Thailand Kingdom is a country in South-East Asia, bordering with Laos and Cambodia on the East, with Malaysia on the South, through the Gulf of Siam and with Myanmar on the west , by Andaman Sea. Thailand is also known as Siam, which used to be the state’s official name until 1949. Thais often compare their country form with an elephant’s head, looking west. Thailand is located nearly on the equal distance from China and India, and interaction with these countries – centuries of migrations from China southern part and trade contacts with India – have influenced the country’s culture greatly.
Busy traffic and internal serenity, beaches and omnipresent traders, countryside roads, ancient palaces and marvelous temples: Thailand attracts both common traveler searching for luxury at a reasonable price and for the person used to Spartan living who’s not interested in popular routes. Having visited Thailand once, You risk to be charmed by the ephemerality of local life: festivals that seem to be so spontaneous, casual encounters and unusual events fill this unexpected land with ancient culture and imperceptible wisdom.
The most popular Thai attractions are magnificent royal palaces and ancient shambles and temples with pointed tops, keeping Buddha’s serene images; these are the places where the past becomes alive in sculpture and architecture as well as in the people’s beliefs and spiritual practices. In the noisy and raging Bangkok You will find lots of communities located along the canals and the coast; growing Chinatown, ultra-modern urban scenery and a huge open market, - all together it’s a strong mix of images, sounds and smells. Away from the urban spaces of the kingdom You can find valleys with rice fields, with small villages here and there; mountains with thick teak woods, where wild elephants used to wander; and, of course, the local scenery won’t be complete without long white sandy beaches, coco-trees and rubber trees plantations. Life in the villages is calm and slow, and Thai’s warm smile represents warm, hospitable attitude and previous generations’ wisdom.
All kinds of adventures are available in Thailand: extreme sports on land and in the sea, tracking to the tribes living separately in the mountains, traveling tuff roads connecting towns and remote settlements. You can travel to explore the countryside on a bus, train, car or a boat; anyway the only limit in perceiving Thailand would be either lack of time, or desire to continue the way. Not far from the tropical islands splendid beaches You can find guest bungalows and magnificent Thai-style 5-star hotels. Local cuisine fascinates: it’s a unique composition of sweet, sour and salty tastes, seasoned with hot spices.
Most of the visitors find themselves in Bangkok – one of the most important transport center in Asia. From this point You can go on a one-day trip to Ayuttaya – former capitol, and to Kanchanaburi, famous for the Kwai river bridge, and then You can continue Your trip either to the North, or to the South.
The second largest city Chiang Mai on the north of Thailand is interesting by Thai distinctive culture, ancient temples, and picturesque sceneries. Other northern cities worth visiting include Sukhothai, Chiang Rai, Maehongson. It’s the north of the country that’s famous by the great opportunities for traveling by foot and learning about local culture.
On the south You’ll find wonderful beaches Koh Tao, Crabi, Koh Samui, Phuket and Trang. Some resorts are long loved by tourists, but in spite of that You can still find quiet places for Your rest.
North-east Thailand is one of the best places for tourists traveling on their own. This province, known as Isan, is famous for it’s picturesque mountain forests and nature reserves, the most remarkable being Khao Yai national park. Among the other interesting places are Nong Khai and Surin.
And Eastern coast of Thailand will meet You with many popular resorts, including Pattaya and Jomtien. This area is rich in natural resources, including caoutchouc, rice, fish, orchids and minerals, used to make jewelry. Local natural reserves are famous for the waterfalls, virgin forests and remote uninhabited islands. Ko Chang and Ko Samet are the most popular islands in this area.
People living on the territory of the modern Thailand are ethnically manifold: Thais, Mons, Khmers, Chinese, Indians, Malaysians and other smal ehnic groups on the north of the country – that’s far not the full list. Thai culture teaches all these nationalities live in tolerance which is evident in practically every parts of life – from Buddhist ceremonies held in countless temples, to trade process on the market. 95% of Thailand population are Buddhists. Besides special moral laws providing social solidarity, Buddhism on Thailand implies daily spiritual support to all the followers. A Buddhist temple, located either in a city or in a village, is a communication center for all the local people. Thai people treat all the other religions with respect. That is why all the Muslim, Christian and Sikh minorities perform their religious activities freely, supported by the monarch.
Royal family is endlessly honored and respected by the people. The present ruler of the country Ramah IX came to the throne more than sixty years ago and this was widely celebrated in 2006. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is Chakri dynasty’s ninth king and his reign is the longest in Thailand. His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej greatly honored among the people for the care showing in charitable actions and social projects. The king of Thailand is a man of action and a symbol of the nation. Monarchy is truly loved in Thai society, that is why everybody should treat the king kindly. To express an ill-will opinion about the king and members of the royal family isn’t just unaccepted, it can cause rather sad consequences for the unlucky foreigner, even imprisonment. In spite of the fact that it is acceptable to criticize the government and even culture (not Buddhism), it is considered to be offensive of the nation and monarchy not to stand up to the sounds of the national or royal hymn. National hymn is forecasted on the radio and TV at 8:00 am and 6:00 pm, as for the royal hymn, it is performed in the movies and theatres before the performance and the audience should listen to it standing to the end. Though, the word “should” s not quite appropriate here. The king and his family is loved and honored sincerely. As a sign of respect to the monarchy in power every Monday all the citizens put on yellow clothes. Yellow is a heraldic colour of Thailand monarchy. For the bank staff it could be a jacket, a T-shirt for a trader and a shirt for a policeman.
Welcome to Thailand!