> Phuket - Amazing Thailand
Phuket - Amazing Thailand
Thailand is the one of the most popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia, and for a reason. You can find almost anything here: thick jungle as green as can be, crystal blue waters that feel more like a warm bath than a swim in the ocean and food that can curl your nose hairs while tap dancing across your taste buds. Exotic, yet safe; cheap, yet equipped with every modern amenity you need, there is something for every interest and every price bracket, from beach front backpacker bungalows to some of the best luxury hotels in the world. And despite the heavy flow of tourism, Thailand retains its quintessential Thai-ness, with a culture and history all its own and a carefree people famed for their smiles and their fun-seeking sanuk lifestyle. Many travelers come to Thailand and extend their stay well beyond their original plans and others never find a reason to leave. Whatever your cup of tea is, they know how to make it in Thailand.
Thailand is largely tropical, so it's hot and humid all year around with temperatures in the 28-35°C range (82-95°F), a degree of relief provided only in the mountains in the far north of Thailand. The careful observer will, however, note three seasons:
Cool: From November to the end of February, it doesn't rain much and temperatures are at their lowest, although you will barely notice the difference in the south and will only need to pack a sweater if hiking in the northern mountains, where temperatures can fall as low as 5°C. This is the most popular time to visit and, especially around Christmas and New Year's or at Chinese New Year a few weeks later, finding flights and accommodation can be expensive and difficult.
Hot: From March to June, Thailand swelters in temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F). It is pleasant enough when sitting on the beach with a drink in hand, but not the best time of year to go temple-tramping in Bangkok.
Rainy: From July to October, although it only really gets underway in September, tropical monsoons hit most of the country. This doesn't mean it rains non-stop, but when it does it pours and flooding is not uncommon.
There are local deviations to these general patterns. In particular, the south-east coast of Thailand (including Ko Samui) has the rains reversed, with the peak season being May-October and the rainy off season in November-February.
Thailand's people are largely Thais, although there are significant minorities of Chinese and assimilated Thai-Chinese throughout the country, Muslims in the south near the Malaysian border and hill tribes such as the Karen and the Hmong in the north of the country. The overwhelmingly dominant religion (95%) is Theravada Buddhism, although Confucianism, Islam, Christianity and animist faiths also jostle for position.
Mainland Thai culture is heavily influenced by Buddhism. However, unlike the Buddhist countries of East Asia, Thailand's Buddhists follow the Therevada school, which is arguably closer to its Indian roots and places a heavier emphasis on monasticism. Thai temples known as wats, resplendent with gold and easily identifiable with their ornate, multicolored, pointy roofs are ubiquitous and becoming an orange-robed monk for a short period, typically the three-month rainy season, is a common rite of passage for young Thai boys and men.
One pre-Buddhist tradition that still survives is the spirit house (saan phraphuum), usually found at the corner of any house or business, which houses spirits so they don't enter the house and cause trouble. The grander the building, the larger the spirit house, and buildings placed in particularly unlucky spots may have very large ones.
Some traditional arts popular in Thailand include traditional Thai dancing and music, based on religious rituals and court entertainment. Famously brutal Thai boxing (muay Thai), derived from the military training of Thai warriors, is undoubtedly the country's best known indigenous sport.
In addition to the mainland Thai culture, there are many other cultures in Thailand including those of the "hill tribes" in the northern mountainous regions of Thailand (e.g., Hmong, Karen, Lisu, Lahu, Akha), the southern Muslims, and indigenous island peoples of the Andaman Sea. Ao phang nga by sayantour
Bangkok — Thailand's bustling, frenetic capital, known among the Thai as Krung Thep
Ayutthaya — A historical city, UNESCO World Heritage Site and old capital of Siam
Chiang Mai — De facto capital of Northern Thailand and the heart of Lanna culture
Chiang Rai — Gateway to the Golden Triangle, ethnic minorities and mountain trekkings
Kanchanaburi — Home of the Bridge over the River Kwai and numerous World War II museums
Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat) — Largest city of the Isaan region
Pattaya — One of the main tourist destinations, known for its rough nightlife
Sukhothai — Thailand's first capital, still with amazing ruins
Surat Thani — Home of the Srivijaya Empire, gateway to the Samui archipelago
Ko Chang — Once a quiet island, now undergoing major tourism development
Ko Lipe — Small island in the middle of Tarutao National Park, amazingly unspoilt with great reefs and beaches
Ko Pha Ngan — Ssite of the famous Full Moon Party with miles of quiet coastline
Ko Samet — The nearest island beach escape from Bangkok
Ko Samui — Comfortable, nature, and entertainment hippie mecca gone upmarket
Khao Sok National Park — One of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Thailand
Khao Yai National Park — Take a night time jeep safari spotting deer or visit the spectacular waterfalls
Krabi Province — Beach and watersports mecca in the south, includes Ao Nang, Rai Leh, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta
Phuket — The original Thai paradise island, now very developed but still with some beautiful beaches