For more than two decades, successive Thai governments have understood that for Thailand to be attractive to foreign investors, there needs to be both progressive investment promotion policies and sufficient infrastructure.
Accordingly, just as the Board of Investment developed policies to meet the needs of investors, the government has continuously improved the nation?s infrastructure, both in Bangkok and the provinces. Indeed, in recent years, tremendous strides have been made, especially in transportation projects.
New roads have been built and others widened to better handle the number of vehicles on the roads, and as a result, travel times to Thailand?s Eastern Seaboard and southern seaside resorts have been significantly reduced. Bangkok?s two mass transit systems are now up and operational, and this, too, has had a positive effect on traffic. Both lines of the BTS Skytrain are in the process of being expanded and additional lines of the subway system have been approved by the government and are in the bidding process. In addition, the new Suvarnabhumi International Airport opened on September 28, 2006.
Thailand has developed an extensive air transport network that encompasses 28 commercial airports, meaning that all Thailand?s regions are about an hour?s flight from Bangkok.
In addition to Don Muang Airport in Bangkok, which in 2005 handled in excess of 268,000 flights, 990.000 tons of cargo and 38 million passengers. Thailand has international airports in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Chiang Rai and Ko Samui.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport (http://www.airportthai.co.th/airportnew/sun/index.asp?lang=en), the new international airport of Thailand, has two parallel runways and 120 parking bays, enabling it to handle 76 flight movements per hour, 45 million passengers per year, and 3 million tons of cargo per year.
In 2007, Subvarnabhumi handled 261,592 commercial flights, 41.2 million passengers, 1.2 million tons of freight and more than 10,000 tons of mail.
The Airports Authority of Thailand has announced a 78-billion-baht expansion program for Suvarnabhumi that will increase passenger handling capacity by 33% from 45 million to 60 million within six years.
Thailand is widely acknowledged as having the most extensive road transportation network of more than 250,000 kilometers, more than 40% of which are international standard highways that provide links to every province.
There are more than 225 km of inter-city motorways creating links between Bangkok and other major regions of the Kingdom, and the government is enhancing inter-city motorways, which are expected to stretch to 4,150 kilometers of 4-lane roads.
New highways are constantly being built, including projects to link Bangkok to the new Suvarnabhumi Airport, and an ambitious project to speed transport time to Thailand?s southern provinces.
The signing of the Asian Highway Agreement on April 26, 2004 strengthens Thailand?s connection to the rest of the world for land-based trade and transportation linking it to 32 countries in Europe and Asia. The importance of these interconnections will increase dramatically as Thailand?s free trade agreements with the People?s Republic of China, ASEAN and India kick in, making Thailand a crucial hub for international production and trade
Thailand?s water transportation system has long been an important part of the country?s history and industries. With a coastline of 3,219 km and over 4,000 km of inland waterways, Thailand?s water transportation and ports infrastructure are essential to its overall transportation and trade.
There are currently 122 ports, wharves, and jetties able to accommodate sea-going vessels engaging in international trade, including eight international deep sea ports:
These ports, located in Bangkok, Laem Chabang and Map Ta Phut on Thailand?s Eastern Seaboard, and Sonkhla, Satun, Narathiwat, Phuket and Ranong in the South, provide capacity of more than 4.5 million TEU, a figure that is expected to double as current expansion projects are completed.
At Laem Chabang Port, six new container terminals are being developed with state-of-the-art equipment that can handles the latest generation of container vessels
The Laem Chabang Port's services include cargo handling, distribution and handling, and through a cooperative venture between the Port Authority of Thailand and the Customs Department, imports and exports are cleared within one day.
Thailand?s rail transportation, which dates back more than century, is extensive, covering 4,000 kilometers on three lines, intersecting in Bangkok. The system offers affordable transportation from the Malaysian border to northernmost provinces and Kanchanaburi in the west. The system connects with Malaysia?s national system, providing direct linkages down to Singapore, and a railway link to across the Mekong is under construction at Nong Khai.
To help alleviate traffic in Bangkok, the government has been developing mass transit systems. In 1999, the first system, known as the Skytrain (www.bts.co.th), opened on overhead tracks. The system covers 55 kilometers, serving 23 stations on two lines, and carries approximately 300,000 passengers per working day.
Extensions of both lines are underway, covering more than 10km, including a route across the Chao Phraya River to Thonburi.
In mid-2004, the Bangkok Subway (www.mrta.co.th) opened, providing service at 18 stations over a 20 kilometer distance. The system, which intersects with the Skytrain, can carry 50,000 passengers an hour in each direction. The government plans to expand the system to 297 kilometers and 82 stations over the next six years.
A wide range of telecommunication facilities are available across the country. Fixed line telephones (offering international direct dial connections at affordable prices) and mobile phones are readily available, and access to the Internet is available though ADSL, satellite modems and dial-up connections.
In recent years, the speed of internet access has increased while costs have declined, and this trend seems certain to continue.
The government has recognized the need to promote the development of international schools, both to permit the offspring of foreign investors to obtain international-standard education and to facilitate Thai students to prepare for tertiary education abroad. Accordingly, there are numerous schools that follow the American, British and Japanese educational system, and students from these schools are accepted at some of the world?s finest universities.