Visit Buddhist Thailand, South Asia’s ‘Land of the Free’
Thailand’s 64 million population are proud to call their country ‘The Land of the Free’ as it is the only south Asian state never to have been colonised by a European power. The majority of Thais are Buddhists and the country offers a strong Buddhist heritage to the interested traveller. Much of the country is covered by paddy-fields: Thailand is the world’s biggest exporter of rice. The north of the country is mountainous; the centre is flatter and is dominated by the capital Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River valley; in the south, the beautiful Andaman Sea coastline has sprouted a burgeoning tourist resort at Phuket. Thailand has hundreds of tropical islands, popular with divers. It is famous for its cuisine, with lemongrass and lime juice being common ingredients. There are Marine Parks, elephant conservation centres, wildlife sanctuaries and several UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit.
Go for everything - from the modern leisure and adventure activities available in visitor magnets such as Phuket and Bangkok to the serenity to be experienced living in a centuries-old Buddhist culture. Thai cuisine and the warmth of the people are legendary. Watch the national sport, Thai Boxing.
When to Go?
In tropical Thailand, the period November to February is cool and dry; March-May is hot and dry; May-October is the rainy season. In November, join in the Loy Krathong ‘merit-gaining’ celebrations, which involve floating boats made of bread and palm-leaves, culminating in the release of thousands of paper lanterns. The Surin Elephant Round-up in November sees 300 elephants being paraded through town. Pee Ta Khon (Ghost Festivals) can be seen from March to July.
How to get there?
Bangkok International Airport (BKK) serves Indonesia, Australasia, India, China, Europe and North America. In the south, Phuket (HKT) serves Norway, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Austria, Australasia and Japan. In the North, Chiang Mai (CNX) serves domestic destinations, Malaysia and.... Vienna! The other main airports are Udon Thani (UTH) in the northeast and Krabi (KBU), near Phuket: they serve domestic and local destinations.
In Bangkok, the Royal Palace is a must: search out the awesome Emerald Buddha in the Wat Phra Kaew Temple. Tour the UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Ayutthaya (the ruins of the former royal city); Huai Kha Khaeng (Wildlife Sanctuary); and Khao Yai (a National Park with 3,000 plant species and 320 bird species, not to mention Asiatic Black Bears, gibbons and tigers). The Turato National Marine Park encompasses 51 islands, and the Ma Ko Ang Thong National Park is spread over 42 islands. If you didn’t believe that Buddhist Pyramids existed, see for yourself at Wat Chamadevi!