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About Thailand

  • Thailand is a modern democratic Nation in Central South East Asia. ‘’ Thai ‘’ is the Tai word for ‘’ free ’’. The ‘’ Thai ’’ identity was formed in the late 13 the century at Sukhothai and is not to be confused with ‘’ Tai ’’ the name of the ethnic groups of people who migrated from Yunnan in the 12 th and 13 th centuries. The character of the Thai Nation today and of its people can only be appreciated by exploring its 2000 years of recorded history and the cultures of the various peoples who live here. Thailand’s natural landscape includes tropical wet evergreen forests in the South to temperate deciduous forests in the North and we explore these in the Thailand National Parks. Thailand art architecture and decorative objects need to be considered with regard to the influences of religion, mythological beliefs and regional artistic styles. Thailand is so large and diverse we detail all about it in separate regions, North or Northern Thailand, South or Southern Thailand , Central Thailand and North East Thailand (I'san).

   Karen Lady Chiang Mai

About North Thailand Travel & Places Of Interest
  • The Thailand Government defines the North as consisting of both (1) the 84,000 square kilometres comprising 8 provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Nan, Lampang, Lamphun, Phrae and Mae Hong Son, which area originally comprised the Lan Na principalities detailed in the North History (Upper North), and ( 2) the 86,000 square kilometres of the Lower North, comprising the provinces of Kamphaeng Phet, Tak, Sukhothai, Uttaradit, Uthai Thani, Nakhon Sawan, Phichit Phitsanulok and Phetchabun, which area originally comprised the Kingdoms of Sukhothai and later the northern parts of the Kingdom of  Ayutthaya, Thon Buri and Bangkok Kingdoms.
  • One difference between the Upper and Lower North is topography. Upper North is characterised by long valleys generally running north south. The climate has three seasons, hot [ April to May ] cool and rain (July to September). Approximately 72% of the area is mountainous, 21% upland and 8% lowland. The lowland is cultivated by the Tai people to produce wet rice. The agricultural practices of the hill tribes (highlanders) are dictated by their topography. The ethnic spread is reflected accordingly, and so to the variations in art and architecture and other tourist attractions. Four major tributaries of the great Chao Phraya River start in four valleys of Upper North. Exploring these valleys is important. Chiang Mai City and Lamphun Town are built on the Ping River, Lampang Town is on the Wang River, Phrae is on the Yom River and Nan is on the Nan River. The histories of these Valleys are of successive invasions of different empires, different cultures, merging ethnic groups, isolation and wars.
  • Lower North has 45% of its total land mass less than 150 meters above sea level and is thus similar to Thailand's Central region. However the two mountain extensions of the Upper North, (1) Thanon Thang Chai Range to the west and, (2) etchabun Range to the east attract an extension of swidden hill tribe communities as in the Upper North, all part of the exodus from China of these ethnic minorities over the past hundreds of years. The geographic differences in topography need to be appreciated as the ethnic, sociological and cultural differences are essentially between lowlanders and highlanders (Hill tribes). These classifications and detailed explanations are discussed in North Thailand People.
  • There are any number of interests to satisfy, the natural landscape, religious temples, community architecture, military fortifications, ethnic diversity, artistic objects such as jewellery and artifacts, not forgetting eating adventures, riverside restaurants and night time entertainment. Of the 19 major sites linked we have included 13 historical cities, 7 river valleys and 5 National Parks or other places of natural interest.

  Burmese lion Temple Guardian Tai Yuan Temple Gold design Mon Architecture Chiang Mai 

About Thailand Wildlife, National Parks and Natural Places Places Of Interest
  • Thailand has in excess of 148 wildlife sanctuaries and National Parks.
  • The major locations are listed in the opposite links and we detail 20 National Parks and eco tourism locations. Thailand is home to over 15,000 species of vascular plants and 16,000 species of animals (of which 960 are birds, 310 are reptiles, 107 are amphibians and 285 are mammals). There are in excess of 70,000 species of insects and 1,200 species of butterflies. 
  • This biological diversity stems from Thailand's location. It lies between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator (from 5.30 to 20.30 latitude North and from 97.2 to 105.3 longitude east). The total area is more than 513,000 square kilometres (198,110 square miles) and is divided into four main geographic regions. 

About Central Thailand Travel & Places Of Interest
  • Central Thailand is situated on the central plains of the Chao Phraya River and the Meklong River valley. The first substantial civilisation here was that of the Mon peopleand during the 6th - 9th C its Buddhist Kingdom was referred to in chinese records and on silver coins as ' Dvaravati '. Influences from India when merged with Mon characteristics formed the basis of religion, art, architecture and public administration.
    Later Central Thailand was absorbed into the Khmer Empire with its Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Then came the Tai from the North and the region was absorbed into the Sukhothai KingdomLop Buri Kingdom and Ayutthaya Kingdom. After thesacking of Ayutthaya by the Burmese in 1767  the political centre of what was then called Siam was moved to Bangkok now a city of 10 million people. Today this is the centre to which all of modern Thailand is focused and where the traditions of the past are fused with the variety of cultures of the other regions.
  • Bangkok is the city of the international and domestic airports. It is the centre for the Thailand political and administrative functions with historical and cultural importance. Here are the major sites, The Grand Palace, Wat Phrao Kaeo (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha), the Chao Phraya River, National Museum, Wat Pho, Wat SuthatWat Arun, Thon Buri, Dusit, Chinatown, and an extraordinary selection of nightlife. It is the centre of the region and is well located for numerous day trips to other regional major place of interest, Pattaya, Rayong, Ayutthaya,Kanchanaburi, Lop Buri and Hua Hin.

About South Thailand Travel & Places Of Interest
  • South Thailand comprises the Southern Peninsula with the Andaman Sea to the West and the Gulf of Siam to the East.
  • The two coastlines on either side of the Peninsula are completely different. The West Coast was created by the sinking of land and the creation of the Andaman Islands and the East Coast was created by lifting of sediment flowing from the rivers. These geographical differences determined the pattern of settlement. On the West Coast there were marinas for shipping and on the East, agriculture. The location of the Peninsula on the ancient world trade shipping routes determined its history. The marine attractions are unsurpassed with dramatic scenery created by limestone Karst, sea caves, pristine white sandy beaches and coral reefs. The coastline is biologically very diverse and its locations are at times home to millions of migrating birds. It is a mountainous region and the Phuket Mountain Range is the most important on the West from Chumphon to Krabi and to the East is the Nakhon Si Thammarat Mountain Range from Surat Thani to Satun. Between these ranges are the plains and limestone hills and to the South the Sannkalakhiri Mountains which divide Malaysia and Thailand.

About Northeast Thailand Travel & Places Of Interest
  • Northeast Thailand is the eastern region of Thailand and comprises the valleys of the Chi and Mun rivers, the left bank basin of the Mekong River to its north and east, the sandstone Khorat Plateau and the basin of the Prachin River which connects to the Dangraek Mountains on the border with Cambodia. Today the region is divided into 19 Provinces of Thailand. Historically the area was influenced by the Khmer people (now of Cambodia) whose inscriptions found there date from the 7th century. During the 7th to 9th centuries the Hindu Khmer built numerous temples and roads throughout I 'san. The people then were Buddhist or Hindu. This is reflected in the art and architecture which remains. The area was also influenced by the Cham of Champa. Later in the 13th century came the Tai and later again population movements from Laos, China and Vietnam.
  • Today's descendants comprise people with Tai Lao, Mon, Cham, Vietnamese, Khmer and other Tai ancestors. I 'san comprises 171,000 square km (or 6,000 square miles). East Thailand' s principal attractions are the Khmer ruins, the regional Tai art, architecture and culture today, its natural beauty, prehistoric settlements and wildlife.