There was an era when visiting Thailand was deemed risky. Times have changed, and it is now one of the world’s most popular tourist spots. And it has a lot going on in its own right. Thailand has a trip to suit any budget, whether you prefer the opulence of modern Bangkok or the simplicity of Koh Samui.
Travel inland to see the Golden Triangle’s never-ending grasslands and hills. Alternatively, head to the coast and relax on the white-sand beaches of Phuket and Krabi. You will only see beautiful nature no matter where you look. You will visit once, but you will return again and again, such is the allure of this lovely country.
Tai peoples began migrating from southern China to mainland Southeast Asia in the 11th century, with the exonym Siamese making the first recorded mention of their existence in the region in the 12th century. The region was dominated by many Indianized kingdoms such as the Mon kingdoms, the Khmer Empire, and Malay states, which competed with Thai states such as the Kingdoms of Ngoenyang, Sukhothai, Lan Na, and Ayutthaya.
A Portuguese diplomatic expedition to Ayutthaya, which established a regional power by the end of the 15th century, initiated documented European engagement in 1511. During the reign of cosmopolitan Narai, Ayutthaya reached its pinnacle, then progressively declined until it was destroyed in the 1767 Burmese–Siamese War.
Taksin quickly reunified the fractured land and formed the Thonburi Kingdom, which lasted only a few years. Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, the first monarch of the modern Chakri dynasty, succeeded him in 1782.
During the era of Western imperialism in Asia, Siam was the only country in the region to avoid being colonized by foreign powers, despite being forced to relinquish territory and economic concessions in unequal treaties. During Chulalongkorn’s reign, the Siamese system of government was centralized and turned into a modern unitary absolute monarchy. Siam allied with the allies in World War I, a political decision to reform the unequal treaties.
It became a constitutional monarchy and changed its formal name to Thailand after a bloodless revolution in 1932. Thailand was a World War II ally of Japan. A military revolution led by Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat in the late 1950s restored the monarchy’s historically strong position in politics.
Thailand became a significant US ally, and as a member of the failing SEATO, it played an anti-communist role in the region, but since 1975, it has sought to repair relations with Communist China and Thailand’s neighbors. Thailand has alternated between democracy and military dictatorship since the mid-1970s, with the exception of a brief period of parliamentary democracy in the mid-1970s.
It has been embroiled in a fierce political feud between supporters and opponents of Thaksin Shinawatra since the 2000s, culminating in two coups, the most recent in 2014, and the adoption of its current and 20th constitutions, as well as ongoing pro-democracy protests.
Thailand is a global middle power and a founding member of ASEAN, with a high Human Development Index score. It has Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy and the world’s 22nd-largest economy by PPP. Thailand’s economy is classified as newly industrialised, with industry, agriculture, and tourism as the most important sectors.
The Ayutthaya Kingdom arose from the former, adjacent Lavo Kingdom and Suvarnabhumi, with Uthong as its first monarch, according to the most frequently recognized interpretation of its history. Under the mandala system, Ayutthaya was a patchwork of self-governing kingdoms and tributary provinces that owed homage to the King of Ayutthaya. Conquest and political marriage were its first methods of expansion.
Ayutthaya invaded the Khmer Empire three times before the end of the 15th century, sacking its capital Angkor. In place of the Khmer, Ayutthaya became a regional power. Sukhothai’s constant intervention effectively turned it into a vassal state of Ayutthaya, and it was eventually absorbed into the kingdom.
Borommatrailokkanat instituted administrative reforms that lasted well into the twentieth century, as well as a social hierarchy known as sakdina, in which male commoners were conscripted as corvée laborers for six months each year. The Malay peninsula piqued Ayutthaya’s interest, but it was unable to capture the Malacca Sultanate, which was backed by the Chinese Ming Dynasty.
With the mission of Portuguese duke Afonso de Albuquerque in 1511, Portugal became an ally and ceded some soldiers to King Rama Thibodi II, European interaction and trade began in the early-16th century. In the 17th century, the Portuguese were followed by the French, Dutch, and English.
Ayutthaya was opposed against the Burmese Kingdom in a battle for sovereignty over Chiang Mai and the Mon people. Several wars with its ruling dynasty, the Taungoo Dynasty, began in the 1540s during the reigns of Tabinshwehti and Bayinnaung, and culminated in 1570 with the capture of the city. After then, there was a brief period of vassalage to Burma until 1584, when Naresuan declared independence.
For many reigns, Ayutthaya sought to develop connections with European powers. During the reign of cosmopolitan Narai (1656–1688), when some European travelers saw Ayutthaya as an Asian great power alongside China and India, the kingdom flourished.
Later in his reign, however, expanding French influence was greeted with nationalist feeling, leading to the Siamese revolution of 1688. Overall, ties remained stable, with French missionaries preaching Christianity as usual.
Following a brutal royal battle, Ayutthaya entered the Siamese “golden age,” a comparatively calm period in the second quarter of the 18th century during which art, literature, and learning flourished. Apart from a fight with the Nguyn Lords for possession of Cambodia that began in 1715, there were few foreign wars.
For several consecutive reigns, the kingdom’s last fifty years were marked by brutal succession crises, with purges of court officials and capable generals. A combined force of 40,000 Burmese troops invaded it from the north and west in 1765. By 1759, the Burmese under the new Alaungpaya dynasty had established themselves as a new local power. The walls of the capital city crumbled and the city was burnt in April 1767 after a 14-month siege.
Thailand is the 50th largest country in terms of total area, with 513,120 square kilometers (198,120 square miles). Yemen is little smaller, while Spain is significantly larger. Thailand is divided into various separate geographic regions, some of which correspond to province divisions.
The Thai highlands are located in the north of the country, with Doi Inthanon in the Thanon Thong Chai Range being the highest peak at 2,565 meters (8,415 feet) above sea level. The Khorat Plateau, which is bordered to the east by the Mekong River, makes up Isan in the northeast. The mostly flat Chao Phraya river basin, which flows into the Gulf of Thailand, dominates the country’s center.
The narrow Kra Isthmus, which extends onto the Malay Peninsula, runs through southern Thailand. There are six political regions that differ from one another in terms of population, basic resources, natural features, and social and economic development. The physical setting of Thailand is characterized by the diversity of its areas.
The Chao Phraya River and the Mekong River are vital waterways in rural Thailand. Rivers and their tributaries are used in large-scale agriculture production. The Chao Phraya, Mae Klong, Bang Pakong, and Tapi Rivers feed the Gulf of Thailand, which covers 320,000 square kilometers (124,000 square miles). Because of the clear shallow waters along the southern coasts and the Kra Isthmus, it adds to the tourism industry.
The eastern shore of the Gulf of Thailand is Thailand’s industrial heartland, with Sattahip, the country’s top deepwater port, and Laem Chabang, the country’s busiest commercial port. The Andaman Sea is a valuable natural resource because it is home to a number of popular and opulent resorts. The Andaman Sea coasts of Phuket, Krabi, Ranong, Phang Nga, and Trang, as well as adjacent islands, are all tourist hotspots despite the 2004 tsunami.
Thailand’s climate is influenced by monsoon winds, which come and go throughout the year (the southwest and northeast monsoon). The majority of the country has a tropical savanna climate, according to Köppen. A tropical monsoon climate prevails across the majority of the south, as well as the easternmost tip of the east. A tropical rainforest environment can also be found in parts of the south.
Thailand has three distinct seasons. The first is the wet or southwest monsoon season (mid–May to mid–October), which is brought on by the Indian Ocean’s southwestern wind. Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and tropical cyclones also contribute to rainfall. The wettest months of the year are August and September.
The average annual rainfall in the country is between 1,200 and 1,600 mm (47 to 63 in). The northeast monsoon, often known as winter, lasts from mid-October to mid-February. The majority of Thailand has dry weather and temperate temperatures. Summer, also known as the pre-monsoon season, lasts from mid-February to mid-May.
The north, northeast, central, and eastern sections of Thailand, due to their inland nature and latitude, have a long period of mild weather, with temperatures reaching up to 40 °C (104 °F) in March and May, compared to close to or below 0 °C (32 °F) in some areas during the winter. Southern Thailand has warm weather all year, with fewer diurnal and seasonal temperature changes due to coastal influences. It gets a lot of rain, especially in the months of October and November.
Thailand is one of the world’s ten most vulnerable countries to climate change. It is especially vulnerable to increasing sea levels and extreme weather conditions. Thailand has a low but growing ranking of 91 out of 180 nations in the global Environmental Performance Index (EPI) in 2016.
Air quality, agriculture industry environmental consequences, and climate and energy sector, the latter mostly due to a high CO2 emission per KWh generated, are the environmental categories where Thailand performs the worst (i.e., has the highest ranking).
Thailand is the best (i.e., lowest ranked) in terms of water resource management and sanitation, with considerable improvements projected in the future. The country had a mean score of 6.00/10 on the 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index, ranking it 88th out of 172 countries.
Elephants, the country’s national symbol, have declined in population from 100,000 in 1850 to an estimated 2,000 today. Elephants have traditionally been hunted for ivory and hides, and now increasingly for meat by poachers. Young elephants are frequently seized for exploitation as tourist attractions or as working animals, with allegations of cruelty. However, after the government stopped logging in 1989, their use has decreased.
Protected species poaching is still a big issue. The pelts of tigers, leopards, and other huge cats are hunted. Many are raised on farms or hunted for their meat, which is said to have medicinal benefits.
Despite the fact that such trade is banned, Chatuchak, a well-known Bangkok market, is nonetheless recognized for selling endangered species. Animals like the Asiatic black bear, Malayan sun bear, white-handed lar, pileated gibbon, and binturong are affected by the practice of keeping wild animals as pets.
Thailand’s economy is strongly reliant on exports, with exports accounting for more than two-thirds of the country’s GDP (GDP). Thailand exports more than US$105 billion in goods and services each year. Automobiles, computers, electrical appliances, rice, textiles and footwear, fisheries goods, rubber, and jewelry are also major exports.
Thailand is a developing economy that is still in the country of being industrialized. Thailand’s GDP was $1.236 trillion in 2017. (on a purchasing power parity basis). After Indonesia, Thailand has the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia. Thailand is in the middle of Southeast Asia’s wealth distribution, ranking fourth in terms of GDP per capita after Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia.
Thailand serves as an economic anchor for Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia, which are all growing economies. Thailand’s unemployment rate was 0.84 percent in the third quarter of 2014, according to Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB). Tourism accounts for around 6% of the country’s economy.
According to the World Tourism Organization, Thailand was the most visited country in Southeast Asia in 2013. Tourism receipts directly contributing to Thailand’s 12 trillion baht GDP have been estimated to range from 9% (1 trillion baht) to 16%. Tourism is claimed to contribute for 20.2 percent (2.4 trillion baht) of Thailand’s GDP when indirect effects are taken into consideration.
Asian tourists come to Thailand largely to see Bangkok and the historical, natural, and cultural wonders that surround it. Many western tourists visit Bangkok and the neighboring areas, as well as the southern beaches and islands. With its varied ethnic minority groups and forested mountains, the north is the most popular destination for hiking and adventure travel. Isan is the region with the fewest tourists.
A distinct tourism police force was established with offices in major tourist sites and an emergency telephone number to handle foreign visitors. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Thailand is the fifth most popular medical tourism destination in terms of inbound medical tourism spending, with over 2.5 million visitors in 2018.
The country is also the most populous in Asia. Sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and cosmetic surgery are becoming increasingly popular in the country. Between 2010 and 2012, more than 90% of medical tourists visited Thailand for SRS.
Thailand’s informal labor market is diversified and strong; in 2012, it was estimated that informal laborers made up 62.6 percent of the Thai workforce. Informal employees, according to the Ministry of Labour, are individuals who work in informal economies and do not have employee status under a country’s Labour Protection Act (LPA).
Thailand’s informal sector has increased greatly in the last 60 years as the country transitioned from an agriculture-based economy to one that is more industrialized and service-oriented. Between 1993 and 1995, ten percent of Thailand’s workforce moved from agriculture to urban and industrial jobs, particularly in manufacturing. Between 1988 and 1995, Thailand’s GDP tripled, while the number of factory workers in the country increased from two to four million.
While the Asian Financial Crisis hit Thailand hard in 1997, the industrial sector continued to grow under extensive deregulation, as Thailand was required to implement a series of structural adjustment changes in exchange for IMF and World Bank support. These reforms ushered in a policy of increased privatization and trade liberalization in the country, as well as a reduction in federal subsidies for public goods and utilities, agricultural price supports, and labour laws.
These changes increased the pressure on the agriculture sector and drove more people to migrate from rural areas to urban areas. Many migrant farmers sought work in Thailand’s burgeoning manufacturing sector, working in sweatshops and factories with weak labour laws and often harsh working conditions.
Those who couldn’t find formal factory work, such as illegal migrants and families of rural Thai migrants who followed their relatives to the cities, turned to the informal sector for additional support—under the widespread regulations imposed by the structural adjustment programs, one family member working in a factory or sweatshop made very little money.
Scholars contend that the economic and social costs of Thailand’s labour reforms in the aftermath of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 disproportionately impacted individuals and families rather than the state.
This is known as the “externalization of market risk,” which means that as the country’s labour market became more deregulated, the burden of providing a decent living shifted from employers and the state to workers themselves, whose families were forced to find jobs in the informal sector to compensate for the losses and subsidise the wages earned by their relatives in the formal sector.
Migrants and the urban poor were particularly badly struck by these economic developments, and the informal sector grew significantly as a result.
How To Reach Thailand
1. By Air
Thailand is a long way from India, while being located on the Asian continent. As a result, flying is the most convenient way to reach its coasts. Direct flights to Bangkok are available from most Indian cities, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, a
nd Kolkata. Depending on the airline, there are also routes accessible via one or two transit destinations. While the quickest non-stop trip from Kolkata’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport takes about 2 hours 25 minutes, the quickest one-stop flight takes close to 8 hours. Furthermore, depending on the transit destination and waiting period, certain airlines could take up to 17 hours.
Thai Airways, Air India, SpiceJet, Jet Airways, Thai AirAsia, Bangkok Airways, IndiGo, AirAsia, Emirates, Sri Lankan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, China Southern, Etihad Airways, Air Cathay Pacific, Malaysian Airlines, and Qatar Airways are among the airlines that individuals can pick from (this is not an exhaustive list).
Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport is only 30 kilometers east of the city. Thailand’s busiest airport, it is said to be the busiest in the world. The efficient arrangement guarantees that one has access to anything they may need, including duty-free retailers, restaurants, lounges, cafes, ATMs, and currency exchange facilities.
To go to their intended location, passengers can reach taxis, auto rentals, shuttle buses, public buses, or the Airport Rail Link. Don Mueang International Airport, Phuket International Airport, and Hat Yai International Airport are among Thailand’s other well-connected airports.
2. By Road
While flying is the fastest and most reliable mode of transportation, there is another way to get to the country. This one, on the other hand, necessitates a certain amount of grit and drive. The India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral motorway connects India with Thailand. The trip begins in Manipur, India, and continues via Thailand to Mae Sot, Thailand. It would take around a week to accomplish the 3,200 kilometer journey.
However, we would only recommend this journey between November and February because the weather is most favorable at that time. Individuals can choose between a 2-wheeler and a 4-wheeler depending on their needs, but they must first take certain measures. A valid driver’s license, an international driving permit, and all vehicle documentation, such as the vehicle registration certificate and insurance certificate, would be required.
Drinking water, food, and a medical kit are also long carry-on goods due to the trip’s length and potential for turbulence. In fact, it would be preferable if everyone got their yellow fever and malaria shots before going on the trip. We also recommend bringing some loose cash and a guidebook to help you navigate the area.
Best Time To Visit Thailand?
Between November to early April, the cold and dry season, when temperatures vary from 29°C to 34°C, is the best time to visit Thailand. The climate changes throughout the country, so you may visit any time of year. The climate in the south varies between the eastern and western shores.
During the winter months, when diving and snorkeling are at their best, the west coast is more appealing. The weather on Thailand’s east coast is good for the majority of the year. The wettest months are January and February, while the wettest are November and December.
Thailand’s Best Tourist Attractions
Thailand is a dream vacation destination for many people, with the chaotic appeal of Bangkok, the huge tropical jungles, some of the best street food in the world, and endless palm-lined beaches. Thailand will not disappoint you, whatever your purpose for visiting the Land of Smiles.
Thailand has well-connected railroads and low-cost airlines that can quickly and efficiently transport you from one point of interest to the next. Check out our list of the best locations to visit in Thailand if you’re looking for things for where to go and what to do on your next tropical holiday.
Thailand’s capital is a fast-paced, bustling city with a population of over eight million people. Bangkok is an excellent entrance to the country’s best temples and palaces, and is known for its cosmopolitan vibe and active street life.
While it’s easy to forget when walking amid Bangkok’s skyscrapers, the city’s heart lies on the water, with several canals connecting districts and the bustling Chao Phraya River, which you can visit via long-tail boat excursion.
Bangkok has various shopping malls, including the ultra-luxurious Siam Paragon and the travel-inspired Terminal21, as well as a number of traditional floating markets, for those in the desire to shop.
Nothing beats Chatuchak Market for a really unique experience – one of the world’s largest outdoor marketplaces with over 8000 stalls (be prepared for the inevitable experience of getting lost there), Chatuchak has it all and offers it at local prices.
The Grand Palace, a collection of structures that includes Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), the Royal Reception Halls, and Wat Pho–which houses a 46-meter-long reclining Buddha wrapped in gold leaf–is at the top of the list of things to do in Bangkok.
Lumpini Park, in the center of Bangkok, sprawls like a green oasis amid the city’s concrete jungle. The park is a terrific spot to view local life–from seniors practicing Thai Chi beside the lake (where you can rent boats to paddle away the afternoon) to giant water monitor lizards–and is often overlooked by visitors.
2. Chiang Mai (Thailand)
Chiang Mai, a city of historic structures, thick tropical rainforests, and hill hiking, is one of Thailand’s best places for travelers wishing to explore a different side of the country. Heading out to Doi Inthanon National Park, which is part of the Himalayan mountain range and home to lonely communities and spectacular overlooks, is a good opportunity to explore the untamed side of Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai has more active Buddhist temples than any other Thai city, including the famed Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh, and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (a favored viewpoint with magnificent views across downtown).
A number of hill tribes, notably the Meo Hill tribe and the Karen tribe, can be found just outside of the city; organized tours can take you there to learn more about their history and lifestyle, as well as to buy handicrafts that tribe members sell to support themselves.
Take a stroll down San Kamphaeng Road, a 10-kilometer stretch of road where local artisans offer everything from celadon pottery to lacquerware to silk items.
The ancient city of Ayutthaya, located about 80 kilometers north of Bangkok, was once Thailand’s capital–back in the 14th century, when the kingdom of Siam was at its peak.
The ruins of the kingdom can now be seen when walking through the Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park, which is encircled by three rivers and steep moats and encompasses an area of 289 hectares, is home to many prang (reliquary towers), wat, and stucco statues.
Because of a statue of a Buddha’s head entangled in tree roots, Wat Phra Mahathat is possibly the most famous temple here. Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the largest of the park’s temples, with three massive silver-looking Chedis, while Wat Yai Chai Mongkol is best known for its giant reclining Buddha and hundreds of seated Buddha sculptures covered in golden fabric.
4. Koh Samui (Koh Samui)
There’s a lot more to Koh Samui than just beach paradise. Koh Samui is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations, with steep jungles, home-perfect beaches, and spectacular sunsets. There are also numerous spas and temples to discover, including the well-known Wat Phra Yai and its 12-meter-high Big Buddha.
The adjacent archipelagos of Koh Samui also have a lot to offer and are only a short ferry ride away. Koh Tao, a little island off the coast of Koh Samui, is one of Thailand’s most popular scuba diving locations. Ang Thong National Marine Park (which extends 42 islands in the area) is a protected area with many rare animal species and is a great home to go jungle trekking in Thailand.
Phuket, located off Thailand’s west coast in the Andaman Sea, is home to some of the country’s most popular beaches and is a popular beach vacation destination. Travelers can visit Kata Noi Beach for peaceful landscape, Nai Harn Beach for crystal-clear seas under the shade of palm trees, and Surin Beach for luxury resorts and high-end restaurants with views of the sea.
At the top of Nakkerd Hill, where the 45-meter-tall Big Buddha towering over the island, Phuket’s spiritual side may be discovered. Wat Chalong is Phuket’s largest temple, and it houses a stupa that is supposed to contain a Buddha bone fragment.
The Sino-Portuguese buildings that line Thailand Road, as well as the historic shophouses converted into lively enterprises and markets, are worth visiting on foot in Phuket Town.