The Kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Indochina, Myanmar and Southern China. Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions : the mountains and forests of the North; the vast rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-arid farm lands of the Northeast plateau; and the tropical islands and long coastline of the peninsula South.
The country comprises 76 provinces that are further divided into districts, sub-districts and villages. Bangkok is the capital city and center of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities. It is also the seat of Thailand’s revered Royal Family, with His Majesty the King recognized as Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, Upholder of the Buddhist religion and Upholder of all religions.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or King Rama IX, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, the present king. The King has reigned for more than half a century, making him the longest reigning Thai monarch. Thailand embraces a rich diversity of cultures and traditions. With its proud history, tropical climate and renowned hospitality, the Kingdom is a never-ending source of fascination and pleasure for international visitors.
Thailand has a land area of 513,115 sq.km (approx. 127,008 acres) bordered by Malaysia (South), Myanmar (West & North), Laos (North & East) and Cambodia (Southeast). The country’s east coast borders the Gulf of Thailand and the west coast abuts the Andaman Sea. The country is divided geographically into four main zones-the fertile central plains, dominated by the Chao Phraya River; the 300-metre-high northeast plateau, the kingdom’s most barren region; the mountainous North; and the tropical southern peninsula.
The temperature varies from 38°C to 19°C with the annual average at about 29°C. The humidity is from 66% to 82.8%.
There are three seasons in Northern, Northeastern and Central Thailand – hot (March to May), rainy (June to October), and cool (November to February). And there are two seasons in the South – rainy (April to November) and hot (December to March).
In the North and Northeast in winter, the temperatures are much lower during night time, especially on the mountains, with temperatures lower than 10°C. In the south though, the weather is changing and you might as well have consecutive nice sunshine days in May, June and July.
The total population of the country is 67,091,120 in 2014. Of the total, 12 % live in Bangkok.
75% Thais, 11% Chinese, 3.5% Malays, and others are Mons, Khmers, Burmese, Laotians, Indians and a variety of hill tribes.
Thai is the national language. English is widely understood in Bangkok and big cities.
Buddhists 94.2%, Muslims 4.6%, Christians 0.8%, others 0.4%.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy headed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej or King Rama IX. The Thailand government is based on a constitutional monarchy quite similar to that of the United Kingdom, in which a Prime Minister serves as head of a parliamentary government and a hereditary Thai king functions as head of state.
This form of Thailand government has been in place since 1932 following nearly 700 years of outright rule by various lines of Thai kings; the current Thai King, His Majesty King Bhumibol Aduyadej (Rama IX) is the reigning monarch of the Chakri Dynasty that has ruled Thailand since the fall of Ayutthaya and the founding of the Rattakosin Era. The widely revered Thai King serves as spiritual leader of the country as well as head of state, but wields no outright political authority.
The Thailand Government is formed by a coalition of political parties headed by a Prime Minister. While Thailand has undergone numerous coup d’etats since becoming a constitutional monarchy and Thailand politics is a contentious affair, Thai people are politically active and place high value on their arguably tenuous democracy.
The world’s oldest Bronze Age civilization was flourishing in Thailand some 5,600 years ago. Successive waves of immigrants, including Mons, Khmers and Thais, gradually entered the land mass now known as Thailand.
Khmers had ruled much of the area from Angkor around the 11th -12th century. By the early 1200s, Thais had established small northern city states in Lanna, Phayao. In 1238, two Thai chieftains rebelled against Khmer suzerainty and established the first truly independent Thai kingdom in Sukhothai (literally, “Dawn of Happiness”).
The Thais gradually expanded throughout the entire Chao Phraya River basin. Sukhothai declined during the 1300s and eventually became a vassal state of Ayutthaya, a dynamic young kingdom further south in the Chao Phraya River valley.
Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya remained the Thai capital until 1767 when it was destroyed by Burmese invaders. During Ayutthaya’s 417 years as the capital, under the rule of 33 kings, the Thais brought their distinctive culture to full fruition, totally rid their lands of Khmer presence and fostered contact with Arabian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and European power.
The Burmese were expelled by King Taksin who later made Thon Buri his capital. In 1782, the first king of the present Chakri dynasty, Rama 1, established his new capital on the site of a riverside village called Bangkok (Village of Wild Plums). Two Chakri monarchs, Mongkut (Rama IV) who reigned between 1851 and 1868, and his son Chulalongkorn (Rama V, 1868-1910) saved Thailand from western colonization through adroit diplomacy and selective modernization.
Today, Thailand is a constitutional monarchy. Since 1932, Thai kings including the present monarch, H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej have exercised their legislative powers through a national assembly, their executive powers through a cabinet headed by a Prime Minister, and their judicial powers through the law courts.
Tips and tricks
Be careful in the sun, don’t destroy your holiday being sun burnt and spending all you time on the beach like fresh boiled lobster. The heat of the sun in the country has a very dangerous effect to your skin. Thailand has so much to offer and to discover apart from sand, sea and sun. You should slowly work your way up for a nice and healthy tan by starting with one hour a day and then follow with longer sessions gradually.
Don’t forget your suntan cream with at least 20 SPF sunblock power and a high moisture cream after. Most of all, do not fall asleep in the sun. You will regret it!
During the monsoon season, between May (August) and October, please respect the sea and waves. Unfortunately, many tourists ignore the warning signs and red flags on the beaches that’s why a lot drown every year. Within the rest of the year, the sea is calm but always be aware and be careful because there can be strong under streams all year around.
Dehydration should not be also snubbed. It is very important to bring bottled water with you wherever you may go. Be aware that you will sweat much more here during the day, so we highly recommend you to drink plenty amount of water to keep up your body fluids working!
Thailand has a tropical climate and this means you will find both lovely and not so lovely creatures here.
Thailand is home to several varieties of Cobra but despite the deadly venom, only about 20 people a year die in the whole Thailand of snakebites. Most of these people work in the rubber farms or in the jungle where snakes are common. The number of snake bites is of about 10,000 per year. It is extremely seldom that any tourists get bitten by any snakes. They are so afraid of you and they rarely appear where we are.
There are scorpions, spiders and centipedes in Thailand among many other insects. There sting or bites can create great pain but it is not strong enough to cause any deaths.
Mosquitoes are common in Thailand and those who are allergic to mosquito bites should hurry to get the right medications. Far into the jungle (not common in the south of Thailand) the mosquitoes can carry malaria. Another case is the dengue fever, given timely treatment dengue is not dangerous but very unpleasant, so better try not to be bitten in the first place. Mosquitoes are most aggressive during the early mornings and early evening. Always carry a mosquito repellent. Most of the restaurants and bars will have insect burners everywhere.
There are 3 types of poisonous fish in the south of Thailand: The lion fish, the stone fish and the jelly fish. There is no risk that you will see any lion fish or stone fish due to that they prefer to lurk in deeper waters. If you go diving, you might be lucky to see them, just make sure you listen and follow your diving instructor. If you get stung by a jelly fish or a sea urchin, which do lurk in some of the shallow waters in the South of Thailand – first aid would be lime juice or any kind of citrus juice poured on the sting. If you do not have any citrus around, you can resort to urine!
The shores of South Thailand are filled with sharks, but they are not the man-eaters that you see in the Hollywood movies. These sharks are smaller and are no threat to people. If you are lucky you may see one or two during diving.
Forget about all other dangerous creatures. The most dangerous thing in Thailand is the traffic. The traffic rules in Thailand aren’t that the same in the west. The driving habit of the locals is so different and wild. Yes, it might be tempting to rent a motorbike but we strongly recommend you not to do that. Car is better than motorbikes since you have at least protection. It is unfortunate to hear the fact that 2-3 persons die per day, and at least 26,000 die on the roads in Thailand per year!
Thailand is generally known as the Land of Smiles. But smiles can easily turn into angry faces if you fail to respect the customs that exists here. We have some tips for you to make sure you will see lots of smiles.
Respect the King
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with a democratically-elected government. It is similar to many European countries. However, Thais have far more reverence for the HM the King and the Royal Family than you will find in Europe. It is important that you understand just how much Thais respect their beloved King. Showing disrespect for the King or the Royal Family is not only against the law but it is also chocking to the Thais and can have dire consequences. Be aware that Thai currency holds the pictures of the King, so never hide money in your shoes.
In Thai culture, mutual respect is very important. You should always show respect to every person you meet. The best way to do this is to “Wai” with a smile. A ‘wai’ is a Thai greeting that consists of a slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion.
You will see this custom anywhere in the country. After your arrival at the airport, you will immediately experience this gesture from some friendly people.
Normally the younger people should “wai” the older persons and higher ranking people first. But if you are not sure and to be on the safe side you can proceed first. Show extra respect for the elderly people and your friend’s parents. The Thais have great respect for their parents and so should you to!
Monks in Thailand
If you are early up you will see Buddhist Monks walking serenely along the roads, collecting alms from villagers. You will also see them in all of the fantastic temples around the country. Please be aware as a woman you must not touch the Monk.
Do not touch the head
A Thai person regards the head as the holiest part of the body. It is considered extremely rude to touch someone else’s head. In Western cultures this may be considered a sign of affection to pat someone’s head, but in Thailand it is definitely not.
Be aware of your feet
As the head is considered the holiest part of the body, the feet are absolute the opposite. Never point your feet at someone else intentionally. Please do not use your feet to move something or point at something. When inside a temple, make sure when you sit down that your feet are pointing away from any Buddha images.
You may have noticed that Thai people smile most of the time. Even they are in trouble or angry, they still smile. For Westerners this can seem a little odd, but for Thais a show of irritation or anger means you have lost control. It can also provide counter-reaction from the person the anger is directed at. If you are close to losing your temper, cool down and suppress it. You will not get anything out of the situation. In Thailand you will learn how to be patient and how to be calm. Losing temper does not solve anything anyway…
At home you can wear anything that your wish but when visiting the temples, please dress neatly and modestly. You cannot enter a temple if you are not dressed appropriately. Ladies should cover their shoulders and knees.
When walking on the beaches or surrounded areas, make sure that you have a top to cover up. In cities and other public areas you may be fined if you are not wearing a shirt.
When sunbathing, please keep your bikini top on. It is in fact illegal to sunbath topless in Thailand. You probably will not get arrested, but you will not gain much respect from the surrounding people.