Area of 513,000
square kilometers, lies in the heart
of Southeast Asia, roughly equidistant
between India and China. It shares
borders with Myanmar to the west and
north, Laos to the northeast, Combodia
to the east and Malaysia to the south.
Topographically the country is divided
into four distinct areas: the mountainous
North, the fertile Central Plains,
the semi-arid plateau of the Northeast,
and the peninsula South distinguished
by its many beautiful tropical beaches
a tropical climate with three distinct
seasons: Summer, Rainy and Cool .
Average temperatures are around 27
?c. around the country.
a population of about 62 million.
Ethnic Thais form the majority, though
the area has historically been a migratory
crossroads, and thus strains of Mon,
Khmer, Burmese, Lao, Malay, Indian
and, most strongly, Chinese stock
produce a degree of ethnic diversity.
religion is Theravada Buddhism, practiced
by more than 95 percent of all Thais.
The remainder of the population adheres
to Muslim 3.5 %, Christian1 %, Hindu
and other faiths, all of which are
allowed full freedom of expression.
Buddhism continues to cast a strong
influence on daily life.
The Thai people originated in Southeastern
China where, in 600 AD they founded
the independent kingdom of Nanchao
which thrived for 600 years. However,
invasions and an unwillingness to
be incorporated into mainstream Chinese
society led to waves of migrations
southward into what is now Thailand.
Eventually several groups of Thai
migrants united and established Sukhothai
as their capital in the mid 13th century.
Although other civilizations had existed
on Thai soil much earlier, Sukhothai
was the first sovereign kingdom of
Thailand. It flourished for over 100
years during which time the distinctive
forms of Thai art, architecture and
culture were firmly implanted.
At approximately the same time, King
Mengrai, an ally of Sukhothai, was
establishing the northern Lannathai
Kingdom, centered on Chiang Mai which
was founded last 700 years ago. In
the mid 14th century a new and more
powerful dynasty arose at Ayutthaya,
an island city in the Chao Phraya
River 85 kilometers north of present
Quickly gaining in wealth, military
might and prestige, Ayutthaya absorbed
the former kingdom of Sukhothai and
remained Thailand's capital for 417
years,holding sway over most of the
country except the North.
Ayutthaya prospered steadily, reaching
the height of its power in the 17th
century when diplomatic relations
with the West were established and
trade agreements made with the leading
European powers of the day. Weakened
by internal conflicts, Ayutthaya fell
to the Burmese in 1767.
After fleeing south the survivors
of Ayutthaya were rallied under king
Taksin who founded a new capital at
Thonburi and eventually succeeded
in expelling the Burmese from Thai
On the death of King Taksin in 1782
Chao Phraya Chakri was proclaimed
king and as Rama I was founder of
the present Chakri dynasty. For strategic
purposes he moved his capital across
the Chao Phraya River to Bangkok.
Under the Chakri Kings the borders
of Thailand were consolidated and
other parts of the country were gradually
brought under the full control of
the central government. Rama VI (King
Mongkut, 18511868), secured ties with
the West, especially with France and
Britain, while at the same time, assuring
his country's independence and avoiding
the colonial fate of all Thailand's
King Mongkut's successor, Rama V (King
Chulalongkorn, 1868-1910), brought
about many social and political reforms
that firmly guided Thailand into the
The absolute monarchy was to continue
through the reign of Rama IV (1910-1925)
and into that of Rama VII (1925-1934).
But in 1932 a coup d'etat succeeded
in bringing about a change to a constitutional
monarchy. Rama VII accepted the situation
although he abdicated two year after
The throne passed to the young King
Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) who was
succeeded by his brother King Bhumipol
(Rama IX), the present monarch.
One litre of alcoholic beverage and
200 cigarettes, plus reasonable personal
effects(such as one still camera,
one movie or video camera, personal
jewelery etc) may be brought in duty
free and taken out on departure.
Narcotics, drugs, pornographic material
and firearms are strictly prohibited.
Unlimited foreign currency, traveller's
cheques, money orders etc may be brought
into the country, but any amount over
US$10,000 must be declared on entry.
Amount taken out of the country may
never exceed that declared upon entry.
Most nationalities do not require
a visa for a stay of up to 30 days
provided they have a ticket for onward
travel. Longer visits require a visa
obtainable from Thai embassies and
consulates. Tourists visas permit
stays up to 90 days. For full details,
contact your nearest Thai embassy
Travel to Thailand
Most visitors arrive through Bangkok's
Don Muang International Airport which
is connected by daily flights to Europe,
North America, Asia and Australia.
Flights, from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur,
Penang and Hong Kong, land on a regular
basis at Chiangmai, Koh Samui, Phuket
and Hat Yai. Charter flights sometimes
land in Bangkok, Phuket, and at U-Taphao
There are no regular steamship connection
with Thailand. Cargo ships calling
at Bangkok's Khlong Toei port sometimes
have passenger cabin facilities. Cruise
ships, such as Cunard's Queen Elizabeth
II, periodically visit Pattaya.
Travel within Thailand
Thai Airways International (THAI)
operates a wide domestic network with
daily flights linking virtually all
major towns with Bangkok. Ground transportation
is extremely comprehensive and comparatively
inexpensive. There are convenient
rail connections with the North, Northeast
and South, while air conditioned coach
and government bus services are operated
from Bangkok to all town throughout
Outgoing passengers on international
flights from Bangkok's Don Muang airport
must pay 500 baht. 30 baht per person
is collected for domestic flights.
Hotel taxis have fixed tariffs. Taxis
cruising the streets of Bangkok have
In Thailand, you can contact virtually
any city in the world without difficulty
International phone calls, telegraph,
telex, and bureau fax services are
available at International Telecommunication
Services Center, near Bangkok's Central
Post Central as well as in most hotels
and department store.
It is customary to tip hotel personnel
who have given good personal service.
A 10% tip is appreciated in restaurants,
particularly where service charge
Light, loose cotton clothing is best.
Nylon should be avoided. Sweaters
are needed during cool season evenings
or if visiting mountainous areas and
remote national parks.
Thiland operates exclusively on 220
volt, 50 cycle AC power.
To send letters or packages to any
desired destinations is very convenient
for visitors to Thailand. Post offices
as well as most hotels offer good