Population – 65 million, Area – 198,115 sq mi (513,115 sq km), Currency – Baht (THB, symbol ฿) = 100 Satang, Flight times – New York is a 17 hour flight away, Los Angeles 18 hours and London 12 hours, Cities - Bangkok (capital), Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi, Udon Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima, Time Zone - GMT +7, Weather – Northern and central Thailand have three seasons: hot (March through May), rainy (June through October), and cool (November through February), Southern Thailand has intermittent showers year-round, with daily showers in the rainy season, Thailand's monsoon season generally runs from July into November, Religion – Buddhism (95%), Islam (3.8%), Christianity (0.5%), Hinduism (0.1%), Electricity - 220 volts AC, 50Hz, two-pin plugs are standard.
Thailand is located in Southeast Asia, bordering Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia, and the Andaman Sea. Thailand is a tropical country with often hot and rainy weather and annual monsoons, with a range of geographic regions - mountainous, plains and plateaus, as well as a number of beach areas.
Thailand is as rich in geographic diversity as it is rich in history and culture. There are few places on earth that offer the visitor so much - jungles and mountains, rivers and countryside, islands and beaches, temples and palaces, cities and technology.
Thailand was for centuries known as ‘Siam’. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with a long democratic tradition – political parties and elections. The current monarch is His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej – the world’s longest reigning monarch.
Thailand provides some of the best healthcare facilities at extremely affordable prices. The expertise, friendliness and support provided by the medical system - doctors and nurses - is world renowned. Thailand isn't the number one destination for medical tourism just thanks to its beaches and climate - it also is home to world-class medical facilities and highly skilled doctors and surgeons.
While many patients travel to Thailand for major surgeries Thailand is known as a mecca for elective cosmetic surgeries as well. With the fall of the Thai currency in 1997, prices for these procedures are about an eighth or less, depending on the treatment, than what they cost in western countries.
Recovering in Thailand isn't exactly a chore either. Thailand is home to great cuisine, a number of the world's best beaches and the one of the largest shopping centers in Southeast Asia. You can spend your recovery lounging on a beach, taking in the sights or learning about the unique culture and people or Thailand. Thailand is also a great place to go for pre-arranged packages which can schedule your treatment as well as a relaxing vacation on one of Thailand's many beaches while you recover.
Thailand is a very welcoming country, and the Thais themselves are generally very forgiving. That said, you'll have a better time, and get better treatment from those you deal with if you just keep in mind a few basic rules. The most important is: Take it easy! Taking things in stride with a smile will ensure you have a good time and get the best service. Keeping one's cool is considered basic good manners in Thailand, and Thais will often choose to simply not deal with someone who appears visibly angry rather than try to solve their problems.
By late in the 13th century, Angkor's power was on the wane, and several northern chieftans came together to form the first "Thai" kingdoms of Sukhothai, Lanna and Phayao. Although the period is heavily romanticized by the Thais themselves, a visit to Sukhothai itself demonstrates that there was a significant kingdom established here, capable of erecting huge monuments which must have required a good sized economic and social base to achieve.
General Chakri had Taksin executed and himself crowned king Rama I, the first of the Chakri kings that rule Thailand to this day. Rama I moved the capital across the river to the more defensible village of Bangkok. His successors managed to maintain Thailand's independence by dealing away the vassal states - Laos and Cambodia to the French, the Malay peninsula to the British - in the late 19th century. Thailand remained an absolute monarchy up until 1932, when a coup (the first of many) forced a new constitution on the then king Rama VII.
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