The only country in the region never ruled by a European power, the Kingdom of Thailand was known as Siam until the middle of the 20th century. Its king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, has reigned for over 60 years. The capital city of Bangkok is an important centre for much of South-East Asia in the spheres of the arts, fashion, education, politics, and entertainment. Walking its streets, or taking a boat ride on its canals, reveals Bangkok to be a colourful and vibrant city that has an important part to play in any visit to Thailand. Travel north to the temple-strewn town of Chiang Mai and a different Thailand is revealed - a tranquil world of mountains and jungle, elephants and exotic hilltribes such as the Karen. Trek on village paths to waterfalls and hidden villages of Um Phang, to discover the real Thailand. In the south of the country, the Malay Peninsula extends into the Andaman Sea and idyllic resorts such as Ao Nang offer the chance of a bit of down-time amongst limestone cliffs, palm trees and long white beaches.


Thailand is bordered to the west by Myanmar/Burma and the Indian Ocean, to the south and east by Malaysia and the Gulf of Thailand, to the east by Cambodia, and to the north and east by Laos. Central Thailand is dominated by the Chao Phraya River. The fertile floodplain and tropical monsoon climate, ideally suited to wet-rice (tham na) cultivation, attracted settlers to this central area over to the marginal uplands and the highlands of the northern region or the Khorat Plateau to the northeast. By the 11th century AD, a number of loosely connected rice-growing and trading states flourished in the upper Chao Phraya Valley. They broke free from domination of the Khmer Empire, but from the middle of the 14th century gradually came under the control of the Ayutthaya Kingdom at the southern extremity of the floodplain. Successive capitals, built at various points along the river, became centres of great Thai kingdoms based on rice cultivation and foreign commerce. Unlike the neighbouring Khmer and Burmese, the Thai continued to look outward across the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea toward foreign ports of trade. When European imperialism brought a new phase in Southeast Asian commerce in the late 1800s, Thailand (known then as Siam) was able to maintain its independence as a buffer zone between British-controlled Burma to the west and French-dominated Indochina to the east, but losing over 50% of its territory in the process. Fortunately, most of the areas lost contained a non-Thai population. The Thai-speaking heartland remained intact.

Time Zone

Thailand Time Zone is GMT +7hrs