Bordered by Burma/Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Andaman Sea, and the Gulf of Thailand in Southeast Asia, Thailand is a monarchy headed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, who has reigned since 1946. With a total area of approximately 198,000 square miles, Thailand is the 21st most populous country in the world, with around 65 million people calling it home. The country’s official language is Thai and primary religion (around 95%) is Buddhism. Boasting many varied landscapes, including the bustling city of Bangkok, lush jungle areas like Chiang Rai, and pristine coastal areas like Koh Samui, Phuket, and Krabi, Thailand offers something for romantics, adventurer seekers, and beach bums alike.
Activities in Thailand
Due to the large size and vast array of diverse landscapes, there is no shortage of varied activities in Thailand. Since Thailand’s culture is so distinct between its northern and southern regions, we strongly encourage travelers to visit a northern city, such as Chiang Mai, in addition to the beautiful beaches in the south.
In the bustling capital city of Bangkok, there are endless excursions and absolutely delicious food. Some popular Bangkok activities include a visit to the Grand Palace (a compound of buildings including the residence of the kings of Siam, the statue of the Emerald Buddha, and many other beautifully detailed structures which host royal and state functions), a visit to the Reclining Buddha, Lady Boy cabarets, longboat ride through the canals, and a visit to the Jim Thompson house (Jim Thompson brought silk to Thailand and mysteriously disappeared.) Bangkok also boasts incredible shopping and floating markets a bit outside the city.
Popular activities in Chiang Rai, include a visit to the Golden Triangle, visiting the border towns in Burma/Myanmar and Laos, elephant camps, a visit to the White Temple, a visit to the hill tribes, and a trip to the Opium Museum, which is said to be one of the finest museums in Thailand.
In Chiang Mai, visitors enjoy the elephant camps, Tiger Kingdom, the sprawling majestic temple complexes, night markets (especially on Saturday & Sunday), visits to the hill tribes, and taking cooking classes.
In Koh Samui, Phuket, and Krabi, guests enjoy snorkeling, diving, and taking day trips to nearby islands. These islands also feature elephant camps and Muay Thai Boxing. Phuket boasts the world’s largest Buddha, and Krabi offers fantastic rock climbing. Both Phuket and Krabi offer day trips to the Phi Phi islands.
Thailand Weather & Seasons
Due to its close proximity to the equator, Thailand enjoys a tropical, humid climate throughout most of the country throughout most of the year. The weather in central, northern, and northeastern Thailand (which includes Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Bangkok) is divided into three seasons: Hot Season (March through May), Cool Season (November through February), Rainy Season (May through November).
The weather in southern and coastal Thailand is divided simply into Rainy Season and Dry Season. The Rainy Season on Andaman Sea/West Coast of Thailand (Phuket, Krabi, Phi Phi Islands) lasts from April through October, and the Dry Season lasts from November through March. The Rainy Season on the Gulf of Thailand, or east coast, which includes the island of Koh Samui lasts from September through December, and the dry season lasts from January through August.
Located in the heart of Southeast Asia and roughly the size of Spain (approximately 198,000 square miles), Thailand contains a natural mountainous border with Burma/Myanmar, an aqueous border with Laos (the Mekong River), a small border with Malaysia, and a natural border with Cambodia created by both the Dongrak Mountains and the Mekong River.
Thailand is home to multiple distinct geographic regions including the mountainous Thai highliands, the Khorat Plateau to the northeast, the central plains including Chao Phraya river valley (which form the “Rice Bowl of Asia”), and the Kra Isthmus to the south. The Andaman Sea in southern Thailand is regarded as one of Thailand’s most precious natural resources and is home to the exotic island provinces of Phuket, Krabi, Ranong, Phang Nga, and Trang.
Getting to Thailand/Local Travel
A flight from Los Angeles to Thailand is approximately 19 hours in duration (including one layover.) Multiple airlines fly from the United States to Thailand, with a stop over in other cities. While the primary international airport in Thailand is in Bangkok, it is possible to fly internationally into Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui, and Krabi. No visa is required for American travelers to Thailand.
Once in Thailand, there are numerous ways to travel. The Thailand transportation infrastructure is modern and well-organized, so exploring the country can be a very straightforward experience. Whether your Thailand travel preference is air, rail, bus, road, or water, most modes of transportation are used to catering to foreign visitors and have frequent departures, which makes it easy to move about the country or explore sights around particular destinations. The mainland cities and coastal resorts are well connected to each other, so when you travel in Thailand you can spend a few days in Bangkok, a few more in Chiang Mai, and still visit the beach traveling via bus, train, or plane.