- General Information about Phuket Island
- General Information about Thailand
- General Information about the Andaman Islands
- General Information about Indonesia
General Information about Phuket IslandRun by the Thai government, Tourism Authority of Thailand - Phuket Guide is a highly recommended web site that will offer you accurate and up to date information on how to reach Phuket and what you can do once you get here. You can also download a useful "Phuket brochure".
Phuket is the largest Thai island. At approximately 49 km. in length and 21 km. in width, the island nestles in the tropical zone off the west coast of mainland Thailand, approximately 860 km. south of Thailand's capital Bangkok. In this prime spot, Phuket has something for everybody! Rocky limestone cliffs, lush green hills blanketed in tropical rainforest, powdery-white beaches and serene, tranquil turquoise bays. Fine dining, quality shopping, exclusive villa resorts to budget guesthouses, endless activities... All of this and of course access to some of the world's top diving destinations means visitors keep returning year after year!
General Information about Thailand
Tourism Authority of Thailand :
www.tourismthailand.org This is a very informative website run by the Thai government to assist foreign visitors.
Local time is GMT + 7hrs throughout the country, year round. Thailand has no daylight savings time.
Visitors to Thailand from most western countries, including Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand are granted at least a 30 day stay on arrival. Other nationals are required to produce a tourist visa and should contact their local Thai consulate for more details. If you are not sure, again, please contact the Thai consulate.
The local currency is the Thai Baht. For up-to-date exchange rates Click Here for Currency Converter. Most hotels, restaurants and shops accept all major credit cards, US$ and Euros.
In Thailand 220Volt 50Hz is standard. Sockets are mixed with 2 pin and 3 pin flat and/or round pins. To avoid confusion a travel adapter is always advisable.
Thai is the official language but nearly all Thais working in the tourism industry speak some English. Make sure you speak slowly and clearly without using too many colloquialisms or slang and people will be able to understand you just fine. Thais are very polite and hold high regard for smiles. Employ this and you will be a welcomed guest...getting angry and shouting will get you nowhere.
Nearly all Thais (around 85%) are Buddhists. A small percentage (4%) is Muslim with others including Christians, Hindus or Confucians. Tolerance towards religion is symbolized by the fact that the King is the Protector of All Faiths.
Health services in Thailand are excellent with modern equipped hospitals in all major towns. Most of the country is free of malaria, cholera and other serious diseases. However, we recommend that you check the status of your vaccinations and take your physicians advice on innoculations and medication. Normal sensible precautions with food should keep you out of trouble. Be sure to drink a lot of bottled drinking water to prevent dehydration! Do not drink tap water in Thailand.
Dress Code and etiquette:
In all the tourist resorts shorts and T-shirts are acceptable attire. This is also appropriate at night, although "smart-casual" is preferred in the better eating places. Jackets and ties are not required anywhere. Ladies are expected to dress appropriately when visiting temples, ie. cover your shoulders shoulders and wear dresses/trousers below the knee at the very least. Don't point your feet at people, especially monks or representations of the Buddha. Do not touch adults on the head as this is seen as disrespectful.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy led by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The Royal Family has earned the love and respect of the entire nation and is held in the highest esteem. Visitors to the country are expected to treat the Royal Family with respect. Joking about the Royal Family is simply not done!!!
Air Travel :
There are two airports in Bangkok. The new international airport is Suvarnabhumi, and all international flights will arrive here. Your connecting flight to anywhere within Thailand can leave from here, or the old interenational airport of Don Muang (which is now purely domestic). Please check your transfer times and lay-over times between flights as passage between the two airports can be time consuming.
Thai Airways International (THAI) is the national airline and it is regarded as one of the best airlines in the world. Another great carrier, Singapore Airlines, has multiple flights to Bangkok and Phuket daily. Even Phuket has an international airport, with at least five flights a day (this varies from high-season to low-season) arriving from Bangkok year-round. Phuket also welcomes planes from Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and even Europe to its airport.
Thailand has now a number of discount budget domestic airlines which can be good as long as you don't want to change your travel plans. You can save sometimes 50% or more using these carriers. Keep in mind, however, that they usually limit your luggage weight to 15kg or 33lbs, and for many divers, this is simply not enough. By the time you pay the over weight fees, you may not end up saving any money.
General Information about the Andaman Islands
Useful internet site:
Good, up to date sites are few and far between for the Andaman Islands, although www.and.nic.in carries a varied amount of interesting information that is relatively up to date, if not always pertinent.
The whole of India comes under the same time zone so the local time is GMT + 5 and a half hours throughout the country, year round. The Andamans are so much closer to Thailand than India that this has the effect that during the scheduled trip the sun will rise around 5:15am and set around 5:30pm local time
All foreign nationals must apply for a tourist visa BEFORE arrival in India (with the exception of Nepal and Bhutan nationals). You will also require a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) in order to visit the Andamans. These can be applied for when you apply for your visa, but can delay the application process significantly. If you enter the name of the arrival airport in India on your visa application form (i.e. Cheddai or Kolkata) you can simply obtain an RAP on arrival at Port Blair. It is worth noting that the applicant must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months.
The Indian Rupee is the local currency. All money in India expected to be changed through the official banks or authorized money changers. Private dealers and some travel agencies are authorised by the Bank of India to do this in Port Blair. Credit cards are NOT widely accepted in the Andamans, though there are ATM's (State Bank of India, UTI Bank and ICICI Bank for example) where you can draw cash on your cards if required.
Seafood is king on the Andaman Islands. The unpolluted water of Andaman Sea abounds with varieties of fish, crabs, lobsters, prawns etc. Seafood is easily available and deliciously cooked. North Indian, South Indian, vegetarian, continental, Chinese dishes are also available, although prices are often much higher as ingredients must be imported from the mainland in India.
The islands themselves use a 220V system with a three pin plug system in either standard UK plug (rectangular pins) or Indian plug (round pins). Check out www.travelproducts.com/electricity_guide.htm for a visual reference.
Strangely for an Indian territory, English is the official language of the islands although most people can communicate in Hindi. There are over 20 'official' languages spoken throughout the islands including Tamil, Malayalam, Urdu, Karen, Konkini, Manipuri, Bengali, Telugu, Gujarathi, Kannada, Assamese, Rajasthani, English, Punjabi, Nicobari, Tulu, Burmese, Barsi, Sindi, Dokri, Munda, Marwari, Nepali, and Oriya.
Hinduism is by far the most popular religion in the islands followed by Christianity and then Islam. Other religions that make up the total include Sikhism and Buddhism.
There is a hospital and recompression facility available at the G.B.Pant hospital in Port Blair.
As with other local areas, it is tropical throughout the year with an average minimum temperature at 23C and maximum at 30C. Humidity is relatively high - 70% to 90% with a gentle breeze blowing all the time. The weather is generally pleasant with average annual rainfall of 3,000 mm in Port Blair.
Dress Code and etiquette:
Due to the hot climate simple cotton clothes are recommended to help keep you cool and comfortable. Avoid synthetic or nylon clothes as these will do the opposite.
Though the Andaman Islands is governed by India the governing body of the islands themselves consists of the lieutenant governor (the presiding authority), the chief secretary and inspector general of police assisting the lieutenant governor. It also has a secretary and Deputy Commissioners. There is no legislative assembly but soon they may equal the legislative assembly of pondichery.
You can currently only fly to the Andaman Islands by connecting flight from either Chennai (Madras), Kolkata (Calcutta), and Delhi (Jetlite only) in India with the following airlines..... Air Deccan, Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Jetlite, and Kingfisher. There is talk that flights from Bangkok may be re-instated at some point which is worth bearing in mind (although this has been talked about for at least 2 years now).
General Information about Indonesia
Citizens of most western countries, Americans included, can get a visa-on-arrival at Lombok Airport. The visa is valid for 30-days and costs $20US. Certain nationalities are required to obtain a visa from an Indonesian embassy in their home countries before travel to Indonesia. CLICK HERE to check requirements of your nationality.
Note : Passports must be valid for 6 months from your date of arrival in the country. Onward or return tickets are compulsory.
Getting There :
The local currency is the Rupiah. Currently the exchange rate is approx. US$1. = 9,000Rp.- But this is just a general figure. Guests should check the current exchange rates HERE. Larger hotels, restaurants and shops accept major credit cards.
Time Zone :
Manado is on the same time as Singapore and Malaysia. Local time in North Sulawesi is GMT + 8 hours.
Standard electrical current in Indonesia is 220 Volts, 50 Hz. On board MV Philkade we have 220V, 110V, 24V and 12V available. Whatever your recharging requirements, just inform the Cruise Director and it will be accomodated in your cabin. Guest cabins are 220Volt and a 24Volt safety lighting system for emergencies.
There are hospitals and clinics in most cities and towns, respectively. But health care in Indonesia is not what people from developed countries have come to expect. Most of North Sulawesi is free of malaria. However, we urge you to check your vaccination status. Normal caution with food should keep you free of intestinal problems. Drink only bottled water. For detailed information on disease in Indonesia check with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) click HERE.
The national language is Bahasa Indonesia. English is fairly common in tourist areas and tourism-related businesses.
Dress Code :
In tourist areas shorts and T-shirts are okay. Women should not wear bathing suits around town. Dressing smartly is appropriate for finer restaurants, but jacket and tie is not required.
Northern Sulawesi is predominately Christian or Christian animist. It is very common for Indonesians of any religion to ask about your faith. They are not looking for a disagreement. But to answer, "atheist" or "none" will produce a frown from the person.
Air temperature: 20-35 C Days can be very hot and humid, nights can be cooler. To avoid dehydration, drink lots of water and/or electrolyte beverage on board.
Water temperature around Manado is approx 27C (80F). Thermoclines do occur. Some people dive with no exposure protection at all. People who get cold easily may choose up to a 3mm full suit. For most people a 3mm shorty is enough. If you are very concerned about this; bring a 5mm full, and we'll put ice cubes down your back!
Indonesia's weather is dominated by the southwest and northeast monsoons. There are three seasons: Dry, Hot and Rainy. Local dive shops operate year-round. But winds can be a problem from December to February.