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Discover Thailand ประเทศไทย with Timothy Tye

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Thailand Travel TipsThailand Travel Tips (27 July, 2017)

 Timothy Tye

Thailand or Prathet Thai (ประเทศไทย ), and also known as the Kingdom of Thailand (or Ratcha Anachat Thai, ราชอาณาจักรไทย ), is a country on mainland Southeast Asia. It covers 513,120 sq km (198,115 sq mi) and has a population of 64 million people (2011 estimate). The capital of Thailand and also its biggest city is Bangkok.

Thailand is seven hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+7). Traffic is driven on the left here, just as in neighbouring Malaysia. The phone IDD code for Thailand is +66. The official currency is the Baht (THB). The official language of the country is Thai.

Cities in Thailand

Map of the Provinces of Thailand

Holiday Islands in Thailand

Categories of Sights in Thailand

Pileh LagoonThe pristine Pileh Lagoon on the island of Phi Phi Ley in Thailand (4 November 2005)

Ko Yo, SongkhlaFisherman's hut in the sea off Ko Yo in Songkhla Province (11 June 2005)

The 76 provinces of Thailand are subdivided into districts, called amphoe (อำเภอ ), and these are further sub-divided into neighborhoods, called tambon (ตำบล ).

Hilltribe woman with childA young hilltribe woman with her infant (21 December 2002)

The district containing the administrative office is known as Amphoe Mueang. These are the location of the original Mueang (เมือง ), or historical city state, from which the province developed around. All the provinces share the same name as the provincial capital, with the term Changwat denoting the province and Mueang denoting the capital. Hence Changwat Chiang Mai is Chiang Mai Province while Mueang Chiang Mai is Chiang Mai City. The term "city" is used here as an approximation to denote the provincial capital.

The economy of Thailand, formerly based on agriculture, is today more diversified. Tourism and manufacturing are now major components of the Thai economy. In 2010, Thailand had an estimated nominal GDP of $312 billion, equivalent to a per capita nominal GDP of $4,620. Its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity was $8,643.

Thailand is a constitutional monarch. The king of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigns by the title of Rama IX, is the world's longest reigning monarch. He was born in 1927 in Cambridge, Massachusetts while his father, Prince Mahidol of Songkhla, was studying medicine at Harvard University and his mother, nursing. He was unexpectedly made king after his elder brother, King Ananda, was fatally shot at the Grand Palace.

The king and the royal family are hugely popular among the Thai people. They do not cost the Thai treasury anything, not directly, since they pay their own with income from their vast property. Nevertheless they have initiated many rural projects, from the Flying Doctor programme started by the king's late mother to arts and crafts by the present Queen Sirikit, all of which endears the family to the people.

Traditional Thai Village at Siam Niramit, BangkokA traditional Thai village architecture at Siam Niramit in Bangkok (27 October 2006)

Khao Sok National ParkHuts on the water of Cheow Lan Lake, which formed due to Ratchaprapa Dam, at Khao Sok National Park (26 December 2003)

Thailand is an inviting destination with much to offer travellers, whether they are looking for culture, history or sun-and-surf. The biggest tourist destinations in Thailand, apart from the capital Bangkok, include Phuket, Ko Samui, Chiang Mai and Pattaya.

There are still hill tribes still live on the northern part of Thailand, especially in the hinterland north of Chiang Mai, in places close to the border of Myanmar. There, they continue to practise their age-old customs and wear their traditional attires. Among the tribes are the Akha, the Hmong, the Mien, the Lahu, the Lisu, to name a few. Each has its own costume - their tribal uniform - which distinguishes them not only by tribe, but also by their social status, age, marital status, and even their village. Perhaps the most intriguing are the Padaung, better known as the long-neck people because the women wear brass rings around their arms, legs and necks. Although this custom is diminishing, many have once again taken up this practise for commercial purpose.

Some of the oldest cities and kingdoms to have flourished in Thailand were founded on the north, chiefly between Sukhothai and the northern border. these ancient cities will give us an insight into the life in Thailand many centuries ago. Although most of the temples are now in ruins, they have been meticulously preserved in heritage parks such as Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai.

The capital of Thailand, Bangkok, is a modern-day metropolis at the geographical centre of the nation. Within driving distances are the beach resorts of Pattaya and Hua Hin. Going further east, we come upon Khmer ruins within the border of Cambodia. Among these are Prasat Hin Phimai and Prasat Phanom Wan, both outside Nakhon Ratchasima.

Ley CaveNegotiating a tight spot inside Ley Cave in Trang Province (3 November 2005)

Chedi, Wat HaripunchaiThe gilded chedi of Wat Haripunchai in Lamphun (24 October 2006)

Thailand Customs

  1. Entering Thailand, visitors may bring in any amount of foreign banknotes.
  2. Leaving Thailand, visitors may take out a maximum of 50,000 baht in Thai currency.
  3. Foreigners may bring in without tax one camera, 5 rolls of film, 200 cigarettes, 1 litre of wine.

Thailand Public Holidays

  • New Year Day: 1 January
  • Magha Puja: Full moon in February/March. This festival commemorates the speech given by Buddha to 1,250 enlightened monks. Throughout Thailand, devotees carry candles and circumambulate the main shrine of the wats three times in the clockwise direction.
  • Chinese New Year: January/February
  • Chakri Day: 6 April, commemorates the establishment of the royal house of Chakri
  • Songkran: 13-15 April - Thai New Year, characterised by water throwing.
  • Coronation Day: 5 May
  • Ploughing Ceremony: May, actual day varies
  • Visakha Puja: Full moon in May, to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha
  • Asalaha Puja: Full moon in July, to commemorate Buddha's first sermon
  • Khao Phansa: July, beginning of the Buddhist rainy season retreat
  • Queen's Birthday: 12 August
  • Chulalongkorn Day: 23 October
  • Loy Krathong: Full moon in November, when people head to rivers and lakes to float candle-laden banana-leaf floats called the krathong, intended to be a thanksgiving offering to the water deity. It is also believed that bad luck floats away with the krathong. A spectacular light show takes place at the Sukhothai Historical Park.
  • King's Birthday: 5 December
  • Constitution Day 10 December
  • New Year Eve: 31 December

Natural Sites of Thailand

Updates on Thailand

2 December, 2016: The crown prince of Thailand formally accepted the invitation to ascend the throne to reign as King Rama X of the Chakri Dynasty. He will take the title of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun.

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