Essay, Research Paper
Thailand is approximately the size of France with a land area of 513,115 sq.km. bordered by Malaysia (South), Myanmar (West and North), Laos (North and East) and Cambodia (Southeast). It has five distinct regions: the mountainous north, the fertile central plains, the semi-arid northeast, and the eastern sea-shore provinces and the tropical south. There are 76 provinces.
Total 59,095,419 (end 1994), including 29,552,978 males and 29,542,441 females. Of the total, 9.45% lived in Bangkok.
Thai is the national language, spoken throughout the Kingdom, with some variations in the north and the south. English is widely understood in major cities. Major road and street signs are in English and Thai for convenience.
Theravada Buddhism is the State Religion and embraced by 90% of all Thais. Practically all Thai males enter the monkhood once in their life-time to study the teachings of the Lord Buddha.
Buddhist 94.82%, Muslim 4.00% (concentrated mostly in the south), Christian 0.55%, others 0.63%.
Time in Thailand is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+ 7).
Thailand enjoys a tropical climate with 3 distinct seasons summer from March through May, rainy with plenty of sunshine from June to September and cool from October through February. The average annual temperature is 28.C (83.F), ranging, in Bangkok, for example, from 30.C in April to 25.C in December.
A constitutional monarchy headed King Bhumibol Adulyadej, with 76 provinces, each sub-divided into umper, tambon and moobarn (as similar to district, county and village).
No inoculations or vaccinations are required unless you are coming from or passing through contaminated areas, Yellow fever certificates are required for those who are coming from 14 following countries; Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Angola, Barkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Nigeria, Sudan and Zaire. Note: Please check the latest regulations with your local Health Office.
Normally the tropical climate calls for washable-cotton, light and loose dresses with comfortable shoes or sandals. During the Cool Season visitors are advised to bring a sweater or a jacket. Umbrellas are necessary during the Rainy Season.
220 volts 50 cycles throughout the country.
It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers and cinema ushers. It is customary to tip hotel personnel who have given good personal servi ce. A 10% tip is appreciated in restaurants, particularly where service charge is waived.
How to get to Thailand
Bangkok is Thailand’s major gateway. Most visitors arrive through Bangkok’s Don Muang International Airport which is connected by daily flights to Europe, North America, Asia and Australia aboard the world’s major airlines. Further international flights, mostly from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Hong Kong, land on a less regular basis at the southern airports of Phuket and Hat Yai and Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Charter flights from Europe and the Orient sometimes land in Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai and at U-Taphao for Pattaya.
Regular rail services link Singapore and Bangkok. Intermediary stops include Kuala Lumpur, Butterworth and major southern Thai towns.
Overland entrance to Thailand is restricted to three road crossings on the Thai-Malaysian border in Songkhla, Yala and Narathiwat.
There are no regular steamship connections with Thailand. Cargo ships calling at Bangkok’s Klong Toey port sometimes have passenger cabin facilities. Cruise ships, such as Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth II, Royal Viking, or Pearl of Scandinavia periodically visit Pattaya.
Travel within Thailand
Domestic air, rail and road transport in Thailand is surprisingly inexpensive.
Thai Airways International, Thailand’s national airline, flies to five destinations in the North, five in the Northeast, and seven in the South. Bangkok Airways (Tel: (02) 5237116, 25340′I4-6, 5352497) flies to Samui Island and Phuket. Reservations can be made through any authorised Thai Inter Travel Agent. Thai Airways International’s Lan Luang Office is on 6 Lan Luang Road, Tel: 2800070,2800080. The airline also organises ‘Royal Orchid Holidays’ tours to every destination it flies to.
An efficient rail system links major northern and north-eastern towns with the capital. A southern route permits the visitor to travel by train into IV1alaysia and Singapore. Domestic express trains comprise first, second and third-class carriages. Slower trains may have only third-class seats. The State Railway of Thailand organises one- day, two-day economy tours to various destinations on Saturdays, Sundays and official holidays. Other tours include trips to SuratThani (for Koh Samui), Chumphon and Chiang Mai. Railway schedules can be obtained from Bangkok Railway Station, Tel: 223- 7010, 223-7020.
A modern highway system reaches into all corners of the kingdom. Domestic bus services offer fast means of travel. Airconditioned tour coaches offer more comfort. Bangkok’s Northern / North-eastern Bus Terminal is on Phahonyothin Road, Tel: 2794484-7 (airconditioned) and 2710101-5 (regular) Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal is on Pinklao-Nakhon Chaisri Road, Tel: 4351190, 4351200 (air-conditioned) and 4345558 (regular). Bangkok’s Eastern Bus terminal is on Sukhumvit Road, Tel: 3929227, 3919829 (airconditioned) and 3912504, 3922521 (regular)
Travel inside Bangkok
Public buses are plentiful and cheap, with 3.50 baht minimum and 5 baht maximum fares to most destinations within metropolitan Bangkok. Air- conditioned buses within Bangkok have minimum and maximum fares of 6 and 16 baht respectively. Red and grey Micro-Buses, also air conditioned, cost 25 baht for single journey. A Bus Route Map is available at most hotels, bookshops and the TAT head office for 35 Baht.
Taxis and Tuk Tuks
Hotel taxis have fixed tariffs. Taxis cruising the streets of Bangkok, and designated “taxi-meters” charge 35 baht for the first 3 kilometres and approximately s baht for every kilometre thereafter. Tuk-Tuk or three wheel taxis are quite popular among the tourists for short journeys inside Bangkok. Fares range from a minimum of 30 baht to a maximum of 150 baht. Fares must be bargained for.
There are many boats plying the Chao Phraya River. Some criss-cross between landings on opposite banks while the Chao Phraya Express boats travel upstream and downstream within the metropolises range between 5 and 15 baht.
Thailand is a Buddhist country where Buddha images are held sacred.
Sacrilegious acts are punishable by imprisonment even if commited by foreign visitors.
Thai people hold their King and Queen and the Royal Family in great reverence,
and so won’t tolerate foreigners talking about them in disrespect.
Generally Thai women are conservative. So don’t touch them without their
Dress properly when entering a Buddhist temple. Mini-skirts and shorts are not
allowed. Take your shoes off before going inside the hall of worship. Ladies must not on any account touch a Buddhist monk, give things directly to him or receive things direct from him.
Call Thais their first names; use the title “Khun” for adults.
Don’t touch a person’s head, nor ruffle his hair. The head is the noblest part of the
body. A sincere apology should be offered immediately if you touch someone’s head unintentionally.
Avoid placing your feet on the table while sitting. Never use your foot to point
things out or to touch any part of the body of anyone, which is considered rude.
Entering a Thai house, you’re expected to remove your shoes.
Kissing and hugging around in public is not a custom.
Thais don’t normally shake hands when they greet one another (especially a lady),
but instead press the palms together and one will return the same manner. It is considered to be polite. This is used also to show respect, gratefulness and thankfulness.
The Thai Money (Notes and Coins)
Thai money is called “baht”. There’s also a “satang” and a “salueng” (for loose change in similar to cent and quarter respectively).
One hundred “satangs” make one “baht” … just like one hundred cents make one dollar. One “salueng” is equivalent to 25 satangs (just like a quarter to a 25-cent).
International phone calls can be made quite easily from mid- to upper-level hotels. There is direct dialling to and from more than so countries on five continents. Rates for calling out of the country are normally considerably higher than for calling in so if you expect a long conversation you might save some money by having your party call back if possible. If you can’t call from your hotel, go to the General Post Office (GPO) on New Road, or major post offices, and call from special booths for overseas calls
Thailand’s mail service is reliable and efficient. Major hotels provide basic postal services on their premises. Bangkok’s Central G.P.O. on New Road is open from 8.00 AM to 6.00 PM, Mondays through Fridays, and from 9.00 AM to 1.00 PM on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays. Telegrams may be sent at any time of the day or night. Upcountry post offices maintain similar hours, except that they close at 4.30 PM.
Telex and Fax
All better hotels will offer complete telex, telegraph and facsimile (”fax”) services. The GPO offers telex service around-the-clock. Numerous private businesses offer such facilities; most often in conjunction with translation services.
Thai cuisine is distinctive, thanks to liberal use of spicy ingredients, and combines the best of Chinese and Indian culinary traditions – - noodles, curries, sweet and sour dishes, lengthily cooked and fast-cooked ingredients, exotic spices and condiments – while retaining its own very special character.
Chinese food in Thailand, normally quite bland is second to none. Major European, Levantine, Asian and Oriental cuisine are represented in gourmet restaurants. American, English and Continental breakfasts are served in most hotels and numerous, ubiquitous coffeeshops specia1ise in European dishes. Western-style fast food shops, snack bars and ice-cream parlours gain increasing popularity with Thais.
Restaurants and Food shops
Food parks, or centres, usually in large shopping malls and hotels, are unusual Thai ventures. Numerous restaurants offer every imaginable type of Asian cuisine and huge colour pictures of dishes assist diners in their choices. Open-air garden restaurants, and riverine restaurants, are more peaceful and are favoured in the evenings by most Bangkokians. Menus are extensive. Service is prompt. Prices are reasonable. All kinds of regional Thai food can be sampled. Special dinners can be enjoyed on boats cruising the Chao Phraya River. Soft breezes, candlelight dining and distant music create romantic moods. Seafood restaurants are also popular. They offer a wide choice of fresh ingredients, charcoal grilled or broiled to individual requests, and a fine selection of local and imported wines. Some tourist-oriented restaurants present selected Thai classical and folk dances. Guests sit around low tables, often in traditional surroundings, with teak panelling and floors, classic paintings and precious porcelain. A combination of Thai cuisine, music, silk, orchids and graceful dances creates memorable evenings.
This developed as a form of self-defence during the Ayutthaya period (13so-17sv). Boxers are forbidden to wrestle or bite. However, they may kick, shove and push and unreservedly use bare feet, legs, elbows and shoulders, besides fists, to batter each other into submission. Thai boxing is featured throughout the week at Bangkok’s Ratchadamnoen Stadium (Monday, Wednesday. Thursday and Sunday) and Lumphini Stadium (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday)
This sport is traditionally played by a loosely formed circle of men who use feet, knees, thighs, chests and shoulders to acrobatically pass a woven rattan ball to each other, endeavouring to keep it airborne, and eventually kick it into a basket suspended above their heads.
During Hot Season months, particularly March and April, opposing teams fly male Chula and female Pakpao kites in a surrogate battle of the sexes. The small, agile Pakpao kite tries to fell the more cumbersome Chula while the male kite tries to ensnare the female kite and drag it back into male territory.
All visitors entering Thailand must possess valid passports.
Visitors from the following countries may now visit Thailand for up to 30 days without requiring visas: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Djibouti, Kenya, Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovenian, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Vanuatu, Western Samoa and Yemen.
Validity of Visas
Every kind of visa is valid for a so-day period from the date of issue
Length of Stay
Transit Visa 30 days
Tourist Visa 60 days
non-immigrant Visa 90 days
Note: Please check the period of stay stamped in your passport by the Immigration officer. Visitors who overstay their visa will, at the time of their departure, be fined 100 Baht for each excess day.
Apply for extensions of stay at the Immigration office. Fee 500 baht.
Application fee for re-entry permit is 500 baht.
All kinds of narcotics (hemp, opium, cocaine, morphine, heroin), obscene literature, pictures or articles. Fire Arms: Importation of firearms and ammunition can be done only after a permit has been obtained from The Police Department or local Registration Office Personal Effects: A reasonable amount of clothing for personal use, toilet articles, and professional instruments may be brought in free of duty. Cameras: One still-camera or one movie camera can be brought in without duty. Five rolls of still-camera film or three rolls of 8 or 16 m.m. movie-camera film may be brought in free of duty. Tobacco, Alcoholic Beverages: Cigarettes, cigars, or smoking tobacco each or in total must not exceed 250 grams in weight but cigarettes not exceeding 200 in quantity. One litre each of wine or spirits may be brought in free of duty. Household Effects: A reasonable amount of used household effects, accompanied by the owner on change of domicile are also free of duty. Plants and Animals: Certain species of fruits, vegetables and plants are prohibited. Please contact the Agricultural Regulatory Division, Bangkhen, Bangkok, Tel: 5791581, 5793576 for details. A permission of Entry for animals coming in by air can be obtained at the airport. If by sea, application must be made at the Department of Livestock Development, Bangkok, Tel: 2515136, 2526944. Vaccination certificates are required.
Export of Antiques
Objets D’Art from The Kingdom of Thailand
Buddha images, Bodhisattva images or fragments thereof are forbidden to be taken out of Thailand. (With the exceptions only for worshipping by Buddhists; or cultural exchanges; or studying purposes. A license must be obtained from the Department of Fine. Arts).
A license must be obtained from the Department of Fine Arts in order that such objects of antiquity or objects of art, irrespective of whether they are original, or reproductions, may be taken out of the country.
Procedure for license application:
Photograph the front view of objects and make two postcard-size prints (not more than 5 pieces in one photograph)
The passport of the applicant must be photocopied
Objects together with photographs and applicant’s passport with photocopy must be taken to:
The National Museums Division, Bangkok
The Chiang Mai National Museum, Chiang Mai
The Songkhla National Museum,
Songkhla at least four to seven days before the date of shipment or departure of the applicant in order to process the application and for inspection. For further information, telephone the Bangkok. National Museum at 2261661
What to Buy in Thailand
Thai silks, cottons, nielloware, silverware, bronzeware, pottery and celadon, pewterware, precious stones and finished jewellery, and a dazzling range of folk handicrafts make memorable gifts and souvenirs; international standard readymade sports and leisurewear is inexpensive; and quality tailors and dressmakers offer reliable 24-hour services in Bangkok and major tourism destinations.
Suan Mok, a 120-acre forest temple in Chaiya district, Surat Thani province, some 580 kilometres south of Bangkok, attracts and accepts meditators from all over the world. Meditation opportunities are also found in Bangkok, particularly at Wat Mahathat (facing Sanam Luang), Wat Pak Nam, Wat Chonprathan Rangsit, Wat Phrathammakai and Banglamphu’s Wat Bowon Nivet where English language instruction is available.
The recently opened Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, 28 kilometres outside Lampang on the main highway to Chiang Mai, has replaced the former Elephant Training School at Ngao. Logging training sessions for young elephants are held daily at 9.00 AM in an attractive forest setting, and visitors are welcome.
Most popularly originating from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, these 2-6 day treks take visitors through forested mountains and high meadows in what are, actually, the lower extremities of Himalayan foothills. Major attractions are remote hilltribe villages. Mountains surrounding Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai host seven major, once-itinerant hill tribes of Tibeto- Burman origin the Meo, Lisu, Lahu, Yao, Akha, Lawa and Karen. Each have distinctive dialects, costumes and customs.
Several establishments in the suburbs of Bangkok, and in Chiang Mai and Chonburi province welcome visitors who may wish to admire, purchase or learn more about these fabled blooms.
Traditional Thai Massage
Courses are taught principally in Bangkok’s Wat Pho, “home” of traditional Thai massage. Thai massage is also offered in Wat Mahathat and Wat Parinayok, both in Bangkok.
Wildlife Sanctuaries / National Parks
Thailand has some so national parks and wildlife sanctuaries covering more than 25,000 square kilometres. Evenly spread throughout the kingdom, such places afford nature lovers opportunities to enjoy Thai flora and fauna in unspoiled surroundings. The most popular in terms of convenient accessibility and immediately visible attractions are as follows: Khao Yai National Park lies some 200 kilometres north-east of Bangkok, covers more than 540,000 acres, has an average elevation of 800 metres and a highest peak of 1,351 metres. The park supports elephants, tigers, bears, giant hornbills and other protected wildlife, countless species of wild flowers, trees and spectacular waterfalls. Doi Inthanon National Park in Chiang Mai province covers Thailand’s highest mountain (2,565 metres). Forest above 1,800 metres is covered with lichens and wild orchids while at lower levels several lovely waterfalls share the mountainside with Meo and Karen hilltribe villages. Ko Samet in Rayong province is the focal point of a Marine National Park. The narrow, 6 kilometre long island numbers among Thailand’s most beautiful islands and is fringed by splendid beaches, dazzling coral reefs and limpid waters ideal for snorkelling and scuba-diving. Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi province is extremely popular. The mountainside forest setting contains the seven-tiered Erawan Waterfall, widely regarded as one of Thailand’s loveliest cascades. Sam Roi Yot National Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan province provided major settings for the award-winning movie The Killing Fields. A multi- peaked, thinly forested limestone mass rises majestically from coastal marshes that host numerous waterfowl species. Caves, islands, fine beaches and frequently seen wildlife comprise major attractions. Khu Khut Waterfowl Park in Songkhla province occupies 520 square kilometres of the Great Songkhla Lake and hosts some 140 resident and migratory species. Ao Phang Nga National Park in Phang Nga province featured prominently in the James Bond movie The Man With The Golden Gun. Verdant limestone islands, honeycombed with caves and aquatic grottoes, soar perpendicularly from almost perpetually calm waters. Major attractions include prehistoric rock paintings and a stilted Muslim fishing village. Tarutao Marine National Park in Satun province, 31 kilometres off the southern Thai coast near the Thai-Malaysian Indian Ocean maritime border, is a 51-island cluster covering some 1,400 square kilometres, and offers some of Southeast Asia’s best scuba-diving waters. Ko Samui and Ang Thong Marine National Park, covering an area of over 250 square kilometres, is located in Surat Thani province and composed of various islands noted for silvery sand and colourful coral reefs. Access to the islands can be made either from Ban Don, Surat Thani or Don Sak in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Thai fruits including mangoes, mangosteens, durians, pineapples, watermelons, papayas, rambutans, longans, lyches, tamarinds, pomegranates, palm fruits, oranges, pomeloes, jackfruits and more than 20 kinds of bananas- – are available all year round. From January to April, grapes, jackfruits, java apples, tangerines, watermelons and pomegranates are in season. Next corne mangoes, lyches, pineapples, durians and mangosteens. From July on, longans will ripen, and also langsats, jujubes, passionfruits, pomeloes, rambutans, sugar apples and again tangerines, grapes, water- melons. bananas, coconuts, guavas and papayas are available throughout the year. Some harvests are celebrated in style, with colourful festivals, sometimes featuring a pageant of local beauties. In early April, the Paet Riu Mango Festival is organized in Chachoengsao. Probably the most popular and typical of Thai fruits, the mango deserves this honour. In May, Songkhla promotes its fruits with a bazaar, fruit carving demonstrations and a Miss Southern Thailand Pageant. In June, Chanthaburi exhibits delicious provincial fruits, including the king of them all, the exquisitely delicious durian. In September, to honour pomeloes, a fruit and floral float procession is held in Nakhon Pathom, near Bangkok.
Arts and Crafts
During 1976, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit established the Foundation for the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques, popularly known as SUPPORT, with the object of giving rural Thais alternative sources of income and also of reviving some of the kingdorn’s traditional crafts. The result has been a variety of beautiful items available in Thailand through a chain of outlets called Chitrlada Shops. Five Chitrlada Shops are located in Bangkok: on the ground floor of the Decorations PaviIion in the Grand Palace: in the Oriental Plaza shopping centre; in the shopping arcade of the Hilton International Bangkok Hotel; in the compound of Wimanmek Mansion; and at Don Muang International Airport. Others can be found at the Rose Garden in Nakhon Pathom province, in South Pattaya, and at the Chiang Mai Airport. Among the SUPPORT products to be found in these shops are handwoven silks from the Northeast, particularly in subtle ikat designs known in Thai as rnat-mi; elegant yan liphao handbags, made from a vine that grows in southern Thailand and often adorned with gold fittings; jewellery in distinctive designs; supple Thai cotton in classic patterns; T-shirts with motifs designed by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn; and numerous moderately-priced souvenirs. All funds raised from the sale of these crafts go to the SUPPORT project.
Festivals and Annual Events
Thais are fun-loving, sentimental people and annual festivals, both commemorative and celebrative, play important roles in Thai life. Many Thai festivals are joyful, colourful events that invite visitors’ participation. Others feature solemn, eminently photogenic ceremonial. Whatever their character, whether dazzling processions, Buddhist devotion, uninhibited merriment or exotic ritual, each affords the visitor pleasant memories and insights into the cultural heritage that makes Thailand Asia’s most exotic country. Most festivals are connected either with Buddhism, the annual rice-farming cycle, or commemorations honouring Thai kings. Some occur on fixed dates. Others, particularly those associated with Buddhism, are determined by the lunar calendar. Many merit national holidays. Chronologically, Thailand’s major festivals, and events, are as follows:
Full-moon day, February National holiday This commemorates the occasion when 1,250 disciples spontaneously gathered to hear the Buddha preach. Merit-making, such as offering food to monks, and freeing captive birds and fishes, is interspersed with sermons throughout the day. After sunset, Buddhist monks lead the laity in a lovely triple candlelit circumambulation of Buddhist chapels throughout the kingdom. Each person silently carries flowers, glowing incense and lighted candles in homage to the Buddha, his teaching and his disciples.
Usually early February. At Chiang Mai, 700 kilometres north of Bangkok. This annual event features displays, floral floats, and beauty contests when the province’s temperate and tropical flowers are in full bloom.
Early April. Thailand’s premier beach resort celebrates with beauty parades, floral floats, and special events, Highlights include a spectacular beach-side firework display.
April 13 – 15. National holiday, April 12 14 Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year and is celebrated with special elan in Chiang Mai where because it occurs during a time of relative leisure, it becomes a 3-5 day carousel of religious merit-making, pilgrimages, beauty parades, dancing and uninhibited, good-natured water throwing.
Songkran Festival, Amphoe Phra Pradaeng
The second week of April. The Mon community of Phra Pradaeng district, Samut Prakan province, just south of Bangkok, celebrates Songkran with similar festivities.
Royal Ploughing Ceremony
Usually early May, at Bangkok’s Sanam Luang. This ceremony marks official commencement of the annual rice-planting cycle. Presided over by His Majesty the King, elaborate Brahman ritual and ceremonial combine to provide predictions concerning the forthcoming rice crop.
The second weekend of May, and best seen in Yasothon, north-east Thailand. Prior to the annual monsoons, Northeast villagers construct gigantic rockets to fire into the sky to ‘ensure’ plentiful rain during the forthcoming rice season. The Rocket Festival is traditionally a period for letting off steam before ardous field work begins in earnest, and features beauty parades, folk dances, ribald and high-spirited revelry before the rockets are ceremoniously launched.
Full Moon day, May. National holiday. Visakha Puja is the holiest of all Buddhist holy days, and marks the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. Merit-making and ceremonial are identical to Makha Puja,
Fruits Fairs Countrywide
These annual fairs feature delicious provincial fruits -including rambutan, durian, jackfruits and pomeloes, and feature cultural displays, exhibitions and folk art. Major provinces that celebrate fruits fairs include Rayong, Chanthaburi, Chachoengsao and Hat Yai in Songkhla.
H.M. the Queen’s Birthday
August 12. National holiday Nation-wide celebrations find particular focus in Bangkok where government buildings are decorated and illuminated at night with coloured lights.
Ok Phansa & Thot Kathin
During October. Ok Phansa celebrates the end of the Rains Retreat and introduces the Kathin period when, throughout Thailand, the Buddhist laity present monks with new robes and other items deemed necessary for the monkhood’s upkeep during the forthcoming monastic year.
During October. Phuket islanders of Chinese ancestry commit themselves to a vegetarian diet for nine days. The festival’s first day features a parade of white-clothed devotees and several ascetic displays.
October. The Kathin period marks the official end of the Rains Season and is the time for country fairs, many of which feature regattas. Nan, 790 kilometres north of Bangkok, has famous boat races, Other noteworthy regattas are held in Surat Thani, Phichit, Nakhon Phanom and Pathurnthani.
Full-moon night of November. This is Thailand’s loveliest festival when under the full moon, Thais float away onto rivers and waterways, Krathongs, small lotus-shaped banana- leaf boats containing a lighted candle, glowing incense, a flower and small coin to honour, it is believed, the water spirits, and to wash away the previous year’s sins.
Third weekend of November, Surin, north-east Thailand. Some 100 elephants participate in this popular event. Between folk dances and traditional cultural performances, these versatile behemoths star in displays of time-honoured wild elephant hunts, demonstrations of intelligence, strength, gentility and obedience, and the spectacular re-enactment of a medieval war elephant parade.
River Kwai Bridge Week
Late November, early December, Kanchanaburi, western Thailand. Features a thrilling son et lumiere show at the world-famous bridge. Archaeological and historical exhibitions, sparkling folk culture performances and rides on trains hauled by World War II vintage steam locomotives number among other attractions.
H.M. the King’s Birthday
December 5. National holiday. On December 3, the elite Royal Guards swear anew their allegiance to His Majesty King Bhumibol in a colourful and stirring ceremony in Bangkok’s Royal Plaza. On December 5, festivities occur throughout Thailand. Customarily, government buildings and houses are decorated with spectacular illuminations at night. Night-time Bangkok, particularly in the Ratchadamnoen Avenue and Grand Palace area, becomes a floodlit fairyland of coloured lights.