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Area: 513,115 sq km (198,115 sq miles)
Language: Thai is the official language. English, Malay and a dialect of Chinese (Tachew) are also spoken
Religion: The vast majority adhere to Buddhism (Theravada), with Muslim and Christian minorities
Time Zones: GMT +7
Electricity: 220 volts AC 50HZ. A variety of plugs and light fittings are in use.
Passport: Valid passports are required by all.
Currency: Baht (Bt) = 100 satang.
Health: precautions: Cholera, Typhoid & Polio, Malaria.
Climate: Generally hot, particularly between mid-February and June. The monsoon season runs from May to October, when the climate is still hot with torrential rains. The best time for traveling is November to February (cool season).
International Dialling Code: 011+66
Nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia with Cambodia , Laos ,Myanmar and Malaysia as neighbours, Thailand spreads over 513,115 square kilometres of land and stretches some 1,620 km from north to south and 755 km from east to west. The climate is tropical, with an average low temperature of 20' C. There are three overlapping seasons :the rainy season normally lasts from July to October, then the weather turns moderate to cool until February, and gradually warms up to sweltering heat until June.
Thailand caters well for its growing number of tourists. The six million people who visit each year find one of the biggest and best-organized tourist industries in Asia. Most travellers retain in their memory different impressions of the place they have visited. Some are impressed by the hospitality of its people. Some are struck by the scenic beauty. Others fall in love with specific local cultures or with the food.
The head-quarters of the helpful Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is in Bangkok , and there are offices across the country and several overseas branches . The tourist industry is developing rapidly, and the adventurous traveller no longer need be restricted to organized tours or major tourist destinations such as Bangkok and Phuket , as the country becomes more accessible to independent travellers.The country is also becoming one of the world's top destinations for health tourism. Budget cosmetic plastic surgery has become world reknown and cosmetic surgery procedures are available in world class facilities in hospitals as well as smaller clinics.
Phuket is Thailand's largest island, and is a popular tourist destination for it's beaches and nightlife. There are many reputable travel agencies all over Thailand. They offer advice , book flights and accommodation, and organize sightseeing tours. Some pre-travel planing is necessary to avoid the worst of the rainy season and holiday periods such as the Chinese New Year.
Thailand is located in the center of continental Southeast Asia. About 90 percent of the people live on the floodplains and delta plains built up by Thailand's rivers. The two largest river systems are the Chao Phraya and the Mekong.
Thailand is bounded to the west by Myanmar and the Indian Ocean, to the south and east by Malaysia and the Gulf of Thailand, to the east by Cambodia, and to the north and east by Laos. Central Thailand is dominated
by the Chao Pharaya River. In the northeast the Korat Plateau rises about 305m (1000ft) above central plain.This largely arid region covers one-third of the country. In the north, another one-third consists of forested hills.
Northwestern Thailand is mostly mountainous and includes Thailand's highest point, Inthanon Peak. Northeastern Thailand is a high plain with mountains along its western and southern borders. Much of the soil is sandy and cannot hold water for crop growth.
The part of Thailand situated on the Malay Peninsula is known as Peninsular Thailand. This region is mostly mountainous and covered with forests and is not a good place for people to live. But there are some small areas of good land along the eastern coast.
The recorded history of the Thai people goes back eight centuries, through three main eras : Sukhothai (circa 1257-1350), Ayutthaya (1350-1767) and Rattanakosin (Bangkok). After a brief interlude in Thon Buri, the founding of Bangkok in 1782 marked the beginning of the Chakri Dynasty. The current king , His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, crowned in 1946, is the ninth Chakri monarch (Rama IX). Before the Second World War, Thailand was known to foreigners as Siam.
Thailand's national flag,ceremoniously raised each morning at 08.00 hrs and lowered at 18.00 hrs in every town and village, is composed of five horizontal bands of red, white, and blue. Outer bands of red representing the nation enclose equal inner bands of white evoking religion. The blue band, occupying the central one-third of the total area, symbolizez the monarchy. The harmony of design expresses the complementary nature of these three pillars of the Thai nation.
When To Go
Thailand's weather can be temperatuous, with year-round humidity , rocketing temperatures and rains of biblical proportions . However, the optimum time to visit is during the cooler, drier months from November to February. It is no coincidence that this is the peak tourist season, when sight may get crowded .The hot season, from March to July , can be unbearable, while the rainy season, which generally lasts from June to October, is the least predictable of the tree periods.
What to take
As the climate in Thailand is generally hot and humid, it is advisable to dress in cool, non-restricting clothes made from natural fibres. A jumper may be needed in Northern and Northeastern regions during the cool season. Throughout Thailand, the rainy season brings sudden downpours; a light raincoat is handy. If visiting temples , appropriate dress is required , as is easily removable footware. A firstaid kit is also useful.
Bangkok is a popular launching point for other Southeast Asian destinations, so it is necessary to book airline tickets well in advance. This is especially so during Thailand's peak tourist season, November to February, when flights and hotels are heavily booked. If you plan to travel during this period , it is wise to make arrangements at least three to six months prior to departure.
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