One of the most visited countries, Thailand has something to offer to everyone. Here is our guide to a incredible country.
From just 10 million in the year 2000 to close to 40 million in 2019 have been the number of international arrivals to Thailand.
With good reason. This country which is among the most visited tourist destinations on our planet has much to offer.
There are the balmy beaches, magnificent temples, archeological sites, national parks, mountains and even those beaches that are inhabited by monkeys.
A big plus is the hospitable people and the cuisine.
A Little Of The Background
Even though the British and the French went all out to colonise the countries in southeast Asia, Thailand managed to remain independent and was never under any European rule.
To this day they maintain their individual cultural identity to a great extent despite globalisation.
The head of the government is the prime minister but the country is an established constitutional monarchy.
The current one being Maha Vajiralongkorn. According to the estimates of Nikkei Asia and other publications, the wealth of the Thai monarchy is anywhere between 60 to 70 billion dollars.
It was way back in 1907 that the then monarch founded the Siam Commercial Bank and to this day the monarchy has a sizeable stake in it and in sectors that have nothing to do with banking.
The country’s economy is about 500 billion U.S. dollars. This should give you a measure of how much of it is in the hands of the monarch.
At one time all males in the society were made to be Buddhist monks for a while, including the monarch, before they were 20.
Sanskrit and Pali, the languages that originated in India, make up the full name of Bangkok which is the capital.
The full unpronounceable form, at least for most of us, is Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit.
The country comprises more than 1,400 islands.
Even though a fair part of the country is hardwood jungles, logging is illegal.
The king is revered. According to their criminal laws, insulting, defaming, threatening the king, the queen or the heir is punishable by imprisonment up to 15 years. The national flower is orchid and more than a thousand species are found here.
Despite the on again off again uprisings we read about, the Thais are peaceful, hospitable and forthcoming by nature. It is said you’ll find more smiling faces here than anywhere else.
Siamese cats, which cost anywhere from 500 to 1,000 dollars, come from here. The country was originally known as Siam.
Greet with a namaste like gesture while bowing slightly.
The Thais mostly use cutlery, a fork and a spoon. The fork is used to aid you in filling up the spoon and chopsticks are only used for noodles.
The head is sacred. Not to be touched. Don’t even run your hand over a child’s head. Don’t be coarse in your talk about the monarch or Buddha. Both are heavy offences and punishable by prison terms.
Bangkok is one of the hottest cities on the planet. Dress accordingly and use flip flops or sandals. The exception being while visiting a temple where you are expected to dress modestly.
Enjoy the cuisine. It is among the best in the world.
Marijuana which is called Ganja in Thailand is regulated. Be sure not to carry what are known as class A drugs. It’s punishable by the death penalty.
Where To Go
Bangkok – For those who come here the first time, the city can be mind boggling and nothing like you can imagine. First the good part. It’s full of places to see and the people are most welcoming.
Enjoy the Khao San road by foot for it’s street food, shopping and the people from all over the globe who are everywhere. Take ferry or boat rides on the Chao Phraya river and canals. You will get a different experience of the same city.
Plan half a day to see the Grand Palace. Set aside half a day for the National Museum. Go to the Wat Pho temple complex more popularly known as the temple of the reclining Buddha.
Go for a good Thai massage in a non-tourist area where you’ll pay around $10 at a high end parlour.
The traditional thai massage uses gentle pressure and stretching techniques and relaxes the entire body and there are many genuinely good parlours. About the bad part, well, it is the noise and the chaos but you’ll soon get used to it.
The Ancient City of Ayutthaya – A UNESCO site and what used to be the capital city in the 14th century.
The Beaches of Koh Samui – There are over 20 flights each day from Bangkok to Koh Samui that take you to these magnificent tropical beaches.
The Beaches of Phuket – Many go for a vacation straight to Phuket. There are over 50 flights a day from Bangkok.
Pattaya City – Another city famous for its beaches and nightlife. Pattaya is just an hour and a half by road from Bangkok.
Chiang Mai – This city is in the mountainous region of Thailand in the north. Famous for its buddhist temples and mountain trails for trekking this city was host to over 10 million tourists in 2019. The flights from Bangkok take you there in under 2 hours.
Notwithstanding that the above destinations are the greatest attractions in Thailand, the country is rich in beaches, temples – about 40,000 of them, hiking trails and national parks.
The other places that attract tourists are Koh Phi Phi Don – the monkey beach where tourists mingle with the scores and scores of friendly monkeys, Sukhothai historical park which is another UNESCO site, Chiang Rai on the border with Myanmar is famous for its national park and waterfalls, Kanchanaburi for the infamous bridge over river Kwai and the islands of Krabi if you want to avoid the more popular and crowded beaches.
From Thailand to Indonesia…
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