Getting to Million Years Stone Park & Pattaya Crocodile Farm
By car, from the "service area" on the motorway, set your trip odometer to 0 km. Take the motorway until your trip odometer indicates ~ 65 km. Then observe and follow the green sign on the highway showing "Banglamung, Pattaya" (See picture no. 1, 2).
When your trip odometer indicates ~ 70 km., observe the sign "Million Years Stone Park" and turn left to the route to "Million Years Stone Park" as indicated on the sign (See picture no. 3).
If you drive from Pattaya city, take Sukhumvit Road (Highway No. 3). When you pass Ban Na Klua, keep right and prepare to make a U-turn. After what, drive for about 1 km, you will see the sign "Million Years Stone Park". Then, turn left onto the route to "Million Years Stone Park" as indicated on the sign.
Located on an over-70-acre piece of land just 15 minutes' drive from Pattaya, this Park & Farm is a new striking tourist attraction created with more than 20 years' efforts, for all nature lovers.
It contains much more than what its name suggests. It is not only a living museum of curious and beautiful things of all the three kingdoms-animal, vegetable and mineral, but it also offers you several kinds of amusing and exciting shows.
Forget about your travel agency giving you good advice, they have most likely never seen their own products in Thailand. Having worked for an inbound tour operator in Thailand for 5 years I do have the experience of having seen almost all products and tours possible.
So, coming to Thailand and need proper advice of where to stay or what to do? Just ask the question in our Forum and we will answer them for free! Inside the Grand Palace Complex Bangkok
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What attract everyone is Thai peoples warm smile and hospitality. Everywhere you go their smiles will light up your day. It's not without reason Thailand is The Land Of Smiles.
Another reason to visit Phuket is for the beaches and warm water where the tropical sun give you a tan all year round.
Flying down to Phuket from Bangkok take just over one hour and shortly before landing will you see many small green limestone islands rising up from the sea underneath you, a beautiful sight so different from Bangkok's concrete jungle.
Phang Nga Bay What you are seeing is Phang Nga Bay where you later will go on a boat tour between more than one hundred spectacular limestone rock formations.
Then Phuket reveal itself, the pearl of the Andaman Sea with lush green hills as far you can see. You have now arrived in paradise.
A taxi will take you to your luxurious hotel. On the way from the airport you have the chance to glance at the natural beauty. Like large billboards. Nothing is more beautiful in paradise than the sight of billboards along the highway to your hotel on the beach.
You have now arrived at a luxurious hotel on one of the many white sandy beaches along the west coast where most people prefer to have their dream vacation. If traveling on a budget, cheap rooms can be found without problem in Patong. 10-15 minutes walk from the beach. I pay 150 baht a night for a room with air-con and hot water, minus electricity in Patong.
Since the sun in Phuket is very strong, every beach have chair with umbrella for rent. But it don't stop tourists from getting burned, as the many red body's are a living proof of. It's easy to be fooled by the sea breeze or cloudy weather into thinking I will not be burned. Be careful, then you will have a fantastic holiday and like many people be back the next year.
Put on some sunscreen and hit the beach and relax, maybe with a cold beer bought from your friendly beach vendor that will be more then happy to bring a new one without the need to get up, just wave. There is more than enough time after sunset to shop and eat, shops don't close before midnight and you should be happy to know that water temperature hold between 27-29 degrees, if you should feel the urge to swim.
When the sun has gone down it's time to try out the world famous chili hot Thai food and as being on an island seafood is abundant from small and cheap street stalls to expensive restaurants with live music. Be careful with the chili or else your throat will burn like it never have before.
Shop till you drop, a popular evening activity in Patong Town, the tourist capital of Phuket. Arrive with empty bags, return with a bad back after carried overloaded bags to the airport, filled with cheap cloths bought at the night market or the newly opened Jungceylon shopping complex in the heart of Patong. If Patong don't have what you are looking for, you can be sure to find it at the world class Central Festival shopping center. Central Festival is located in the area of Big C and Lotus outside of Phuket City.
Bangla Road, the heart and soul of Patong Town with a mixture of tourists, bar girls, restaurants, guesthouses, street stalls, beer bars, go-go bars, entertainment venues and transsexuals (katoeys). Gays have their own area at Paradise Complex only a short walk from Bangla Road.
It's impossible to be lonely in Patong with more then one hundred beer bars only in Bangla Road. In a beer bar there will always be someone to talk and have fun with. There are always a big chance to meet someone from your home country since Patong attract people from all over the world. If not, the girls working in the bar will be more than happy to chat, play games and dance with you. Every bar employ between five to twelve girls, and the girls will do everything to lure people inside the bar for a drink. It can be lots of fun just walking past a bar with the attention of ten girls doing almost everything to make you stop at their bar.
There are many beer bars outside of Bangla Road where families can relax in a quiet atmosphere and chat with the charismatic bar owner. The children will love to have a coke and play games with the bar girls who just adore children.
Khai Nok Island Early up with the sun to go on a day trip. A pickup van are waiting outside the hotel to take you to the boat for excursion to beautiful small offshore islands. A must for everyone is the trip to Phi Phi Island where The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed and Phang-Nga Bay with the limestone cliffs you saw from the plane. Similan Islands, one of ten world top diving sites. Similans are nine paradise islands a daytrip away northwest of Phuket where the sea are fantastic clear, a truly paradise. Racha Island to the south with beautiful corals and very clear sea, also popular for game fishing. And several other islands with white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. So much to see, so little time on a short vacation.
Tired of the sea? Visit the rainforest at Phang-Nga. Khao Sok National Park is an eden of virgin tropical forest peppered with striking limestone formations towering up to 1000 meters.
Back from a long day with many new experiences your body will complain and ask for some attention. What is better than to try Thai body massage? After two hour your body will feel like heaven. It's easy to find a place offering massage, with shops on every street corner and on the beach. For best massage ask for a woman over forty, younger women often don't have the same strength.
There are two famous show in the evening suited for the whole family. Phuket Fantasea at Kamala and Simon Cabaret Transvestite Show in Patong.
Quoted from their website: "From the creators of Safari World, Thailand's most popular animal and leisure park, comes a new and unique cultural theme complex-Phuket FantaSea-that promises to be the ultimate in night-time entertainment on the holiday resort island of Phuket."
Another must is Simon Cabaret, a marvelous combination of music, dance and costume performed by the famous ladyboys.
For the golf enthusiast Phuket have four 18-hole golf courses with Blue Canyon Country Club as one of the best in Asia. Banyan Tree Golf Club is another good course located at Laguna Phuket, home to several luxurious hotels.
And want-to-be divers should not miss up on the opportunity to get a international Scuba Diving Certificate while on vacation on a tropical island. Phuket is a popular diving destination. Facts about Phuket
* Largest island in Thailand 540 km²
* Population: 270,438
* Capital: Phuket City
* Tourist capital: Patong Town
* Currency: 100 Satang = 1 Baht
* Evergreen tropical climate
* Day temperature 28-38C/82-100F
* Night temperature 20-28C/68-82F
* Tourist season November-April with peak at New Year
* 24 beaches with soft white sand on the west coast
What you can expect to pay in Phuket
* Tuk-Tuk taxi in Patong Beach 2 persons 150-200 baht
* Motorbike taxi in Patong Beach 40 baht
* Room for two in a four-star hotel 5.000 baht (high season)
* Airconditioned room in a guesthouse/bungalow 400-1.000 baht (high season)
Date : 27 November - 8 December 2009 Venue : River Kwai Bridge, Mueang District, Kanchanaburi
Each year in late November to early December, the world famous River Kwai Bridge built by Allied prisoners-of-war during World War II, becomes the focal point of celebrations.
Event highlights include historical and archaeological exhibits, a carnival, folk and cultural performances, rides on World War II vintage trains, and a spectacular light and sound presentation re-enacting the bridge’s World War II legacy.
Watch the light-and-sound show in remembrance of the bridge and the construction of the "Death Railway" during World War II (There are 4 sets of headphones available in English, Japanese, Chinese and German). A wealth of entertainment and Exhibitions are on display.
The politics of Thailand currently takes place in a framework of a constitutional monarchy, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government and a hereditary monarch is head of state. Executive power is currently exercised by a military junta and its appointed Prime Minister and Cabinet. Legislative power is vested in a junta-appointed legislature. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Political activities are currently banned. Prior to the 2006 coup, the kingdom was a parliamentary democracy, with an elected bicameral legislature.
Thailand had been ruled by kings since the thirteenth century. In 1932, the country officially became a constitutional monarchy, though in practice, the government was dominated by the military and the elite bureaucracy. The country's current constitution was promulgated in 2006.
The King of Thailand has little direct power under the constitution but is a symbol of national identity and unity. King Bhumibol — who has been on the throne since 1946 — commands enormous popular respect and moral authority, which he has used on occasion to resolve political crises that have threatened national stability.
Thailand is a country of scenic diversity and ancient traditions, of tranquil temples and modern urban excitement. With and independent history going back more than seven centuries, it has managed to absorb a variety of cultural influences and blend them into something uniquely and memorably Thai.
Each of its four major region offers a distinctive experience for the traveler in search of discovery. Misty mountains in the north shelter verdant valleys and exotic hill tribes, while in centers like Chiang Mai traditional customs and crafts have been preserved over generations. Along the picturesque coastlines of the east and south lie some of the world's most beautiful beaches and off-shore islands, each with its own beauty. Scattered over the northeastern plateau are superb khamer monuments from the time of Angkor Wat and natural parks teeming with wild life. In the Central Region can be found the evocative ruins of ancient Thai capitals and bustling Bangkok with its dynamic and countless pleasures.
Central Region The North The North East The South
The fertile Central Plains region, watered by the winding Chao Phraya River, has long been Thailand's cultural and economic heart. "Kin khao", the Thai expression for "to eat", translates literally as "to eat rice" ; and the vast checkerboard of paddy fields on either side of the river has traditionally provided the kingdom with its staple grain. When the annual monsoon rains sweep across the plains, the fields are transformed into a sea of vivid green dotted here and there with farming villages and the occasional gleaming spire of a Buddhist temple.
In the early 13th century, the first independent Thai capital was born at Sukhothai, thus ushering in a Golden Age of Buddhist art and architecture, The impressive remains of Sukhothai have been preserved as part of a historical park, a major attraction for visitors to the region. When Sukhothai's power waned, a new capital rose further south on the banks of the Chao Phraya. Known as Ayutthaya, it ruled the kingdom for more than four centuries and became one of the largest, most cosmopolitan cities in Southeast Asia. Traders came not only from China, Japan and other Asian countries but also from distant Europe, bringing with them a wide range of new cultural influences. Ayutthaya was destroyed by an invading enemy in 1767 and today its extensive remains also attract numerous sightseers, many of whom come up from Bangkok by the traditional river route.
Bangkok became the capital in 1782 with the founding of the Chakri Dynasty that still occupies the Thai throne. Its early rulers sought to recreate the glories of Ayutthaya and many of the city's landmarks date from this period, among them the magnificent Grand Palace and its adjacent Wat Phra Keo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha),Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), and Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha). The flavor of the capital's past can be captured by a boat ride along the Chao Phraya River that flows through its traditional heart or an exploration of the picturesque klongs, or canals of Thonburi.
The city quickly outgrew its original walled center and is today a huge metropolis of high-rise buildings, air-conditioned shopping centers, and world-class luxury hotels. Despite its Western facade, however, Bangkok remains distinctively Thai, a fusion of modern and traditional, full of fascinating things to discover. All of Thailand's legendary bargains lustrous silks, bronze ware, antiques, gemstones, and jewelry, to mention only a few are available here, along with countless fine restaurants and other places dedicated to the pursuit of what Thais call sanuk, or pleasure.
Easily accessible to Bangkok are other attractions, among them the world's largest Buddhist monument at Nakhon Pathom, the famous Bridge over the River Kwai built during World War II, and, on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, the lively seaside resort of Pattaya
Much of what we now know as Thai cuisine also evolved in the Central Region. Rice, fish, and vegetables, flavored with garlic, black pepper, and nam pla, or fish sauce, along with an abundance of fresh fruits, comprised the basic diet of Sukhothai. With the rise of Ayutthaya, other elements were added to the increasingly complex Thai blend. That now essential ingredient, the fiery-hot chili pepper, was introduced at this time, along with the equally popular coriander, lime, and tomato. These may have been brought from their native South America by the Portuguese, who opened relations with Ayutthaya in 1511 and also left a lasting imprint in the form of popular Thai sweets based on egg yolks and sugar. Other influences came from India, Japan, Persia, and especially, China, though in almost every case their contributions were subtly altered and transformed to suite Thai tastes.
Unlike the north and northeast, where glutinous rice is popular, Central Thais like the fragrant plain variety, most commonly steamed but sometimes fried or boiled. In addition to fresh-water fish, there is seafood from the nearby gulf as well as a wide range of fresh vegetables and such fruits as mangos, durians, custard apples, guavas, and pomeloes. Sino-Thai food is popular in cities like Bangkok, particularly in the form of numerous noodle dishes.
Thailand can best be described as tropical and humid for the majority of the country during most of the year. The area of Thailand north of Bangkok has a climate determined by three seasons whilst the southern peninsular region of Thailand has only two.
In northern Thailand the seasons are clearly defined. Between November and May the weather is mostly dry, however this is broken up into the periods November to February and March to May. The later of these two periods has the higher relative temperatures as although the northeast monsoon does not directly effect the northern area of Thailand, it does cause cooling breezes from November to February.
The other northern season is from May to November and is dominated by the southwest monsoon, during which time rainfall in the north is at its heaviest.
The southern region of Thailand really has only two seasons -- the wet and the dry. These seasons do not run at the same time on both the east and west side of the peninsular. On the west coast the southwest monsoon brings rain and often heavy storms from April through to October, whilst on the east coast the most rain falls between September and December.
Overall the southern parts of Thailand get by far the most rain with around 2,400 millimetres every year, compared with the central and northern regions of Thailand, both of which get around 1,400 millimetres.
The kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Indochina, Myanmar and Southern China. Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions : the mountains and forests of the North; the vast rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-arid farm lands of the Northeast plateau; and the tropical islands and long coastline of the peninsula South.
The country comprises 76 provinces that are further divided into districts, sub-districts and villages. Bangkok is the capital city and centre of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities. It is also the seat of Thailand's revered Royal Family, with His Majesty the King recognised as Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, Upholder of the Buddhist religion and Upholder of all religions.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or King Rama IX, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, the present king. The King has reigned for more than half a century, making him the longest reigning Thai monarch. Thailand embraces a rich diversity of cultures and traditions. With its proud history, tropical climate and renowned hospitality, the Kingdom is a never-ending source of fascination and pleasure for international visitors.
In the Thai social system, the village is the unit. It was in former days, a self-contained one in its economy and needs. The people's habits and customs were based mainly o n agriculture and religion. Most villages had a Buddhist monastery and a shrine for a village deity. The monastery served their spiritual as well as the people's education. All arts, crafts and learning emanated from the monastery. From birth till death it centred round it. Its precincts were the meeting place for social g atherings on festive occasions. As to the village shrine it was used only occasionally in times of distress or on New Year's day when offerings were made. It had nothing to do with Buddhism.
No doubt Buddhism softened and tamed animism in many of its cults. The above is only a fundamental and comparative statement which a student has to bear in mind when dealing with mod ern cultural problems. The social system, habits and customs as seen in modern times are superficial modifications of the fundamentals and in a comparative degree only.
In some outlying districts where there are retarded developments of culture due to lack of intercommunication and new ideas, the people are still in their primitive state, quite in contrast to the progress in the capital, towns and cities.
In these progressive parts "old times are changed, old manners gone" and a new type of cultures fills its place. This is a sign of progress but it must come gratdually. Adapt the old to the new but not in a revolutionary way. The new cultures have also their dangers with problems to be solved, because people take too much interest in politics. To adopt new cultures wholly unsuited to the needs which are peculiar to, and characteristic of each particular place is a danger. Culture ought to be varied with characteristics of its own in each locality and area, harmonizing, however, with the whole-a unity in diversity.
Thai food is known for its enthusiastic use of fresh (rather than dried) herbs and spices as well as fish sauce.
Thai food is popular in many Western countries especially in Australia, New Zealand, some countries in Europe such as the United Kingdom, as well as the United States, and Canada.
Instead of a single main course with side dishes found in Western cuisine, a Thai full meal typically consists of either a single dish or rice khao with many complementary dishes served concurrently.
Rice is a staple component of Thai cuisine, as it is of most Asian cuisines. The highly prized, sweet-smelling jasmine rice is indigenous to Thailand. This naturally aromatic long-grained rice grows in abundance in the verdant patchwork of paddy fields that blanket Thailand's central plains. Its aroma bears no resemblance to the sweet smell of jasmine blossoms, but like jasmine flowers, this rice is precious and fragrant, a small everyday delight. Steamed rice is accompanied by highly aromatic curries, stir-frys and other dishes, incorporating sometimes large quantities of chillies, lime juice and lemon grass. Curries, stir-frys and others may be poured onto the rice creating a single dish called khao rad gang , a popular meal when time is limited. Sticky rice khao neow is a unique variety of rice that contains an unusual balance of the starches present in all rice, causing it to cook up to a pleasing sticky texture. It is the daily bread of Laos and substitutes ordinary rice in rural Northern and Northeastern Thai cuisine, where Lao cultural influence is strong.
Noodles, known throughout parts of Southeast Asia by the Chinese name kwaytiow, are popular as well but usually come as a single dish, like the stir-fried Pad Thai or noodle soups. Many Chinese cuisine are adapted to suit Thai taste, such as khuaytiow rue, a sour and spicy rice noodle soup.
There is uniquely Thai dish called nam prik which refers to a chile sauce or paste. Each region has its own special versions. It is prepared by crushing together chillies with various ingredients such as garlic and shrimp paste using a mortar and pestle. It is then often served with vegetables such as cucumbers, cabbage and yard-long beans, either raw or blanched. The vegetables are dipped into the sauce and eaten with rice. Nam prik may also be simply eaten alone with rice or, in a bit of Thai and Western fusion, spread on toast.
Thai food is generally eaten with a fork and a spoon. Chopsticks are used rarely, primarily for the consumption of noodle soups. The fork, held in the left hand, is used to shovel food into the spoon. However, it is common practice for Thais and hill tribe peoples in the North and Northeast to eat sticky rice with their right hands by making it into balls that are dipped into side dishes and eaten. Thai-Muslims also frequently eat meals with only their right hands.
Often thai food is served with a variety of spicy condiments to embolden the dish. This can range from dried chili pieces, sliced chili peppers in rice vinegar, to a spicy chili sauce such as the nam prik mentioned above
Throughout its 800-year history, Thailand can boast the distinction of being the only country in Southeast Asia never to have been colonized. Its history is divided into five major periods
Nanchao Period (650-1250 A.D.) The Thai people founded their kingdom in the southern part of China, which is Yunnan, Kwangsi and Canton today. A great number of people migrated south as far as the Chao Phraya Basin and settled down over the Central Plain under the sovereignty of the Khmer Empire, whose culture they probably accepted. The Thai people founded their independent state of Sukhothai around 1238 A.D., which marks the beginning of the Sukhothai Period
Sukhothai Period (1238-1378 A.D.) Thais began to emerge as a dominant force in the region in the13th century, gradually asserting independence from existing Khmer and Mon kingdoms. Called by its rulers "the dawn of happiness", this is often considered the golden era of Thai history, an ideal Thai state in a land of plenty governed by paternal and benevolent kings, the most famous of whom was King Ramkamhaeng the Great. However in 1350, the mightier state of Ayutthaya exerted its influence over Sukhothai.
Ayutthaya Period (1350-1767) The Ayutthaya kings adopted Khmer cultural influences from the very beginning. No longer the paternal and accessible rulers that the kings of Sukhothai had been, Ayutthaya's sovereigns were absolute monarchs and assumed the title devaraja (god-king). The early part of this period saw Ayutthaya extend its sovereignty over neighboring Thai principalities and come into conflict with its neighbours, During the 17th century, Siam started diplomatic and commercial relations with western countries. In 1767, a Burmese invasion succeeded in capturing Ayutthaya. Despite their overwhelming victory, the Burmese did not retain control of Siam for long. A young general named Phya Taksin and his followers broke through the Burmese and escaped to Chantaburi. Seven months after the fall of Ayutthaya, he and his forces sailed back to the capital and expelled the Burmese occupation garrison.
Thon Buri Period (1767-1772) General Taksin, as he is popularly known, decided to transfer the capital from Ayutthaya to a site nearer to the sea which would facilitate foreign trade, ensure the procurement of arms, and make defense and withdrawal easier in case of a renewed Burmese attack. He established his new capital at Thon Buri on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The rule of Taksin was not an easy one. The lack of central authority since the fall of Ayutthaya led to the rapid disintegration of the kingdom, and Taksin's reign was spent reuniting the provinces.
Rattanakosin Period (1782 - the Present) After Taksin's death, General Chakri became the first king of the Chakri Dynasty, Rama I, ruling from 1782 to 1809. His first action as king was to transfer the royal capital across the river from Thon Buri to Bangkok and build the Grand Palace. Rama II (1809-1824) continued the restoration begun by his predecessor. King Nang Klao, Rama III (1824-1851) reopened relations with Western nations and developed trade with China. King Mongkut, Rama IV, (1851-1868) of "The King and I" concluded treaties with European countries, avoided colonialization and established modern Thailand. He made many social and economic reforms during his reign.
King Chulalongkorn, Rama V (1869-1910) continued his father's tradition of reform, abolishing slavery and improving the public welfare and administrative system. Compulsory education and other educational reforms were introduced by King Vajiravudh, Rama VI (1910-1925). During the reign of King Prajadhipok, (1925-1935), Thailand changed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. The king abdicated in 1933 and was succeeded by his nephew, King Ananda Mahidol (1935-1946). The country's name was changed from Siam to Thailand with the advent of a democratic government in 1939. Our present monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is King Rama IX of the Chakri Dynasty.
Transport in Thailand is extremely well-organized and makes the whole stay in Thailand comfortable and easy. The air, rail, bus, road and water transport is very competent. The different islands and cities are connected to each other and the tourists can easily move about the country. Bookings and reservations should be done preferably in advance to avoid the rush at the last minute. The transport in Thailand is broadly divided into five categories. They are, International Airport Air Rail Bus Road Marine Air Rail Bus Road Marine
Thai Airways Thai Airways Thai Airways International Public Company Limited is the national carrier of the Kingdom of Thailand....
Air Asia Air Asia 'Now everyone can fly', Thai AirAsia’s philosophy of low fares is aimed at making flying affordable for everyone.... Bangkok Airways Bangkok Airways Flying many routes within Thailand and other Asian countries.....
One-Two-Go One-Two-Go Budget airlines flying domestic in Thailand.... Nok Air Nok Air Budget airlines flying domestic in Thailand....
PBair PBair The mission for PB Air was to provide safe, fast, and private flight all over the region.... SGA (Siam General Aviation) SGA (Siam General Aviation) Provides connection and feeder air services to small beautiful towns with low traffic demand....
Orient Thai Airlines Orient Thai Airlines Flying between Bangkok, Hong Kong and Korea.... Executive Wings Executive Wings Air charter service, business air charter Thailand...
Air Phoenix Air Phoenix The private charter for domestic and neighboring countries in Asia... Minor Aviation (Private Jet Charters) Minor Aviation (Private Jet Charters) The private jet charter for Phuket, Chiang Mai, Samui, Songkhla, and other destinations in Asia...
Happy Air Travellers Happy Air Travellers The Airline offers daily flights from Phuket Island to Hatyai and four flights a week from Phuket Island to Langkawi Island with PREMIUM service on bo... Found : 12 record(s) Page (1/1)
There are 26 provinces that make up Central and Eastern Thailand, and Bangkok is one of them. Geographically, this is Thailand’s heartland, extending from Lop Buri in the north and covering the rice bowl of the Central Plains around the Chao Phraya River. Further south, the area embraces the east and west coasts of the upper Gulf of Thailand.
This is Thailand’s most fertile farming area, a wide-ranging landscape of paddy fields, orchards and plantations. More than 1,000 years ago Thai settlers moved down from the north, gradually replacing Mon and Khmer influences and establishing communities at Lop CENTRAL & EAST COAST Buri then at Sukhothai, before founding a kingdom that lasted 417 years with Ayutthaya as its capital. When the Burmese destroyed Ayutthaya in 1767, the capital moved to Bangkok.
The Central region has a dramatic history, and its heritage of ancient temples, battlefields and ruins and two capitals, Ayutthaya and Bangkok, are a continuing fascination for visitors. The east and west sea coasts at the region’s southern end also draw huge numbers of visitors every year. Bangkok residents spend long weekends enjoying the relaxing seaside atmosphere, while holiday-makers from around the world to discover the delights of the tropical beach life.
On the eastern side, 400 kilometres of coastline extend from Chon Buri to Rayong with some of the finest beaches in Asia. Pattaya, with an enormous range of resorts, hotels and guesthouses, is its centre. If you are seeking a more relaxing experience, travel further down the coast to Rayong or Ko Samet, and the lovely islands of Ko Chang National Park near the Cambodian border.
On the west coast, the resorts of Cha-am and Hua Hin attract international travellers who prefer their more sophisticated yet laid-back atmosphere.
Far from the sea in the northwest of the region is Kanchanaburi, whose forested mountains, waterfalls and caves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries on the border with Myanmar provide some of Thailand’s most enthralling scenery.
The 26 provinces of Central and East Coast are Ang Thong, Bangkok, Chachoengsao, Chai Nat, Chanthaburi, Chon Buri, Kanchanaburi, Lop Buri, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Phetchaburi, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Prachin Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ratchaburi, Rayong, Sa Kaeo, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Saraburi, Sing Buri, Suphan Buri and Trat.
The North is the birthplace of the earliest Thai civilisation and has many sites of archaeological and cultural interest. Northern people are famous for their courtesy and hospitality, and the region is also noted for its variety of cultural traditions. Many tourists from the surrounding provinces converge on Chiang Mai for the annual Songkran Festival, and to Sukhothai for Loi Krathong.
The North falls into two distinct areas, the plains of the lower north from Nakhon Sawan to Sukhothai, and the mountainous upper north leading to borders of Myanmar and Laos. The mountain ranges along the borders are breathtaking, with waterfalls and fast-flowing rivers ideal for rafting. They are also the home of many ethnic hill people.
The region has three seasons, hot from March to May, wet from June to November and cool from December to February. High up in the mountains, though, “cool” may often mean extremely cold.
The Thai nation had its origins in the North, in city states that were gradually incorporated into the Lanna kingdom centred on Chiang Mai. Sukhothai became the first capital of Thailand, but the influence of the Lanna states of Laos and Myanmar can be clearly seen in the architecture and cuisine of the North.
The nomadic hill people of the region pursued their own course, moving back and forth across frontiers. There are six main tribal groups, Karen, Hmong, Lahu, Mien, Akha and Lisu, each with its own unique customs and clothing. Today, they are settled in villages on the mountainsides, a great attraction for travellers.
Most overseas visitors make for Chiang Mai, the northern capital, as a base for visiting ethnic tribes, soft adventure activities and shopping. Further north still, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son are centres for rafting, trekking and tours of tribal villages. To the south, the Historical Park at Sukhothai is an essential destination for all those wishing to discover more about the history and culture of Thailand.
The 17 provinces that comprise the North are Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Tak, Kamphaeng Phet, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nakhon Sawan, Nan, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phichit, Uthai Thani, Phitsanulok, Phrae, Sukhothai, and Uttaradit.
The Northeast of Thailand, a vast plateau covering nearly one third of the country, is usually known as Isan. It extends northwards to the Mekong River which divides Thailand from Laos, and to the south and it ends at the Dong Rek mountain range along the border with Cambodia.
It is known to be an arid region with soil of poor quality, but for tourism, Isan is one of the country’s most intriguing destinations with many Stone Age and Bronze Age dwellings and artifacts, and several significant temples that are a legacy of the great Khmer empire.
The sandstone shrines are popular tourist attractions, particularly the superbly restored sites at the historical parks of Phimai in Nakhon Ratchasima and Phanom Rung in Buri Ram. The great temple complex at Khao Phra Viharn in Si Sa Ket on the border with Cambodian is now accessible to visitors after a long period of isolation.
The Bronze Age settlements at Ban Chiang in the province of Udon Thani provide fascinating evidence of the work of the local potters some 5,000 years ago. The red and white pottery with characteristic “fingerprint” designs are thought to be the first earthenware vessels known to man.
Two of Thailand’s best-loved national parks, Khao Yai, Phu Kradung and Phu Rua in Loei, are in Isan. Other major attractions include the villages in Khorat and Khon Kaen where the beautiful local silk is woven by hand.
Isan is a comparatively poor region whose main income is from agriculture, and many of the younger people in the villages migrate to the city. But Isan folk have a distinctive character and dialect and a vigorous culture, with their old traditions still reflected in the many festivals unique to the region.
With its strategic position bordering Laos and Cambodia, Isan has in recent years risen to become a useful starting point for adventurous journeys to destinations along the mighty Mekong River. There have been important developments in infrastructure to accommodate what is expected to be a boom in tourism.
Travel in the region has been improved by domestic airlines with regular flights to regional airports; and it is no longer impossible to find luxury accommodation, especially in large provinces of Khon Kaen, Udon Thani Nakhon, Ratchasima and Ubon Ratchathani.
The Northeast consists of 19 provinces: Amnat Charoen, Buri Ram, Chaiyaphum, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Loei, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nong Bua Lamphu, Nong Khai, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani and Yasothon.
This region extends southward along a narrow peninsula lying between the Andaman Sea its west side and the South China Sea on the east. It is a rich land in terms of the abundance of its natural resources, the fertility of its soil, the diversity of its people and its commercial viability.
The South is made up of 14 provinces from Chumphon in the north down to the Malaysian border 1,200 kilometres from Bangkok. It has a long coastline on either side with sandy beaches and offshore islands on both, and a rugged central hinterland of mountains and forests.
The east coast on the Gulf of Thailand always seems to be more relaxed, with long, wide bays and calm seas; the Andaman Sea coast tends to be more rugged and exhilarating, with its strange limestone rock formations and cliffs.
The occurrence of two seasonal monsoons means that the climate differs from the rest of Thailand. The southwest monsoon sweeps the west coast and the Andaman Sea from May to October, while the northeast monsoon moves across the Gulf of Thailand form November to February. The peninsula forms a barrier so that rain rarely falls on both coastlines simultaneously.
The area was once part of the Buddhist Srivijaya Empire but later came under the rule of Ayutthaya and then Bangkok. Chinese and Malaysian influences have played a large part in the cultural makeup of the region; the further south, the stronger the Malaysian influence, with a dialect akin to Malay, a predominance of Muslim communities and mosques. Rice fields give way to rubber plantations, and Chinese tin mining operations become evidence.
The coastline attracts most tourists, though Samui island in the Gulf of Thailand is growing in popularity as a laid-back holiday spot with first class diving opportunities nearby on Tao and Pha-ngan islands.
The Andaman Sea coast offers more sophisticated choices in the island province of Phuket, Thailand’s premier holiday resort. However, the fascinating rock formations and offshore islands at Phang-nga, Krabi and Trang are extremely popular for the diving and sailing opportunities they offer.
The mountains, rivers and forests in the national parks in the interior of the peninsula are also gaining popularity with eco-tourists, as can be seen with the growing numbers of safari expeditions on foot, by elephant and in canoes.
The South of Thailand consists of 14 provinces: Chumphon, Krabi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Pattani, Phang-nga, Phatthalung, Phuket, Ranong, Satun, Songkhla, Surat Thani, Trang and Yala.