Some people will fly directly into Phuket, Koh Samui or other resorts; others will head to Bangkok and others to the north to Chang Mai. Many people want to experience all three of these sights. There's a lot to see and do in Thailand.

Here on these pages we have set down some information to give you some ideas as to what you can see and do here in Thailand.

Thailand is one of the most popular and colourful Tourist destinations in the world and for good reason. There is no other country like it. It's hot, tropical and exotic with great food – a land of a million smiles.

Some people will come to Thailand and head directly to a resort to swim, laze around a pool and beaches, have a Spa, enjoy great food, cocktails and just relax. Others will come to Thailand heading to a cooking school, others to soak up the culture, see temples, orchids, markets, festivals, ride an elephant, to buy jewellery, silk, clothes, gifts, to enjoy the night life and bars or maybe a whole mix of activities, shopping, adventure sports, or even just to escape winter in their home city.

Whatever your reason for coming to Thailand there is a lot to do – and of course there are the people – some of the nicest people you will ever meet.

If heading to a resort or beach, bring your sun tan lotion and hat, though you can buy both here, and just in case, bring some 'charcoal tablets' just in case some food doesn't agree with you.

Over the past 30 years or so, Thai restaurants have spread out around the world and in many countries Thai Restaurants can be found in even the smallest cities.

If you like tasty spicy food, Thailand is definitely the country to head to and here in Thailand you can see, eat and experience Thai food in its home country with all its authentic spices, taste and presentation.

Always, as in many countries, as a tourist you stand out, and that can be good with people being really friendly with you, but there is also a downside. You can be the target of petty thieves and other criminals, so always be mindful of where you are and keep valuables including your passport in your hotel safe. Always keep a separate copy of your passport somewhere too. A thief on a motorbike can very quickly whip your bag off your shoulder and snatch your wallet from your back pocket or a gold chain from your neck, and it is not just the loss that affects you but also the trauma involved.

Sawadee khrup/ka (Hello)   WELCOME TO THAILAND!

When you think of Asia and back to the Colonial era – you would recall that the Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, French and British were all had empires that encompassed much of South East Asia – the Dutch in the Spice Islands (Indonesia), Malaysia, and the Portuguese and British; Britain also in Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar); the Spanish in the Philippines and the French in Indo-China, what became Vietnam and Cambodia.

Thailand, named Siam until 1939 was never conquered by any Colonial power, so it has little European colonial past, though Colonial trade did happen and there is a Western Quarter in the old part of the City beside the Chao Phraya River.

Thailand also has a revered Royal Family and is also largely Buddhist (about 95%) with the Buddhist religion playing an important role in Thai society and way of life. You will see many Buddhist Temples (Temple Wats) in Thailand.

There are thousands of teachings on Buddhism and the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni that date back to the start of the religion in 624 BC, and there are monks who spend their whole life on earth studying these teachings and performing a daily ritual involving times of prayer, meditation, chanting and other activities.

Here in Thailand there are also novice Monks, (boys) who are ordained as a Novice Monk for a short time, maybe a few months - their hair and eyebrows shaved and wearing an orange robe covering one shoulder.

One of the interesting things to note is that in Thailand the Buddha sculptures and depictions of Buddha are of a skinny Buddha, not like the fat laughing Buddha that you see in China and other cultures.

While you might not be a Buddhist, the principles of Buddhism can be applied to all people on earth.

Every person on earth experiences at different times anger, jealousy, hatred, greed, envy and ignorance. These are what are called negative thoughts, but equally there are time when we all experience love, compassion, wisdom – and these are positive thoughts. An 'age of enlightenment' comes when there are no more negative thoughts existing, only positive ones. For most people they will never attain this age, but all can work towards it. One can then look at this balance of negative and positive thoughts on a daily basis, or a weekly basis, a year or as a whole life experience, and the easiest and most gentle way to do this is through a smile and by being happy and content. You may not get to Nirvana, but you can apply the principles of Buddhism in your daily life.

As a Tourist traveller you definitely can pick up on some of the Buddhist values being expressed, and even the simple act of bringing two hands together, touching your chin and bowing your hands and head  forward when greeting someone as a form of respect, brings with it its own 'feel good feeling' or karma. In a way it is a very calming act, something that aligns with the Thai Character and Buddhist ideals.

Watch a Thai boxing match and it is anything other than calm, and it is one of the most popular sports in Thailand, but even here there is a ritual where each boxer before boxing kneels and bows his head to the floor to show respect to both his trainer and to the spirit of boxing.

Thailand has a hot humid climate and every day of the year the temperature will be around 25 to 30⁰C (70 to 90⁰F) with the rainy season lasting from around June to October. While you could be unlucky and find the rain lasts all day long, often the rain comes as a massive downpour in the afternoon and the rest of the day is clear and sunny. Once the downpour has stopped, you will see the rain rapidly evaporate, steam coming off the roads as it does so. The busiest tourist season in Thailand is around Christmas – November to February.

Happy Travelling!

Geoff Stuart

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