Thailand is considered one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. The most popular places to visit in the country are the capital Bangkok, the most popular cities Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya and Pattaya, Phang Nga Bay, the world famous Phi Phi Islands, the islands of Phuket and Koh Samui, as well as the province of Krabi that known for its beautiful beaches. The places of interest in Thailand are numerous, and are scattered all over the country. They attract people with different interests. Whether you are a romantic, adventurous or curious person, or just looking for a place to rest, Thailand will offer you everything you need.
Thailand occupies an area of 514,311 square kilometers. Its territory is commensurable with most major countries in Europe.
If Thailand was a European country, it would be the fourth largest after Russia, Ukraine and France. It is located in Indochina in Southeast Asia, and divides the Indian from the Pacific Ocean through the Malacca Peninsula. Four Asian countries share borders with Thailand.
Myanmar borders Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Cambodia to the east and Malaysia to the south. The Andaman Sea lies to the southwest and the Gulf of Siam – to the southeast.
Traces of human presence show that the lands of present-day Thailand were inhabited at least 40,000 years ago.
It all started back in the 13th century when several small states, left after the collapse of the Khmer Empire, united to form the Kingdom of Sukhothai.
In the 14th century the Kingdom of Sukhothai, located along the Yom River, united with the more influential and powerful neighboring Kingdom of Ayutthaya.
Gradually the new-born country known as Siam, began to expand its territory, power and influence. Over the centuries the Kingdom of Siam evolved significantly, and its lands seemed to be blessed.
Thailand remained the only country in South and Southeast Asia to escape colonialism. Locked between the two great empires – Britain and France, the kingdom remained free and continued to develop its economy, culture and commerce undisturbed.
It played the role of a natural barrier between the territories conquered by England and France. The Kingdom of Siam remained under this name until the first half of the 20th century.
On June 23, 1939, the country was renamed to Thailand. In 1945 the kingdom returned temporarily its old name Siam, but in 1949 it was renamed, this time permanently, to Thailand.
The rich history and culture of the country, have had a strong influence on its overall appearance and architecture.
No matter if you are planning to visit big cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai, popular tourist destinations such as Pattaya, Krabi, Koh Samui and Phuket, or just travel around the countryside, traditional Thai architecture, spectacular temples and magnificent statues are everywhere.
Thai architecture possesses some quite typical features, especially when it comes to the roofs of buildings and temples. The most distinctive feature is the slightly tapered shape and upturned eaves of the roofs.
Thai architecture is a mix of Far-Eastern shapes with subtle and refined nuances of European architecture.
Thailand has a population of about 69.5 million people, of whom 8.3 million live in the capital Bangkok. Around 95% of the population are Theravada Buddhists.
The remaining 5% practice various religions, mainly Christianity and Islam. Because of the kind and tolerant attitude of the locals towards foreigners in Thailand, the country has turned into a colorful and multicultural society.
The main part of population consists of ethnic Thai. They represent about 80% of the total population. Beside them, there are many Chinese, Malay, Khmer and a significant number of Europeans. European immigrants come here for many different reasons.
Most of them are attracted by the exotic scenery and warm climate. Others settle in the country because of the improving business opportunities after 80es of the 20th century.
Also, thousands of people, especially from the rich countries in Western Europe and North America, come here after they retire, because the standard of living in Thailand is lower, and it allows them to get a greater quantity of goods and services for less money.
Particularly known in this regard is the city of Chiang Mai. It is often referred somewhat seriously and somewhat in jest “the world capital of pensioners” because of the huge number of elderly people who settle here permanently every year.
Thailand has year-round warm climate, and falls within the borders of two climate zones. The larger northern part has a hot sub equatorial climate with two distinct, dry and rainy, seasons.
Temperatures vary from 28°C to about 36°C. The South of Thailand, and in particular Malacca Peninsula, has constantly warm and humid equatorial climate, and year-round temperatures mostly between 31 and 33°C. The monsoon is a typical feature of the climate.
It is responsible for the existence of rainy season, but it is also responsible for the prolonged droughts that happen every year. Due to the specific features of the climate, the active tourist season lasts from early November to late March.
This is the driest and most favorable time of year to travel. It is no coincidence that many people prefer to visit Thailand namely during the Christmas holidays.
The rainy season is considered the period with the most adverse conditions, especially late summer and early fall.
October is the month with the most rainfall in most parts of the country, and is therefore considered the most unattractive part of the year for tourism in Thailand.
The landscape of this exotic tropical country is very diverse. To the south lies the peninsula of Malacca. It covers about 20% of the country’s area, and is covered with dense evergreen equatorial forest. The islands off the coast of Malacca are also emerald green.
To the north is located the vast Khorat Plateau. It covers the heart of Thailand. The plateau has a relatively low altitude, usually about 200 meters, and relatively dry climate.
Since falls within sub equatorial latitudes, this part of Thailand is occupied by extensive savannas, dyed in yellow and golden hues during the dry season. To the west of the plateau are the moist valleys that stretch along the banks of Chao Phraya River.
Here are some of the most fertile arable lands of Thailand and some of the most extensive rice paddies. In the northwestern part of the country, not far from the border with Myanmar, are the southeastern-most flanks of the Himalayas.
Here is located the highest peak in Thailand – Doi Inthanon, 2,565 m high.
Millions of people visit Thailand for its stunning natural beauty and biodiversity. The natural wealth of the country is kept within the borders of 102 national parks, of which 12 are marine.
Thailand is home to more than 280 species of mammals, approximately 1/8 of all the mammal species living on our planet today.
The best known species in the country are Asian elephant, tiger, buffalo, leopard, Siamese crocodile (smaller than African), python and many others.
Thailand is also a land of stunning diversity of plant species. Throughout the country there are more than 10,000 species of plants, and between 20 and 25% of the area is covered by rainforest.
Safari in the wilderness of Thailand on the back of an elephant, a visit to a crocodile and butterfly farm and watching of exotic birds in their natural environment, are exciting adventures not to be missed.
Thailand’s coast is the major tourist attraction in the country. It is among the most picturesque in the Asia-Pacific region, and is dotted with magnificent palm-fringed beaches.
Near the coast, especially in the Andaman Sea, are scattered thousands of tiny paradise islands. Coastal areas of Thailand are among the most attractive dive sites in the world, because they have all the necessary prerequisites.
The shallow coastal water is very clean and transparent, and beneath the surface you will find spectacular coral reefs.
Sea surface temperatures are high and almost unchangeable throughout the year, ranging between 28 and 30°C. The pearl of azure Thai waters is Phang Nga Bay. Here are the major tourist centers such as Phuket, Krabi and the islands of Phi Phi.
The far north of Thailand is a land of unique natural and cultural wealth. With the development of the city of Chiang Mai, considered to be the cultural capital of Thailand, this region promises to become a popular tourist destination.
The freshness and beauty of the mountains of northern Thailand will show you why the locals have such a great respect for nature, and are always looking for harmony with the surrounding natural world.
Besides the natural beauty and numerous cultural monuments and temples, this part of Thailand is also known for the culture of the long-necked women. Being of great interest to visitors, this tradition causes also a lot of controversy.
And while according some people wearing these rings is a symbol of beauty, according other people this is something that hurts and deforms the human body.
It is considered that the tourism industry, as one of the most important industries in the region, encourages the local people to maintain this tradition.
Nightlife in Thailand is among the most vibrant in the world. Bangkok, the capital city of the country, can boasts a truly amazing variety of entertainment. Restaurants, nightclubs and bars are springing up virtually at every step.
It is advisable to visit restaurants that offer traditional Thai cuisine. If you choose carefully, you can visit a place that besides the pleasure of delicious food will offer you themed performances with Thai dances and folk elements.
Pattaya and Phuket are known for their stormy beach parties that last until dawn. They are anything but boring and are accompanied by music, dancing and all sorts of alcoholic and soft drinks.
Do not worry when it comes to tasty food in Thailand. Thai cuisine is one of the richest and most diverse in the world, so no matter if you are picky eater or not, you can always find something to your liking.
Thai cuisine is known with the combination of different tastes and flavors. It often combine sweet, sour and spicy all in one dish. Rice is the most popular food in Thailand.
Here are known thousands of rice varieties and thousands of ways to be cooked. The country is known also for its stunning variety of seafood.
The waters surrounding Thailand are extremely rich in fish, and for this reason seafood has become an integral part of the local cuisine.
Some of the most attractive dishes in Thai cuisine are fried rice, Tom Yum Goong (a kind of very popular local soup with shrimps, mushrooms and lemongrass), Pad Thai Noodles with chicken and salad of green mango or papaya.
How to get there? There are many international airports with good reputation in Thailand. In addition to the capital Bangkok, many other cities and islands, such as Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui and many other, serve hundreds of destinations all around the world.
Thailand is considered a remote destination.
Clothing. Traveling to Thailand, you should pay serious attention to your clothing. The weather in most of the country is very hot and humid throughout the year.
For this reason, it is advisable to get light and airy clothes, made of natural fabrics. The sun is very strong throughout the year, so bright colors are preferred.
Do not forget to put in your suitcase strong sunscreen with high UVA protection. Bring comfortable sport shoes, but also something open and light.
And remember, do not forget the mosquito repellent – you will need it, especially if you are planning to travel through forested areas!
Currency. The official currency in Thailand is the Thai baht. It is always advisable to have local currency in cash. It is not a good idea to rely only on credit cards, unless if you want to spend part of your money for fees abroad.
Most easily, quickly and affordably is to exchange EUR or USD. When it comes to prices, Thailand is a paradise. Almost anything might seem surprisingly cheap, especially compared to the big and expensive cities in Europe and North America.
Here, amidst the divine nature, you can literally feel like a king, and enjoy your life without spending much money.
For example, two people could eat well in a non-expensive restaurant for around €3. This is also the approximate cost of two cups of coffee.
Risks. If you are in any of the major cities of Thailand, avoid slums and dubious nightclubs. When you find yourself in a crowd of people, keep your wallet and other values out of sight.
People in Thailand are generally among the most polite and nicest in the world, but after sunset, especially in dark streets of big cities like Bangkok, you may incur problems.
Beware of the so-called Katoeys or Ladyboys. These are boys looking like girls, and according to most Europeans they are hardly distinguishable as men. Before any travel to Thailand is advisable to visit and consult your doctor.
You can ask him if you need to get any immunizations, and how to travel safely, as well as how to protect yourself from tropical diseases such as malaria.
Keep in mind that Thailand is a tropical country, and many diseases and parasites that are relatively unknown in temperate latitudes are widespread in this part of the world.
Another danger is the wildlife in Thailand. Here you could find a variety of poisonous snakes and insects as well as a lot of predators. If you want to feel safe in the wild, it is best to go with an experienced guide.