Chapter 14
Thailand
Thailand
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Country name: Kingdom of Thailand, Thailand
Capital: Bangkok
Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the
Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand,
southeast of Burma
Border countries: Burma, Cambodia, Laos,
Malaysia
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Government type: constitutional monarchy
Administrative divisions: 76 provinces
Population: 64,265,276
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into
account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS;
this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant
mortality and death rates, lower population and
growth rates, and changes in the distribution of
population by age and sex than would otherwise be
expected (July 2003 est.).
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Languages: Thai, English (secondary language
of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects
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Religions: Buddhism 95%, Muslim 3.8%,
Christianity 0.5%, Hinduism 0.1%, other 0.6%
(1991)
Industries: tourism; textiles and garments,
agricultural processing, beverages, tobacco,
cement, light manufacturing, such as jewelry;
electric appliances and components,
computers and parts, integrated circuits,
furniture, plastics; world's second-largest
tungsten producer and third-largest tin
producer
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GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity $7,000 (2002 est.) (99th in the world)
Currency: baht (THB) (CIA, World Fact Book)
Important Facts
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One of the top destinations (with China, Hong
Kong and Malaysia) in Asia and Pacific
10,9 million international tourist arrivals (4th highest
in the region; after China, Hong and Malaysia)
 $7,9 billion international tourism receipts (3rd
highest) (WTO, 2003)
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Coastline: 3,219 km
Terrain: central plain; Khorat Plateau in the east;
mountains elsewhere
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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 (CIA,
World Fact Book).
Selling Points
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Beaches, exotic temples, ruins, good food,
snorkelling and scuba diving, tribal cultures,
trekking, nightlife, exceptional handicrafts,
classical dance, friendly people and beautiful
scenery.
Other countries in the region are also fascinating.
Trips to nearby Malaysia and Singapore are often
packaged with a visit to Thailand.
Very Brief History
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4000 BC; archaeological studies suggest that
communities were living in what is now Thailand
6th – 7th centuries; since the Thai are related
linguistically to groups originating in southern
China, migrations from southern China to
Southeast Asia might have occurred
13th century; Thais date the founding of their
nation. In 1238, a Thai kingdom was established
which was known as Siam until 1939
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Thailand is the only southeast Asian country
never to have been taken over by a European
power (Thais believe that the diplomatic skills
of their monarchs and their modernizing
reforms made Siam the only country in the
region to avoid European colonization)
A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a
constitutional monarchy
Thailand was occupied by the Japanese during
the World War II as the rest of Southeast Asia
Bangkok
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does not impress tourists very much
traffic jam is too much, walking rather than
taking a taxi or bus would be much faster. Water
taxis are good
Bangkok’s temples are the finest and most
ornate in all of Asia; located in the modern city
center
The most beautiful are;
The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald
Buddha - Wat Phra Keo (richly ornamented)
 Temple of the Dawn - Wat Arun (on the older side
of the Chao Pyraya River; classic Thai dancers may
be seen)
 Reclining Buddha (the largest Buddha in Thailand;
46 meters long)
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some other places to see include;
Small Erawan shire at the corner of Ratcha-Damri
Road and Sumkumvit (to see traditional Thai
dancers)
 Klongs - canals (to see the floating market and how
people live)
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National Museum (reflects country’s history and
artcrafts)
 The Red Cross Snake (to watch venomous snakes
being milked)
 The Weekend Market near Chatuchack (to see giant
dead roaches for sale)
 Chinatown
 Vimanmek Mansion (world’s largest golden teakwood
building, filled with priceless antiques and paintings)
 Royal Barges (magnificent boats used by the king and
for special occasions)
 Patpong (the red-light district)
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day trips to;
Ayutthaya (was the capital of Thailand between 1350
- 1767; has well preserved complex of temple and
ruins)
 Thai Cultural Village (to watch performances of
traditional dance and music)
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Pattaya
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located on the Gulf of Thailand
developed as a resort in 1963; one of the major
resorts in Southest Asia
after Banghkok, most visited place in Thailand
bachelor nightlife is the main attraction
Ko Laan (nearby island worth seeing; the travel is
by a glass-bottomed boat)
Chiang Mai
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the fifth largest city in Thailand, but has most of
the amenities offered by Bangkok
located in the hilly Golden Triangle where much
of the wolrd’s opium is grown
an ancient city therefore has some interesting
temples (wats);
Wat Suan Dawn
 Wat Chiang Man
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some other sites to see;
Elephant Training School
 Phuping Palace (for a nice driving excursion)
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area Treks in Chiang Mai are offered which
usually include;
organized treks into the surrounding tribal hill
country for four nights; stopping in a different village
each night; with an elephant ride and river rafting
 may be risky
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Islands
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resort islands off the coast of Thailand
Phuket (pronounced as pooKET; Thailand’s largest
island; located 670 km south of Bangkok;
overdeveloped; features a tropical beach - Patong
beach; snorkeling and other water sports and
sightseeing; tours to rubber plantations, batik
factories and a crocodile farm are offered)
 Ko Samui (another pleasant island; undergone
intensive development)
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Kanchanaburi
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the main attraction is the nearby bridge over
Kwai River which is made by the allied prisoners
during World War II as part of the Death
Railway
nearby museums chronicle life in the POW
camps and the history of the railroad
construction
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Allied War Cemetery (where the graves of more
than 8000 POWs who died working on the
bridge and railway for Japanese Army
Nakhon Pathom (largest Buddhist monument in
Thailand)
Ruins
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the ruins in northern and northeastern Thailand
are exceptional
they are well preserved
each is unique because they are built indifferent
time periods
from Bangkok, the trip may take around five
days
Sukhothai (Thailand’s first capital is the most
interesting)
Malaysia
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Malaysia is as beautiful as Thailand; the selling
points include: great beaches and resorts,
modern shopping, unique tribal cultures and
fantastic display of nature (from butterflies and
sea turtles to orangutans and elephants)
the country includes two main regions: the
southern part of the Malay peninsula and the
northern coast of Borneo
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in both areas, interior is mountains, and tropical
vegetation seen
prices are surprisingly low
one of the most prosperous Southeast Asian
countries
Kuala Lumpur
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Malaysia's capital
located in a valley surrounded by jagged hills
Major attractions are;
Twin Petronas Towers (the tallest in the world)
 Parliament House
 Jame Mosque
 National Zoo and Aquarium (one of finest in Asia)
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National Museum (natural history and Malay cultural
displays)
 The Central Market (once the city’s fish, vegetable
and food market, now a huge place with restaurants
and good shops)
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Singapore
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surrounded by modern buildings
good destination for shopping . Things to buy
include; cameras, watches, Thai silk, batiks,
wood carvings, porcelain, leather and suede
goods, Chinese antiques, electronics, gems, and
Persian carpets.
The population is mostly ethnic Chinese. There
are also Malays, Indians, Eurasians and
Europeans.
Singapore City
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has one of the busiest harbors, would be nice to
have a cruise
walking in the ethnic neighborhoods is
fascinating
Places to see are;
Chinatown and the Fuk Tak Chi Temple (featuring a
God of wealth) traveling by tricycle rickshaws
 Little India and Arab Street
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Colonial District (with vestiges of times of British
rule)
 Empress Place (museum in former colonial
buildings)
 Orchard Road (for shopping)
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Chapter 8