In this unusual country, elephants have the same rights as the citizens and are provided with medical insurance and an old-age pension, and idolisation of the king bears resemblance to the personality cult.
Thailand is unique in all aspects. It is diverse in its history and mentality, and everybody will find there something they have been looking for. Some struggle for beach entertainment and holiday romance while others aspire to get vibes of complete silence of Buddhist temples and unbelievable beauty of national parks, caves, and waterfalls.
It is a huge mistake to believe that Thailand is a sheer resort with an atmosphere of relaxed morality. In fact, local rules and regulations are strict enough. The Thais prefer swimming dressed in the sea, alcohol cannot be bought anywhere, and the fines may be imposed out of the blue, for instance, for driving on the street.
Nonetheless, more and more tourists are coming to Thailand every year, enriching the national budget by 20%, and this figure continues to increase.
Before the 1940s, Thailand had been known as Siam. It has remained a free and only Asian state to have never been a colony despite participation in numerous wars.
Vietnam and Cambodia were under the rule of Siam at different times. And as a result of a long-lasting war with Burma, it gained its dominance across the territory of Indochina.
In 1932, Thailand officially declared a constitutional monarchy. However, the highly respectable Chakri dynasty has continuously governed the country for more than 350 years. The current king is Rama X (Vajiralongkorn).
In the 1930s and at the beginning of the 21st century, three military coups took place. The last one occurred in 2014 and had a devastating impact on the Thai tourism industry. Though the military forces imposed a curfew and restricted migration across the country, all constraints were canceled in two weeks in all resort regions.
A new wave of disturbances occurred in 2020 when mass protests against the government began. They related to the issues of reforming the royal authority despite the nation-wide love for the King and idolisation of the majestic family.
Nowadays, Thailand has a well-developed and stable economy based on agriculture, automobile manufacturing, and tourism. Its level of progress could be even higher if corruption did not deter numerous positive changes from happening.
Climate and Geography
Thailand is located in South-East Asia within two peninsulas — Indochina and Malay — and borders the Andaman and the South China Seas.
The country shares terrestrial boundaries with Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, and a maritime border with Vietnam.
There is no traditional division into four seasons as in the rest of the world. In Thailand, they have rainy, chilly, and hot periods.
The rainy season begins in May and ends at the end of October. The heavy rains continue falling, and tropical cyclones often entail severe floods.
In November, the level of precipitations drops down to zero, and the chilly period begins and lasts till February of the following year. At this time, the temperature in most localities reaches +25°C — +26°C during a day and may drop to zero in some regions, for example, in the mountains of northern Thailand.
In April, it is becoming hotter and hotter: day temperatures reach +35°C — +40°C. The percentage of air humidity increases as well. It is May when the long-lasting season of rains begins.
In this way, a perfect time to purchase a tour of Thailand is the period from January to February when the New Year and Christmas hassle has ended, the prices have decreased, and the weather is glorious — warm, dry, and comfortable.
The most popular destinations where thousands of tourists are dashing off in the high season are Phuket, Pattaya, and Chang.
Population, Language, Religion, and Currency
The Thais live in a small but densely populated country (71 million people), though the area of Thailand is 500 sq km. The capital city is Bangkok.
More than 95% of people adhere to Buddhism, but there are those who profess Islam, Christianity, and other religions.
The official language is Thai that has one of the biggest alphabets in the world. It consists of 44 consonants, and there are four more consonants not included in the alphabet. If to add 28 vowels and four diacritical marks, we can see that Thai is a very complicated alphabetic system.
The complexity increases with sophisticated calligraphy. What is more, in the Thai writing system, words are not separated with space. But it is not so difficult to differentiate them in texts because most consist of one syllable.
The currency of Thailand is the Thai baht.
Entrance to Thailand is possible on the basis of getting a visa, the Visa Exemption list, and COVID-19 travel regulations. To accommodate in the country, tourists should provide a negative RT-PCR test and a vaccination certificate. As the requirements constantly change, get up-to-date information either at the embassy or at travel agencies.
Getting to Thailand is possible merely by plane as to any other Asian country. A transfer will be necessary because the flights usually take many hours.
The planes land in the International Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok), but there are also direct flights to Phuket and Pattaya.
Phuket International Airport is located 30 km from the city. But if you arrive here during the daytime, there will be a bus to take you directly to the city centre. In the late evening or at night, you may use the taxi service that costs around 300-400 baht ($10).
It will take 40 min to get to the city from the U-Tapao Pattaya International Airport and cost much more expensive — up to 1,000 baht ($30). Though taking a bus is less comfortable, it is still much cheaper — 250-300 baht ($7-8).
People spend their vacations in Thailand in different ways. While some buy a tour and completely rely on the trip organisers, the others prefer looking for a hotel, bungalow or another sort of accommodation, dealing with food and entertainment matters by themselves.
The variety of hotels is large. There are budget-friendly hostels for $12-15 per night and also luxurious five-star suites costing thousands of dollars.
Cheap hotels offer rooms for $30-50 with all the necessary amenities:
- Woodlawn Villas Resort is a three-star hotel in Surat Thani. The rooms have air-conditioning, balconies, and comfortable furniture. Free Wi-Fi is available as well as an open swimming pool and launderette within the premises.
- The Moon House is a hostel in Chiang Mai. The rooms are separate and shared, and bathrooms with toilets are only shared. There is also clean bed linen, dishware, a kitchen on the floor, and free Wi-Fi.
- Evergreen Place Siam by UHG is a three-star hotel in Bangkok. The rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, kitchenettes, and balconies, and also have bathrooms. There are free breakfasts, Wi-Fi, and parking.
- Coco Garden Resort is a family mini-hotel in Koh Phangan. It involves several cosy bungalows hidden in the shadows of coconut trees. Friendly staff provide a high level of service. There is also a well-developed beach within the hotel premises, free Wi-Fi and breakfast.
- The Natural Resort is a three-star hotel in Phuket that comprises a few comfortably furnished and clean bungalows. In each of them, there is a separate shower, toilet, and air-conditioning. Besides, there are swimming pools with clear water and a great children’s playground within the hotel’s territory. The Natural Resort also provides a transfer to the beach.
Experienced travellers try to find a suite because it may turn out to be much cheaper and of better quality. A nice bungalow with all necessary amenities and a swimming pool will cost approximately $20 per night. Naturally, such a plunge in prices occurs only at the end of the high season when the influx of tourists decreases considerably. However, even at its peak, the rental prices do not become exorbitant. You may rent accommodation in Thailand using an international platform https://www.airbnb.co.uk/ accessible through its mobile application and a website.
Places to See
The beaches of Phuket, Pattaya, and some other places popular among visitors are the first things to be mentioned when it comes down to talking about Thailand.
Nevertheless, the beauty of this country is much brighter and not limited solely by white-sand beaches and sapphire coastal waters. It is all a question of the choice of direction.
The north of the kingdom is a perfect option for those who have got used to active rest. These are the thousands of kilometres of Thai wild nature like impenetrable jungles, national parks, mountains, and rivers.
The central part of Thailand, as a rule, attracts admirers of the history, religion, and architecture of Asia. Perhaps, in no other region of the country is there such a vast number of historic landmarks. Even carefree Phuket, Samui, and Pattaya attract visitors with local sightseeing spots; it is just necessary to find time for a guided tour.
The Thai capital has been one of the top tourist destinations for many years. And Bangkok attractions make it a jewel in the crown of world culture. At every turn of the 400-year-old city, there are big and small wonders of the Thai national architecture.
The Bangkok historical centre, which was built in the 18th century on Rattanakosin island has got the decent name of the highest-value jewel.
The city has preserved the charm of the ancient Asian municipality with all the inherent features like narrow streets resembling the ones in Venice, canals, numerous benches, and shops.
Any guided tour of Bangkok will definitely include one must-see spot — the Grand Palace, the former royal residence. At present, it is one of the most beautiful museum complexes in the world, but a century ago, it was the place where the members of the royal Chakri dynasty lived. These days, it is a venue for official ceremonies like receptions of distinguished guests, weddings, and funerals of royal family members.
The Palace comprises a hundred buildings. Thick 1,500-m walls protect everything that was once constructed to satisfy the needs of the monarch house: private chambers, pagodas, administrative facilities, library, and pantheon. They are located within three courts, but the visitors have access only to see the constructions of the outer court.
Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), the pagoda housing the nephrite statue of the main Buddhist God, evokes a very peculiar interest. But it is allowed to look at the palladium from a distance. Only the King has the right to touch it during the biggest religious holidays that take place three times a year.
The other must-see places are the marble temple Wat Benchamabophit in the northern part of Bangkok (Dusit), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Madame Tussauds Museum, Erawan, and the National Museum.
A tour to vivid city markets will also be very delightful. The Chatuchak Weekend Market, Pratunam, Patpong, the floating Bang Nam Phueng, and many others will overwhelm you with excitement, gastronomical and aesthetic discoveries. And those who expect the souvenirs brought from Bangkok will surely derive pleasure from them.
This top destination for a lazy beach vacation can be a surprise with its attractions as well as the capital city.
The majority of them are stunning natural places, which you will not be able to leave without taking gigabytes of photos and shooting videos. The central and northern parts of the island fascinate with local waterfalls, making the locality the most romantic place. Ton Sai, the strong streams of which rush through the mountains of the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, is of exceptional beauty. Surrounded by rare palm trees and flowers, it is the habitat of gorgeous birds.
The other wonder of Phuket is Bang Pae, the biggest waterfall in reserve. If to move along the Thalang road eastwards from Phuket town and follow the signposts, it will take 20 km to get to the venue of a guided tour. The entrance fee is 200 baht ($6).
In Phuket Town, there are several attractive and picturesque places, known by everyone fond of cinematography or Thailand itself, and those who constantly browse the feed of news related to this country. Go to the On-On Hotel — a luxurious building designed in the Chinese and Portuguese architectural mix. This oldest hotel in the town began welcoming its guests in 1929 when tin mining was discovered, and influxes of those willing to line their own pockets streamed into the area.
The building has not changed since then despite the two grand reconstructions, the latter of which ended in 2013. It is so spectacular that place where the directors of The Beach (2000), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, decided to shoot the introductory episodes of the movie there.
The other must-see spot is the Kasikornbank office on Phang Nga Road in the downtown part. The construction resembles a museum more than a classical bank due to its unique architecture and design.
Phuket temples are as beautiful and grand as the pagodas of Bangkok and other places where pilgrims from all over the country flow. Their magnificence becomes more peculiar in the evening, lit by the bright illumination of street lamps. The most attended temples are Put Jor and Kua Tian Keng Sapan Hin Shrine. The first one was built more than 200 years ago and is considered the oldest temple in the city to honour the Thai goddess of mercy. The latter is located in Sapan Hin park, so it becomes very crowded when thousands of the Thais gather for picnics and try to find a spot closer to the temple.
A typical fishing village on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Siam was quite impoverished till the 1970s. Then happier times came: due to marvellous beaches, it gradually turned into a flourishing resort.
Hundreds of hotels welcome their visitors, thousands of cafes and restaurants offer the dishes of any world cuisine, and numerous cabarets and nightclubs invite them to relax and have fun.
Nevertheless, having the status of a beach resort, Pattaya is full of places to see. There are Buddhist temples, parks, gardens, museums, etc.:
- The Sanctuary of Truth is a hand-carved wooden complex, the construction of which began in 1981 and has not ended up to date;
- Nong Nooch Tropical Garden is a giant park divided into thematic zones where you can walk around the gardens of orchids, cacti, and bonsai, delight with water plants, birds, and even pots.
- Underwater World Pattaya is an aquarium with an underwater tunnel where visitors can observe all its inhabitants. The quests are offered diving with sharks, a white-knuckle type of entertainment for the riskiest divers.
The above are only some of the places that are definitely worth a visit.
The national cuisine of Thailand is an incredible mixture of cooking traditions from all continents and local culinary rules. At any cafe or a restaurant, you can order something exotic or any ordinary food like a pizza made according to all the rules of Italian pizza makers.
And yet, Thai cuisine has its distinct and unforgettable identity depicted in the fantastic piquancy of almost all main and second courses and in the combination of spices that can morph even the most mediocre helping of meat or fish into the gastronomical masterpiece.
The Thais have had rice as the basis of their nutrition. They eat it as a garnish, add it to soups as the main ingredient, and use it for making bread. In Thailand, those seeds are of peculiar delicious taste, and for a good reason, the country has been the leading exporter of rice by cultivation volumes and quality. The country has succeeded much in agricultural technologies and has learned how to grow brown, red, and black rice apart from the white species. There is also the exotic variation called aromatic rice.
In Thailand, they eat any type of meat. For example, there are no restrictions on consuming pork. In this country, people like eating mushrooms and seafood, which are the basis for the number one dish of Thai cuisine — Tom Yum.
This soup and its variation Tom Yum Kung are cooked from chicken broth complemented with chicken, prawns, mushrooms, lemongrass, galanga, and cilantro. The essential ingredients are various species of hot pepper that cause a wildfire in the mouth of everyone interested in Thai national cuisine. Tom Yum Kung also contains dairy cream that softens the fiery taste of the dish. The soup is usually eaten with rice.
Another favoured garnish of the Thais is noodles that can be cooked of wheat, rice, or egg flour and are served with vegetables, meat, and fish.
Those who do not have any problems with their stomach may try som tam — green papaya salad. The other ingredients are thinly sliced carrots, green beans, unsalty peanuts, cherry tomatoes, peas sprouts, etc.
The mixture of vegetables is dressed with a specific garlic sauce, hot Thai chili peppers, fish sauce, and lime juice. That becomes a flame of taste for those who dare to try this salad.
Those willing to check out something absolutely extraordinary can eat fried cockroaches. However, it is not very easy to find them because the delicacy is not available everywhere. People who have savoured this unusual food say that cockroaches taste like a cross between fried peanuts and nuts. It is best to consume them with beer because they are salted before being served.
Choose fruit as a dessert because the local pastry variety is not very large. But the abundance of fruits can overwhelm even the most ardent admirer of tropical confection.
Durian stands alone as the most specific and controversial Asian fruit. It is all about the terrifying odour from this thorn-covered, pleasantly looking crop.
The aroma is so offensive that it is forbidden to take durian to public places like transport, shops, restaurants, and hotels. And it will not be a good idea to bring durian as a present for a friend or a relative because you will not be allowed to board a plane having the fruit in your baggage.
The main trick of durian is to know how to open it properly. If you fail to do this, the excrement-like odour will spread everywhere. Some people say it resembles the smell of rotten fish, and others compare it with gym socks.
If to open and peel the fruit correctly, you will get a tender and creamy pulp filled with the myriad of mellow, vanilla, and nutty tastes at once. So do not risk buying durian and trying to open it by yourself. You had better trust a local seller or a Thai who knows how to deal with this tropical wonder.
Thailand is a must-see place for everyone fond of Asia, its culture, mentality, and philosophy. Though a trip to Thailand is not cheap, the overriding impressions will become a value for money.
What is Thailand's population?
Thailand has a population of about 71 million people.
How big is the Thailand territory?
Thailand's territory covers approximately 513,120 square kilometers.
What is the name of Thailand's capital city?
The capital city of Thailand is Bangkok. Bangkok's Thai name, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, is an abbreviation of the capital's full name, which has its roots in Pali and Sanskrit.
What are the top 3 religions in Thailand?
The top three religions in Thailand are Buddhism (predominant), Islam, and Christianity.
What language is spoken in Thailand?
The official language of Thailand is Thai.
What is the best currency to take to Thailand?
The best currency to take to Thailand is the Thai Baht, the local currency.
Western currencies can be easily exchanged throughout the country. We recommend changing some money into baht upon arrival, and carrying local currency in small denominations (20, 50 and 100 baht bills) for tips and buying small items.
Do they speak English in Thailand?
English is widely spoken in tourist areas and major cities in Thailand, but less so in rural areas.
Why is Thailand so famous for?
Thailand is famous for its beautiful beaches, rich cultural heritage, vibrant nightlife, delicious cuisine, and historic temples.
Is Thailand cheap or expensive?
Thailand is generally considered affordable for tourists, though prices can vary depending on location and type of service.
What is the best time to visit Thailand?
The best time to visit Thailand is during the cool and dry season between November and early April.
What food is Thailand known for?
Thailand is known for its spicy cuisine, including dishes like Pad Thai, Tom Yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup), Som Tam (green papaya salad), and various curry dishes.