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Culture of Thailand

Thailand lies between Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos, with the Gulf of Thailand to its south. Its culture
mixes strong Indian influences, Chinese traditions, and elements that are uniquely Thai. With its diverse
geography, friendly people, and stunning scenery, the Land of a Thousand Smiles is a must-see destination
in South East Asia.
Thailand is the 50th largest country in the world with an area roughly equal to that of France. With
rugged mountains in the north and world-famous tropical beaches in the south, it is a land of pristine beauty.
Thailand is separated into four distinct regions. Despite the overarching strength and unity of Thai culture, each
region has its own unique cultural and geographic features.
Northern Thailand shares its border with Myanmar and Laos. This region is mountainous and filled with
thick forests and river valleys. Its culture is heavily influenced by Burmese culture and it carries strong
influences from the historical Lanna kingdom.
Northeastern Thailand, also known as Isan, is largely isolated from the rest of Thailand by a large
mountain range. A Lao-speaking majority, as well as a primarily agricultural society, characterize this culturally
distinct region.
Southern Thailand, located on the Malay peninsula, is home to many of Thailands pristine beaches and
resorts. With a more tropical climate, this narrow land mass is home to a many fishing communities.
It is the region of Central Thailand that is predominant, though. This region is the seat of Thailands modern-
day capital city, Bangkok. With its fertile plains, it has also long been the economic center of the country,
producing the majority of Thailands rice. Central Thailand is also the area that has the greatest population
density, and the greatest concentration of the ethnic Thai majority. It is the political, economic, and cultural
center of Thailand.

Cultural Identity

Much of Thailands culture comes from the ethnic Thai people. One of the most important influences
on Thai culture has been Buddhism. Many of the traditions and beliefs of the people in Thailand stem directly
from Buddhist principles. Hinduism has also made important contributions to Thai culture, and the close links
between Thailand and India can be seen in art, literature, and in many Thai customs. The cultures of nearby
Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and China have also played an important role in forming the traditions of Thailand,
as have indigenous belief systems such as Animism.
Of Thailands nearly 70 million people, roughly two thirds are from Thai ethnic groups. Although the ethnic Thai
people can be divided into dozens of different subgroups, their traditions, languages, and cultures differ only
slightly. This leads to a population with a strong sense of shared traditions and cultural identity.
The remaining third of the population is made up primarily of Chinese, as well as various minorities
including Vietnamese, Khmer, Hmong, and Mein. Even among these diverse ethnic groups, the Thai language
is widely spoken and understood, and the Thai script is often used in place of traditional writing styles.
Since the 1950s, Thailands government has made efforts to preserve and strengthen the sense of
national culture and national identity. During the 1980s and 1990s, however, Thailand saw a resurgence in
local culture and traditions. Although there is still a strong national identity, local food, dances, music,
celebrations, and beliefs have begun to play a more important role in Thai life.

Values
Thai culture is deeply influenced by religion. With around 95% of the country being Theraveda
Buddhist, the belief system and values of Buddhism play a huge role in day-to-day life. Throughout the country,
the most important values that Thai people hold to are respect, self-control, and a non-confrontational
attitude. Losing face by showing anger or by telling a lie is a source of great shame for Thai people.
In general, displays of emotion in public are viewed in a very negative light. No matter how frustrated
or upset a person might feel, he or she will always strive to maintain a positive and friendly attitude, a sense of
humor, and a smile.
Respect for elders and for those in higher social positions is also important. Hierarchies of social status
characterize nearly every interaction. Children are expected to respect their parents and teachers. The young
must show deference to the elderly. Those with highly prestigious positions in society, such as doctors,
important public figures, and monks are almost revered.
Family is central to Thai life. Although many newly-married couples will set up their own households, it
is not uncommon for extended family to live with them. Often, grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles will all
live in the same household and help to raise children and provide for the family. Children are expected to show
great respect for their parents, and they maintain close ties, even well into adulthood.
Although Thailands family life and society has been traditionally male-dominated, women are granted
considerable respect. Recent laws and legislation have allowed women more freedom to move out of
traditional roles and into professions such as politics, medicine, and business. Respect and equal rights for
women has, in recent decades, become an important part of Thailands law and values.
Another concept that is very important in Thai culture is sanuk. Sanuk is a wide-reaching idea that
embodies the playfulness and sense of humor that is so central to life in Thailand. It could refer to a
spontaneous and joyful meeting with someone on the street, or a humorous pun made at just the right
moment. The sense of humor and joie de vivre captured in sanuk is central to the Thai way of life
Asias Top 10 Backpacking Destinations

Southeast Asias lush tropical landscape and patchwork of ancient civilizations, combined with relatively low
prices for western travelers, has drawn a steady stream of backpackers since the counter-cultural movement of
the sixties. The current flows as strongly today as ever before and, as this list of the regions gems attest, its
easy to understand why. Climbing limestone cliffs from the soft sand of pristine beaches, diving into emerald
waters to explore submarine worlds of colorful coral, and weaving handicrafts with a cosmopolitan population
of ragged travelers are among the experiences these ten destinations have to offer.

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10. Climb or recline on West Railay Beach, Thailand

Located on the tropical shores of the Railay peninsula, this stunning setting is among Thailands most
picturesque white sand beaches, lapped by emerald tides and enclosed by towering limestone cliffs. These
cliffs cut the peninsula off from the mainland, so it can only be reached by boat, which enhances its
atmosphere of isle-like seclusion. Rock climbing up these jagged sentinels above the soft-sanded beach draws
enthusiasts from around the world. And there are also plenty of bars and restaurants, at astonishingly low
prices, for the more indolent to indulge in their own brand of pleasure. The accommodation is cheap too, and
ranges from bamboo bungalows on the adjacent East Railay Beach, to the affordable and secluded Tonsai
Bay Resort on neighboring Tonsai Beach.

The stunning Railay Beach is a true backpacker hot spot.

9. Experience the ancient Buddhist culture of Luang Prabang, Laos

A small town in northern Laos, Luang Prabang weaves together natural and man-made beauty. It sits at the
confluence of two rivers which girdle the town, beneath forest-swathed hills rising to rugged mountains. The
towns skyline is dominated by one steep hill topped with the gleaming spires of Wat Chom Si, one of many
gold-hued wats sprinkled through the town, decorated with intricate mosaics depicting the life of Buddha. Each
morning brings the sight of hundreds of monks wandering the towns streets collecting alms. The town also has
a long tradition of handicrafts, sold at the night market which runs until 10 at night.
Luang Prabang is sure to be a highlight of any Southeast Asian adventure.

8. Lose yourself in Bangkok, Thailand

A global backpacker Mecca, Bangkoks budget travelers orbit around the hippie haven of Khao San Road,
designated by one writer as the place to disappear. Handicrafts, food and fruit, pirated CDs and DVDs, and
regional barbequed snacks join the jumble of bars and clubs that are filled with lounging travelers at any time
of the day or night. Elsewhere in this buzzing, relentlessly eventful metropolis, travelers can step into relative
peace in Buddhist temples such as Wat Pho, with its huge golden statue of a reclining Buddha, or explore the
vast and labyrinthine Chatuchak Weekend Market.

If Bangkok has one truly must-see attraction, its the Grand Palace.

7. Hit the beautiful beaches of Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sihanoukvilles latest incarnation as a budget traveler hub marks a fresh twist in its tragically eventful history. It
is named after Norodom Sihanouk, a former King of Cambodia, under whom the town became a booming and
glamorous port in the 1950s. But after the Khmer Rouge seized power the city was symbolically desecrated;
the walls of its luxury Independence Hotel peppered with bullets. Through the past few decades, the town has
been traveling the slow road to regeneration, helped in large part by intrepid backpackers who braved the
journeys dangerous reputation and brought back word of the areas sublime beaches, such as the stunning
4km stretch of white sand, Otres Beach. The town is now the hub of Cambodias most vibrant backpacker
scene, a chilled-out stretch of bars, restaurants, cheap lodging and tropical coastline, lively but relatively
unswamped with travelers.

The beach is at the center of the low-key lifestyle of Sihanoukville.

6. Get yourself along to the classic hippy hangout of Goa, India

Theres no denying that Goas soul has changed since it was first chosen by the hippies of the sixties as an
exotic backdrop for exploration of self and consciousness, distanced from the psychic chains of western
civilization and conveniently situated in lush tropical surroundings. There are still strong hippy communities in
the area, and ragged westerners travel here to make and sell handicrafts. But these days they share the tourist
space including iconic beaches such as Calangute and Baga with charter holidaymakers, a creeping
quantity of upscale resorts, and Catholic and Hindu pilgrims. But a great backpacker scene cuts through all
this, feasting on the fantastic cheap food and cavorting in the bars and on the beaches, and in many ways the
areas increasing diversity makes it all the more interesting to visit. Many budget airlines fly direct to Goas
airport.

One of the many beautiful beaches in Goa.

5. Encounter the flora and fauna of Cat Ba Island in Vietnam


The jagged archipelago of limestone islands that compose Halong Bay off Vietnams north coast have long
been one of the countrys top backpacker attractions. As well as the ocean and beaches, there are mangrove
forests, craggy peaks and enchanting caverns such as Song St for tourists to explore. This environment is
home to a unique world of flora and fauna, including some of the worlds rarest flowers as well as the golden
Cat Ba langur. This endangered creature inhabits Cat Ba Island, one of the archipelagos best stop-offs, an
island of breathtaking beauty which packs the best of Halong Bay into one place and is a great base for
kayaking, rock climbing, hiking and water sports.

Cat Ba Island is one of Vietnams up-and-coming destinations.

4. Spend time on the island of Bali, Indonesia

Balis volcanic landscape, fringed with world famous beaches and alternating barren and forest covered
hillsides, attracts millions of tourists from all over the world, traveling on the whole spectrum of budgets.
Famous backpacker sites such as Kuta Beach have now been infiltrated with wealthy resorts, top-end
restaurants, and private developers who have chomped chunks of the white sand beach. But there is still a
terrific budget scene and plenty of cheap and laid-back bars and cafes in which to meet locals and travelers
alike. And you can meditate on the islands spirituality at Tanah Lot Temple, spectacularly situated on a
headland jutting out into the ocean.
There arent many places in the world better for relaxation than Bali.

3. Drift among the beautiful Gili Islands, Indonesia

The Gili Islands make up a small archipelago just north of Lombok in Indonesia. They became popular with
backpackers in the 80s, looking for a remote experience of the Pacific isles that didnt require a super-
expensive flight to reach. Even two decades after the first intrepid budget travelers set foot on the islands
powdery sand, it remains relatively undeveloped theres no automated traffic, and people travel primarily by
horse and cart. But there are a few indulgences to choose between, including a Japanese restaurant, good
backpacker accommodation, and, inevitably, a lively Irish bar. The island is also famous for its hatching sea
turtles, and there is a sanctuary which buys the eggs from the local population to prevent them being sold in
the market. And there are some world-class, uncrowded dive sites, such as the ominously named Shark Point.

Just next to Bali, the Gili Islands offer a bit more serenity and just as much natural beauty.

2. See a different side of China in Yangshuo

Backpackers first flocked to Yangshuo in the 80s, set on the trail by a gushing recommendation in Lonely
Planet. They discovered an entirely different China to the rapidly industrializing country depicted in the western
press, a quiet, picturesque region spread from the banks of two great rivers, Li and Yulong. Strung between
these rivers is a rolling landscape of bare karst peaks, green hills, deep sharp-sided caves and unique sights
such as Yangshuo Moon Hill, a limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped hole reached by over 800 marble
stairs.
The karst mountains of Yangshuo are one of Chinas most iconic sights.

1. Escape the traveler crowds in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailands rural north is far less infested with hordes of tourists than the resort-ridden south, and it makes a
great escape from the crazy crowds that swarm Bangkok and Phuket during peak season. Chiang Mai is the
regions hub founded in 1296, it was the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom and designed as the center of
Buddhism in northern Thailand. This ancient heritage can be experienced at sites such as Wat Chedi Luang, a
towering ruined temple in the center of the city, and the Bhubing Palace, surrounded by colorful gardens a few
kilometers out of town. And the citys cosmopolitan ex-pat population has given rise to a vibrant scene of
restaurants, bars and nightlife.
FIVE MOST VISITED PLACES IN SOUTH KOREA

South Korea has many fascinating tourist attractions. If you have a chance to go to Korea, explore the tourist
spots of this country will be the great experiences. With an interesting blend of traditional and modern
attractions, South Korea become a great tourist destination. Korea is rich in culture, history, technology, and
food. Seoul is the principal tourist destination for visitors. The other popular tourist destinations outside of
Seoul include Seorak-san national park, the historic city of Gyeongju and semi-tropical Jeju Island.

Here are best South Korea tourist attractions you must visit:

1. Jeju Island

Jejudo or Jeju Island, also known as the Island of the Gods, is a popular tourist attractions for Koreans and
many international visitors. It remains one of the top honeymoon destinations for Korean newlyweds. The
islands mixture of volcanic rock, frequent rains, and temperate climate, make it very similar to the Hawaiian
Islands in the U.S. The island offers visitors a wide range of activities: hiking on Halla-san (South Koreas
highest peak), catching sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, viewing majestic waterfalls and lava tubes, Jeju
Loveland, riding horses, or just lying around on the sandy beaches. There are also a lot of museums that can
be found in the area like the Folklore and Natural History Museum, Jeju Independence Museum, Jeju
Education Museum, Jeju Teddy Bear Museum and a lot more. You can also give in to your interest with nature
by going at various parks and caves that can be found in the place.

2. Seoul

Seoul is the capital city of South Korea and is also the country's political and economic center. This beautiful
city consists of a wonderful modern and ancient architecture which make this city a worth a visit. Seoul has
many historical and cultural landmarks. The Seoul metropolitan area contains four UNESCO World Heritage
Sites: Changdeok Palace, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty.
Seoul is also home to endless street food vendors and vast nightlife districts, an extraordinarily high-pressure
educational system and serene Buddhist temples, a dynamic trend-setting youth culture and often crushing
conformism, extraordinary architecture. Major modern landmarks in Seoul include the Korea Finance Building,
N Seoul Tower, the World Trade Center and the seven-skyscraper residence Tower Palace.

3. Haeundae beach - Busan

Busan is a seaport surrounded by several beaches. The most beautiful of them is the Haeundae-beach. It is
well worth visiting in the summer as well as the winter. During wintertime, it is a beautiful place to go for a walk,
with packs of seagulls overhead. The beach is busy year round with several kinds of beach festivals and
visitors from in and out from the country. Dongbaekseom (Dongbaek Island), located at the south end of the
beach, offers a view of the sea by car and its coastline is famous for fishing. Haeundae beach is one of the
most popular spots in Busan to view the first sunrise of the year on January 1, with around a thousand
gathering before dawn.

4. Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan is the highest mountain in the Taebaek mountain range in the Gangwon Province in eastern South
Korea. The national park attracts many national and international tourists all year round, but the main season
for Seoraksan national park is autumn. The autumn colours in the area are considered amongst the most
beautiful in Korea. The red and yellow forest is interrupted by rocks and small mountain streams flow amidst
this. The park contains several famous temples, including Baekdam-sa. The inner part of the Taebaek
Mountain Range is named Inner Seorak. The other major areas are Outer Seorak and South Seorak. All three
areas are divided by Daecheong-bong, the main peak of Seorak-san.

5. Gyeongju
Gyeongju is a small city north of Ulsan and Busan in the southeastern corner of South Korea. The city is
actually referred to as the museum without walls. This is because the city has numerous historical sites.
Gyeongju is home to Bulguksa Temple, famous throughout Korea as the site that was once depicted on its
paper money (the old 5,000 won note). Bulguksa, which is perched atop a mountain, is a classic example of
Korean Buddhist architecture. The best time to visit Bulguksa Temple is early morning. Its structure is very
impressive and this is actually considered a masterpiece of the Buddhist art. It was in the 8th century when the
temple was built at the time of the Silla Kingdom. Gyeongju is best seen in springtime, when the miles of cherry
trees lining the main streets burst into life.

The best time to visit Korea is in the fall (September-November). At this time, the weather was warm, sunny,
clear Blue Skies and beautiful views of the leaves. Winter is cold and dry, and a good time to visit if you are
interested in winter sports because in sanaterdapat many ski resorts. Spring (April-May) is also beautiful with
the cherry blossom. However, when it is very busy and you have to book early to ensure accommodation is
available. Humid summer months and heat, as well as a little crowded. Also when the rainy season starts,
there are so many activities that are affected by the high and low rainfall.