Getting Into and Around Thailand


A Brief History of Thailand

Stretching a long arm southward along the Gulf of Thailand, the bulk of this ancient country is contained in the central plains, northern mountains and the Khorat Plateau to the northeast. Archeologists have found ancient ruins from hunter-gatherer cultures as far back as 6000 years. Just over 2000 years ago, the local hunters settled down and turned to farming in the area. They were eventually overrun in the 10th century by Cambodians that came from Southern China.

The Portuguese were the first Westerners to arrive in 1511. The Dutch, English and French arrived over the next century and a half. Eventually, one official invited French soldiers into the country. Thailand expelled all foreigners and closed its borders to the Western world. It was eventually overrun by the people of Myanmar, but recovered after a few years and expelled them. After this time, the country of Thailand became more aggressive. They took over both Laos and Cambodia, but lost them both to France.

Thailand is now a constitutional monarchy. The government has been run for centuries by various legislatures. All owe allegiance to the Thai Royal Family. The King is a figurehead to represent the country. Bangkok is the largest city as well as the current capital. This is where the official religion is Buddhism is acknowledged. Temples have been built throughout the coastal jungles, mountains and plains. Many built in the tropical coastal areas have been overrun by vegetation.

There are 22 islands in the Gulf of Thailand associated with the country. Each one boasts white sand beaches in blue tropical waters. Not heavily settled, few have amenities for visitors. Many are open during the day unless visitors want to camp in tents. The people of Thailand have yet to exploit their beautiful ocean islands for tourism.