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 DESTINATION GUIDE


CENTRAL THAILAND

The fertile flatlands and important water tributaries of the Central Plains, the heart of Thailand, makes it the agricultural food basket of the Kingdom. Also located within this area are beautiful mountains, small and big, pristine forests, spectacular waterfalls, and mighty rivers.

Historical records indicate this area was an important Mon settlement during the Dvaravati Kingdom (6th -11th centuries) until they fell to the more powerful Khmer Empire (11th-13th centuries) from Cambodia. The Khmers established Lop Buri as their center and expanded their empire to be inclusive of Suphan Buri, Phetchaburi, and Singburi. In the mid-14th century, Ayutthaya rose to become a powerful empire and the second capital of Siam. Foreigners were welcomed and international trade and religion prospered. By the middle of the 16th century, Ayutthaya's control spread throughout the entire Central Plains.

With such a diverse group of ethnic backgrounds, a myriad of artistic and architectural styles created cultural wonders that have stood the test of time and have garnered the merit of being national treasures. Aside from the structures, younger generations preserved their unique culture and folk traditions.

Many interesting attractions lie in this region. In Bangkok you'll find it all, from famed palace grounds and temples to entertaining theme parks and cultural centers. The nearby provinces provide nice, one-day excursions, whether you choose to go to Ayutthaya to polish up on your Thai history or throw yourself at Pattaya for some fun and sun.



NORTH THAILAND

The North is characterized by densely forested mountainous regions, inhabited by Thailand's many colorful hilltribe people. Adventurous exploration of this beautiful area is possible by trekking, river rafting, mountain biking, and even elephant safaris. Chiang Mai is the principal northern city and is a good base from which to explore the surrounding countryside.

Excavated remains and ancient manuscripts indicate the Northern region was the heart of two main kingdoms that flourished prosperously in those days. The first of these was the Yonok Kingdom, founded by King Singhanawat at an unknown date. He established Chiang Saen as his administrative center and the kingdom prospered under the rule of many successive monarchs until its fall in the 17th century Buddhist Era (mid-11th century AD). In 1262, King Mengrai founded Chiang Rai as the first town under his rule at the mere age of 23. He gathered up all neighboring towns, including the once mighty Haripunachai Kingdom in Lamphun, and established Chiang Mai town as the center of the renowned Lanna Kingdom.

The Northern people have a distinctive melodic and sweet-sounding northern dialect, testimony to the peace-loving, gentle, kind, and hospitable characteristic of these people. From these hands come many fine, superior handicraft products. So popular are these handicrafts that they almost are synonymous with Thailand.



NORTH EAST THAILAND

The areas of the Northeastern regions, comprising one-third of the Kingdom's total area, is situated on the elevated Khorat plateau with clear demarcations from the other regions. The Phu Pan mountain ranges run down the middle of the plateau, effectively dividing the region into 2 parts, the Mekong River Valley and the Khorat Plains. The numerous archeological sites of ancient civilization and dinosaurs in Khon Kaen, Loei and Kalasin provinces led to significant discoveries, and more new ones are being unearthed daily.

Though the area is comprised of many diverse minority groups, locals exist in peaceful harmony with each other. Often characterized as hard working, they are also artistically creative, as seen in the exquisite designs on silk cloths and other handicraft products.

Though it is considered the nation's poorest region because of its arid, infertile soils, this region is rich in culture and historical heritage sites influenced heavily by the Khmer Empire of old. Beautiful natural scenery and wonderful people, plus a tantalizingly spicy cuisine and exquisite silk productions entice visitors to this part of the Kingdom.

 

EASTERN THAILAND

Plains mixed with low, rolling hills make up the eastern region. The Chantaburi mountain range runs west along the eastern coastline until it hits the Phanom Dong Rak mountain range, which runs north to south. The former mountain range provides a natural boundary between Thailand and Cambodia. Long, pristine strips of deserted beach and islands scattered on the sea provide a tranquil setting for those in search of paradise.

The temperate climate and furtile soil in this region makes it productive for fruit farming. The region is renowned for its plentiful harvest of exotic tropical fruits, especially rambutans, durians, mangosteens, and pineapples.

 

 


SOUTHERN THAILAND

Southern Thailand has it all: forests, mountains, waterfalls, beaches, caves, lakes, and islands. The long and wide stretch of eastern coastline gradually slopes into the shallow Gulf of Thailand, while the more rugged terrain of the western side drops abruptly into the deep Andaman Sea. Though it is in a tropical zone and the weather is generally hot, there is constant rainfall year-round due to the 2 monsoon seasons. During May to September, the southwest monsoon creates large waves on the Andaman side. The northeast monsoon wrecks its havoc on the Gulf of Thailand coastlines during the months of November to February.

Historical records showed that the Malay Penisula was formerly a central commerce center with many prosperous towns. The Srivijaya Empire (7th-13th century), based in present day Sumatra, was the first prominent force on the Malay Penisula. After that empire fell, independent states emerged, with Nakhon Si Thammarat being one of the more dominant ones. When the Ayutthaya Kingdom expanded their coverage to the south, Nakhon Si Thammarat became the center of governance from which to rule the entire Malay Peninsula.

Because of its strategic location, it benefited from trade with China, India and other foreigners at an earlier age than the rest of the country. Along with trade came exposure to new religion. During the 9th-12th century, trade with Persia and Arab nations prospered, and so did the Islamic religion. Aside from Buddhists and Islamic people, the South is comprised of the "chao ley" or sea village people. These peace-loving, dark-skinned, aquatic nomads believe in animism and follow their unique way of life. Southerners are known for their perseverance, wit, and strong and definitive determination.

Southern Thai food is very flavorful and can be quite piquant. However, it is the fresh seafood that has really made the south stand out from the rest of the country.

   

   


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