Country - Thailand
Thailand Country Information
Thailand is synonymous with international tourism for world tourists! About 16 million tourists are estimated to visit Thailand every year.
Scenic locations, visitor-friendly regulations, ever-ongoing entertainment/cultural events and the national special heritage work hand-in-hand to make the country one of the most frequently visited lands in the world.
A special breed of white elephants, though a very few of them are alive, can be found in Thailand which earned for the country the epithet “the Land of White Elephants”. Some of the species, on the verge of extinction, are reared with special care in other countries like Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia too.
Thailand is a southeast nation bordered by Myanmar in the west, Laos in the north and east, Cambodia in the south east and Malaysia in the east. A large part of the southern border is a coastline wave-lashed by South China Sea. The country has a shorter coastline with Andaman Sea on its western frontier. Bangkok is the capital and the largest city of Thailand. The official language is Thai, though the languages Isan, Kam Mueang and Pak Thai are also widely spoken.
The legislature of Thailand was bicameral. The Upper House was called Senate and the Lower House was known as the House of Representatives. Since the coup of 2014, the legislature became unicameral called National Legislative Assembly. While the hereditary monarch is a titular Head of the State with limited powers, the government is run by the Prime Minister under the rule of military junta.
The total population of Thailand was 68,863,514 in 2016 and the average density of population was 342 people per square kilometer. As per the estimate of 2018, the per capita GDP (nominal) was US $7,084. The main commodities of exports are computers, delivery trucks, integrated circuits, telephones and jewelry. Thailand’s prime commodities imported are crude petroleum, gold, petroleum gas, coal briquettes and soybeans.
The tourism industry has a major role in the economy of Thailand, contributing to 6% of the total GDP. Thailand is a tourists’ paradise irrespective of the time of their visit in a year. More than a hundred worth seeing places all over Thailand form the itinerary of a serious tourist. Even those who are with time constraints find the highly selected places too numerous to visit.
Thailand is incredibly home to more than 31000 Buddhist temples called wat. The mountainous holy structure called Wat Arun is the striking feature and a big landmark in the capital Bangkok. The imposing height of the temple is reported by different sources between 66.8 meters and 86 meters. The central structure is in the shape of a gargantuan inverted funnel with its stem (spire) pointing upwards into the sky. The surface is encrusted with coloured porcelain chips and shards of mollusk-shells. The uppermost part of the spire is topped with seven pronged trident, perceived by many as the “Trident of Hindu God Shiva”. Wat Arun literally means Temple of Sun (in Sanskrit, Arun refers to Sun) and is also locally known as the Temple of Dawn. The main Khmer-style tower, called prang, is surrounded on its four corners by smaller rocket-shaped towers devoted to the wind God. Although the name of the holy structure implies the temple of dawn, the view is more spectacular at the onset of evening and even more scintillating with illumination during night. Intricate mural design patterns and various statuettes on the temple suggest more about Hindu epics rather than the prevalent Buddhist culture.
Erawan Shrine in the capital city of Bangkok is holy place dedicated surprisingly for the Hindu God Brahma while Thailand is a country dominated by Buddhism. According to Hindu religion, Lord Brahma is the first of three supreme deities who is the creator of all life forms in the universe, the other two being Lord Vishnu (the nurturer/protector) and Lord Shiva (the emancipator from the recurring cycle of births and rebirths). The shrine is in the form of a pandal (with all the four sides open) in the middle of which the golden statue of the four-faced God Brahma, Phra Phrom is installed. Local Thais can be seen making merit by worshipping the deity with garlands and igniting the red incense sticks.
With more than 97% of population as Buddhists, Thailand is replete with temples meant for Lord Buddha. In Bangkok, Wat Pho is the temple complex in which the golden statue of Lord Buddha in a reclining position is the main attraction. The size of the statue is so big that it occupies almost the entire space in the sanctum sanctorum leaving a limited place for visitors to take a walk around the statue within the walls. Outside the mini-temple, there are many more conical structures sculpted in intricate designs and vivid colours. While some of them have prism shaped rooftops, others are in pyramid shape with a pointed spike directed into the sky. Within the same precinct, a lengthy row of Buddha statues installed in sitting lotus position is installed in the other mini-temples. However, there is an exclusive temple in the same complex solely devoted for a single big statue of Buddha sitting in lotus position on an elevated pedestal.
Apart from the religious structures, Thailand is abundant in world-class beaches in other cities like Phuket and Pattaya. All sorts of seaside activities like parasailing, diving, snorkelling and basking keep the tourists hectic and engaged. The cultural group-dance show Alcazar is supremely spectacular and captivates the attention of audience, keeping them glued to the seats during the entire programme. The performance is mind-grabbing by dancers draped in vivid costumes and adorned with brilliantly multi-coloured lengthy tufts of plumes. Various episodes of the dance show follow in quick succession (almost immediately one after the other) amid lavish sets and the state-of-the-art light and sound system to sustain the interest of the viewers all through the programme. The cultural shows are ever ongoing and can be seen anytime of the year.
The Phi-Phi islands, Patong beach, Phang Nga Bay, Similan islands, Ko Lipe island rival with one another in scenic beauty and in offering a variety of world-class seaside environment and diversified pelagic activities. Damnoen Sadauk floating market is a special attraction located about 100 kilometers southwest of Bangkok. The national parks of bio-diversity are worth a visit to get to know about different types of plants and animal species.
For the travellers to make their trip truly eclectic, at least a month-long trip is indispensible which would enable viewers to tour the entire country without missing a single worth seeing place.