Renowned by its unequaled ethnical heritage and social traditions, this truly exotic Oriental kingdom greatly enjoys its unique look with spicy smells, sweet sounds, and above all, the smiling hospitality of its charming people. Imparted with the fascinating deeply rooted culture, delicious Thai cooking, and delightful tropical fruits, ideal golden sand beaches, and superb golf courses, the outstanding dining flavors, and shopping bargains set apart so much incomparable nightlife festivities. Amidst many other utmost temptations are the far-famed Muay Thai Boxing and renowned Thai massages, much relaxing the body and mind. For further details refer to the pages entitled Pattaya and Massage Parlors in Pattaya.
Thailand Profile, Demography, and Geography
Kingdom of Thailand (Ratcha Anachak Thai) is situated at the heart of Southeast Asia in the Gulf of Thailand (Siam) covering an area of 513,120 km², roughly the size of France. Thailand population is estimated (2009) at 65 million, the vast majority of whom are of Thai ethnicity. An ethnic group, as presumed by historians, had originated in the northern areas of Asia and then steadily migrated further south. Being detached from external civilizations for the most part of its two and half Millennia long and full of mysteries history, not so long ago the Kingdom of Thailand had widely opened its gates, turning into the major Southeast Asia tourist destination.
An abundance of plant life and animal forms
Broadly speaking, Thailand borders troubled countries of the region, as shown on the Regional Map. Myanmar (Burma) is on the Northwest of Thailand, Malaysia on the South alongside the Malay Peninsula, Cambodia on the Southeast, and Laos on the East along the Mekong River.
Far and away infamous for its opium growing activities, the Golden Triangle converges Thailand's northernmost jungle area at the border point with Laos and Burma. Golden Triangle lies on the spit of land formed by joins of the Ruak River and the mighty Mekong River. Myanmar lies across the Ruak River and Laos is across the Mekong. Opium poppies are started growing in September-October and are harvested during February-March. After flowering, the bulbs are scribed with a razor at ~20 cuts per bulb. A milky sap seeps out and blackens as it oxidizes. Rub off some with a spoon and it is ready for smoke. It only takes about a gram of that substance for a smoke. Five kilograms of sap will extract some five grams of heroin.
Thailand ClimateBeing located in the tropical climatic zone (merely two fingers above the Equator), there are only two major seasons that is possible to distinguish in Thailand:
• The Rainy Season (a so-called Monsoon Season) is from June until September, and
• The Dry Season is the rest of the year.
These two seasons, the wet and the dry, rule the year. And albeit the fact that Al Nino effect had altered a bit the clime patterns, making rains less predictable, the temperature in central and southern regions is above 30ºC (~86ºF) most of the time, doesn't matter a season. So, there is no need for warm clothing.
For current weather conditions in Thailand main cities & regions visit our Weather page.
On the whole, the weather is always perfect in Thailand with April and May being the hottest months. Visitors used to colder climates may be forgiven for assuming that from May to November it is hot and wet. The truth is the warm glow covering the perfect landscape is occasionally broken by gentle raindrops falling to earth like petals to enrich the fertile soil. This is called the ‘low tourist season’ because there are fewer tourists and business is dormant. There are several advantages to traveling during that time, as the rains are just cooling and refreshing. And it gets especially pleasant on the beaches, where the water temperature is around 25ºC. Moreover, one can enjoy a broad variety of seasonable fruits, vegetables, and other sea and land delicacies at great savings.
From December to April, the ‘high tourist season’, is pleasantly hot and dry, although December can be refreshingly cool. Around Christmas and New Year, the ‘top tourist season’, when many Westerners coming to Thailand to find a highly welcoming escape from the cold in their home countries. If you plan to be here during that period, ensure that you book a room well in advance.
The Thai language doesn't resemble any other languages except maybe the Lao (Laotian) language. It is a rather complex tonal language with its unique alphabet (consisting of 44 consonants and 32 vowels) and numbering. In written Thai, there are no spaces between words, just between phrases or sentences. Also, it is important to mention that the choice of spoken language (wording and vocabulary), partially establishes the class, position, and respectability of the person. Thailand is very much a class-conscious society, and there are different ways of saying the same thing in Thai. A lower status choice of words, phrases, and pronunciations often heard on the streets (street lexicon), or the high-class choice of language, well-mannered and polite.
When trying to learn the language, a pronunciation of Thai causes the most difficulties, as the same word would have a whole different meaning when pronounced in varying tones. Thus, understanding Thai is much easier than speaking it. Thai resonates as a melodic tonal language consisting of five tones: rising, falling, high, low and level. So, essentially, one needs to "sing" words.
Although Lao, Chinese and Malay languages are spoken by significant number of Thais, a good command of English amongst the general population is quite poor, with the exception of those who work with tourists. Also, many Thais are simply shy and lack a self-confidence about their English. When addressing Thais, it is better to speak slowly and clearly, and choose your words carefully, avoiding slang and sophisticated words.
To be continued...
Kingdom of Thailand – Country General Facts
|Traditional Founding Date||1238 A.D.|
|Head of State||The King|
|Head of Government||Prime Minister|
|Judicial Branches||Constitutional, Justice and Administrative Courts|
|Thailand's First Permanent Constitution||People's Constitution was promulgated in 1997*|
|The 2007 Constitution||Promulgated and enacted in 2007|
|Legislative Branch||National Assembly (bicameral)|
|Major Cities & Tourist Destinations||Chiang Mai, Korat, Khon Kaen, Pattaya, Phuket|
|Compulsory Education||12 years|
|Thailand Time Zone||+7 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)|
|Thailand Currency||Thai baht – ฿|
* – The 1997 Constitution was drafted by popularly-elected Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA), and thus, called the "People's Constitution". It stipulated a bicameral legislature, and for the first time in Thai history, both houses are elected. Several human rights were explicitly acknowledged, and measures were defined to increase the stability of elected governments.
The 1997 Constitution was abrogated after a military coup on 19 September 2006. The country was ruled by martial law and executive decree. An interim constitution was promulgated on 1 October 2006. It approved the appointment of the drafting committee for a permanent constitution.
A Permanent Constitution for the Kingdom of Thailand was drafted by a committee established by the military and have to be ratified by public referendum. On 19 August 2007, a referendum was accepted by 57.8% of the voters. The King enacted the 2007 Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand on 24 August 2007. The 2007 Constitution of Thailand was the supreme law of the Kingdom until May 2014. The most recent Constitution went into effect on April 6, 2017.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the military dictator who seized power in a coup in 2014, ruled by decree using article 44 of the 2014 interim constitution granting him all legislative, executive and judicial power.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn has refused to put into effect the new constitution adopted by referendum on August 7, 2016. It replaces the 2014 interim constitution granting all powers to the head of the military. The new king has interfered in the constitution-making process to demand changes aimed at expanding his own powers in three key areas:
Since the transformation from the absolute to constitutional monarchy in 1932, Thailand has had 20 charters and constitutions, reflecting the high degree of political instability and frequent military coups. All of Thailand's charters and constitutions have allowed for a constitutional monarchy, but with a widely varying balance of powers between the branches of government.
- reform the provisions on regency to allow him to spend time abroad without appointing a regent to represent him in his absence. This would allow him to reign from Munich in Germany, where he’s been living for the last couple of years. The change was approved unanimously on January 13 by the junta-appointed National Legislative Assemblyeat
- end the need for a countersignature on all royal acts. Details are not yet known but this means that the king alone will be able – in specific matters – to sign executive orders and decrees. The move is reminiscent of absolute monarchy, and a ten-member panel has been appointed to make the requested change
- regain royal crisis powers that the current constitutional draft had transferred away from the king to the constitutional court (article five). These include executive and legislative veto powers and the right to dissolve the legislative assembly
Although the direct powers of the monarch have also varied considerably, the deemed invariable lèse majesté (lese majesty) laws have been purposely designed to protect the country's revered monarchy. Lèse majesté laws in Thailand have been in the Thai criminal code since 1908, and have also been enshrined in every Constitution the Kingdom has ever had.
The 2007 charter simply reads: "The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action." Thailand's Criminal code further states in the article 112: "Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen or the Heir-apparent, shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 15 years." Nowhere, however, does it state what constitutes 'defames' or 'insults'.
Time and again, lèse majesté laws have been misused or abused to silence dissent, to intimidate the business competition, financial rivalry, and to punish political enemies. A powerful tool to subdue criticism and restrain the critics, the law had also been employed to press charges against foreigners.
Apparently, the real danger is not merely saying the wrong thing, but in being perceived so by police or other powerful interests who themselves do not have the real concern for the monarchy or national interests at stake. The higher-up your accusers, the better they are connected with the military or police, and most importantly, with the powerful politico, the more chance you stand of being convicted, justice and fairness aside.
It is important to note however that neither the King nor a member of the Royal Family has ever personally filed any charges. In fact, in 2005, King Bhumibol Adulyadej told the Thai nation that he was not a perfect being and only human: "Actually, I must also be criticized. I am not afraid if the criticism concerns what I do wrong because then I know." He further stated: "But the King can do wrong."
Chronology of Thai constitutions and charters since an overthrow of the absolute monarchy in 1932
For much of the kingdom's history, constitutions and charters were the instruments by which a government controls its people, not the instruments of the people to control its governments.
|1.||Temporary Charter for the Administration of Siam Act||1932
|2.||The Constitution of the Kingdom of Siam||1932
|3.||The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand||1946
|4.||The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Temporary)||1947
|5.||The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand||1949
|6.||The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand||1932 (revised 1952)
|7.||Charter for the Administration of the Kingdom||1959
|8.||Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand||1968
|9.||Temporary Charter for Administration of the Kingdom||1972
|10.||Constitution for the Administration of the Kingdom||1974
|11.||Constitution for Administration of the Kingdom||1976
|12.||Charter for Administration of the Kingdom||1977
|13.||Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand||1978
|14.||Charter for Administration of the Kingdom||1991
|15.||The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand||1991
|16.||The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand||1997
|17.||The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim)||2006
|18.||The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand||2007|
For substance on Thai politics, political bosses, leaders & governments take a look at:
• Modern Thai History
• Thai Politics in the News
• Who's Who in Thai Politics
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