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BIEN VENUE A LA THAILANDE

 

A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th. Century. Known as Siam until 1939 , Thailand is the only.

Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by the European power. The bloodless coup of 1932 brought an end to absolute monarchy in Siam and six years later the country changed its name to Thailand. However, despite the introduction of constitutional monarchy, Thailand struggled for many years to remain constitutional, with power slipping backwards and forwards from the hands of corruptly elected politicians to military strongmen for the next sixty years. It has only been in the last few years that the government has been under complete and continuous civilian control and, with the introduction of the new constitution in 1997, Thailand is finally a fully functioning democracy

Thailand is an extraordinary country of contrasts and surprises with glittering temples, tropical forests, idyllic beaches, modern shopping malls and friendly hospitable people.

From the high mountains in the north, to the soft sand beaches in the south, the scenery will take your breath away. Jungle covered mountains, deep mist covered valleys, island seascapes, beaches and coral reefs, all part of Thailand’s rich tapestry. And, it’s easy to get around.

Nestled between Laos, Burma and Cambodia in the north, and bordering with Malaysia in the south. Major northern cities are Chiang Mai and Khon Khen. In-between the north and south is a long coastline lapped by the Andaman Sea to the west (with Phuket, Krabi Phi Phi) and the Gulf of Thailand to the east (Ko Samui, Pattaya, Ko Samet ).

 

Official name:

Kingdom of Thailand

 

Area :

514,000 sq.km.

Capital :

Bangkok (Krung Thep in Thai)

 

Administration:

76 provinces

Population :

62 Million

 

Government:

Constitutional monarchy

Ethnic groups:

Thai 75% , Chinese 14% , Other 11%

 

Location :

Southeastern Asia . Sharing border with Myanmar to the North-West , with Lao to the North-East and Cambodia to the East and with Andaman sea and Gulf of Thailand to the South.

Language

Thai (official), English (business)

 

Climate :

Tropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); Southern isthmus always hot and humid

Local Time

GMT +7

 

Religion

Buddhism 95%, Muslim 3.8% , Other 1.2%

Business Hours

Monday-Friday; 9.30 am-3.30 pm (Banks),
9.00 am-5.00 pm (Businesses),
10.00 am-9.00 pm (Most department stores)

 

Currency

Thai baht

Electricity supply

220V, 50Hz

Nightlife

Bangkok's colourful nightlife is generally safe, but avoid seedy bars and live-show joints where drinks may turn out to cost more than one thinks. The Thai Dinner with Classical Dances is a popular evening tour. Large hotels usually offer their own entertainment.

 

Tipping

It is customary to tip porters and hotel personnel who have given good personal service. A 10%-15% tip is appreciated in restaurants, particularly where service charge does not apply.

 

 

Thailand Public Holidays

Many of Thailand's annual events are determined by the lunar calendar, so dates change from year to year, this is particularly true of religious holidays. However, most larger shops no longer close for public holidays, although some smaller retail outlets and family shops close for Chinese New Year and Songkran.

Provinces have their own festivals in celebration of local harvests of the seasonal crops.

 

Festivals & Events

January

Chiang Mai Winter Fair

Beauty pageants boxing competitions, stalls selling a range of locally made goods and very loud music make this an exciting, if unsophisticated, event.

February

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

More beauty contests, handicraft sales, flower displays and a parade of beautifully decorated floats take to the streets as Chiang Mai residents celebrate the blooming of nature. Representing the day the Buddha was born, the day He attained Enlightenment, and the day of His passing, this festival falls on the day of the full moon of Kason in the Myanmar calendar, in early May. Visits are made to pagodas to water the sacred Bo Trees - under which species the Buddha is said to have attained Enlightenment.

Phra Buddhabat Festival

The Shrine of the Holy Footprint near Saraburi draws Buddhists from all over the country to make merit.

March

Asean Barred Ground Dove Festival

Dove-lovers from across Thailand, and neighboring countries congregate at Khwan Muang Park, in Yala Province, to display their prize doves and take part in the dove-cooing competition, which usually involves more than 1,400 participants.

April

Songkran Festival

This is the traditional Thai New Year and usually falls around the middle of the month. It is a time for local people to pay homage to Buddha images, clean their homes, and sprinkle water on their elders in a show of respect. This has developed in recent years into open water warfare, with everything from hoses to ten gallon tubs used to guarantee a thorough soaking of the target. This is particularly popular in the tourist areas of Khao San Road, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai. The latter also holds colourful parades and religious ceremonies.

Pattaya Festival

Usually a week after the Songkran festivities in Bangkok, this is a riotous celebration with parades, floats, beauty contests, food festivals, and a spectacular fireworks display.

May

Royal Ploughing Ceremony

Presided over by the King and Queen at Sanam Luang in Bangkok, this ancient Brahmin festival marks the beginning of the rice-planting season. Predictions are made about weather and harvests for the coming year on the basis of which of the selected foods the sacred cows choose.

Visakha Bucha

Marked by night-time processions of worshippers around almost every temple in the kingdom, this festival celebrates the birth, enlightenment and passing of Lord Buddha.

Yasothon Rocket Festival

Villagers from the poor northeastern province of Yasothon compete with each other to make the biggest, most explosive bamboo rockets during this annual rainmaking festival. Prizes are awarded for the rocket that reaches the highest trajectory.

June

Phi Ta Khon Festival

Another rainmaking festival, this one for the northeastern province of Loei, though not quite so explosive. Local people parade in the streets in highly decorated ghost masks and costumes.

July

Asalaha Bucha Day

Commemorating the Buddha's first sermon, this also marks the beginning of Khao Pansa, a period of three months during which monks must remain in their temples and strictly observe their religious duties. This is also a popular time for young Thai men to enter the monkhood for a short peiod.

Candle Festival

Coinciding with Asalaha Bucha, this festival sees the streets of Ubon Ratchathani filled with processions of huge, beautifully carved beeswax candles, some of them several metres tall, that are to be presented to local temples.

August

Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen

Also marking Mother's Day in Thailand, the 12th of August see the towns and villages of the country festively decorated with lights and portraits of the Queen

September

Phichit Boat Races

Though boat races take place in several towns along the Mekong River in September, the spectacular annual rowing regatta in Phichit takes place on the Nan River, which runs through the provincial capital. Low-slung wooden boats rowed with great gusto to the hearty cheers of spectators make this an exciting day at the races.

October

Chulalongkorn Day

Commemorating the death of King Rama V on the 23rd of October. The memory of this much beloved king is honoured with thousands of wreaths laid at his Equestrian Statue at the Royal Plaza.

Awk Pansa

To mark the end of the Buddhist Rains Retreat (Khao Pansa), monks at temples throughout the country are presented with robes and other utility items by merit-makers.

Vegetarian Festival

This ten day Chinese festival in Phuket has become world-famous for the gory pictures of people impaling their faces and bodies with everything from swords, spears and even fish. Apparently unable to feel pain and in a trance-like state, these people of Chinese ancestry parade in the streets with the various arrays of sharp objects still protruding from their flesh. A little less gory are the beauty pageants, fairs and food stalls that line the streets of Phuket town.

Wax Castle Festival

The end of Buddhist Lent is marked by the people in the northeast of Thailand with the creation of miniature beeswax Buddhist temples and shrines. These "wax castles" help them to gain merit, which will determine their future rebirth. Sakon Nakhon has one of the most spectacular festivals with a grand wax procession, boat races and traditional northeastern cultural performances.

Chon Buri Buffalo Races

A chance for buffalos to do more than just plough fields as they compete in races and contests pitting the strength of man against that of his faithful farm animal.

November

Loy Krathong

River spirits are placated for another year with gifts of Krathongs floated on rivers, canals and lakes on the night of the full moon. Made of banana leaves, and decorated with incense and candles, thousands of these beautiful boats light up the night. The most beautiful sights are at the Bang Sai Arts & Crafts Centre near Ayutthaya, and in the ruins of Sukhothai, the first Thai capital, where the festival is supposed to have originated.

Surin Elephant Roundup

With tug-o-wars, demonstrations of logging skills, ancient warfare parades, and even games of football, the elephants of Surin entertain the crowds of visitors to this north eastern town.

River Kwai Bridge Week

The River Kwai bridge, in Kanchanaburi, is the setting for this week-long festival, from November 21 to December 2, featuring spectacular sound and light performances on the bridge, archaeological and historical exhibitions, and vintage train rides.

Golden Mount Festival

A major Bangkok festival with colourful sideshows, food stalls, music and entertainment. The Golden Mount comes alive with flickering lights after dark, as a candle-lit procession winds its way to the top.

Illuminated Boat Procession

Elaborately adorned boats containing merit-making offerings are set adrift at nightfall along the banks of the Mekong at Nakhon Phanom. This dazzling event marks the end of the Buddhist Lent.

December

Birthday of His Majesty the King

Flags, lights and portraits of His Majesty the King adorn the streets and building of every town and village on the 5th and the occasion is marked by a huge and spectacular fireworks display near the Grand Palace.

Trooping of the Colours

This colourful parade of the armed forces in full dress uniform at the Royal Plaza is to confirm their allegiance to the King and country.

Phuket King's Cup Regatta

Southeast Asia's leading regatta, held in the waters off the island of Phuket and starting on the first Saturday of the month. Competitors come from around the world to take part in this annual event.

Ayutthaya Festival

Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991, this former capital city celebrates its glorious past with historical exhibitions, traditional cultural processions and performances, light & sound presentations around city ruins, and many other forms of entertainment.

Chiang Mai Food Festival

Celebrating the northern capital's great cuisine, with local specialities, fruit carving demonstrations, and cultural shows.

 

 

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