The introduction to South-East Asia for almost everyone. You will either land here first and explore Bangkok and rest of Thailand or change flight to go further into SE Asia. It is good to start here as at low intensity, it will expose you to the culture of this chaotic and busy part of the world, where everything can be arranged at the last minute, but perhaps not that one thing which you so urgently wanted. Murphy’s law! Due to its development, strain of westernization is visible almost everywhere giving you the comfort in its traditional culture.
Thailand is the only country in the region which has never been a colony ever. It is also the business / trading hub of the region. Monarchy is revered and people always speak about them in respect. There is a strong presence of Buddhism, something that will be easily noticed in SE Asia. Though very open and relaxed place, conservatism and formal attitude sets in at royal and religious places and also when interacting with elders and strangers alike. Respect for elders and a female is visible when walking around. Roads are well laid and present almost everywhere but driving sense can be improved. Bigger cities are chaotic to an extent. When you move further into SE Asia, you can increase the lack of driving sense and chaos a notch or two.
Being a Buddhist society, focus on moral values, and work to decimate values to the public at large is focus area of government and also charitable societies like in the picture below
Thailand is largely a warm to hot country. South Thailand sees summer throughout the year. North becomes pleasant from hot in winters. Unless you are trekking in winters, warm clothes are not required.
November – March: Best time to visit Thailand. Rains have gone, and landscape is refreshed with its lovely green colors. Temperatures are also conducive for outdoor movement averaging under 25 degree Celsius.
April – June: Hot temperatures in mainland with temperatures hitting high of 40 degree Celsius. Beaches are cool and pleasant
July – October: Rainy season. Usually rains are in short intense spells but South Thailand has tendency to get more rain. Boat movement is restricted with some islands off limits / shutdown.
South East cost has rainy season from November to February and high tourist season from May to October
Thailand has been very nicely structured. Bangkok is the hub. South of Bangkok is the party and beach area where you can relax and watch some amazing sunsets. North is where you enjoy history and rest of the nature – mountains / national parks and of course party. If desired, Thailand can be divided into five regions:
North: Constitutes primarily of hills and hill tribes. It contains the southern part of the once infamous Golden Triangle. National Reserve Forest, Waterfalls, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are in this region.
North East: The less developed and off beaten part of the country. Catch up with Khmer ruins in this region
Central Lowlands: The plains with Bangkok and history. Ayutthaya and Kachanaburi are part of this region
East: Easy to reach and relax beaches from Bangkok.
South: Beaches and more beaches with rain forest.
Cities to be visited:
Central: Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Maeklong, Damnoen Saduak
North: Chiang Mai, Pai, Chiang Rai,
South: Phuket, Ko Samui,
National Festivals (Public Holidays):
Children’s Day (Second Saturday of January); Makha Bucha Day (Feb / March); National Elephant Day (March 13th); National Muay Thai Day (March 17th); Chakri Day (April 6th); Songkran New Year Water Festival (April 13th – 15th); Labour Day (May 1st); Coronation Day (May 5th); Vishaka Bucha Day (May / June); Asahna Bucha Day (July / Early August); Khao Phansa (One day after Asahna Bucha Day); Mother’s Day or H.M. Queen’s Birthday (August 12th); Chulalongkorn Day (Rama V Day) (October 23rd); Father’s day or H.M. King’s Birthday (December 5th); Constitution Day (December 10th);
Please note, I have been able to personally explore Bangkok and its surrounding regions only. I will have to make another trip, my third, hopefully successful, to visit all of Thailand.