|In the 17th century, the Dutch, English and, after the 1680s, the French, competed for the opportunity to trade with the island of Phuket (then known as Junkseilon), which was a very rich source of tin. In September 1680, a ship of the French East India Company visited Phuket and left with a full cargo of tin. A year or two later, the Siamese King Narai, seeking to reduce Dutch and English influence, named as governor of Phuket a French medical missionary, Brother René Charbonneau, a member of the Siam mission of the Société des Missions Etrangères. Charbonneau remained as governor until 1685.|
In 1685, King Narai confirmed the French tin monopoly in Phuket to their ambassador, the Chevalier de Chaumont. Chaumont's former maître d'hôtel, Sieur de Billy, was named governor of the island. However, the French were expelled from Siam after the 1688 Siamese revolution. On April 10, 1689, Desfarges led an expedition to re-capture Phuket to restore some French control in Siam. His occupation of the island led to nothing, and Desfarges returned to Puducherry in January 1690.
The Burmese attacked Phuket in 1785. Francis Light, a British East India Company captain passing by the island, notified the local administration that he had observed Burmese forces preparing to attack. Than Phu Ying Chan, the wife of the recently deceased governor, and her sister Mook assembled what local forces they could. After a month-long siege of the capital city, the Burmese were forced to retreat March 13, 1785. The women became local heroines, receiving the royal titles Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Si Sunthon from a grateful King Rama I. During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), Phuket became the administrative center of the tin-producing southern provinces. In 1933 Monthon Phuket was dissolved and Phuket became a province by itself. Old names of the island include Ko Thalang.
|Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand, located in the Andaman Sea of southern Thailand. The island is mostly mountainous with a mountain range in the west of the island from the north to the south. The mountains of Phuket form the southern end of the Phuket mountain range, which ranges for 440 kilometres (270 mi) from the Kra Isthmus. The highest elevation of the island is Khao Mai Thao Sip Song (Twelve Canes), at 529 metres (1,736 ft) above sea level.|
It is estimated that Phuket has a total area of approximately 576 square kilometres (222 sq mi) (including the province's other islands). Phuket is approximately 536 miles (863 km) south of Bangkok, and covers an area of 543 square kilometres (210 sq mi) excluding small islets. Other Islands are : Ko Lone 4.77 square kilometres (1.84 sq mi), Ko Maprao 3.7 square kilometres (1.4 sq mi), Ko Naka Yai 2.08 square kilometres (0.80 sq mi), Ko Racha Noi3.06 square kilometres (1.18 sq mi), Ko Racha Yai 4.5 square kilometres (1.7 sq mi), and the second biggest, Ko Sire 8.8 square kilometres (3.4 sq mi) (It is also the 2nd most popolated in Mu Ko Phuket.
It is estimated that if all its 39 other small islands are included, Phuket Province will cover an area of 576 square kilometres (222 sq mi). The island total length, from north to south, is estimated at 30 miles (48 km) and 13 miles (21 km) wide.
Phuket's topology is exceptional with 70 percent of its area covered with mountains which stretch from north to south and the remaining 30 percent being plains located in the central and eastern parts of the island. It has a total of 9 brooks and creeks but does not have any major rivers.
Forest, rubber and palm oil plantations cover 60% of the island. The western coast has several sandy beaches, while on the east coast beaches are more often muddy. Near the southernmost point is Laem Promthep (Brahma's Cape), which is a popular sunset viewing point. In the mountainous north of the island is the Khao Phra Thaeo Non-hunting Area, protecting more than 20 km² of rainforest. The three highest peaks of this reserve are the Khao Prathiu (384 metres (1,260 ft)), Khao Bang Pae 388 metres (1,273 ft) and Khao Phara 422 metres (1,385 ft). The Sirinat National Park on the northwestern coast was established in 1981 and protects an area of 90 square kilometres (35 sq mi) (68 kilometres (42 mi) marine area), including the Nai Yang beach where sea turtles lay their eggs.
One of the most popular (and overcrowded) tourist areas on Phuket is Patong Beach on the central western coast, perhaps owing to the easy access to its wide and long beach. Most of Phuket's nightlife and its cheap shopping is located in Patong, and the area has become increasingly developed. Patong means "the forest filled with banana leaves" in Thai. Other popular beaches are located south of Patong. In a counterclockwise direction these include Karon Beach, Kata Beach, Kata Noi Beach, and around the southern tip of the island, Nai Harn Beach and Rawai. To the north of Patong are Kamala Beach, Surin Beach and Bang Tao Beach. These areas are generally much less developed than Patong, and sought out by individuals, families and other groups with a preference for more relaxed and less crowded environs than Patong. There are many islands to the southeast, including Bon Island, just a short boat trip away. There are several coral islands to the south of Phuket, the Similan Islands lie to the north west, and Phi Phi Islands to the south east. Islanders engage in a lively tourist trade, catering to snorkellers and scuba divers;
|Passport holders of the countries listed below are not required to obtain a visa when entering Thailand for tourism purposes and will be permitted to stay in Thailand for a period not exceeding 30 days on each visit. If such foreigners enter Thailand at immigration checkpoints which border neighbouring countries (overland crossing), they will be allowed to stay for 15 days each time. The exemption to this is Malaysian nationals crossing overland from Malaysia who are granted a period of stay not exceeding 30 days each time.|
Foreigners who enter Thailand under the Tourist Visa Exemption category and would like to leave and re-enter may only stay for a cumulative duration which does not exceed 90 days and is within a 6-month period from the date of first entry. (Passport or travel document must be valid for at least 6 months after the date of first entry).
Foreigners entering Thailand under the Tourist Visa Exemption category must provide proof of adequate finances for the duration of stay in Thailand at the port of entry (i.e., traveller’s cheque or cash equivalent to 10,000 Baht per person and 20,000 Baht per family).
Foreigners entering Thailand by any means under the Tourist Visa Exemption category are required at the port of entry to have proof of onward travel (confirmed air, train, bus or boat tickets) to leave Thailand within 30 days of the arrival date (otherwise a tourist visa must be obtained).
|The Thailand climate is controlled by tropical monsoons and the weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid across most of the country throughout most of the year. While Thailand’s seasons are generally divided into the hot season, cool season, and rainy season, in reality it’s relatively hot most of the year. The weather in central, northern, and northeastern Thailand (the landlocked provinces) is determined by three seasons, whereas the southern, coastal regions of Thailand feature only two, making the weather in Thailand quite easy to understand and plan a trip around.In Thailand’s inland provinces the seasons are clearly defined: Between November and May the weather is mostly dry and the cool season and hot season occur from November to February and March to May respectively. The other inland season, the rainy season, lasts from May to November and is dominated by the southwest monsoon, during which time rainfall in most of Thailand is at its heaviest. The southern, coastal region of Thailand really has only two seasons – rainy season and dry season. Fortunately, for those planning a beach holiday, Thailand’s two coasts have slightly different rainy seasons, allowing visitors to find sunny beaches nearly year round. On the Andaman or west coast, where Phuket, Krabi, and the Phi Phi Islands lie, the southwest monsoon brings heavy storms from April to October, while on the Gulf of Thailand or east coast, where Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao lie, the most rain falls between September and December. |
|While the Thai language is the official language of Thailand, one could say English is its unofficial second language. As tourist and business visitors from around the world have traveled to Thailand, English naturally has become the common linguistic “currency” even while many of those visitors learned how to speak Thai. Consequently, population centers that host many foreigners, such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the islands have many people who can speak both Thai and English quite well. |
That said, visitors may experience difficulty picking up the Thai language as it is considerably different from many foreign languages. The Thai language features five tones: high, mid, low, rising, and falling, each of which changes the meaning of particular ‘words’. Visitors unfamiliar with tonal languages often have difficulty pronouncing even the most basic terms when learning to speak Thai, but with some practice visitors find that Thai people enjoy helping them with their pronunciation of the Thai language.
Written Thai is based on an alphabet adopted from the Khmers of Cambodia and is said to have become standardized during the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng during the Sukhothai period. The Thai alphabet consists of 44 consonants, 18 vowels, and 4 diphthong (tonal) notations. Learning to read Thai can be more complicated than learning to speak it as the pronunciation of written words does not follow a straightforward progression of letters and written Thai does not place spaces in between words. Fortunately, road signs are written in both Thai and English, and many tourist areas provide maps, menus, and other literature in both Thai and various other foreign languages.
One problem that does occur for foreigners trying to pronounce Thai words correctly is caused by the transliteration of Thai words into Romanized characters. An obvious example would be the island of Phuket, pronounced “poo-ket” rather than “foo-ket” as it would be pronounced in English. Furthermore, there is no official standard for the transliteration of words and thus many Thai words are spelled differently on different maps or street signs (i.e. Even the BTS Skytrain features both Chitlom and Chidlom stations).
In addition, while most Thai’s speak and understand the central Thai dialect, there are various regional dialects, including those of Southern Thailand and Northeastern Thailand, the latter of which is essentially just the Lao language (as most of the population is of Lao descent). In northern Thailand, which had been the independent kingdoms of Lan Na and Chiang Mai from 1259-1939, a distinctive form of Thai is still spoken by the local inhabitants, all of whom can also speak central Thai. All variants of Thai use the same alphabet.
|Travel in Phuket presents very few problems for visitors and it is best to bear in mind that in Phuket (as with any tropical climate) abundant life forms not found in temperate regions exist. These include viruses and bacteria as well as poisonous snakes and fish.|
Millions of people from around the world travel to Phuket's shores yearly and depart, usually healthier and fitter than when they arrived. A small number, however, do experience problems such as:
- Injuries from accidents
- Microbial and viral infections
- Animal and insect bites
- Coral cuts and bites from stinging fish
- Other things to consider, there are a number of other precautions to bear in mind while visiting Phuket:
Excessive sun exposure causes skin damage. Too much sun exposure causes skin cancer. Avoid burning by wearing a good sunscreen. For people with fair skin, that means a sunscreen with an SPF number of 15 or above. Darker-skinned people and those who tan without burning can safely use lower numbers. If you do get a sunburn, avoid sunbathing until the effects of the sunburn have ceased.
Fever in anyone visiting the tropics is a serious matter. If you or anyone near you comes down with a fever, remember, it may not be a brief mild, self-limited illness. Seek medical attention for any persistent or severe fever, especially one associated with persistent diarrhoea, vomiting, orjaundice.
For whatever reason one falls ill, however, whether from one or more of the above or from chronic illnesses or other health problems, unrelated to travel, it's reassuring to know that first class medical care is available immediately when and where the need arises.
Those affected by motion sickness can minimize the effects by gazing at a stable external orientational reference. This means the horizon, if you are on a boat, or straight down the road, if you are in a car. Also, attempt to hold yourself rigidly to the thing that is moving, rather than allowing yourself to be tossed back and forth within it.
Pregnant women should remember that most miscarriages occur during the first three months of pregnancy. This is therefore the most dangerous time to travel. Women in the last three months should avoid unnecessary medication, but vaccinations and anti-malarial drugs should still be taken where needed. Remember to stay in the vicinity of a good hospital during the last three months ofpregnancy.
Women travelers often find that their periods become irregular or cease while traveling. A missed period need not therefore be cause for alarm. A pregnancy check can easily be performed.
Finally, aircraft passengers with chronically stuffy sinuses should bring along a decongestant or they may have severe sinus pains during descent.
Swollen feet and ankles after a long passage are normal, and need not arouse alarm.
Traveler's Diarrhoea requires considerable care to avoid. If you do succumb to diarrhoea, its intensity will depend on how much contaminated food or drink you consumed. If you get the runs' after eating lunch at one place, it's not a good idea to go back there again for dinner. To minimize your risk.
Eat food served steaming hot and cooked to order rather than food left out on trays or in chafing dishes. Among fruits, choose those that have to be peeled (like oranges) rather than those you consume with the skin intact (like grapes). Bread is usually safe. Favor soft drinks like Coke over fresh squeezed fruit juices or locally produced drinks like nam oy (sugar cane juice). Buffets, a great way to try a variety of local foods and also one of the best ways to contract diarrhoea.
Malaria is a parasite spread by Anopheles mosquitoes. Many of the popular jungle trekking areas of Thailand, and a number of the rural islands--particularly Koh Chang, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao present high risk to the traveler.
But a civilized island like Phuket is considered relatively risk free. However the best prevention is simply to use a good mosquito repellent, avoid perfumes and scented aftershaves, wear light coloured long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and shoes.
- Thailand Culture & Traditions
- The Wai The wai is the common form of greeting and adheres to strict rules of protocol. Raising both hands, palms joined with the fingers pointing upwards as if in prayer, lightly touching the body somewhere between the chest and the forehead, is the standard form. The wai is both a sign of respect as well as a greeting. Respect and courtesy are demonstrated by the height at which the hands are held and how low the head comes down to meet the thumbs of both hands. The wai may be made while sitting, walking, or standing. Sawadee, Ka
- The Wai 2 The person who is junior in age or status is the first one to offer the wai. The senior person returns the wai, generally with their hands raised to somewhere around their chest. If a junior person is standing and wants to wai a senior person who is seated, the junior person will stoop or bow their head while making the wai. If there is a great social distance between two people, the wai will not be returned. Sawadee, Ka
- Hierarchical Society Thais respect hierarchical relationships. Social relationships are defined as one person being superior to the other. Parents are superior to their children, teachers to their students, and bosses to their subordinates. When Thais meet a stranger, they will immediately try to place you within a hierarchy so they know how you should be treated. This is often done by asking what might be seen as very personal questions in other cultures. Status can be determined by clothing and general appearance, age, job, education, family name, and social connections.
- Don’t Ask There are some questions that should never be asked of a foreigner. Some of these can be very embarrassing to them or make them feel very uneasy. And in some cases you might get a very nasty or rude remark from them. How much money do you make? What is your religion? How many wives do you have? How many small wives do you have?
- Thai Family Values The family is the cornerstone of Thai society. Family life is often more closely knit than in western cultures. The Thai family is a form of hierarchy with the parents at the top. Children are taught to honour their parents.
- THAI FAMILY Thai family has a hierarchy with the parents at the top of it. Children are educated to always honour their parents and to thank them for the time and money spent for education. Children shall have gratitude towards their parents. The worst insult for a Thai people is to be deemed ungrateful. Many words are used in Thai language to identify all the members of the family.
- Within children there is also a hierarchy. Every child has an elder, - Every child has a younger, - When speaking to an elder, Thai children always use the word - When the difference of age is not important, they only use first name. Younger must respect elder, listen to their advice. Elder shall protect younger.
- Everything is a question of age and sex. Seniority is a important part of Thai society. A younger person shall respect the older person. When Thai children write letters to their parents, they often begin their letter -FATHER, MOTHER THAT I RESPECT- Thai children used to live not far from their parents. A big part of the wages should be given to parents. Now things are changing. With the industrialisation of Thailand, many young Thai people go to Bangkok to take their chance. They almost continue to send money to support their parents. But parents, far away from their children, have less influence on them. In previous decades parents chose the mate. Nowadays many young Thai people choose on their own.
- Often Thai children continue to live in their parent's house even if they are old enough to live their own life. Especially for girls, they should not leave their parent's home if they are not married. If a girl is living alone, everybody gossip that she is a bad girl - mistress of a wealthy man. In Thailand there is no pension when workers retire. So the only support for the old parents are their children. Thai people don't like the westerner principle to send old parents in special nursing-home. They say it is not a nice way to thank parents for all the goodness they did. All the family shall live together. Children are the assurance for the parents.
- Thai Demeanour Thais place great emphasis and value on outward forms of courtesy such as politeness, respect, genial demeanour and self-control in order to maintain harmonious relations. Many of their rules of etiquette are by-products of the Buddhist religion. It is a non-confrontational society, in which public dispute or criticism is to be avoided at all costs.
- To be openly angry with someone might attract the wrath of the spirits, which in turn could cause violence and tragedy. Openly criticizing a person is a form of violence as it hurts the person and is viewed as a conscious attempt to offend the person being rebuked Loss of face is a disgrace to a Thai so they try to avoid confrontations and look for compromises in difficult situations. If two parties disagree, one will need to have an outlet to retreat without losing face. Thai Demeanour 2
- Etiquette & Customs in Thailand
- Gift Giving Etiquette If invited to a Thai's home, a gift is not expected, although it will be appreciated. Gifts should be wrapped attractively, since appearance matters. Bows and ribbons add to the sense of festivity. Appropriate gifts are flowers, good quality chocolates or fruit. Do not give marigolds or carnations, as they are associated with funerals.
- Gift Giving Etiquette-Try to avoid wrapping a gift in green, black or blue as these are used at funerals and in mourning. Gold and yellow are considered royal colours, so they make good wrapping paper. Only use red wrapping paper if giving a gift to a Chinese Thai. Gifts are not opened when received. Money is the usual gift for weddings and ordination parties.
- Dining Etiquette Arrive close to the appointed time, although being a few minutes late will not cause offence. Check to see if the host is wearing shoes. If not, remove yours before entering the house. Ask another guest to confirm the dress code. Step over the threshold rather than on it. This is an old custom that may be dying out with younger Thais, but erring on the side of conservatism is always a good idea. If you are invited to a Thai's house:
- Table manners A fork and spoon are the usual eating utensils. However, noodles are often eaten with chopsticks. The spoon is held in the right hand and the fork in the left. The fork is used to guide food on to the spoon. Sticky rice, a northern Thai delicacy, is often eaten with the fingers of the right hand. Most meals are served as buffets or with serving platters in the centre of the table family- style. You may begin eating as soon as you are served. Leave a little food on your plate after you have eaten to show that you are full. Finishing everything indicates that you are still hungry.
- Table manners 2 Never leave rice on your plate as it is considered wasteful. The words for food and rice are the same. Rice has an almost mystical significance in addition to its humdrum 'daily bread' function. Never take the last bite from the serving bowl. Wait to be asked before taking a second helping. Do not lick your fingers
|While roughly 95% of the Thai people are practitioners of Theravada Buddhism, the official religion of Thailand, religious tolerance is both customary in Thailand and protected by the constitution. By its very nature however, Buddhism, which is based on the teachings of the Buddha, “the enlightened one” (nee Siddhartha Gautama), is a compassionate and tolerant religion, the aim of which is the alleviation of suffering. Consequently, Thai people are very respectful of the religious beliefs of others and are very open toward discussing their Buddhist values with visitors. In fact, there are many opportunities in Thailand to visit Buddhist temples to learn about or study Buddhism and perhaps to learn to meditate.|
Religion in Thailand pervades many aspects of Thai life and senior monks are highly revered; it is not uncommon to see their images adorning walls of businesses or homes or upon ornaments inside of taxi cabs. In many towns and villages the neighborhood wat (temple) is the heart of social and religious life. Buddhist holidays occur regularly throughout the year (particularly on days with full moons) and many Thai people go to the wat on these and other important days to pay homage to the Buddha and give alms to monks in order to make merit for themselves.
Meditation, one of the primary practices of Buddhism, is a means of self reflection in order to identify the causes of individual desire and ultimately alleviate ones suffering. Visitors can learn the fundamentals of this practice at a number of wats across the kingdom. Some temples, particularly in Chiang Mai, allow visitors to chat with monks in order to gain general knowledge about Buddhism or to study Buddhism more seriously.
While Theravada Buddhism may technically be considered a philosophy rather than a religion (there is no ‘God’) Thai Buddhism is infused with many spiritual beliefs which are likely the result of lingering animist and Hindu beliefs from centuries earlier. Most Thai homes and places of business feature a ‘spirit house’ just outside the building, where offerings are made to appease spirits that might otherwise inhabit their homes or workplaces. Furthermore, Buddhist monks are often brought to new homes and businesses to ‘bless them’, and Thai people frequently light incense and make prayers to both Buddha images and a host of Hindu gods whose shrines are located throughout Bangkok and the countryside.
The next largest religion in Thailand, Islam, is practiced by only about 4% of the population; the majority of Thai Muslims live in the most southerly provinces near the Malaysian border. Other religions in Thailand include Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Christianity, which are generally practiced by those living in Bangkok, where a multi-cultural population includes citizens of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and European descent.