People

The people of Thailand, more appropriately known as Thais, speak a national Thai language which includes a Thai alphabet that is written in Khmer script. The Thai language is a form of Kradai and is rather similar to the ones spoken in Lao, Shan, and Burma. Several other dialects do exist though, depending on the region.

Regarding religion, the majority of Thais are Buddhists practicing in the Theravada tradition. The second major religion is Islam. Most of the time, the Muslims and non-Muslims live separately. Catholics also are present in Thailand as are Sikhs, Hindus, and Jews.

Geography

Similar to the size of France or California, Thailand is the world’s 50th largest country in terms of land mass. Its local climate is tropical with the regular monsoons. May to September is generally characterized by clouds and rain, while the rest of the year, the country experiences dry and cool weather.

In regards to terrain, the country has rugged mountains, great rivers, lakes, and rolling plains. As a matter of fact, because of its terrain, the country is able to export rice, textiles, and even rubber. Because of the Mekong River, the country also has a very large area of arable land making rice, which is one of Thailand’s most important crops.

History

The history of Thailand is a tale full of the rise and fall of a multitude of empires. Before the fall of the Khmer, many empires ruled in Thailand and then were ultimately replaced and overrun by another. Based on artifact evidence gathered all over Thailand, it was discovered that the very first kingdom to rule the country was the Sukothai Empire before the 12th century.

Thailand is one of the few Asian countries that has had very little influence from Western civilizations. As a matter of fact, it is the only Asian country that never became colonized by any European or Western country. This is due to the fact that Thailand has always been governed by very able rulers in the 1800s, so much so, that the country was even able to exploit the tensions between France and Britain at that time.

On the other hand, one of the few ways that the West was able to touch Thailand was through trade. Ever the businessmen, the Portuguese started the trade relationship between Europe and Thailand in the 16th century.

If there was a country that was able to conquer Thailand, it was Japan. During World War II, the Japanese invaded the country and was able to command Thailand troops. The leaders of Thailand were able to make a treaty with Japan wherein Thailand agreed to ‘help’ Japan in fighting against the Allies, while at the same time secretly making an anti-Japanese campaign in its home ground. When the war ended, Thailand emerged as a United States ally.

Famous Attractions

There are a lot of famous attractions in Thailand such as the Golden Triangle, Nan Province and Chiang Mai. If you are seeking backpacking and nature trails, then Nong Khai is the place to go. It is an area the Mekong River and is a favorite stop over for serious backpackers, as well as those seeking a casual nature hike. It provides dreamy views of the river, delicious banana pancakes, a relaxed pace of life and amazing attractions.

The Pahnom Rung Historical Park is an all-in-one famous hot spot in country. It sits on top of an inactive volcano, providing great views of the Dongrek Mountains of Cambodia. It also houses Khmer monuments, in the Pahnom Rung temple complex, which gives anybody who reaches them a great feeling of satisfaction. From this temple, one can see the Angkor Wat of Cambodia in the west, Prasat Khao Wihan in the north, and Thailand’s Prasat Phimai in the southeast.

Nightlife

Thailand has one of the most hectic and upbeat nightlife scenes in Southeast Asia. Bars are abundant, especially in Bangkok and Phuket that meet anybody’s wants and needs. Shopping centers and street markets are also available for almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week to those who love to shop and explore.

Culture

Thai culture is thoroughly true to the roots of its people. For the most part, it contains Indian, Chinese, Cambodian, and Southeast Asian influences in it. As can be seen from the numerous Buddhist temples within the country, Theravada Buddhism plays a major role in Thai culture.

In Thailand, you can see that they have a strong sense of social hierarchy. Many believe that this is of Indian origin, since it is similar to India’s caste system. The difference, however, lies in that in Thailand, this practice is not as evident or as relatively serious as in India.

The famous wai greeting in Thailand is similar to India’s namaste. It is done with the hands pressed together, the fingertips pointing up, and touching the face to the hands as the head is bowed. To Thais, this is a sign of respect and, in fact, there are even certain rules as to who says the greeting first when being introduced to someone.

Another thing that Thailand is known for is their national sport called Muay Thai. Once taught to soldiers, this sport and martial art is now practiced and gaining influence worldwide.

Cuisine

The cuisine of Thailand is characterized by sweet, spicy, bitter, and sour tastes. All these may or may not be present in one single dish, but you can trust that Thai food will always revolve around them. When it comes to the key ingredients, garlic, rice, chili, lemon, and fish sauce all take center stage in almost every Thai dish.