailand on official orders and wishing to shop at The Emporium are charged a $10.00 per month ACSA TDY membership fee.

Embassy employees and their families also shop for food in Bangkok's numerous supermarkets and fresh food markets. Almost everything Americans normally eat or drink is available in Bangkok with a few seasonal limitations. Thailand produces a large variety of fruits, including mangos, pineapples, papayas, and bananas. Fresh vegetables are available in abundance, as are many kinds of fresh and saltwater fish and shellfish. Supermarkets carry a good selection of local and imported beef, pork, lamb, veal and poultry. Meat sold in open-air markets is not recommended as it is often not clean and not properly refrigerated. All meat should be cooked thoroughly before eating. Vegetables should be washed with soap and water and let air-dry before eating. Foremost and Nestlé both produce milk and dairy products locally in Thailand that are safe to consume. Supermarkets offer cleanliness, convenience and reasonable prices, although imported goods can be expensive. Local fresh markets sell their produce generally at somewhat lower prices.

Bangkok’s restaurants are legion, and many Embassy employees enjoy dining out. In addition to the many places offering Thai food, there are restaurants specializing in other cuisine including Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Italian, French, Lebanese, and many others. Many U.S. fast food franchises operate in Bangkok, and home delivery is possible from several of these. Within the Embassy, ACSA operates three cafeterias — in the Chancery, on the grounds of the Annex and at the JUSMAG compound.

Clothing Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

In Bangkok’s tropical climate, lightweight natural materials, especially cotton, are comfortable and practical. For office wear, most types of light to medium weight fabrics, including lightweight knits, can be comfortably worn, since all offices are air-conditioned. For dining out, air-conditioning in hotels can be excessive. A lightweight sweater or jacket can sometimes be worn during the short cool season. If you plan to travel to non-tropical countries during your tour, bring some warmer clothing suitable for cooler climates.

Men Last Updated: 6/18/2004 4:28 AM

Suits with long-sleeved shirts and ties are the norm for office wear. Suits can be tailored locally in a short period of time (about 2 weeks.) Officers need black-tie dress for occasional formal evenings. A dark business suit is recommended for other evening wear. Tuxedos can be easily tailored here, sometimes for less than a ready-made one would cost in the U.S. Thai-style men’s shirt-jackets tailored in silk or cotton can be worn to some evening events. Sport shirts are worn for casual social affairs and can be made or bought locally.

Women Last Updated: 6/18/2004 4:27 AM

Female officers wear the same type of clothing as they would wear to work in Washington, D.C., in the summer. Sleeveless and short-sleeved dresses with jackets are convenient for moving from the hot, humid outdoors to an air-conditioned office. For regular to large “American-sized” adults, it is more difficult to buy ready-made clothing and shoes than in the U.S. The smaller one is, the more likely to be able to buy clothing off the rack. Most employees and families use a tailor or dressmaker at some time during their stay in Bangkok, supplemented with catalog ordering and rounded out with an infinite and cheap supply of tourist t-shirts. Tank tops and/or short-shorts are not appropriate at many Thai gatherings and other destinations. Sewing notions of good quality are available at reasonable prices. Patterns are not sold locally. A wide variety of fabrics are imported from Japan, Europe, and the U.S. Locally produced synthetics and blends are sold in shops and department stores. Thai cotton and silk are of high quality and are popular for both daytime and evening wear. Maternity dresses can be made here, but employees should bring maternity pants and shorts from the U.S. or order from catalogs.

A few functions each year require formal evening wear, which can be made by dressmakers. For informal social events mid to floor-length skirts, trousers, and dresses are all popular. Dressy pants and tops and short and long cocktail dresses are also worn to some evening functions. Traditionally Thais wear black only at funerals and during mourning. It is sometimes worn as part of fashion, but never as a dominant color.

Children Last Updated: 6/18/2004 4:25 AM

Children need the same type of clothing they would wear during hot summer months in the U.S. Shoes, sandals and clothing can be purchased or made locally. Sport socks to wear with sneakers are difficult to find in local stores. Girls’ bathing suits are readily available locally, but boys' swim trunks are not as readily available. Baby clothes are widely available and inexpensive. Disposable diapers are available but expensive. Many parents use mail order and online stores to replenish their children’s wardrobes. The International School of Bangkok requires a uniform.

Office Attire Last Updated: 12/30/2003 4:25 AM

The appearance of employees should be professional, in a way that conveys respect for colleagues, customers, and the work environment, and not pose a safety or health hazard or distraction from work. Employees should use common sense in determining what is appropriate for their particular situation at work. Employees should follow basic requirements for safety and comfort and be neat and businesslike in appearance.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 6/21/2004 3:16 AM

American toiletries, over-the-counter medicines, feminine hygiene supplies, household cleaning products, and frozen food, alcohol and tobacco items are sold at the ACSA commissary and in local stores. Imported cosmetics are expensive if purchased on the local market. Employees should bring a supply of favorite brands to Post or identify a mail-order source before coming to Post. Insect repellent is available at the commissary and in local stores.

ACSA has party equipment available for rent, including china, silverware, and glassware for 100; a 20-cup coffee maker; and table linens in white and beige. Bed and bath linens sold in the local department stores are expensive. Locally made informal table linens are attractive and moderately priced. Large-sized tablecloths are available.

Basic Services Last Updated: 6/21/2004 3:17 AM

Employees can find just about any service that they need in Bangkok. Tailoring and dressmaking shops are numerous. Shoe repair services are also available, but materials used are not of the quality found in the U.S. Dry-cleaning and laundry services are located at ACSA on the Embassy compound, as well as throughout the city. A concessionaire working for ACSA provides a pack and wrap service next to the APO. Computer, TV, and stereo repair facilities are available on the local economy, and picture framing is a bargain.

Mission personnel are cautioned against purchasing pirated video and audio tapes and disks that are available all over Thailand and are illegal under Thai and U.S. law. Compact music disks, video compact disks (VCD) and digital video disks (DVD) are inexpensive, though imported ones are more costly. A number of stores specialize in renting videotapes, VCDs and DVDs although these are in the PAL format. Pianos can be rented, and Bangkok has qualified piano tuners. Beauty shops and spas with personnel trained in facial and body massage, manicures, pedicures, and hair styling are numerous and reasonably priced. Barbershops operate in most of the major hotels, and there is also one located on the JUSMAG compound, approximately one mile from the Chancery.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 6/21/2004 3:18 AM

Most personnel employ domestic help in Bangkok. Single employees may hire a part-time maid who cooks, cleans, and does the laundry several days a week. Families with children often hire one or two full-time employees. Virtually all residential units in Bangkok have some form of maid's quarters, so domestic help may be either live-in or may live away from the residence and come to work daily. Drivers are not necessary but some employees find that they offer great relief from the stress and strain of driving in Bangkok traffic.

Full-time domestic help usually work 6 days a week. The employer determines their day off, usually a Sunday. Knowledge of English among domestic help varies and salary depends on previous experience and skills. Salaries range from $160 to $220 a month for a good all-round cook and housekeeper, depending on whether they work part-time or full-time, live in or live out. It is common practice for employers to pay domestic help an annual one month's salary bonus at New Year’s or a fraction thereof if they have worked less than a full year. Before employment and every year thereafter, domestic help employees should have a complete physical examination, including chest x-ray, stool, and blood tests. Local hospitals offer these services. Employer's liability insurance for domestic help is recommended and is very reasonably priced.

The CLO office conducts a periodic survey of wages and terms of employment among domestic helpers in the Embassy community. The results of this survey are on file in the CLO, along with specific letters of recommendation if employers wish to write them. Both "help wanted" and "job wanted" ads are carried in the weekly newsletter.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 6/21/2004 3:19 AM

Although Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, religious tolerance is practiced. Under the Constitution, the King must be a Buddhist, but he is also the protector of all religions in Thailand. Government offices and many businesses close on Sunday, not for religious reasons but as a day of rest. There are a number of Christian churches in Bangkok including Catholic and a number of Protestant denominations. A number of these churches hold regular services and Sunday school in English. The city also hosts a Jewish Center that has weekly services in Hebrew and English.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 10/11/2004 10:43 PM

There are several good English-language private international schools in Bangkok attended by children of Embassy employees. These include the International School of Bangkok, which uses the American educational system; the New International School of Thailand, with an International Baccalaureate curriculum at all levels; and Bangkok Patana School, which provides British-based education.

International School of Bangkok (ISB). Between 55 and 65% of Embassy children attend the International School of Bangkok (ISB). The school offers accredited, American-based instruction for kindergarten through 12th grade. High school students can pursue an American diploma or an International Baccalaureate. The school year is from mid-August to June with a 6-week summer session offered.

Children entering kindergarten must be 5 years of age before August 31st; children entering first grade must be 6. There are no exceptions. Note: ISB does not have an open admissions policy. All new students, including those entering kindergarten, must be tested for class/grade level placement. Parents should provide the required information to the Admissions Office to guarantee that a provisional space will be reserved and verify that their children meet ISB requirements. For high school students, ISB has a requirement that entering students have at least a 1.7 grade point average.

Before entering school, all children must have a physical examination, including an eye test and TB test. Shots must be up to date. To register, students must present a copy of their school transcript(s) or last report card, as well as their immunization record.

ISB's teachers and administrative staff have standard academic and teaching credentials. Approximately 2/3 of the staff holds American certification and the other 1/3 are certified in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand or locally. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges, a U.S. accrediting institution, accredits the school. ISB's enrollment is about 1,804 students, of which 35% are Americans (the Embassy contributes about 177 students each year). Class sizes average 22 students. American textbooks are used throughout. The school has two excellent libraries.

ISB is located on a modern and spacious campus about 20 kilometers from the Chancery in downtown Bangkok. The school provides a bus service for students; the commute time from downtown to the school's campus is about 45 minutes. Classes for all grades start at 7:25 a.m. and end at 1:50 p.m. Students can buy lunch at the school's cafeterias.

The school offers primarily a U.S.-designed college preparatory program with a limited number of vocational courses.

ISB has instituted a formal dress policy, and is exploring the possibility of a uniform. Uniforms for physical education classes are available for purchase from the school.

Physical education is compulsory at the elementary and junior high levels and for one year at the high school level. Inter-city and intra-school sports, music, drama, student clubs and cultural activities are available.

ISB has six psychologist/counselors that work with students and parents in personal and academic counseling. The school's facilities for students with special needs are limited.

The New International School of Thailand (NIST). NIST opened in 1992 on the old campus of ISB in downtown Bangkok. The school has a current enrollment of over 1,250 students and about 27 of those are from Embassy families. Instruction is offered from pre-school through 12th grade. The curriculum at all levels at NIST is tied to the International Baccalaureate. The American diploma is also offered.

The school is accredited through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the European Council of International Schools. The school year runs from the middle of August until the middle of June. School hours for kindergarten students are from 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.; with an optional after school educational program until 2:30 p.m. all other grades, Grade 1 through 12 are in class from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Although the school is downtown and, therefore, close to most Embassy housing, the school does offer optional bus service and the commute from most Embassy housing is about 10-20 minutes.

All students admitted to the school are interviewed and are subject to placement assessments. Spaces are limited, and the school attempts to balance nationalities of the students through its admission policies (the student body consists of 50 nationalities). Uniforms are mandatory for students attending NIST and are available through the school.

Bangkok Patana School. Patana is a British-system international school offering instruction for pre-school through year 13 (grade 12) and accredited through the UK Office of Standards in Education. It has a current enrollment of 2,007 students, of which about 31 are from Embassy families. The student body includes over 40 nationalities.

The school offers courses leading to the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Located on the eastern outskirts of Bangkok, the school offers school bus transport for its students and the commute is approximately 25 minutes from most Embassy housing.

The school year runs from early September to the middle of June. Hours are similar to the schools mentioned above. Uniforms are required for all students attending Patana and available through the school.

Other schools consistently used by a smaller number of Embassy children include a smaller Christian school, a large Roman Catholic international school, the French school, the Japanese school, and others. There are many good educational choices in Bangkok. For information and admission forms for these or other schools in Bangkok, employees should contact the Embassy's CLO office.

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 10/11/2004 10:43 PM

Special education opportunities in Bangkok are extremely limited. ISB and Bangkok Patana school are able to accept students who need a mild amount of extra educational attention, but they do not have the facilities or staff to offer programs for students with moderate to severe learning disabilities. All of the schools noted above are prepared to consider educating children with physical disabilities in a mainstream setting. Parents should closely consult with the individual school before considering or accepting an assignment to Bangkok.

Gifted and talented students will find that standards are high at all the schools and extra curricular and International Baccalaureate studies provide challenges. However, special classes for these students are not generally offered.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

There are limited opportunities for employees or their adult family members to participate in group sports. The Embassy does not have a recreational facility per se and there is no suitable area for softball or other team sports. The International School of Bangkok, however, does offer a wide range of team sports for its students, and many families devote weekends to coaching and cheering on their children there.

Soccer is very popular in Thailand, and tickets to games are inexpensive. Thai kickboxing is known around the world, and leading competitors enjoy a devoted following among boxing fans. Each spring, kite flyers come out in large numbers to participate in competitions.

For the availability of tennis, golf and other individual sports activities, please see the following section.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

Bangkok has a large number of historic and scenic sites for employees of the Embassy and their families to enjoy. People can either visit them on their own or with a guide arranged through one of the many hotels in the city. The city is full of beautiful Buddhist temples ranging from the imposing structures of the Grand Palace, site of the Emerald Buddha (Thailand's most revered Buddha), to small temples located on back streets.

Once renowned for its canals and water-borne markets, Bangkok has paved over most of its canals in an attempt to accommodate the growing number of vehicles. Nevertheless, it is still possible to take a tour of the canals ("klongs") to get a feel of Thai life along the river and the klongs. Another pleasant diversion is to simply travel up and down the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok on one of the many water taxis that ply the river every day.

Within driving distance from Bangkok are a number of beach resorts where Embassy personnel can escape the bustle and pollution of the city. Pattaya (two hours' drive) on the east coast of the Bay of Thailand and Hua Hin (three hours' drive) on the west coast of the bay both offer a wide range of hotels and access to the beaches. For those with a bit more time on their hands, the islands off southern Thailand and the beaches of Krabi and Phuket boast great spots for sea canoeing, snorkeling, and skin diving with hotels that range from five star resorts to thatch-roofed bungalows.

Many Embassy employees and their families also enjoy touring in the North of Thailand. Trekking, river rafting, and mountain biking opportunities abound in the mountains around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Numerous touring companies offer the chance to ride elephants through the jungle, visit the various hill tribes of the North, or journey to the famed Golden Triangle.

For the outdoors person, Bangkok is not at first glance an easy place to live. The streets are crowded and pollution levels are high. Nevertheless, opportunities for outdoor activities still exist. For golfers, Thailand has a large number of excellent courses, many of them within driving range of downtown Bangkok. For the jogger, there are several outdoor parks, including Lumpini Park, which is close to the Chancery and much of the Embassy housing. With its lush greenery and extensive lakes, Lumpini is a fresh oasis where one can escape the city's pollution and join hundreds of Thais jogging and walking around the 2.5 kilometer circuit.

Tennis players may avail themselves of the tennis court at the Ambassador's Residence, just down the street from the Chancery, or join one of a number of clubs with tennis and squash courts. Some apartment buildings in the housing pool also have tennis courts. Although the streets of Bangkok are not recommended for biking, cyclists can find lightly traveled roads within 30-45 minutes of downtown Bangkok. Slightly further afield, there are some excellent off-road cycling opportunities in the vicinity of Hua Hin and in Thailand's oldest national park, Khao Yai, some three and a half hours from Bangkok.

For the fitness buff there is a fitness center at the JUSMAGTHAI facility, approximately one mile from the Chancery. The center has a range of aerobic and weight lifting equipment and is available without charge to all members of the Embassy and their family members. A number of employees also belong to health clubs at major hotels, and many use the fitness equipment that is offered at some of the apartment buildings leased by the Embassy.

Bangkok's R&R location is Sydney, Australia. Many employees take advantage of their tour in Bangkok to visit countries throughout the region. Air connections are excellent from Bangkok and many companies offer excellent package tours including airfare and hotel accommodations at the destination.

Social Activities Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

Within the Embassy, there are organized groups that cater to golfers, divers, Hash House Harriers (both running and cycling) and readers. Outside of the Embassy, employees belong to a wide range of organizations, ranging from the Siam Society which specializes in lectures and trips to historical and cultural sites; to the American Women's Club which offers activities ranging from bridge to charity work; to the National Museum Volunteers who serve as docents at the museum; and the Neilson Hays Library with about 20,000 volumes in English.

Bangkok abounds with restaurants catering to every pocketbook and taste. It has been estimated that a person could eat at a different restaurant in Bangkok every night for a full three-year tour and never hit the same spot twice.

The Embassy FSN Association sponsors two large Thai cultural events a year — Loy Krathong in November and Songkran in April. Both occasions are well attended by the entire Embassy community and offer Americans an exposure to Thai culture and traditions. Other events within the Embassy Community have included children's parties at Halloween and Easter, and an all-Embassy party for the December holidays.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

Official functions in Bangkok follow the pattern of most large embassies. The Ambassador holds a number of receptions at his residence to which some employees are invited, depending on the nature of the particular function. The Embassy holds its 4th of July reception at one of the major hotels in the city. The same is true of other embassies' national day receptions. Most other entertaining is done in the home in the form of cocktail parties, dinner parties or luncheons; however, it is easy and relatively inexpensive to arrange a party at a local restaurant or obtain catering for an event.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

Responsibilities of staff members to the Ambassador and heads of Mission elements are similar to those at other posts. New senior officers usually call on the Ambassador, DCM and heads of other elements of the Mission, with introductions made by the office chief when possible. All personnel are introduced to the Ambassador and the DCM by their section head soon after arrival.

The office chief or his/her designee usually arranges calls on working contacts in the Thai Government, elements of the U.S. Mission, and other diplomatic missions and business firms. Calling cards in English and Thai can be printed locally and inexpensively.

Special Information Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM


All residential units provide covered parking for one vehicle per household. Parking at the Chancery and other Embassy facilities is adequate to accommodate most employees’ vehicles. Employees living in close proximity to their offices are encouraged to walk to work and many find it faster and more convenient to do so. There is no charge at any of the Embassy facilities for parking.

Post Orientation Program

The Community Liaison Office organizes an Embassy-wide orientation program twice a year. The Ambassador and the heads of the numerous USG agencies and offices represented in Bangkok offer a valuable overview of the breadth of USG activities in Thailand. In addition, local speakers discuss Thai culture and describe various opportunities for employees and their family members to become involved in cultural and charitable activities outside the Embassy. These orientation programs are mandatory for all newly arrived employees, and adult family members are strongly encouraged to attend.

Upon arrival, all employees receive orientation kits designed to introduce them to both the Embassy and the city of Bangkok. These kits include city maps, shopping information, administrative instructions, and other general information. In addition, the CLO office sponsors a number of day trips throughout the year to spots in and around Bangkok for both shopping and sightseeing.

The Post Language Program follows Foreign Service Institute guidelines and is available to employees and to family members on a space-available basis. Thai language instruction is available depending on individual agency regulations. Not all agencies fund language training. Several institutes, including the American University Association (AUA) offer excellent Thai language instruction for a reasonable price.

Related Internet Sites Last Updated: 6/21/2004 4:50 AM - Bangkok Post Profiles - Thailand Background Notes - U.S. Embassy Bangkok website - Thai MFA Website

Consulate General - Chiang Mai

Post City Last Updated: 11/25/2005 2:54 AM

Capital of a semiautonomous Northern Thai kingdom until the early 20th century, Chiang Mai is located about 500 miles north of Bangkok. Situated on a river plain surrounded by mountain ranges, this city has retained a measure of its traditional charm. The Buddhist temples found on almost every block, bustling night bazaar, abundance of handicrafts, and nearby hilltribe villages make it a popular tourist stop.

The Chiang Mai consular district encompasses Thailand’s 15 northernmost provinces. There are several thousand Americans registered with the Consulate, and many more working, proselytizing and retiring within its jurisdiction. It is bordered by Burma on the north and west, and Laos on the north and east. Much of the region is mountainous, and transportation lines run mainly north and south along the wide river valleys.

With a population probably exceeding 200,000, the city of Chiang Mai is an important regional center. The area produces rice, tobacco, corn and sugarcane, as well as such seasonal delicacies as longan, lychee and strawberries. Drugs from the infamous “Golden Triangle” region and poached teakwood are the major illicit products. Textiles, mining, cottage industries and tourism also play an important role in the region's economy.

Please check the frequently-updated website for lots of helpful infomation about the post.

Security Last Updated: 12/29/2003 0:39 AM

The Post works closely with Regional Security in Bangkok to provide adequate security at the Consulate and Housing compounds, along with the schools.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 1/5/2004 0:50 AM

The Consulate General consists of several agencies, including State Department, DEA, CDC and U.S. Air Force. Post has some 28 American staff members, 45 Thai FSN, PSA, and contract employees, and approaching 50 American family members. The Consulate General and the Consul General’s residence are located in the compound on the Ping River that was the former residence of the last Prince of the Lanna Kingdom. Stately palm trees shade its historic buildings and broad lawns.

The Consulate General office building occupies the quarters of the prince’s concubines, while the CG’s home is the former royal residence. Official business hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has offices in a separate facility several miles from the Consulate General, and an Air Force Detachment works at a seismic monitoring facility at the bottom of Suthep Mountain, about 4 miles west of the city.

Upon arrival in Thailand before proceeding to Chiang Mai, stop at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok for consultations and in-processing. The Embassy handles many administrative matters such as ID cards, commissary membership, payroll, travel voucher processing, and transportation of effects. Ten planes a day make the 55-minute trip between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, with one extra flight on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and two on Sunday. Trains operate seven times a day and take from 12 to 14 hours.

Housing Last Updated: 12/29/2003 0:57 AM

Comfortable housing is available to all at post -- whether they are serving in a temporary or permanent position.

Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/28/2003 9:26 PM

Every attempt is made to welcome new employees by taking them directly from the airport to their new home. When that is not possible, lodging in a first class hotel within the temporary lodging allowance is available. Restaurant meals in a four star hotel or Western style restaurant range from $5 to $25 per person, but you can eat in small shops and restaurants serving local foods for as little as 50 cents.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/28/2003 9:28 PM

The Consul General and his family live on the Consulate General compound. The main floor of the house has two sitting rooms, a dining room that seats 12, a sun porch, guest bathroom and indoor kitchen. Upstairs are three bedrooms, two baths and a family sitting room. Quarters for the ORE staff and a large kitchen extend behind the house. A fenced yard with fruit- and orchid-laden longan trees is located between the house and the main Consulate office building. A colorful play area for children is part of the yard. A beautiful Chinese-style pavilion, situated in front of the residence, provides an excellent location for large receptions and parties, in addition to being used for Consular services and seminars.

All agencies at post participate in the housing pool. A post housing board assigns personnel to housing on the basis of availability, grade and family size. Assignments are usually made upon notification of an assignment, and staff is expected to occupy their permanent quarters immediately upon arrival if possible.

Well over half of the American employees and their families are now housed in the new Consulate housing compound off the road to Hang Dong, 15 kilometers south of Chiang Mai. The compound offers peaceful, country living, with the houses built around a lake and common grassy area. Everything about the compound was custom designed for the Consulate Community – including the clubhouse, pool, weight room and gym, and spacious grounds. The compound offers a tennis and basketball court. A convenience store is located just outside the guarded gate.

Other staff members have American-standard housing in leased homes or apartments scattered throughout the city. Guard service is provided to homes that are not located in access-controlled compounds.

Furnishings Last Updated: 12/28/2003 9:29 PM

All personnel receive government furniture and appliances, including two refrigerators, a stove, a washer and dryer, and air conditioners. Each of the three- or four-bedroom houses in the new compound has two phone lines. Furniture provided by the government includes, at a minimum, complete living, dining and bedroom sets. Queen-sized beds are normally provided for the master bedroom; other bedrooms have twin beds. Curtains, upholstery and appliances are all provided to the families moving into their homes. The Consul General’s home contains official flatware, china, glassware and cooking utensils. All quarters benefit from the residents’ personal touches -- and nearby markets, the woodcarving village, ceramic factories and the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar are excellent sources of handcrafted items and furniture.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 11/25/2005 3:02 AM

Electric current is 220 volts and 50 cycles, except for the principal officer’s home and housing compound kitchens, which are wired for both 110 and 220 volt 50 cycles. Electricity is fairly dependable, but periodic outages and brownouts do occur, and voltage fluctuations can interfere with the operation of sensitive electronic items. Bring surge protectors for home computers. In the event of power outages, back-up generators at the new housing compound and for the CG's residence support most electricity requirements. Off-compound houses do not have generators.

Most sockets accept either flat or round twin pronged plugs. Each home is provided with several transformers. The Consulate General leases only homes with telephones. Direct-dialing from Chiang Mai to the U.S. and other countries is normally available from your home, and there are a number of American call-back services available that offer lower rates between Thailand and the rest of the world.

There's good news regarding computer usage in Northern Thailand. Local servers are plentiful and reasonably priced, and Internet Cafes abound. Within the last year, ADSL has become available, and everybody who wants it has high-speed Internet on their home computers.

Government-provided stoves use bottled gas, as do some hot water heaters. Tap water is considered not potable; water pressure can vary or decrease during the dry season. Drinking water is delivered weekly; State Department employees and employees of most other agencies are responsible for the cost of drinking water as well as for making an initial deposit on the bottles.

Although Chiang Mai has a tropical climate, during the 1999 cool season (November to February) the temperature dropped down to the 40s (Fahrenheit) for several weeks. Local houses are not heated, and only a few have fireplaces. As electric heaters are not provided by the Consulate General, you may wish to include one or more electric space heaters in your household effects. (They are becoming available at local shops.) Please note that kerosene heaters pose a high safety hazard and are not permitted in Government-leased quarters. Sweaters, sweat suits, extra blankets, and electric blankets can also come in handy.

Food Last Updated: 12/28/2003 9:32 PM

Fruit, vegetables, meat, canned and other food products are available from open-air markets and Western-style supermarkets. Local pork, chicken, and fish are available and of good quality in most cases, although inspection and refrigeration are not reliable. Local beef is very lean and, thus, quite tough. Lamb and other variety meats are hard to find. A good selection of fresh vegetables is available in local markets, although shopping for them is facilitated by some knowledge of the Thai language. Before eating fresh vegetables raw, they should be cleaned thoroughly and soaked in a bleach and water solution to kill any bacteria that might possibly linger. Excellent seasonal fruits -- some familiar, many exotic -- are also available in local markets. Milk, butter, yogurt, and ice cream are available at local supermarkets. These and other dairy products are also available through home delivery by a local dairy. Some imported cheeses are available, for a price. A growing number of hypermarkets sell clothing, hardware, and other items in addition to groceries.

A branch of the Embassy’s employee association’s grocery store is operated at the Consulate General, and may be joined for a fee. The Consulate General grocery store offers a small selection of frozen ground beef and hamburger patties, chicken pieces, steaks, canned hams, hot dogs and sausages, luncheon meats, bacon, and hams and turkeys for holiday meals. An adequate selection of canned goods, cereal, cleaning products, liquor, beer, and soda, is stocked by the Consulate General grocery store. You may also special order items from the Embassy store. The size of special orders and shelf stocks in Chiang Mai are limited by the space available on the monthly delivery truck deliveries from Bangkok.

Eating out is a favorite pastime, and Chiang Mai abounds with restaurants of every kind. In addition to Thai food (Northern, Northeastern and Central cuisines), there are Chinese, Korean, Indian, Middle Eastern, Japanese, French, Italian, British, Irish, Spanish, Mexican, vegetarian, and other types of restaurants of varying price and quality.

Clothing Last Updated: 12/28/2003 9:34 PM

Personnel stationed in Chiang Mai dress casually. Suits are not normally worn to the office. A shirt and tie, or Northern-style shirt, and slacks, are popular attire for men. Women wear dresses, two-piece outfits, or slacks and tops. Business suits and/or, for women, conservative dresses are required for some official functions; business suits and cocktail dresses or pantsuits are appropriate for some receptions. American women and men are wearing Lanna or Thai fashions more and more – using the lovely silk and cotton to be found here. Invitations to receptions that say “casual dress” mean short-sleeved open-neck shirts for the men, and rather fancy cocktail wear for the women. Men will need a dark suit with a white shirt and black tie and women will need a black or black-and-white dress for funerals — events Consulate General staff frequently attend. A tuxedo or evening dress might be required once or twice a year for special occasions. Some Consulate General staff go to Bangkok for the annual Marine Corps Ball. During the cool season from December to February, a blazer, light sweater, or jacket is sometimes welcome. In addition to the silk and cotton found everywhere, numerous cloth shops in the main downtown market area offer stylish fabrics at reasonable prices.

Chiang Mai has good dressmaking and tailor shops. Dressmakers are adept at copying styles from pictures or existing clothing. Relatively inexpensive readymade clothes are sold in shops and markets in small sizes; medium and large U.S. sizes are hard or impossible to find. Some locally purchased clothing does not always stand up well to multiple machine washes. Inexpensive children’s clothing is available, but sometimes not very durable; parents often order children’s clothing via U.S. catalogs.

Some underwear and socks are available locally, but most people prefer U.S. brands. Quality shoes for adults and children are hard to find, and especially hard-to-fit sizes (extra narrow, extra wide, anything over a ladies’ size 7 or a men’s size 9). Inexpensive children’s sandals and sneakers are available, but sometimes wear out before they’re outgrown.

Supplies and Services Last Updated: 12/29/2003 9:25 PM

The Consulate General’s grocery store carries some household paper products, cleaning supplies, nonprescription medicines, and cigarettes. Some additional items can be special ordered. Local stores carry a full range of supplies, often at prices much lower than the U.S. (although the quality is often not up to U.S. standard). Toiletries and cosmetics are available in local shopping centers, but foreign brands are expensive. Bring an adequate supply of one’s favorite perfume, makeup, etc., to post.

Basic Services Last Updated: 12/29/2003 9:25 PM

Dry-cleaning is available and is relatively inexpensive, although quality varies sharply from shop to shop. Shoe repair is available on street corners and in markets, but repairs are often relatively unsophisticated. Car repair service is adequate and affordable. However, parts for some vehicles are either expensive or unavailable locally and must be ordered from the U.S. Car and motorcycle rental firms abound. Quality film developing, including one-hour service, is available at reasonable prices. Photo shops also make prints from digital cameras. Internet shops are plentiful, so extra computer services are readily available.

Chiang Mai has a wide variety of barber and beauty shops, although only a few have English-speaking staff. Language misunderstandings can sometimes result in creative hairstyles. Prices range from extremely low to U.S. equivalent. Many salons now have a good selection of perms, color treatments, and other imported products. Manicures, pedicures, and facials are inexpensive and widely available. There are also dozens of shops offering Thai massage (a type of fully clothed nerve meridian massage) at very low prices.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/29/2003 0:40 AM

A growing number of Protestant churches hold Sunday services in Chiang Mai. The Seven Fountains Catholic Center holds mass in English on Sunday mornings. Chiang Mai has no Synagogue, but has an active Baha'i community and three Mosques. The Seventh-day Adventists and Latter-Day Saints are also represented in Chiang Mai. Given the important role of Buddhism in Thai society and culture, the city has hundreds of Buddhist Temples.

Education Last Updated: 11/28/2005 4:24 PM

Chiang Mai has more than a half dozen international schools, all of them K-12. More information about them can be easily obtained over the Internet.

Dependent Education Last Updated: 11/25/2005 2:53 AM

The Chiang Mai International School (CMIS), licensed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and operated by the Church of Christ in Thailand, provides instruction for around 400 students from kindergarten through grade 12. Instruction, using a U.S.-based curriculum, is in English. Uniforms are not required. The school has access for the physically handicapped. The school has one guidance counselor. The school year runs from the middle of August until the middle of June, with a 2-week Christmas holiday and a 2-week holiday in April.

Lanna International School Thailand (LIST) offers an international education for about 150 children from pre-Kindergarten (age 3) to grade 10. Instruction, using a wide range of relevant texts from the U.K., North America, and Australia, is in English. The school is developing an International Baccalaurreate Program for grades 11 and 12. Uniforms are required. The school has staff trained to work with the gifted and learning disabled, although no specific programs exist. The school year runs from late August until mid-June, with a 2-week Christmas holiday and a 2-week break during hot season (usually April).

Nakorn Payap International School Thailand (NIS), located at a lovely new site in the northern end of town, offers an international education for about 150 children from prekindergarten age 2-1/2 to Grade 12. The school is in the process of accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Instruction, using a wide range of relevant American and British texts, is in English. Uniforms are not required. There is a school counselor. The school year runs from late August until mid-June, with a 2-week Christmas holiday and a 2-week break during April.

Grace International School is a popular choice now for families in the housing compound, because Grace is not far from the residence, and uses an American curriculum.

Prem International School offers a curriculum based on the International Baccalaureate (IB) system. It is located about an hour away from the housing compound at rush hour.

One pre-school child is now enrolled at American Pacific International School, located south of town in the same general area as the housing compound.

Chiang Mai has a number of public and private Thai schools, and one Chinese school, which could be available for American children fluent in those languages. There are a few nursery schools that are taught in English. Depending on community demographics, informal nursery schools and/or play groups could be organized.

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 1/5/2004 1:06 AM

None of the schools offer special programs for gifted or handicapped children.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 12/29/2003 1:03 AM

The American University Association and British Council offer Thai and English language classes; the Alliance Francaise offers classes in French. Tutors can be found to come to your office or home. Local groups and individuals offer instruction in various activities, such as aerobics, ballet, cooking, martial arts, tennis, meditation, yoga, and Thai massage.

Payap University offers masters degrees, taught in English, in ESL and Linguistics, and now has an international MBA program in English. Chiang Mai has several other Thai universities and vocational schools that may, on occasion, offer educational opportunities. Consulate employees have been known to enroll in on-line educational opportunities, too, based in the U.S.

Recreation and Social Life Last Updated: 2/11/2004 7:16 PM

Athletes can be active throughout the year in Chiang Mai, thanks to adequate facilities and warm to hot weather, and social activities among Americans are informal and depend upon individual inclination and initiative. The official and local American communities are large enough to provide plenty of variety. CLO-sponsored parties for the Consulate Community are often also open to American friends and people of other nationalities as well.

Sports Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

Chiang Mai offers the sports enthusiast golf, tennis, swimming, squash, bowling, cricket, rugby, fishing, windsurfing, horseback riding, and horseracing. The city has an active Hash House Harriers group. Softball, tennis, takraw, and other competitions are sometimes organized between the Consulate General staff and expatriate or Thai teams. Club and gym memberships are available at reasonable rates. Sports equipment and attire are also available, but prices can be high. The Consulate General housing compound has a swimming pool, tennis court, volleyball court, and small fitness center that are available to all employees, their dependents, and guests.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/29/2003 1:06 AM

Chiang Mai is a popular tourist and trekking center. The city contains many important and architecturally striking Buddhist Temples. On the mountain above the city is Phuping Palace, where members of the royal family winters, and the historic Doi Suthep Temple. Near the city are villages and factories that specialize in wood carving, lacquerware, silver work, umbrella making, and silk and cotton weaving.

Regional touring opportunities include visits to elephant training camps, hilltribe villages, scenic waterfalls and picnic spots, historic sites along the Mekong River, and the towns of Chiangrai, Lampang, Lamphun, Sukhothai, and Mae Hong Son. Adventuresome treks (by foot, four-wheel drive, and/or elephant) and river trips can be arranged.

Entertainment Last Updated: 12/29/2003 1:13 AM

Chiang Mai has a cable/satellite TV company which, for an initial installation fee plus monthly charges, provides several levels of service which feature a number of channels in Thai and English, including CNN, BBC, HBO, Cinemax, Hallmark, Discovery, History, Cartoon Network, Animal Planet, and sports. Some Consulate General families purchase and install satellite dishes themselves. Most official American families in Chiang Mai bring video-cassette recorder systems, or they can be purchased locally and inexpensively. Multi-system video recorders and televisions are preferred as they work with tapes obtained locally as well as those from the U.S. Tapes and DVDs can be rented or purchased here, too. The Consulate General grocery store has a limited rotating supply of American-format NTSC tapes for rent.

Several local movie theaters offer up-to-date English-language movies with Thai subtitles. Tickets are very reasonable by U.S. standards and seats are assigned, theater-style. One drawback, however, is the volume, which can be considerably louder than in U.S. theaters.

A new English language radio program is being broadcast, and a weekly English-language newspaper (Chiang Mai Mail – which has a web site) is now being published in Chiang Mai. Two Bangkok papers, “The Bangkok Post,” and “The Nation” arrive daily. The “International Herald Tribune” is also available. Information about local activities is also printed monthly in several English magazines. The Consulate General publishes a newsletter called “Lanna Letter,” which is full of local information, Consulate Community pictures and news. It is distributed by e-mail or in hard copy form.

Social Activities Last Updated: 2/11/2004 7:27 PM

There are plenty of social activities planned by the CLO office -- for the Consulate Community and friends. Orientation events, happy hours, welcomes and farewells, coffees, and holiday celebrations happen throughout the year. The Bangkok CLO often organizes trips to places of interest in and around Thailand.

The Chiang Mai women’s “lunch bunch” holds monthly luncheon meetings and organizes other special activities according to members’ interests. Chiang Mai has several Rotary and Lion’s Club international chapters with active memberships. Other groups meet periodically. The Gymkhana Club, which dates back to the turn of the century, has tennis and squash courts, a golf course, and a cricket field. Chiang Mai Sports Club and other golf clubs offer memberships and clubhouses that provide opportunities for Thai and foreigners to get together in a relaxed atmosphere. Classical music concerts are offered periodically at universities and other venues. Usually at least several members of the Chiang Mai Choral Society are members of the Consulate Community. Several community organizations offer volunteer opportunities to interested Consulate General community members.

Information about local activities is printed monthly in the English-language Chiang Mai Newsletter/Citylife, the weekly Chiang Mai Mail newspaper, and About Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. The Consulate General also publishes a weekly newsletter, The Lanna Letter, for its employees and family members.

International Contacts Last Updated: 12/29/2003 9:31 PM With the Internet, it's easier and easier to contact individuals and members of the Chaing Mai social, academic and business community. Two of the greatest sources of regularly-updated information are the Chaing Mai Mail newspaper and Citylife Magazine -- both with rather extensive web sites.

Official Functions Last Updated: 12/29/2003 0:23 AM

The principal officer and, to a lesser extent, other officers attend many official functions, including ceremonies to open exhibits, fairs, conferences, military training exercises, and other activities in connection with governmental, military, academic, and business activities. Many high-ranking U.S. Government officials visit Chiang Mai, and the principal officer often hosts luncheons, dinners, or receptions in their honor. Japan, India, and China have Consulates in Chiang Mai. Austria, Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, the U.K. and Sweden have Honorary Consuls. There are diplomatic and Royal Thai Government receptions held throughout the year. Normal business attire is appropriate for the majority of the ceremonial functions. Most evening receptions are informal or casual; women, however, tend to dress to American “cocktail” standards for informal and casual events.

Thailand’s traditional greeting is the wai, made by placing the palms together and raising them to a level determined by the relative status of those being greeted. To certain groups, such as waiters, drivers, and gardeners, the wai is inappropriate. When in doubt, a simple bow of the head is best. The handshake is becoming popular, especially among those educated in Western countries or employed by/working with foreign firms. Business cards and invitations in both English and Thai can be printed locally at reasonable prices. Business cards are a must. Officers and their spouses, however, do not need formal calling cards.

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

The principal officer and, to a lesser extent, other officers attend many official functions, including ceremonies to open exhibits, fairs, conferences, military training exercises, and other activities in connection with governmental, military, academic, and business activities. Many high-ranking U.S. Government officials visit Chiang Mai, and the principal officer often hosts luncheons, dinners, or receptions in their honor.

Japan, India, and China have Consulates in Chiang Mai. Austria, Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, the U.K. and Sweden have Honorary Consuls. There are diplomatic and Royal Thai Government receptions held throughout the year. Normal business attire is appropriate for the majority of the ceremonial functions. Most evening receptions are informal or casual; women, however, tend to dress to American "cocktail" standards for informal and casual events.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

Thailand's traditional greeting is the wai, made by placing the palms together and raising them to a level determined by the relative status of those being greeted. To certain groups, such as waiters, drivers, and gardeners, the wai is inappropriate. When in doubt, a simple bow of the head is best. The handshake is becoming popular, especially among those educated in Western countries or employed by/working with foreign firms.

Business cards and invitations in both English and Thai can be printed locally at reasonable prices. Business cards are a must. Officers and their spouses, however, do not need formal calling cards.

Special Information Last Updated: 12/29/2003 0:28 AM

Getting Around Roads in Chiang Mai are generally good, although they range in size from the multi-lane divided superhighway that connects Chiang Mai to Bangkok to small, sometimes unpaved, lanes and alleys. American SUVs are in tight squeezes negotiating the lanes. Chiang Mai does not suffer the same flooding as Bangkok, although driving during monsoon rains can be a challenge. Chiang Mai is a relatively small city, but there are times of the day (school) and year (holidays) when traffic is much heavier than others. Numerous motorcycles, some carrying whole families of four to six people including the dog, and vehicles from upcountry whose drivers are new to city traffic, pose the biggest hazards. Some Consulate General families have been involved in accidents involving motorcycles.

The only taxi service in Chiang Mai offers transportation from Chiang Mai International Airport. Some private taxis operate at major hotels, and it is possible to hire cars or vans and drivers from a wide variety of tour agencies. However, when in town and needing transportation, available choices will most often be a “tuk-tuk”— an open three-wheeled vehicle; a pedicab—a bicycle with a backseat for passengers; or a songtaew — a pickup truck which has been converted into a small bus. Most Consulate employees wish to have their own vehicle. Unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel are available at stations throughout the consular district. Personnel stationed at the Consulate General may also get gas at the Consulate General pump, at a price comparable to or slightly less than what is available on the local economy.

There is bus and train service from Chiang Mai to all parts of the country, and numerous flights a day from Chiang Mai’s International Airport to Bangkok and the other airports in Thailand, as well as expanding services into Burma, China, Malaysia, and other neighboring Asian countries.

Child Care Most Consulate General families have live-in or live-out household help. Housekeepers, maids, cooks, nannies, and gardeners can be found to provide a full range of household services, including day care. Cost of full time domestic staff-provided day care ranges from about $125 (5,000 baht) a month and up. There are several Thai and English-speaking pre-schools in Chiang Mai, but these do not provide daycare that covers full working hours.

Mail and Pouch The Consulate General receives APO mail and unclassified pouch, via diplomatic pouch from Bangkok, five days a week. Mail and unclassified pouch are sent out three times a week. Classified pouch only arrives and departs once a month. The APO address for authorized personnel stationed in Chiang Mai is: Name American Embassy, Box C APO AP 96546 Our “APO” services for outgoing boxes are from 10 to 11 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Health and Medicine The Consulate has a brand new health unit with a highly trained, English-speaking, full-time Thai nurse. There are also several excellent hospitals with outpatient and inpatient facilities nearby. A number of doctors have been trained overseas and have a strong command of English. Complicated cases can be medically evacuated to Bangkok or the United States. Two regional medical officers and a regional psychiatrist visit the Consulate General periodically.

Employees and family members are not required to routinely take anti-malaria medication, although it may be advised for those traveling to border areas. Other mosquito-borne illnesses are present in the city, and appropriate precautions (vaccination against Japanese encephalitis, wearing repellant, etc.) are advised.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents The Consulate General offers a limited number of full- and part-time employment opportunities, such as secretary positions at the Consulate General and DEA, community liaison officer, and (sometimes) grocery store sales associate. Employment opportunities outside the Consulate General are possible, and the international schools sometimes hire teachers, the American University Alumni Association is often looking for English teachers, and local universities are often delighted to have an English-speaking professor in a professional field (i.e., engineering). Wages outside of the Consulate, however, are very low by American standards. Depending on the needs of the Consulate community and funding availability, the Consulate participates in the Embassy’s Summer Hire Program for Teens. This enables dependents over the age of 16 to gain work experience during their summer vacation.

Adoption In recent years, a number of Consulate General families have adopted orphaned or abandoned Thai children ranging in age from infants to teenagers. One recent family arrived with five children and left with 10. The adoption process generally takes between one and two years, and costs very little. Most families have the children living at home under a foster care agreement while the adoption is being processed. Until November 2000, only married couples could adopt. A newly signed law now permits adoption of special needs children by singles. “Special needs” include children over the age of 4, those born to HIV-positive mothers (but are not themselves infected), and children with disabilities.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 6/18/2004 3:50 AM

Most personnel travel from the United States to Bangkok via Tokyo. There are currently two American carriers that service Bangkok: Northwest Airlines and United Airlines, both of whom connect through Tokyo. Personnel are cautioned that travel to Post must be in compliance with the Fly America Act. Use of city-pair Government contract fares is also mandatory where applicable.

Diplomatic & Official Passport Holders - Direct Hire personnel and their EFMs assigned to Thailand on a regular assignment or on a TDY assignment must obtain a diplomatic or official visa prior to traveling to Thailand. The correct visas to obtain are:

Personnel Category Passport Category Entry Visa & Category

Direct hire Diplomatic Diplomatic Visa “D” or “F” with multiple entries

U.S. citizen EFMs Diplomatic Diplomatic Visa “D” or “F” with multiple entries

Non-U.S. citizen EFMS Non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa “O” with multiple entries

Direct hire Official Official Visa "F" with multiple entries

U.S. citizen EFMs Official Official Visa “F” or “O” with multiple entries

U.S. citizen parents & in-laws on orders Diplomatic Diplomatic Visa “D” or “F” or “O” with multiple entries

U.S. citizen parents & in-laws on orders Official Official “F” or “O” with multiple entries

Non-U.S. citizen parents and in-laws on orders Non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa “O” with multiple entries

MOH/Domestic Servant of Direct Hire employees Regular or non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa "O" with multiple entries

Personnel Category Passport Category Entry Visa & Category

U.S. citizen contractors Official Official Visa “F”

U.S. citizen EFMs of contractors Official Official Visa “F” or ”O”

Non-U.S. citizen EFMs of contractors Non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa “O”

Personnel Category Passport Category Entry Visa & Category

U.S. citizen contractors Regular Non-Immigrant Visa “F”

U.S. citizen EFMs of contractors Regular Non-Immigrant Visa “O”

Non-U.S. citizen EFMs of U.S. citizen contractors Non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa “O”

TCN contractors Non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa “F”

TCN EFMs of TCN contractors Non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa “O”

U.S. citizen EFMs of TCN contractors Regular Non-Immigrant Visa “O”

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

The Embassy arranges customs clearance of household effects and airfreight for all personnel. To ensure prompt clearance and to avoid storage charges, the employee should be sure to consign and mark both airfreight and household goods as follows:

Employee's Name American Embassy Bangkok, Thailand

Instructing the shipper to send the bills of lading for air freight and sea freight to the Customs and Shipping Office (GSO/C&S) before you arrive at Post can facilitate customs clearance.

Shipments are released for delivery to the employee as soon as approval to import has been issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At least 2 weeks are required to clear airfreight through customs. Household goods usually take about two months to arrive in Thailand from the U.S. East Coast.

Employees and their family members traveling on diplomatic passports, while normally not subject to customs inspections upon arrival at the Bangkok airport, must obey Thai customs restrictions which have limits on the amount of tobacco (one carton of cigarettes) and alcohol (two liters) that can be imported duty-free. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that may be brought into the country.

All vehicles imported into Thailand must have catalytic converters, or arrangements to install such equipment must be made prior to registration of the vehicle in Thailand. Cars with dark tinted glass are technically not legal in the country (for further information see the automobiles section).

As mentioned elsewhere, all direct-hire employees of the Embassy enjoy APO privileges. The normal APO prohibition against mailing alcohol applies.

Passage Last Updated: 6/18/2004 3:54 AM

Diplomatic or official visas are required for all personnel assigned to Thailand prior to their entry. Family members who are not American citizens must also have valid passports and diplomatic or official visas. These visas can be obtained from the nearest Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate. Failure to obtain the correct visa prior to arrival in Bangkok will result in the need to make a trip outside the country at employee's expense to obtain the required visa.

On the first day of duty as part of the check-in process, employees will hand in their passports to the Embassy Human Resources Office so that residence permits can be obtained. This normally takes 6 weeks so employees should not plan to travel outside Thailand during that period. Visa requirements are strictly enforced by the Thai Government. Personnel arriving without the proper visas are required to leave Thailand to arrange for their visas in a third country. No exceptions are made for personnel who arrive without the proper visas. Failure to have a valid passport, a Thai visa or to obtain a residence permit can result in serious difficulties with the Thai immigration authorities.

Diplomatic & Official Passport Holders - Direct Hire personnel and their EFMs assigned to Thailand on a regular assignment or on a TDY assignment must obtain a diplomatic or official visa prior to traveling to Thailand. The correct visas to obtain are:

Personnel Category Passport Category Entry Visa & Category

Direct hire Diplomatic Diplomatic Visa “D” or “F” with multiple entries

U.S. citizen EFMs Diplomatic Diplomatic Visa “D” or “F” with multiple entries

Non-U.S. citizen EFMS Non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa “O” with multiple entries

Direct hire Official Official Visa "F" with multiple entries

U.S. citizen EFMs Official Official Visa “F” or “O” with multiple entries

U.S. citizen parents & in-laws on orders Diplomatic Diplomatic Visa “D” or “F” or “O” with multiple entries

U.S. citizen parents & in-laws on orders Official Official “F” or “O” with multiple entries

Non-U.S. citizen parents and in-laws on orders Non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa “O” with multiple entries

MOH/Domestic Servant of Direct Hire employees Regular or non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa "O" with multiple entries

Personnel Category Passport Category Entry Visa & Category

U.S. citizen contractors Official Official Visa “F”

U.S. citizen EFMs of contractors Official Official Visa “F” or ”O”

Non-U.S. citizen EFMs of contractors Non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa “O”

Personnel Category Passport Category Entry Visa & Category

U.S. citizen contractors Regular Non-Immigrant Visa “F”

U.S. citizen EFMs of contractors Regular Non-Immigrant Visa “O”

Non-U.S. citizen EFMs of U.S. citizen contractors Non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa “O”

TCN contractors Non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa “F”

TCN EFMs of TCN contractors Non-U.S. passport Non-Immigrant Visa “O”

U.S. citizen EFMs of TCN contractors Regular Non-Immigrant Visa “O”

Pets Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

Thailand has no quarantine restrictions on pets entering the country, but does require a rabies inoculation certificate and a certificate of good health issued not more than 1 week prior to arrival.

Employees are requested to notify GSO/C&S and GSO/Housing if they plan to bring a pet to Post. Pets accompanying their owners are admitted duty free. To avoid difficulties clearing one's pet, the Embassy strongly suggests that, whenever possible, the pet accompany its owner. Pets may be shipped separately as cargo but they must be consigned to the Embassy and have the employee's name on the documentation. Failure to consign a pet to the Embassy will result in duty being levied by Thai customs authorities against the value of the pet. In such cases, the amount of duty, which is the responsibility of the owner, is unpredictable and costly. To facilitate customs clearance, pets sent as airfreight should not arrive on Saturday or Sunday.

The Embassy packing contractor is able to clear a pet which arrives separately. Any charges levied by the contractor are the responsibility of the owner.

The Royal Thai Government will not permit the importation of Pit Bull Terriers and Rottweilers at this time. These restrictions could be changed. Please notify the Embassy if you are contemplating bringing a dog of either of these two breeds.

Bangkok's tropical climate poses numerous health hazards for pets. Dogs are especially susceptible to such afflictions as heartworm, roundworm, and other parasites. Fleas and ticks also abound. Local veterinary clinics are not always up to U.S. standards. Bangkok has a high incidence of rabies, and the Embassy Medical Unit discourages local pet purchases.

Most Mission personnel live in apartments, which, because of size and lack of outdoor space for exercise, are less suitable for large pets.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

Embassy employees may import limited types of firearms into Thailand so long as they are for personal use of the employee only and are not for resale. Employees must obtain approval of the RSO and the Customs and Shipping Officer (GSO/C&S) of the Embassy prior to importing any firearms or ammunition. Military personnel must also obtain permission from the senior service representative at JUSMAGTHAI or the DAO, depending on the assignment. Requests must specify the type, model, caliber, make and serial number of each firearm, as well as the requester's full name, grade or rank, and official address. Military style rifles, either semi or fully automatic, may not/not be imported into Thailand. There are additional limitations on the number and type of firearms that may be imported. For specific information, employees should contact the Regional Security or Customs and Shipping Officers.

There are opportunities for target shooting in Thailand, but they are limited to clubs and firing ranges that require membership. Ammunition is typically available for the following calibers: .22 short and long rifle, .32, .38, .45 and 12-gauge shotgun. Reloading supplies are difficult to find. Hunting in Thailand is highly restricted and controlled by the government. Permission to hunt is generally limited to persons under the auspices of the Thai government.

All firearms imported into Thailand by Embassy employees must be exported. Disposal by sale or gift is strictly prohibited. It is important to register all weapons being exported from the U.S. with the U.S. Customs Service to facilitate re-importation at the end of your tour.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

The basic unit of Thai currency is the baht. It is divided into 100 satang. There are bills of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 baht. Coins of 1, 5, and 10 baht and of 25 and 50 satang are in general circulation. For many years, the baht was closely linked to the U.S. dollar, averaging an exchange rate of B 25.00 to the dollar. Beginning in July 1997, the Thai Government allowed the baht to float freely against the dollar and other currencies. During late 1997 and early 1998, the exchange rate ranged between 55 baht and 38 baht per U.S. dollar. As of the end of 2000, the baht traded at around 44 to one U.S. dollar.

A number of foreign and Thai banks provide all normal banking services. ATM machines connected to the Cirrus and Plus networks are common in Bangkok. Hotels and some currency exchange shops are licensed to deal in foreign currencies. No restrictions are placed on the importation of Thai or foreign currency.

Within the Embassy, employees may use dollars, dollar checks or baht for transactions with the Embassy commissary. The APO accepts only dollars and dollar checks over $10 for the exact amount of postage. The Embassy's cafeterias primarily deal in baht. All transactions in Thailand outside the Embassy must, by law, be in baht. Although many employees use stateside banks for their primary checking account, it is possible to open local checking accounts in baht or dollars. A number of vendors, including local newspaper, telephone and Internet providers, accept checks drawn on local accounts from regular customers. Major credit cards are widely accepted throughout the country, although the Embassy recommends that their use be limited to major hotels, airlines, and department stores.

Under contract to the Embassy, a commercial bank operates an accommodation exchange facility for Mission personnel on the Chancery compound. The bank cashes personal dollar checks for baht or for limited amounts of dollars. Employees are advised to arrange for automatic overdraft coverage since returned checks can result in loss of accommodation exchange privileges.

The commercial bank facility in the Chancery does not perform any other banking services. The Embassy's commissary and Travel Management Center (TMC) contractor both sell travelers' checks.

Personnel assigned to Bangkok and Chiang Mai, as well as eligible family members employed by the Embassy or Consulate, are required to have a U.S. bank account and to have their net pay allotment and any dollar reimbursements from Post deposited directly to it. The Embassy will convert to dollars the baht proceeds of authorized personal property sales for official personnel permanently departing Thailand. The Embassy cannot facilitate exportation of currency for nationals or residents of Thailand. Thailand uses the metric system of weights and measures for most transactions.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 2/28/2002 6:00 PM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Cooper, Robert and Nanthapa. Culture Shock Thailand. Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company, Portland, Oregon, Revised 1996.

Eckardt, James. Bangkok People. Asia Books, 1999.

Hewison, Kevin. Political Change in Thailand: Democracy and Participation. Routledge, New York, 1997.

Hollinger, Carol. Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind. Asia Books, 4th Edition, 1998.

Klausner, William. Reflections on Thai Culture. The Siam Society, 5th Edition, 2000.

Phongpaichit, Pasuk and Baker, Chris. Thailand Economy and Politics. Oxford University Press, 2000.

Phongpaichit, Pasuk and Baker, Chris. Thailand's Boom and Bust. Silkworm Books, 1999.

Phongpaichit, Pasuk and Baker, Chris. Thailand's Crisis. Silkworm Books, 2000.

Segaller, Denis. Thai Ways. Postbooks, Third Edition, 2000.

Wyatt, David K. Thailand: A Short History. Silkworm Books, reprinted 1999.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 10/12/2004 0:15 AM

Thailand officially observes the Buddhist Era calendar (B.E.) that is 543 years ahead of the Christian Era calendar (A.D.). The year 2001 A.D. is therefore 2544 B.E. The official Thai calendar begins on January 1, but many Thais still celebrate New Year's on April 13th, the beginning of the three day "Songkran" holiday. Some Thai holidays do not fall on the same day each year as they follow the lunar calendar. The Mission may celebrate different Thai holidays from year to year.

The following is a list of Thai holidays to be observed by the Mission in 2004-2005:


October 23 King Chulalongkorn Day December 5 Celebration of His Majesty the King's Birthday and National Day December 10 Constitution Day December 31 New Year's Eve


January 17 Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr February 21 President's Day April 6 King Rama 1 Memorial and Chakri Day April 13 Songkran Day April 14 Songkran Day April 15 Songkran Day May 5 Coronation Day May 23 Substitute day for Visakha Day, Sunday, May 22 May 30 Memorial Day July 4 Independence Day August 12 Her Majesty The Queen's Birthday September 5 Labor Day October 10 Columbus Day October 24 Substitute day for Chulalongkorn Day, Sunday, October 23 November 11 Veterens Day November 24 Thanksgiving Day December 5 His Majesty the King's Birthday Day December 12 Substitute day for Constitution Day, Saturday, December 10 December 26 Substitute day for Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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