From elegant old Siam to the bustling yet easy going Thailand of today, this peace-loving country has come through a
The first truly Thai kingdom was Sukhothai, established in 1238 amidst waning Khmer dominance of the region. Thailand and Thais prospered, religion and culture flourished and King Ramkhamhaeng developed the first Thai script for
The kingdom of Ayutthaya absorbed Sukhothai in 1376, expanding and consolidating Thai sovereignty and nationhood. The Khmers were vanquished by 1431, leaving Ayutthaya to rule an area twice that of modern Thailand. Europeans were visiting Thailand, the royal court by the early 16th century, and many called it
The Burmese destroyed Ayutthaya in 1767, but were soon expelled by General Phaya Taksin. He crowned himself king in 1769 of Thailand and established his capital, Thonburi, on the Chao Phraya river. Years later Thailand deposed and executed
Chao Phaya Chakri, Rama I, succeeded Taksin and founded the Chakri dynasty in Thailand in the year 1782. 'Rama' is the title of each Chakri king, and several of the Thailand kings are well known to westerners: Mongkut, Rama IV (r. 1851-68) reformed education and allowed limited western trade in Thailand. Chulalongkorn, Rama V (r. 1868-1910) abolished slavery, promoted modernization and made large territorial sacrifices for Thailand to prevent European colonization. A bloodless coup in Thailand ended the absolute monarchy in 1932, under the reign of Prajadhipok, Rama VII (r. 1925-35). A constitutional monarchy similar to that of Britain was established soon afterwards. Thailand's present king, Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) is the world's longest reigning monarch, having occupied the throne in Thailand since 1946, shortly after Japan's World War II
Until 1939, Thailand's official name was Siam. When Rama VII abdicated in 1935, his 10-year-old nephew, Ananda Mahidol, became Rama VIII. The young king was studying in Switzerland (not to return until 1945), and in his absence the government of Phibul Songkram changed the country's name to Thailand, rendered locally as Prathet Thai, meaning, so some say, Land
Postwar military coups in Thailand and suppression of democracy activists, notably in 1973, 1976 and 1991, gave way to democratic reform including a new constitution. Political and press freedoms in Thailand are some of the strongest in Asia.
While politeness is in style all over the world, there are a few guidelines you can follow that your Thailand hosts will appreciate.
Putting on a SmileIn
Almost everything in life involves a smile, even blunders and mishaps. Westerners often mistake this for being laughed at. For example, if a waitress in Thailand was to forget an order and laughs, she is not showing contempt, just making the best of a bad situation. If you complain, do so gracefully as in Thailand anger usually gets
Dressing for the Occasion in Thailand
Cleanliness and neatness are also important. In tropical Thailand, never put off showering or doing your laundry. Most Thais keep themselves scrupulously clean and dress respectably. T-shirts, sandals and knee-length shorts are suitable for Thailand informal occasions, but visits to Thai palaces, government offices in Thailand and some Thailand temples usually require something more appropriate. Nudity is forbidden, and topless bathing can offend, although Thailand does have some tourist beaches nudity is accepted.
Showing Respect When in Thailand
The head is high and the feet are low, both physically and spiritually. Never touch anyone’s head, in Thailand avoid gesturing (especially towards a Buddha image), moving things and touching people with your feet, even if you do see people doing it to their friends. Before entering into a Thailand temple or a person’s home, remove your shoes.
Manners in Thailand
Shared meals are served in separate dishes with serving spoons. If you are in Thailand and someone invites you to eat, use the serving spoons to put food on your plate, not your personal spoon. Take small amounts of all the food instead of keeping one kind for yourself. Using a toothpick after the meal is acceptable if you cover your mouth
Taking in all that Thailand has to offer
There is much for you to discover in Thailand. The country offers a huge range of new experiences in sights, sounds, tastes, and outlook. But different as it is from your home, a visit to Thailand is an easy journey of discovery. Newcomers to Thailand sometimes overlook the kingdom’s rich geographical and cultural diversity. After all, if you were to spend one week in a five-star hotel in Bangkok, Thailand or Phuket, Thailand it is unlikely to give a proper insight to a realm with so much to experience. But compared to the subtle variations found in many western countries, the people in Thailand, the culture in Thailand and food of the many regions in Thailand are strikingly different. In north Thailand, with its exquisite temples and handicrafts, the rugged, forested mountains contrast with the fertile central plains, where rice is grown in paddies that stretch to the horizon. The northeast, known in Thailand as Isan and punished by alternate drought and flooding, has some of the finest Khmer ruins beyond Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. Though less developed than other regions in Thailand, Isan offers a lot. Its food, dialect and music are easily discernible, and northeasterners possess a character all of their own. To the south are what sun seekers come to consider a paradise in Thailand: stunning beaches, lush green islands and azure seas. Visitors’ reactions to Bangkok, The bustling capital city of Thailand, vary as much as everything it has to offer; some say you will either love it or you hate it. Traffic, pollution, heat and noise are compensated by countless restaurants, historical and cultural treasures and exotic curiosities. Shopping facilities rival those of neighboring countries, and bargain hunting is the sole purpose of many trips to Thailand. Glitzy malls or crowded markets, the choice is yours. Getting around Bangkok, Thailand is easy. Metered taxis are everywhere, as are tuk-tuks; three-wheeled buggies that constitute novelty ride in Thailand. Local buses offer an interesting experience, and adventurers can take a famous Thailand motorcycle taxis. The sky train offers a limited but scenic alternative to the largest city in Thailand. Lasting impressions of any trip depend largely upon a person’s experience with the local people of Thailand. Bangkok folk deal admirably with hectic city life, but it is in the provinces that real Thailand warmth, charm and personality are found. The Thais possess an innate friendliness and are hospitable to all who pass through. To take it all in, a trip upcountry is a must for anyone wishing to see for themselves the true face of Thailand and all its treasures.
Though Thailand is warm throughout the year, the climate does vary. Make sure you choose the right time to get the most from your visit to Thailand. Central Thailand, the north, northeast and east have three seasons: hot (February / March to June), rainy (June to September / October) and cool (October to January / February). Throughout Thailand humidity is high almost all year. Temperatures in Bangkok, Thailand are mostly hot, with highs of around 35 C [95 F] in April, dropping to roughly 30 C [86 F] in December. This is the best time to visit Thailand, when cool breezes make sightseeing much more pleasant. In Thailand monsoon rains usually come in brief but heavy downpours - sometimes producing flash floods - followed by sunshine. In the north Thailand (especially Chiang Mai, Thailand; Chiang Rai Thailand and Mae Hong Son, Thailand) and the northeast of Thailand can become chilly around New Year, with night-time lows of 11-13 C [52-56 F]. Bring warm clothing when traveling though Thailand. However, daytime temperatures are in the high 20s [70-80 F], reaching the mid-to-high 30s [95-105 F] in April. Rainfall, although not as heavy as in Bangkok, may make trekking through Thailand a challenge from July through September, but this is when in north Thailand is at its greenest. October to January is probably the most comfortable period for trekking through Thailand. In the south of Thailand, roughly from Prachuap Khiri Khan to the Malaysian border, has two seasons; rainy and dry. It is always hot and humid, and the rainfall here is heavier than the rest of Thailand, especially from March through November. Temperature highs in Thailand can range from 30-36 C [85-96 F] on the eastern side of the southern peninsular in Thailand and dip slightly on the western side, from 28/29 C to 33/34 C [80 F to 90 F]
Though strange to Western ears, the Thailand language is not as difficult as you may think. Learning a few basic words will make your stay in Thailand more rewarding, Comprising 44 consonants and 32 vowels and diphthongs, Thai, or Pasa Thai is the national language of Thailand. Dialects vary in the north, northeast and south. Based on contemporary Mon and Khmer, the script in Thailand was developed around eight centuries ago. The language in Thailand has five tones: mid, low, falling, rising and high. This often intimidates foreigners, but with practice basic words and phrases are relatively easy to master. Learning some Thai can enhance your stay in Thailand, and even if your first attempts evoke a few giggles, most people will appreciate your effort. Transliterations from Thai script to roman are sometimes confusing. With no clear rules, one Thai word may have several roman spellings. For example, if you want to take a pleasant stroll in Bangkok, Thailand you can go to Lumphini Park. However, signs along the way might also point to Lumpini or Lumpeenee Park, yet they are one and the same. Harder still, ph is pronounced as p; not f, and th reads as t. Also, some letters change their sound according to their position: the Thai character Lor Ling corresponds to l if placed at the beginning of a word, and n if it comes at the end. For this reason, many Thailand language guides give different transliterations.
Krup (male) / Ka (female) are common polite suffixes.
Hello / Goodbye: Sawat-dee krup* / ka*
Thank you (very much); Kop khun (maak) krup / ka.
How much (is this / are these)? (Nee) Tao rai?