Situated in the south-east Asian region, Thailand is known for its unique cultural and historical heritage, beautiful beaches and tempting food delicacies. It is because of these very reasons that tourists from all parts of the world are willing to visit this wonderful country any time of the year. It is not surprising that Thailand has become popular as a heavenly abode for travelers, tourists and explorers alike.
Developed by the Homo sapiens in the initial stages, Thailand has history that is considered one million years old, known as the Paleolithic Era. People in that age started domesticating animals, growing vegetables and cultivating rice, resulting eventually in the development of a kingdom. Mon, Malay, and Khmer are known as the early established kingdoms that were indulged in small wars for resources, land and man power. This led some of the Thai people to migrate to China. From 10th century AD to 1767, Thailand saw the rise and fall of many kingdoms like Khmer Empire, Sukhothai Kingdom and Ayutthaya Kingdom.
After going through various local and foreign invasions in the 18th century, Rama 1 founded Chakri dynasty which rules till date. Rama 1 also preferred Bangkok as his capital city. The power transferred from one monarch to the other and in 1946, King Bhumibol Adulyadej acquired the throne after the mysterious death of his elder brother. After 1973, this beautiful land experienced military and civil rule from time to time but continued to maintain its status of a ‘visitor’s paradise’.
Thailand is spread over 198,000 square miles (514,000 square kilometers) bordered by Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Malaysia. Surrounded by a beautiful coastline that stretches up to 3,219km, Thailand can boast of many serene and vast beaches. Doi Inthanon in Thailand is situated at the highest level at 8,415 feet from the sea level while Gulf of Thailand towards the Pacific Ocean is the lowest, at the sea level. In 2004, the western coastline experienced extreme devastation by Tsunami from the Indian Ocean, since it was an epic centre of Indonesia.
- Since Thailand falls in the tropical monsoon region, it has a pretty long rainy season which extends from June to October. Highest temperature goes up to 38° C and lowest is 19° C.
- Since Thai people carry spirituality in their veins, 95% of them follow Theravada, an extended division of Buddhism. Gold-plated Buddha Stupas can be seen throughout the country, which are one of the main attractions in Thailand.
- According to the Sensex, the total population of Thailand in 2007 was approximately 63,038,247. 80% of Thai population comprises ethnic Thais while 14% are Chinese who migrated to Thailand. Remaining minorities include Indians, Vietnamese, Khmer, and Malay.
- Thai is the main language of Thailand and it is adopted from the East-Asian family Tai-Kadai. The first written scripts of Thailand were found only in 1292A.D.
- The capital city of Bangkok, Pak Kret, Chiang Mai, Nonthaburi, and Hat Yai are some of the major cities of Thailand.
Attractions of Thailand
Thailand, also called the ‘Land of Smiles’, fulfils all those imaginations that a tourist dreams about while visiting this wonderful land. In addition to enjoying all the modern amenities, one can also explore the adventurous activities offered by this magnificent land. Whether you start from north by enjoying the endless beauty of mountain villages or from beaches of the south, the memories of Thailand will surely be etched in your mind forever. Following are some of the main attractions of Thailand
Thailand’s most stunning and famous beaches are located in the province of Krabi and Railay is at the top of this list. With white sand and crystal-clear sea water, Railay gives you a wonderful feeling of experiencing paradise. Ferry services are available from Krabi and Ao Nang to reach the island. Along with beaches, Railay is also a hub for tourists who adore adventure activities such as rock-climbing. Your trip to Railay is incomplete without whitewater rafting, snorkeling, elephant trekking, and kayaking. People can also indulge in lavish massages, which is also one of the main attractions of this area.
The Grand Palace, Bangkok
Bangkok, the capital city, offers a line of things to enjoy but Grand Palace perhaps is the best place to start with. This significant historical city stands at number one for sightseeing in Bangkok because of its amazing craftsmanship. The wide spread royal halls give you the impression of crossing a labyrinth within the palace. Inbuilt temples, ancient relics and “Temple of Emerald Buddha” named “Wat Phra Kaeo” are some of the many attractions here. If you want to do justice to Grand Palace, you need to spare some quality time. The Temple of Dawn, Wat Po and Wat Arun are some other landmarks also located here.
Koh Phi Phi
Krabi is also famous for Phi Phi Islands, an extremely desirable resort for many reasons. It is possible to go for day trips to the adjacent islands only from Phi Phi Don. Monkey Beach is another fun spot located in this region where you come face-to-face with these mischievous creatures. If you are standing unguarded, these monkeys will boldly attack you and snatch whatever is there in your hands. Another attraction, Long Beach, is famous for watching spectacular sunsets. There are tour operators to help you get tickets for other beaches such as Maya Bay, Phuket, Koh Lanta, and Koh Chang. Phi Phi Don was the worst one to be hit by tsunami but it has been restructured so well that you can hardly find any trace of the devastation.
Sunday Walking Street, Chiang Mai
Whenever a tourist visits a place like Thailand, s/he hunts for food that is both delicious and pocket-friendly. Chiang Mai's Sunday Night Walking Street meets both food requirements. Everything from samosa, fried banana and chicken satay to fruit shakes and sweet rotis is available for less than $3 a piece. Streets are filled with various decorative items and countless household things such as soaps, essential oils, paintings, musical instruments and many more to satiate anyone’s shopping appetite. It is said that a visit to Thailand is incomplete if you do not shop at Chiang Mai. Chang Klan Road here is famous for its Night Bazaar and Saturday Night Street.
Khao Yai National Park
Elephants are an integral part of Thai culture and this is evident in many paintings and statues throughout Thailand. Although there are many small and big areas where one can see them and spend a night with them, Khao Yai National Park is the best place to have fun with them. You can give them bath or have a tour with them in the jungles. You will also find colorful birds, monkeys and other tropical animals here and watching them in the natural and lush green environment is a real treat to eyes.
It is a known fact that southern beaches with beautiful landscapes add to the reputation of Thailand of being one of the most desirable tourist destinations. Northern parts of Thailand especially feature many breathtaking landscapes. Located in the northwest region of Thailand, Pai is a picture-perfect place for those who love nature in its most rustic form. Along with these mountains and jungles, you can experience perfect Thai hospitality and amazingly tasty food. The buzzing streets of this small place, the waterfalls and the neighboring temples are sufficient to attract tourists from all over the world.
Sukhothai Old City
Sukhothai Old City, the previous capital of Thailand, has been declared as a World Heritage spot by UNESCO. Photography enthusiasts and those who take an interest in historical places find a lot of areas here to quench their thirst. This ancient city’s ruins still stand high and intact despite having faced extreme weather conditions and battles for centuries. It has been preserved as Thailand’s most important historical place.
Historic City of Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya was also a former capital of Thailand and the ruins here speak of the rich and glorious culture of this country. Tourists here can enjoy and wander around in the haunting and poignant stories of Thailand philosophy. After the Sukhothai period was over, Ayutthaya became a major city in Thailand and the ruins of its palaces provide evidence of this statement. Ayutthaya is very close to Bangkok and you can reach the city by bus or train within a short time. Foreign settlements in the new part of the city show an influence of other cultures that Thailand has faced from time to time.
Without enjoying the shopping experience at the floating markets of Thailand, your visit to this wonderful country will be considered incomplete. These bursting markets with local vendors with their excellent way of handling the commerce are definitely worth a watch. You have to sacrifice your leisure time in order to visit these markets, since they open up early and the farmers bring their fresh produce that gets sold out quickly. Damnoen, Amphawa, and Sadual are some famous markets near Bangkok. You can take the help of a guide or join a tour to visit these full-of-life marketplaces.
What to Do and Not to Do in Thailand
- When visiting Thailand, you are expected to respect the Buddha icons as they are considered the most sacred part of Thai religion. Disrespecting and violating these rules can end up in imprisonment.
- Monks are the most respected people and tourists are expected to be respectful towards them.
- You should be dressed properly for visiting temples.
- Removing your footwear is a must before entering any temple.
- Even if you get provoked, try to stay calm in any situation.
- Everyone in Thailand is expected to smile when interacting with local people.
- Greet everyone with a “Hello” and say “Thanks” whenever required.
- Use a spoon or a fork while eating.
- Try not to get too friendly with other tourists when you are visiting different places.
- While travelling as a tourist, having proper insurance is a must.
Things Not to Do in Thailand
- Use a low voice as Thai people like to speak in a mild and soft voice. Stay calm and do not argue in any situation.
- Appearance in Thailand matters a lot. You may find the atmosphere very relaxed but this does not mean that Thai people don’t care about cleanliness.
- Holding hands or kissing in public places is not accepted.
- Being in a tropical region, weather in Thailand is quite hot but one cannot take the liberty of roaming in the city without a shirt. Entering a temple with a fully covered body shows great respect towards their culture.
- One advice is to avoid wearing shoes, since you have to remove them everywhere, be it a temple, a house, bathrooms or even certain shops.
- Touching monks, especially if it is by a woman, is a sign of disrespect towards them.
- Stay comfortable, relaxed and don’t think too much during your trip to this wonderful country.