Information

This section covers many valuable resources on Thailand such as the travel guides or tips to travelers. Some of the topics contain links to the other related sites of similar subjects. In certain topic, we include lists of useful contacting address for your information.
 
Introductions
Thailand, being known as the land of smiles, the land of elephants and the land of Buddhism, is unique for its fascinating cultures, tradition, and philosophical attitude towards the world and life, making the country shrouded with mystery waiting for the wide-opened eyes and opened mind to explore its charming distinctiveness.
 
A number of magnificent temples in Bangkok, the stunning mountains in the north like Chiang Mai, the world famous beach resort with its vibrant nightlife in Pattaya, and the idyllic beaches and clear water in Phuket are just a few of Thailand's highlighted attraction. Thailand still implausibly has a large array of unseen pockets to discover. Meanwhile, Thailand is still graced with its charming tradition which remained strong among Thai people although affected by flows of modernization and westernization which make it one of the highly developed countries in the region. Buddhism has always played a significant role in the embodiment of Thai tradition, value, and attitude towards of people in society. This characteristic may be the real charm of Thailand which is represented as the simple lifestyle, peaceful mind, and optimism.
 
Now it comes to you to explore this land on your own route and with your own mind. It is up to you how you view Thailand. But one thing you can witness by yourselves: Thailand will be your travel paradise and will give you an exceptional experience for your lifetime.

Thailand Fact File

  • Conventional Name: Kingdom of Thailand
  • Local Name: Thailand (formerly Siam)
  • Capital: Bangkok
  • Independence:1238 Year of Establishment (never being colonized)
  • Constitution:   Constitutional Monarchy
  • Land Area: 513,115 Sq. Kilometers
  • Climate: Average: 29 degree Celsius but varies 9-38 degree Celsius
  • Seasons: Hot (March to May), Rainy (June to October) and cool (November to February)
  • Population: 61,878,746 (year 2000)
  • Language: Thai; English is widely understood in cities
  • Sex Ratio: 0.97 male/female
  • Birth Rate: 1.66%
  • Death Rate: 0.75%
  • Labor Force: 32.6 million
  • Literacy: 93.8% (Age 15 and over)
  • Religion: Buddhism 92.55%, Muslim 5.29%, Christianity 1.34%, Others 0.79% (2000)
  • Currency: Thai Baht
  • Exchange Rate: 44.5 Baht / US$ (approx. 2001)
  • GDP: US$ 413 Billion (est. 2000)
  • Time: GMT+7
  • Airport Tax: 500 Baht for International, 40 Baht for Domestic
  • Electricity: 220 Volts 50 cycles
  • Clothing: Thin Cotton is best. A jacket or sweater may be necessary in cool season, especially in the mountainous area in North and Northeast.

Travel Tips
Generally Thai women are conservative. So don’t touch them without their consent.
Dress properly when entering a Buddhist temple. Mini skirts and shorts are not allowed. Take your shoes off before going inside the hall of worship. Ladies must not on any account touch a Buddhist monk, give things direct to him or receive things direct from him.
Intimacies between man and woman should not be shown in public. Sunbathing in the nude is prohibited.
Call Thais their first names: use the title “Khun” for adults.
Thai people smile to express gladness and happiness, to thank for small services, to return the wai (a way of greeting) of children and inferior persons, and event to excuse small inconveniences.
Don’t touch a person’s head, nor ruffle his hair. The head is the noblest part of the body. A sincere apology should be offered immediately if you touch someone’s head unintentionally.
Avoid placing your feet on the table while sitting. Never use your foot to point things out or to touch any part of the body of anyone, which is considered rude.
Entering a Thai house, you’re expected to remove your shoes.
 
Currency
Foreign visitors may freely bring in foreign currencies or other types of foreign exchange. Cheque or drafts brought in must be sold to a bank within 15 days of arrival. Upon leaving Thailand, they may freely take out all foreign exchange they have brought in. For residents, unlimited amounts of foreign notes and coins may be taken out for travelling expenses. The amount of draft or Cheque is subject to the approval of the issuing bank.
Foreign visitors may bring in and unlimited amount for Thai currency. For travelers leaving Thailand, both Thais and foreign, the maximum amount permitted to take out without prior authorization is 50,000 Baht per person or, of they are going to one of Thailand’s neighboring countries, 500,000 Baht per person.
The basic monetary unit in Thailand is the Baht. A Baht is divided into 100 satang. The following coins and notes are currently in use: Coins: 25 and 50 satang; 1, 5 and 10 Baht.
 
Bank notes: 10(brown), 20(green), 50(blue), 100(red), 500(purple) and 1,000(grey) Baht.
Major foreign currencies can be exchanged for Thai Baht with banks and authorized moneychangers. Major credit cards are also widely accepted in tourist centers.
 
Customs Regulation
Exports of Buddha images (except small ones carried on person), antiques and genuine works of art require export license from the Fine Arts Department. The shop you deal with can provide such service for you.
Foreign tourists are allowed to take out gold ornaments free. But import and export of gold other than jewelry are subject to licensing; by the Ministry of Finance.
It is prohibited by law to bring any of the following items into Thailand:
Narcotics (e.g., marijuana, hemp, opium, cocaine, morphine, heroin)
Obscene literature or pictures
Firearms or ammunition – unless a permit has been obtained from the Police Department or the local Registration office.
Piranha and certain species of fruits, vegetables and plants. (Contact the Agricultural Regulatory Division, Bangkhen, and Bangkok for details.)
One still camera with 5 rolls of unused film, one movie camera with 3 rolls of unused film and used household effects may be brought in free of duty.
 
Dining
Most Thai food is already cut into small pieces before serving or made soft enough to be cut with spoon or fork;’ thus, a knife is unnecessary.
Saltshakers are rarely found on Thai dinner tables, so add a little caramel-color fish-sauce (called nam-pla in Thai) instead, if you find your food not salty enough.
English is spoken in large restaurants in tourist provinces; and most establishments have menus in Thai and English, except street-side food stalls and some small restaurant.
Beckon waiters with a wave of a hand. Don’t clap, snap fingers or hiss.
Normally, a tip of 10-20 Baht or 5-10% of the bill should be left when dining in a middle or high-class restaurant.
 
Shopping
Bargaining is an art long practiced in Asian countries including Thailand. So feel free to ask for a proper discount when shopping in places where prices are not marked.
Be careful in dealing with sidewalk vendors who may not offer genuine goods at fair prices.
Receipts should be obtained for the goods you buy. For jewelry you must get a certificate for guarantee as well.
Some shops can offer a money-back guarantee but you should clearly determine all conditions with the shopkeeper beforehand.
 
Thai Visa
Nationals from 56 countries can now stay in Thailand for up to 30 days with our an entry visa, according to a new regulation adopted by the Immigration Division in early February 1995. For visitors from 76 others countries, visas valid for 15 days may be obtained on arrival at any of the four airports at Don Muang (Bangkok), Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hat Yai.
Categories of visas in Thailand are transiting, Visitor Transit, Tourist, Non-Quota immigrant.
Holders of Transit, Visitor Transit and Tourist visas are not allowed to work in Thailand.
A tourist who wants to overstay his visa must apply to the Immigration Division of the Police Department with the following:
The duplicate copy of his or her passport
One photograph
The medical certificate (only in case of being sick)

Miscellany
Clothing - Thin cotton is the best. A jacket or pullover may be necessary in the cool season, especially when you are in mountainous areas in the North or Northeast.
Electricity – 220 v 50 cycles throughout the country.
Measurement of area – Thailand has its own system of area measurement. The basic units are square wa (=4sq.m.) and rai (=400sq.wa or 1,600 sq.m. or 0.16 hectare).
 
DON’T take any food, drinks, or candies offered by a stranger or a taxi driver.
DON’T accept any complimentary tour offered by a stranger. Reliable tourist information and safe tours should be provided by a tour agency that has a travel license.

Geography
Kingdom of Thailand, located in Southeast Asia on the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, shares boundaries with Myanmar (Burma) on the west and northwest. Laos on the east and northeast, Cambodia on the southeast, and Malaysia on the south. Thailand, although rich in rubber and in mineral resources, was never colonized by Europeans and has existed as a writing monarchy since 1350. The capital, Bangkok, an attractive blend of Western and Thai architecture, was established in 1782.
 
Thailand has covered a land area of 513,115 square kilometers, from North 5 30” and 21 and from East 97 30” to 105 30”, and extends about 2,500 kilometers from North to South and 1,250 kilometers from East to West, with a coastline of approximately 1,840 kilometers of the Gulf of Thailand and 865 kilometers along the Indian Ocean.
 
Climate
The climate is tropical with long hours of sunshine and high humidity. There are three seasons:
Hot from March to June
Rainy from July to October
Cool from November to February
 
Average low temperature is 20C and high temperature is 37 C. the geographic and climatic conditions make the country suitable for the cultivation of a wide range of tropical and semi-tropical agricultural crops.
 
Population
The country has a population of approximately 60 million, of which around 6 million live in the capital city, Bangkok. The most important ethnic minority are Chinese. Other minority groups include Malays, Cambodians, Indians, non-Thai hill tribes, and some Vietnamese. Immigration is controlled by a quota system.
 
National Flag
The five horizontal stripes of three colors-red, white and blue have very significant meanings. Red signifies the life-blood of Thai people; the white stripe symbolizes the purity of Buddhism, the national religion; and the dominant blue stripe, the monarchy and the important it plays in the daily life of the Thai people.
 
The present national flag, the “Tri-Rong” of three colors, was designed by King Rama VI and was on September 28, 1917.
 
The flag is raised daily at 08.00 am and lowered at 06.00 pm at all official buildings, public places, large private enterprises and schools, usually to the accompaniment of the Thai Nation Anthem. The flag is also flown nationwide holidays.
 
National Anthem
The National Anthem is played on all ceremonial of national flag is being raised and lowered. Its music was composed in 1932 by Professor Phra Jenduriyang, while the lyrics, as presently constituted, were written in 1939 by Colonel Luang Saranuprabhands. A literal translation is as follows:

Thailand is the unity of Thai blood and body
The whole country belongs to the Thai people, maintaining thus far for the Thai
All Thais intend to unite together
Thais love peace, but do not fear to fight
That will never let anyone threaten their independence
Thais will sacrifice every drop of their blood to contribute to the nation, will serve their country
With pride and prestige-full of victory. CHAI YO
 
Public Holidays
Most national holidays and festivals are of a religious nature and serve to evoke a sense of the monarchy, the religion, and the nation. Some are celebrated by the calendar and thus vary in date from year to year, while others are celebrated according to the solar calendar.
 
Food
Thailand’s culinary heritage is blessed with an abundant amount of food found in the seas and in the fields which offers ample opportunity to the adventurous cook to use his 1 and resourcefulness in concocting a variety of nutritious and delicious dishes.
 
The food in general is rather spicy with the most commonly used ingredients being ginger, garlic, chili, pepper, knob khaa, coriander leaves and roots, cumin seed, manglak leaves and seeds, lemons grass and basil leaves. Equally important in bringing out the distinctive Thai flavor are prepared curry paste, nam prik, biachan, and the high quality Thai nam pla.
 
Fruit
Thailand is a paradise of tropical fruits. At any time during the year at lease a dozen different kinds can be found in the market. Their strong aromas and distinctive tastes are addictive once more acquires a liking for them. These include the durian, rambutan, mangosteen, longans, lychee, langsat and many others.
 
While the most common way fruit is eaten, in Thailand is simply by removing the skin and biting into it, for very special occasions the fruits are intricately carved and sometimes stuffed one into another or simply mixed to give a blend of tastes. Although Thai prefer to eat fruits in their fresh state and a little ripe, they turn a lot into jams and juices and other preserved.  

Thailand means “Land of Free”, and throughout its 800-years history, Thailand can boast the distinction of being the only country in Southeast Asia never to have been colonized. Its history is divided into five major periods.
 
Nanchao Period (650-1250 A.D)
The Thai people founded their kingdom in the southern part of China, which are Yunnan, Kwangsi and Canton today. A great number of people migrated south as far as the Chao Phraya Basin and settled down over the central Plain under the sovereignty of the Khmer Empire, whose culture they probably accepted. The Thai people founded their independent state of Sukhothai around 1238 AD, which marks the beginning of the Sukhothai Period.
 
Sukhothai Period (1238-1378 A.D)
Thais began to emerge as a dominant force in the region in the 13th century, gradually asserting independence from existing Khmer and Mon kingdoms. Called by its rulers “the dawn of happiness”, this is often considered the golden era of Thai history, an ideal Thai state in a land of plenty governed by paternal and benevolent kings, the most famous of whom was King Ramkamhaeng the Great. However, in 1350, the mightier state of Autthaya exerted its influence over Sukhothai..
 
Ayutthya Period (1350-1767)
The Ayutthya kings adopted Khmer cultural influences from the very beginning. No longer the paternal and accessible rulers that the kings of Sukhothai had been. Ayutthya’s sovereigns were absolute monarchs and assumed the title devaraja (god-king). The early part of this period saw Ayutthya extend its sovereignty over neighboring Thai principalities and come into conflict with its neighbors. During the 17th century, Siam started diplomatic and commercial relations with western countries.
 
In 1767, a Burmese invasion succeeded in capturing Ayutthya. Despite their overwhelming victory, the Burmese did not retain control of Siam for long. A young general named Phya Taksin and his followers broke through the Burmese encirclement and escaped to Chantaburi. Seven months after the fall of Ayutthya, he and his courses sailed back to the capital and expelled the Burmese occupation garrison.
 
Thoburi Period (1767-1772)
General Taksin, as her is popularly known, decided to transfer the capital from Ayuthya to a site nearer to the sea which would facilitate foreign trade, ensure the procurement of arms, and make defense and withdrawal easier in case of renewed Burmese attack. He established his new capital at Thon Buri on the west bank of the Chao Phyraya River. The ruld of Taksin was not an easy one. The lack of central authority since the fall of Ayuthya led to the rapid disintegration of the kingdom, and Taksin’s reign was spent reuniting the provinces.
 
Rattanakosin Period (1782-the Present)
After Taksin’s death, General Chakri became the first king of the Chakri Dynasty, Rama 1, ruling from 1782 to 1809. His first action as king was to transfer the royal capital across the river from Thon Buri to Bangkok and build the Grand Palace. Rama II (1809-1824) continued the restoration begun by his predecessor. King Nang Klao, Rame III (1824-1851) reopened relations with Western nations and developed trade with China. King Mongkut, Rama IV (1851-1868) of the “The King and I” concluded treaties with European countries, avoided colonization and established modern Thailand. He made many social and economic reforms during his reign.
 
King Chulalongkorn, Rama V (1869-1910) continued his father’s tradition of reform, abolishing slavery and improving the public welfare and administrative system. Compulsory education and other educational reforms were introduced by king Vajiravuch, Rama Vi (1910-1925). During the reign of King Prajadhipok (1925-1935), Thailand changed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. The king abdicated in 1933 and was succeeded by his nephew, King Ananda Mahidol (1935-1946). The country’s name was changed from Siam to Thailand with the advent of democratic government in 1939. Our present monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is King Rama IX of the Chakri Dynasty.
 
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty. Born in December 1927, in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA, where his father, Prince Mahidol of Songkhla was studying medicine at Harvard University, H.M King Bhumibol ascended the throne in 1946 and is already the longest reigning Thai monarch. As a constitutional monarch, he maintains neutrality in times of crisis.
 
Thai people have a deep and tradition reverence for the Royal family. To a very large degree, H.M King Bhumibol’s popularity mirrors his deep interest in his people’s welfare. He concerns himself intimately with every aspect of Thai life. He and his wife, H.M Queen Sirikit devote much of their time to inspect and improve the welfare of the people.
 
His Majesty the King’s initials the Thai letters Phor Por Ror placed at the centre of the crest, under the Royal Crown and above the Royal Throne of the Eight Compass Points, signify that His Majesty is the focus of the entire nation, binding the people’s hearts and loyalty. The yellow color of the letters is the color of His Majesty’s day of birth, and the blue color of the background that of the monarchy. The surrounding discusses (Chakra) with the Thai numeral 9 means that King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the night monarch of the Chakri Dynasty. The crest is flanked by two seven-tiered umbrellas, both types’ symbols of the kingship. The four point border represents the four regions of the country, in which the people live in peace and tranquility under the king’s supreme protection, as expressed by the green color, which is a symbol of peace and abundance. Each of the four points of the border has a lotus flower, an offering to His Majesty on the occasion of his sixth-cycle birthday anniversary. The golden rays around the crest signify His Majesty’s grace and benevolence which pervade the Kingdom and beyond, and bring pride and join the people throughout the entire land. Beneath the crest, a blue silk banner bears the inscription of the Celebration of the Auspicious Occasion of His Majesty’s 6th cycle Birthday.

Bangkok
Known in Thai as Krung ThepGrand Place & Wat Phra Kaeo, is the capital and largest city of Thailand, with an official 2000 census population of 6,355,144. Bangkok is located at 13°45'N 100°31'E, on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, near the Gulf of Thailand.
Krung Thep has been the proper name of the city for more than two centuries. However, the city's original name of Bangkok (which now is used locally to refer only to a district of the city) persists in being used by most foreigners. Bangkok is a fast growing, economically and culturally dynamic city in Southeast Asia. The World Meteorological Organization has dubbed Bangkok the world's hottest large city.
Moreover, it is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. Bangkok is the wealthiest and most populated city in Thailand. The city is ranked as the 21st most populated city in the world. 
The Grand Palace & the Temple of Wat Phra Kaeo, situated on the banks of the Chao Praya River, are perharps Bangkok's best-known sights. 
Since being founded by King Rama I, Krung Thep Maha Nakorn, or City of Angels , has spread from the temples and palaces on Royal Ratanakosin Island, through a network of canals or klongs, many of which still survive, to modern Silom, Sukhumvit and beyond.
For shopping and entertainment Bangkok is hard to beat; from street markets to shopping malls of designer boutiques, restaurants serving every imaginable kind of cuisine and its word famous nightlife.
The Grand Palace and the Temple of Wat Phra Kaeo, situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, are perhaps Bangkok's best-known sights. Wat Phra Kaeo, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is the royal temple and named after a Buddha image that stands in the main chapel. In contrast to Wat Phra Kaeo the architecture of the Grand Palace is European in style with cloisters and manicured lawns. A 15-minute walk from the Grand Palace is another of Bangkok's famous temples, Wat Pho, also called the temple of the Reclining Buddha. This is the oldest and largest wat in Bangkok and apart from its 46-metre reclining Buddha, Wat Pho also has a fine collection of bas-reliefs, stupas and statues.


National Museum
Bangkok's National Museum, the largest museum in South-East Asia, has a comprehensive collection of arts and artefacts including many items from the ancient capitals of Ayutthaya and Sukhuthai. Jim Thompson's House is a beautiful teak house furnished with Thai antiques and a shop selling the best high quality Thai silk. For a break from the city streets take a cruise along the Chao Phraya River to visit the Royal. Barges National Museum or stop Barges National Museum or stop off at the world famous Oriental Hotel for a refreshing drink. Bangkok also boats many of Asia's most exciting new restaurants, cocktail bars and night clubs. Exciting night spots such as The Bed Supperclub, Mystique and the Dome add to the city's cutting edge.


Chatuchak Market
Chatuchak Market, Bangkok's famous weekend market in the city's northern suburbs, sells just about anything you could possibly want. There are over 8,000 stalls and this is a great place to hunt for bargains, especially Thai handicrafts and souvenirs. Surrounding Bangkok are some remarkably beautiful and easily accessible green areas where you can enjoy a bike ride or a boat trip through refreshingly laid back Thailand of old.

Chiang Mai
Deep in the northern mountain ranges and jungles, a world away from Bangkok's famous grand temples and Phuket's celebrated beaches, sits the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand's second largest city. Once describes as one of the loveliest cities imaginable, Chiang Mai still retains a certain flavor of the past with its moated old city, ancient wats and leafy back streets.

Wat Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai's oldest temple is Wat Chiang Man which dates back to 1296 and its two Buddha images, one made of the stone and the other made from crystal.

Wat Phra Singh
Almost as old, Wat Phra Singh in the centre of town contains a 1,500-year-old Buddha image and another wat.

Chiang Mai National Museum
The Chiang Mai National Museum, just to the north of the city center, houses an extensive collection of Buddha images and northern Thai handicrafts. Another museum that is worth a visit especially for those preparing to go trekking is the Tribal Museum, which houses a good display of hill tribe textiles, jewellery, musical instruments, weapons and other artifacts. Chiang Mai makes an excellent base for explorations of north Thailand. Treks into the mountains are a popular way to get close to the beautiful scenery and to encounter the different peoples that inhabit the mountains. Bicycle tours are also a wonderful way to view the region, while four wheel-drive excursions can take you further and faster into the surrounding countryside. It is also possible to take a hot air balloon flight over the city.

Doi Inthanon
Slightly further a field, Doi Inthanon, set in a large national park offering some pleasant walks among the mountain scenery of forests and waterfalls and a popular site for birdwatchers. The sleepy town of Pai has become a tourist hotspot and Mae Hong Song is reachable by a short flight. Another popular excursion from Chiang Mai is a visit to one of the nearby elephant camps such as Chiang Dao Camp or Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, where attractions include elephant rides, elephant bathing and an exhibition on the importance of the elephant in Thai history and culture.

Phuket
Thailand's largest island off its southwestern coast, is surrounded by 32 smaller islands and dotted with pristine beaches. If you seek a quiet, isolated beach with few tourists and distractions, try the Emerald Bay in Patong or Mai Khao Beach, though it should be avoided in the rainy season due to dangerous under currents. For those in research of action and excitement, Patong and Karon beaches are pleasurable paradises for water lovers with opportunities to windsurf, water ski, parasail, sail and surf, as well as shop and party.


Phi Phi Don & Phi Phi Le Islands
Take a short boat trip to the tropical Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le islands of Krabi Province and stay to snorkel around the area's coral reefs and underwater vertical walls, explore limestone caverns, and hike through wooded trails. A day trip to the Similan Islands in the northwest is worthwhile because of the area's famous diverse marine life.But much more than the above, Phuket is an island of forested hills, coconut and rubber plantations, lush rice fields and wildlife parks. Take an extra three days to venture into the interior of the island, where many other attractions are waiting to be discovered. A leisurely walk through Phuket town, in the southeast, will yield ancient Mediterranean-style buildings and an open-air market. At Kalama Beach on the west coast is Phuket FantaSea, a theme park that offers canivals, shopping, buffet at a 4,000.


Koh Samui
KOH SAMUI White sands, swaying palms, dense tropical foliage, rocky outcrops and hidden coves this is Samui Island. White images like these could bring to mind many of Thailand's other offshore islands, Koh Samui has secret and quiet allures that set it apart from all others. Koh Samui has made a successful transition from a backpacker island to world-class holiday destination without losing its charm and character.
While the main beach of Chaweng is a busy busting tourist spot, the rest of the island retains the laid back, easy going charm that made it such a firm favourite with backpackers. Now 5-star hotels coexist peacefully with the local fishing villages as well as budget resorts.
Add to the mix an eclectic array of spas, healing centres, dive centers, wonderful restaurants, beach bars, a colourful mix of permanent local residents and nightclubs carrying names such as The Green Mango, and you start to understand the unique charm of Koh Samui. The beaches, of course, add to the island's attraction. The Chaweng, Lamai and Maenam, Bo Phut and Big Buddha beaches are all you want from a beach destination, sweeping crescents of white sand shaded by coconut palms and perfect weather conditions most months of the year. For those looking for more than a hotel and a beach, the nearby islands of Ang Thong National Marine Park make a great excursion while a four wheel-drive mountain tour is also highly recommended.


Island
The island's three inland waterfalls are made for quiet afternoon picnics and cooling swims.
A few kilometers away, the Bo Phut fishing village is a trip back into time, with its old beachfront houses and slow pace of life.  

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