Why a holiday in Thailand? We could give you a hundred reasons to answer this question: because in every corner of the Kingdom you can breathe the mysterious taste of the East; because in its temples, bathed in the fumes of incense, the mysticism of Buddhism is strongly perceived; for the hospitality of its people; because it has beautiful beaches and seas; because its capital, Bangkok, with its modernity and its traditions offers a varied and exciting stay; because it is rich in history and traditions; for the quality of its cuisine that is renowned in the world; for the picturesque scenery that its campaigns offer. We could go on for hours or we could summarise by simply saying “because Thailand is the Kingdom of Smiles”.
A bit of history:
The history of Thailand has ancient origins, as evidenced by some artefacts found in some villages of the North East, which seem to date back to 4000 years before Christ and which show that, when millet was still cultivated in China, Thailand was already practicing rice cultivation.
The populations of three tribes, the Mon, the Khmer and the Thai, who emigrated from China to escape the frequent incursions of the Mongols, settled respectively in present-day Burma, Cambodia and northern Thailand and was here that Thais gave life to three kingdoms : Lanna, Sukhothai and Phayao.
Without going much further into the historical Thai events, let’s take a look at more recent times that are of some interest in the field of modern tourism: the Sukhothai era, the Ayutthaya era and, finally, the modern times with capital Bangkok.
Sukhothai (Dawn of Happiness) is considered the first true independent state and the birthplace of Thai culture. The Sukhothai era, which declared its independence in 1238, saw its territory gradually expand to the Chao Phraya river basin, the foundation of Theravada Buddhism as the dominant religion, the creation of the Thai alphabets and the first true art forms Thai that include painting, architecture and literature. The Sukhothai era declined in the 1300s when it became a vassal state of Ayutthaya, a dynamic kingdom that lay further south. Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya is 86 kilometres from Bangkok, is considered one of the most developed and wealthy kingdoms on the planet at that time. During his 417 years of rule, Ayutthaya brought Thai culture to flowering, saving its territories from the Khmer presence, establishing contacts with Arabs, Chinese, Japanese and some European states, especially with the Portuguese and the Dutch. Ayutthaya was finally destroyed by the Burmese army. However, the Burmese never had total control over the Kingdom. In 1769, King Taksin the Great founded the new capital at Thon Buri, on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and regained control of the territory. In 1782, King Rama I “The Great”, the first ruler of the Chakri dynasty, moved the capital to the other side of the river, in Bangkok.
Thailand is part of the Southeast Asia region and covers an area of 514,000 square kilometres. It is perhaps the most diversified territory in all of Southeast Asia. The topography of the country varies from the high mountains of the north to the limestone tropical islands of the far south, already part of the Malay archipelago of islands in the Andaman Sea. The rivers and their tributaries originate in northern and central Thailand, flow into the Gulf of Thailand through the delta of the mythical Chao Phraya River near Bangkok; the Mun River and other north-eastern waterways flow into the China Sea through the Mekong River. We are therefore talking about a land with strong landscape contrasts with scenarios that vary from region to region.
Three different types of ecosystems can be distinguished: to the north, the wild and lush forests, the dense and lush jungle along the coasts and, to the south, the sea with very white beaches and transparent waters. It is divided into five main regions:
Central Plain: formed by twenty-four provinces that have Bangkok as their centre. Rivers and canals, fed by rain, make this plain the most fertile region of Thailand.
North: the northern mountain ranges are the residence of many tribal peoples. Little inhabited and disturbed by modernity, the mountains offer a vast luxuriant panorama of waterfalls and paths where you can discover some singular aspects of this territory. The first real Thai kingdoms were born and developed in the current northern region of the country: this is why the North is rich in culture, tradition and architecture.
Northeast: the traditions in this area have been preserved more than in any other part of the country. The territory extends over a vast plateau. Compared with the rest of Thailand, the region is more backward in terms of economic development but the people are particularly friendly.
East: Eastern Thailand is bordered to the north by the Korat plateau, from which it is separated from the Sankamphaeng mountain range, while it is separated from Cambodia, towards the southeast, by the Cardamomi mountains. Much of the finest fruit from Thailand is grown in this area. In addition to the unmissable Chantaburi and the well-known Pattaya, off the western coasts are the islands of Koh Sichang and Koh Lan, while to the south there are many others including the splendid Koh Samet and Koh Chang.
Time zone: + 7 hours compared to Greenwich time
Language: The official language is Thai. The English language is widespread in the capital and in the main tourist areas.
Religion: The official religion is Buddhism Thevarada, professed by about 90% of the population. Going down towards the south and approaching the border with Malaysia, the number of professors of the Islamic religion grows.
Currency: The currency of the Kingdom of Thailand is the Bhat. At the time of writing 1 US $ equals approximately 30 Baht, while one Euro is approximately 35 Baht.
Visas: For entry into Thailand it is necessary to have a passport with a residual validity of at least 6 months. The visa requirement depends on country. A tourist visa, if requested, can be extended for 60 days, possibly for another 30 at an Immigration Office.
Most of the information relating to Thailand has been mostly taken up by the Italian website of the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT).