Thailand is a Southeast Asian country.
It is known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha.
In Bangkok, the capital, an ultramodern cityscape rises next to quiet canalside communities and the iconic temples of Wat Arun, Wat Pho and the Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew).
Nearby beach resorts include bustling Pattaya and fashionable Hua Hin.
Formerly known as Siam, the country is at at the centre of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia.
With a total area of approximately 513,000 km, Thailand is the world’s 51st-largest country.
It is the 20th-most-populous country in the world, with around 66 million people. The capital and largest city is Bangkok.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy and was a parliamentary democracy until the coup in May 2014 by National Council for Peace and Order.
Its capital and most populous city is Bangkok.
It is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar.
Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest.
The Thai economy is the world’s 20th largest by nominal GDP and the 27th largest by GDP at PPP.
It became a newly industrialised country and a major exporter in the 1990s.
Manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism are leading sectors of the economy.
It is considered a middle power in the region and around the world.
As capital of Thailand, Bangkok is a large city known for ornate shrines and vibrant street life.
The boat-filled Chao Phraya River feeds its network of canals, flowing past the Rattanakosin royal district, home to opulent Grand Palace and its sacred Wat Phra Kaew Temple.
Nearby is Wat Pho Temple with an enormous reclining Buddha and, on the opposite shore, Wat Arun Temple with its steep steps and Khmer-style spire.
Traditional teak buildings like the grand Vimanmek Palace and the residence-turned-museum Jim Thompson House contrast with the city’s skyline of modern high-rises.
Shopping options range from the upscale mega-malls of the Ratchaprasong district to the thousands of tiny stalls at overflowing Chatuchak Weekend Market.
The city’s renowned food scene spans traditional street-cart snacks – spicy, sour, sweet and salty – to upscale international restaurants.
Bangkok is also known for its exuberant nightlife, with venues ranging from swanky rooftop lounges to basic backpacker bars and nightclubs of the notorious Patpong district.
Chiang Mai is a city in mountainous northern Thailand.
Founded in 1296, it was capital of the independent Lanna Kingdom until 1558.
Its Old City area still retains vestiges of walls and moats from its history as a cultural and religious center.
It is also home to hundreds of elaborate Buddhist temples, including 14th-century Wat Phra Singh and 15th-century Wat Chedi Luang, adorned with carved serpents.
Outside the central Old City, Nimmanhaemin Road is lined with sophisticated galleries, boutiques, cafes and restaurants cooking the signature local dish, khao soi (egg noodles in curry).
Also offered around town are traditional khantoke dinners served on low tables in teak pavilions accompanied by classical Thai music and dance shows.
Handicrafts such as silk, silverware and lacquerware can be found at open-air markets like the Night Bazaar.
Chiang Mai also acts as a base for treks into the nearby mountains for visits to temples, elephant training and rehabilitation camps, or isolated hill-tribe villages.
Phuket, a rainforested, mountainous island in the Andaman Sea, has some of Thailand’s most popular beaches, mostly situated along the clear waters of the western shore.
The island is home to many high-end seaside resorts, spas and restaurants.
Phuket City, the capital, has old shophouses and busy markets.
Patong, the main resort town, has many nightclubs, bars and discos.
Patong Beach is large and full of activity, with vendors offering rental lounge chairs and umbrellas, and a variety of water sports.
Smaller Kata Beach, to the south, is also busy. Karon and Rawai beaches, near the island’s southern tip, and those along the island’s northwestern and eastern coasts, are more tranquil and less developed.
Phuket is also known for its scuba diving among coral reefs, its Gibbon Rehabilitation Project and the neighboring islets of Phang Nga Bay, which have dramatic, towering limestone cliffs and caves.
Other attractions include the Wat Chalong Buddhist temple complex and the Phuket Big Buddha statue.
Pattaya is a city on Thailand’s eastern Gulf coast known for its beaches.
A quiet fishing village as recently as the 1960s, it’s now lined with resort hotels, high-rise condos, shopping malls, cabaret bars and 24-hour clubs.
Nearby, hillside Wat Phra Yai Temple features an 18m-tall golden Buddha.
The area also features several designer golf courses, some with views of Pattaya Bay.
Jet-skiing and parasailing are popular activities on Pattaya’s busy beachfront, which is lined with lounge chairs and umbrellas. Jomtien Beach, to the south, is quieter and popular for windsurfing.
Neon-lit Walking Street, which is closed to traffic each night, is packed with go-go bars, discos and massage parlors, while Art in Paradise features 3-D and interactive paintings.
To the north, Naklua Bay also has beaches, a village-like vibe and the Sanctuary of Truth, an wood shrine covered with intricate Buddhist and Hindu carvings.