The Country of Thailand
Thailand lies in South East Asia, bordered by Laos to the north; Burma and Cambodia, to the west and east respectively; and Malaysia to the south. Thailand is approximately three-quaters of the size of Texas. The climate is tropical with May through November being the rainy season in most of the country. December through March it is generally mild and clear and April is typically unbearably hot.
Ninety-eight percent of the population is Buddhist, the remainder being Muslims and Christians. Numerous Buddhist wats (temples) are seen in every city and village throughout the country, evidencing beautiful art and craftsmenship.
Elephants, rhinoceros, tiger, leopards, gaur, water buffalo, gibbon, and hornbills are indigineous to Thailand. Crocodiles and fifty species of snake, including several poisonous ones, are some of the more fearsome animals in Thailand today.
Thailand is made up of four major regions:
- The North, which is mountainous,
- the Northeast (the Khorat Plateau), a low barren area bordered by the Mekong River;
- the Central Plain, surrounding Bangkok; and
- the Southern peninsula bordered by the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.
The North you will find Chiang Mai, an ancient city, which is the center of the North. Various Hilltribes reside in the surrounding areas, offering tourists trekking opportunities. Doi Inthanon, Thailand's highest peak, is just a short trip from Chiang Mai.
The Northeast (Issan) , is the least touristed region. Beautiful Khmer ruins are preserved in the Khorat Plateau, from the same time period as Angor Wat in Cambodia. The muddy Mekong River marks the border between the two countries.
Central Thailand, the most fertile region, includes Bangkok. The Chao Phraya River creates a boat highway through the city, sometimes referred to as Asia's Venice. Much of the country's rice is grown in this region. The ancient capital of Ayuthaya is an interesting stop over, just north of Bangkok.
Southern Thailand usually refers to the area south of Bangkok and continuing down into the finger-like Isthmus of Kra, a narrow strip of land bordered on the west by Burma, and widening out down to the border wtih Malaysia. The Isthmus is climactically and geographically dramatic, getting the longest monsoon in the country and with striking rock formations and cliffs lining its coasts.
In the South, Phuket , a famous international resort island, lies in the Andaman Sea. You will find three island gems,in the Gulf of Thailand Koh Samui, Koh Phang Ngan, and Koh Tao. Koh Tao is the smallest with excellent diving. Koh Phang Ngan is the scene for the famous Full Moon Party. Samui is just a couple hours flight from Bangkok, so it is the most developed of the three. Jungles and swamps are scattered through the Southern coastal areas, with extensive stands of tropical trees, like rattan. A wide variety of tropical plants are found, including orchids, twenty types of bananas, mangos, coconuts, and many exotic fruits.
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