Thailand is a wondrous kingdom, featuring Buddhist temples, exotic wildlife, and spectacular islands. Along with a fascinating history and a unique culture that includes delectable Thai food and massage, Thailand features a modern capital city, and friendly people who epitomize Thailand’s “land of smiles” reputation.
Thailand, the only Southeast Asian nation never to have been colonized by European powers, is a constitutional monarchy whose current head of state is HM Bhumibol Adulyadej. A unified Thai kingdom has existed since the mid-14th century, and Thailand was known as Siam until 1939 when it officially became the Kingdom of Thailand.
- Thailand is the 50th largest country in the world; most nearly equal in size to Spain
- Located just 15 degrees north of the equator, Thailand has a tropical climate and temperatures typically range from 19 to 38 degrees C (66-100 F)
- Thailand’s largest peak, Doi Inthanon, is 2,565 meters (8,415 ft) tall
- Thailand covers 510,890 sq km of land and 2,230 sq km of water
- The coastline of Thailand is 3,219 km long.
- Thailand’s longest shared border is with Myanmar (Burma), stretching 1,800 km.
The weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid: typical of its location within the tropics. Generally speaking, Thailand can be divided into three seasons: “hot” season, rainy season, and “cool” season, though Thailand’s geography allows visitors to find suitable weather somewhere in the country throughout the year.
The population of Thailand comprises of roughly 65 million citizens, the majority of whom are ethnically Thai, though peoples of Chinese, Indian, Malay, Mon, Khmer, Burmese, and Lao origin are also represented to varying degrees. Approximately 7 million citizens live in the capital city, Bangkok, though this number varies seasonally and is otherwise difficult to accurately count.
More than 92% of the population speaks Thai or one of it’s regional dialects. While the Thai language is the official language of Thailand, as a result of its cosmopolitan capital city and established tourism infrastructure, English is spoken and understood throughout much of Thailand.
94.6% of Thais are Buddhist
4.6% of Thais are Muslim
0.7% of Thais are Christian
1 Jan: New Year’s Day
Feb-Mar: Makha Bucha Day: Buddhist holiday on full moon of fourth lunar month.
6 Apr: Chakri Memorial Day: Honoring the dynasty of the reigning royal family.
13-15 April: Songran, Thai new years celebration.
May: Royal Ploughing Ceremony: To honor farming season; date determined by royal astrologer
May: Visakha Bucha: Buddhist holiday on full moon of the 6th lunar month.
1 May: Labor Day
5 May: Coronation Day: Commemorating the coronation of present King of Thailand.
July: Asanha Bucha Day: Buddhist Holiday on full moon of 8th lunar month
Vassa: beginning of Buddhist lent on first waning moon of 8th lunar month
12 Aug: Queen’s Birthday-Mothers Day
23 Oct: Chulalongkorn Day: Honoring a former King of Thailand.
5 Dec: King’s Birthday-Father’s Day
10 Dec: Constitution Day: celebrating the kingdom’s first constitution.
31 Dec: New Year’s Eve
Other important holidays:
Jan: Chinese New Year
Nov: Loy Kratong
The currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht. Baht come in both coin and banknote form. The size of Thai currency, both coins and bills increases with value and varies in color.
Electrical outlets in Thailand are charged to 220v at 50 cycles per second, which is compatible with appliances from the U.K. but not those from the US and many other nations. While most computer cables have adaptors for voltage, visitors from the U.S. and those not on the 220/50 v. will have to bring adapters to run most other appliances. Outlets in Thailand generally feature flat, two pronged plugs, though some feature holes for round plug ends. Few outlets feature three holes (grounded outlets) so it is often necessary to have a three to two prong adapter for using notebook computers in Thailand.
Thailand hotels are some of the finest in the world, whether they are five star luxury spa retreats or quaint family-run beachfront bungalows. There is a hotel in Thailand for every type of traveler on every budget. That said, the best prices are during Thailand’s off-peak season (May – Aug), while the most expensive prices are typically during the cool season (Dec – Feb).
Whether your accommodation choice is a homestay with local villagers, a guesthouse in a backpacker district, a beach bungalow, or a five star hotel in Thailand, unless you have booked ahead, settle for nothing less than the warmest “land of smiles” hospitality.
The Thai phone system is both modern and widespread, with comprehensive coverage for cell phones and reliable pay phones found throughout the kingdom. Purchasing a second-hand Thai phone is inexpensive and convenient, and calling from Thailand on a public phone is easy with a phone card available at most convenience stores.
Emergency numbers are often three or four digit numbers, including Tourist Police, which is 1155.