` GENERAL INFORMATION – The 2nd World Irrigation Forum (WIF2)
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2nd World Irrigation Forum

GENERAL INFORMATION

general-info

1. Thailand at a glance

1.1 Geography

Located in the center of Southeast Asia, Thailand is truly at the heart of the region and covers an area of approximately 514,000 square kilometers (200,000 square miles), Thailand is the 50th largest country in the world. Along Thailand’s western border with Myanmar, the forested mountains of Thailand rise higher as they stretch north, peaking at the 2,565 meters (8,415 feet) Doi Inthanon. Thailand’s northern peaks are replete with wildlife and feature Thailand’s coolest winters.

Northeastern Thailand’s geography, where the kingdom borders Laos at the Mekong River, features the Khorat Plateau, which extends south towards the Thai border with Cambodia. The Isan region of Northeastern Thailand is the most populous region of Thailand (with the exception of Bangkok) and features a number of bustling provincial capital cities.

The geography of Thailand’s interior is dominated by the Central Plains, the “Rice Bowl of Asia,” through which the Chao Phraya River feeds expansive rice fields and then enters the bustling capital of Bangkok before spilling into the Gulf of Thailand.

Stretching down the Malaysian peninsula, the slender trunk separates the Andaman Sea from the Gulf of Thailand, providing Thailand with beaches and islands along opposing shores.  Once, the sheltered coves of the narrow Isthmus of Kra were important ports along an ancient, strategic trading route; today the islands of Phuket and Koh Samui are equally important as tourist destinations, though both coasts also contain numerous historical attractions as well as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and spectacular forests, waterfalls, and beaches.

In addition to these geographical regions, Thailand is divided into 76 political provinces, with Bangkok serving as the political, commercial, industrial, educational, and entertainment capital of the country.

1.2 Weather

Located just 15 degrees north of the equator, Thailand has a tropical climate and temperatures typically range from 19 to 38 degrees Celsius (66-100 F). 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 has only two seasons – rainy season and dry season. The seasons are clearly defined: Between November and May the weather is mostly dry. The cool and hot seasons occur from November to February and March to May respectively.

1.3 The Monarchy and the King of Thailand

Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) (R. Jun. 9, 1946 – present)

The current reigning King of Thailand, the longest reigning King in Thai history and the longest reigning current head of state in the world, H.M. King Buhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) is also one of the most revered monarchs in Thai history and one of the most respected leaders in the world. Musician, photographer, scientist, and man of the people, King Bhumibol has served as spiritual leader of his people for over six decades, acting as a symbol of stability and fostering numerous programs along with members of his royal family to bring economic prosperity to his people.

1.4 Language

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.

1.5 Religion

Religion plays a very important role in Thai life. Religion is considered an essential pillar of society, it is not only the major moral force of Thai family and community but has also contributed to the molding of freedom loving, individualistic, and tolerant people for many centuries.

Theravada or Hinayana Buddhism is the national religion of Thailand but there is total religious freedom and all major religions can be found in practice. There is absolute freedom of religion – Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and other faiths are practiced and protected by the constitution. Buddhism is the faith of 95 percent of the population, 4 percent are Muslims, 0.5 percent are Christians, and the remainder Hindus, Sikhs and other religion. Despite the fact that Buddhism is the faith of majority, both the king and the government uphold and support all the religions accepted by the people. Amidst rich diversity of beliefs, people of Thailand have always lived together in peace and harmony.

1.6 Local time and Business hours

1) Local time

Thailand follows Coordinated Universal Time (CUT) or Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) + 7 hours.

2) Business hours

  • Banking hours

Thai bank hours are typically Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, though some Thai bank branches, particularly those inside of shopping malls, are open on weekends. Currency exchange booths in Bangkok and other tourist destinations are open on weekends and evenings.

  • Clinics or Doctor’s surgeries

Major hospitals in Bangkok have 24 hour emergency rooms, but typical doctor appointments should be scheduled between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm, Monday – Friday. Some larger hospitals offer off-hours and weekend services. If you have a medical emergency you should go to the accident and emergency department of the nearest hospital. Emergency services can be reached by dialing 191 on any phone.

  • Emergency services

Emergency services, which can be reached at 191, are generally available 24 hours.

  • Museums and Galleries

Thailand museums and galleries are typically open from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm daily. Times may vary and some museums and galleries may close one day during the week and/or on public holidays.

  • Shops and Department Stores

Most shops are open seven days a week from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm.  The convenience stores may open earlier and remain open until after midnight.  Thai markets are open various hours depending on the products they sell, with wet-markets selling food products from the wee hours of the morning until around 10.00 am, while night markets typically open around sunset and remain open until 10.00 pm or occasionally midnight. 7-11 convenience stores, located throughout Thailand are generally open 24 hours.

  • Post offices

The Thailand postal service is reliable and efficient. Thailand post offices are open Monday through Friday from 8.00 am to 4.30 pm and Saturday from 9.00 am until noon. All Thai post offices are closed on public holidays, though most major hotels can arrange to mail letters and parcels on your behalf.

  • Restaurants

Restaurant operating hours are highly variable and, as Thai people love to eat, street side restaurants frequently stay open well past midnight. Restaurants have typically later closing hours in Bangkok and tourist destinations than in the rural provinces.

  • BTS Skytrain

The BTS skytrain runs daily between 6.00 am and midnight with frequent service throughout the day, increased during rush hours.

  • MRT Subway

The MRT underground Blue Line operates from 6.00 am to midnight daily. The frequency is less than 5 minutes during the peak hours 6.00 – 9.00 am and 4.30 – 7.30 pm.

1.7 Utilities and Services

1) Communication network

The Thailand Communications network is both easy and convenient for foreigners to utilize. Thailand features numerous public telephones, mobile phones are easy for visitors to procure, internet cafes and wireless internet services are widespread, and there is a post office in every major town in the Kingdom.  From telephones to the internet, the Thailand communications network allows visitors to stay in touch with comfort and ease.

Telephone

  • Local calls

All telephone numbers for local calls, long distance calls within the country and all mobile phones have nine digits, starting with 0.

– For Bangkok calls, it is 0 + 2 + numbers, e.g. 0 2250 5500.
– For provincial calls, it is area code + numbers, e.g. 0 5323 6400 for Chiang Mai (053 is the area code for Chiang Mai); 0 7623 6400 for Phuket (076 is the area code for Phuket).

  • International calls

– The international dialing code for Thailand is 66.
– To direct dial a foreign number from a private phone, dial 001 + country code + area code + telephone number.

  • Emergency calls
  • Police (General Emergency Call) 191
  • Tourist Police 1155
  • Highway Police 1193, +662 354 6007
  • Fire Brigades 99
  • Police General Hospital +662 207 6000
  • Tourist Service Centre 1672
  • Ambulance and Rescue 1554
  • Medical Emergency Call 1669

Internet and Call (cell phone)

The internet providers are easily found at the arrival hall on the second Floor of Suvarnabhumi International Airport. You may buy the SIM cards at the convenient stores such as 7-Eleven or you can directly go to the shop in the shopping mall. There are many providers namely DTAC, TRUE and AIS which offers you both internet SIM card and calling.

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2) Electricity

The electric current in Thailand is 220 Volts (50 cycles/sec.) throughout the country. The better hotels will make available 110 Volt transformers. Power sockets in Thailand are both flat prongs and round prongs. Below you find pictures of these power sockets and corresponding plugs.

3) Water

Though tap water in Bangkok is technically safe to drink, the plumbing in certain buildings may make water inadvisable to ingest.  Furthermore, travelers’ unaccustomed to otherwise harmless bacteria in the water could get upset stomachs from drinking ice that is technically ‘safe’ to consume.  Bottled water in Thailand is recommended as it is cheap and ubiquitous and most ice is safe to consume as it is produced with potable water, with cube ice generally safer than crushed ice.

1.8 List of Hospitals in Bangkok

Bangkok is well provided with hospitals and clinics, as following:

1.9 Entry Requirement

As a foreigner, you are required by Thai Immigration Law to initially enter the Kingdom on a Visa if you wish to have a long-term stay in Thailand. This can be a visa (tourist visa for 60 days or non-immigrant visa for 90 days) issued by a Thai Embassy or Consulate outside of Thailand. You can also obtain a temporary stay with under the Visa Exemption Rule (VER).

1) List of Countries and Territories entitled for Visa Exemption and Visa on Arrival to Thailand

Visitors to Thailand must be in possession of a valid passport or travel document with a minimum validity of 6 months beyond intended visiting period. About visa requirements, visitors from ASEAN or Western countries, including most European, Commonwealth, and North American citizens, are not required to have a Thai visa for visits less than 30 days in Thailand.

For more information please contact the Consular section at the Thai Embassy in your country for the visa requirement.

 

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2) List of countries which are declared Yellow Fever Infected Areas

Visitors from of through the countries (shown below) which have been declared Yellow Fever Infected Areas must provide an International health Certificate proving that they have received a Yellow Fever vaccination at least 10 days before their departure for Thailand. The Certificate must be submitted together with the visa application form to the Immigration Officer upon arrival at the port of entry in Thailand. As for those nationals of the countries listed below but who have not travelled form/through those countries, such a certificate is not required. However, they should possess concrete evidence showing that their domicile is not in an infected area so as to prevent unnecessary inconvenience.

List of countries which are declared Yellow Fever Infected Areas

1.          Republic of Angola 2.         Republic of Guinea
3.          Republic of Benin 4.         Cooperative Republic of Guyana
5.          Republic of Bolivia 6.         Republic of Kenya
7.          Federative Republic of Brazil 8.         Republic of Liberia
9.          Burkina Faso 10.      Republic of Mali
11.      Republic of Burundi 12.      Islamic Republic of Mauritania
13.      Federal Republic of Cameroon 14.      Republic of Niger
15.      Central African Republic 16.      Federal Republic of Nigeria
17.      Republic of Chad 18.      Republic of Panama
19.      Republic of Colombia 20.      Republic of Peru
21.      Democratic Republic of the Congo 22.      Republic of Rwanda
23.      Republic of Congo 24.      Democratic Republic of Sao Tome & Principe
25.      Republic of Cote d’ Ivoire 26.      Republic of Senegal
27.      Republic of Ecuador 28.      Republic of Sierra Leone
29.      Republic of Equatorial Guinea 30.      Somali Democratic Republic
31.      Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia 32.      Republic of the Sudan
33.      French-Guiana 34.      Republic of Suriname
35.      Gabonese Republic 36.      United Republic of Tanzania
37.      Republic of the Gambia 38.      Republic of Togo
39.      Republic of Ghana 40.      Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
41.      Republic of Guinea Bissau 42.      Republic of Uganda

1.10 Transportation

1) Getting Thailand
Most people arrive in Thailand by plane. Bangkok is a major air hub, with almost every international carrier landing at Bangkok’s international airport.

  • Suvarnabhumi International AirportAround 50 million passenger travel through Suvarnabhumi Airport every year, and as well as being the international arrival point for Thailand it is also a transfer airport for South East Asia. Bangkok international airport is located 16 miles outside town, but it is easy to get to Bangkok city center, either via the airport link or via taxi – although be warned that traffic jams are likely during peak hours.Transit passengers will need to proceed to the airline checkpoints located on the same floor of Bangkok Airport. If you have many hours to spare until your next flight and would like to catch up on sleep, proceed to the fourth floor (do not pass through Immigration) and check yourself into the Louis Tavern Dayrooms located in Concourse G. Here, you will be charged the rate of 2,200-2,400 baht every four hours (contact call centre at +66 2132 1888).All departures at Bangkok Airport are handled at the airline check-in counters located on the fourth floor of the Departure Terminal. Domestic check-ins are from Rows B to C. Row A is dedicated to Thai Airways’ Royal First Class and Royal Silk passengers. For international departures, proceed to Rows D to W. Always be prepared to arrive at least two-and-a-half hours before international departures or 80 minutes before domestic departures.
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  • Don Mueang International Airport

Don Muang Airport reopened in October 2012 to take the pressure off Suvarnabhumi International Airport. It will now be the main hub for budget and domestic flights, including Air Asia and Nok Air. Although this 90-year-old airport might not pretty, with recent renovations and less air traffic, travelling via Don Muang is usually trouble-free.

Don Muang Airport has a simple layout, with two levels. The Departure Hall is on the second floor, and all airlines have their check-in counters there. Other facilities on this floor include money exchange counters, restaurants, souvenir shops and VIP lounges. On the first floor is the Arrivals Hall. There are also a few fast food outlets, snack bars, an internet café, banks, money exchange counters, souvenir shops, medical service, airport limousine service and car rentals by major brands.

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2) Transfer between between Suvarnnabhumi Airport and Don Muaeng Airport

  • Free shuttle bus

A free shuttle bus for passengers links Bangkok’s two airports, Suvarnabhumi (airport code BKK) and Don Muang (airport code DMK). It can be a convenient option if you need to transit between the two, but if your flight connection times are tight you may still be best advised to take a taxi direct.

Passengers going from Don Muaeng Airport to Suvarnabhumi Airport shall get on the bus at the platform of the 1st Floor of passenger terminal of Don Muaneng Airport. The shuttle bus departs from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi on the 2nd Floor (arrivals), Gate 3. For passengers going from Don Muang to Suvarnabhumi airport, the shuttle bus departs from outside the passenger terminal at Don Muang and is clearly sign-posted. On arrival at Suvarnabhumi the bus drops passengers at the departure terminal on the 4th Floor by Gate 5.

The service hour is from 5 am until midnight and passengers have to show their boarding pass or air ticket itinerary to the officers. Kindly note that it will take at regular hour about 1.15 hours or 2-3 hours in rush hours for travelling between the two airports.

More information: http://suvarnabhumiairport.com/en/122-transfer-bus-between-suvarnabhumi-don-muaeng

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  • Taxi

From the Arrival Hall on the second floor, you will need to take an elevator down to the first floor to find the designated taxi stands at Entry Gate 4. Simply queue up and tell your final destination to the booth officer, then a taxi driver will escort you to his vehicle. Please note that you need to pay the driver an extra 50 baht courtesy fee, on top of all toll way fees and the final taxi fare. Taken all these fees into account, it should cost you a total of 350-400 baht for a 40-minute ride to downtown Bangkok. Service is available 24 hours.

3) Going around Bangkok

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By Bus

There are many public bus routes in Bangkok and the bus tickets are very cheap, but at rush hours a bus trip can be a rather time consuming and it is also easy to get confused by all different bus routes.

To end up in the right bus, ask at a tourist information office, a travel agency or a Thai citizen waiting at the bus stop. Most often they will do their best to help you.

More information: http://www.bmta.co.th

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By Taxi

First of all, do only stop a taxi with a Taxi-meter sign on it’s roof, and second, be sure that the driver turns on the meter before the ride begins. The taxi cabs (often Toyota Altis or Toyota Corolla models) are fairly comfortable and equipped with a refreshing air-condition. The starting price is 35 baht.

At rush hours / heavy traffic the taxi is not as a fast alternative as the Sky train or Metro but the price is relatively low and it might be nice to relax in the backseat of a cool, air conditioned cab after a day of intense shopping etc. The cars are painted in different color combinations but the prices are the same as long as the taximeter is turned on.

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By Motorcycle Taxi

The price for a trip on a motorbike taxi is very low (at least if you are negotiating with the driver in advance) and it can be a fast alternative at peak hours if the driver master the art of slalom driving, between all cars and buses. Just be aware that motorcycle accidents aren’t extremely rare in this city and ensure that the driver lend you a helmet.

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By Tuk-Tuk

This three-wheel-motorbike-taxi has definitely become an icon and symbol of Bangkok. The vehicle is not that environment friendly, but often a little faster than a taxicab at rush hours.

Try to bargain down the price before the ride and watch out for drivers who offer you to go around the city for 10-30 baht for an hour. They will probably bring you to a tailor or a jewelry shop etc. The starting price for a ride in a tuk tuk is not often less than 30-40 baht. The price for a 20-30 minute ride is normally 100-200 baht.

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By Sky Train – BTS

Skytrain, or Rot Fai Fah in Thai, started its operation in December 1999, just in time for the millennium celebration. It has two lines; The Sukhumvit Line and the Silom Line. The two lines crosses at Siam Station, which is the central station of the BTS system. The cars are air-conditioned and has both seats and standing areas. The price for a ticket starts at 20 baht and the fare is somewhere between the price for a bus ticket and the price for a ride in a taxi.

Be sure that you keep your ticket until the destination station, otherwise you will have to pay an additional fee.

More information: http://www.bts.co.th

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By Bangkok Metro – MRT

The Bangkok underground started its operation at Songkran (the Thai traditional New Year), in April, 2004. One of the two end stations is located close to Hualamphong Railway Station (the main train station in Bangkok) which is practical if you are going to continue to travel with a long-distance train. The prices are rather low and the design and system are top modern. Be sure to keep your ticket until the station of your destination.

More information: http://www.bangkokmetro.co.th

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Airport Rail Link (ARL)

The Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link service between Phaya Thai Station to Suvarnabhumi Station.

The services are comprised of 2 lines, non-stop Express services and City Train services. Both lines operate from 06.00 am. – midnight. Non-stop Express services start at Suvarnabhumi Airport and terminate at Makkasan Station. The journey takes only 15 minutes and runs every 30 minutes. City Train or Commuter services run between Suvarnabhumi Airport, stop at Lat Krabang, Ban Thup Chang, Hua Mak, Makkasan, Ratchaprarop and Phaya Thai. The journey takes 27 minutes and runs every 15 minutes.

Facilitating the tourists and commuters to travel to other parts of Bangkok, both lines have interchange station at Makkasan Station for MRT (Underground train) at Phetchaburi Station. City Train line is linked at Phaya Thai station for BTS (Skytrain) Phaya Thai Station

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By River Boat

A cheap and refreshing alternative at the Chao Praya river. An excellent way to travel, for example between Banglamphu (Khao San Road), The Grand Palace and Chinatown.

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Car Rental

Cars, jeeps and vans can be rented in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket and other tourist cities. The rental costs for cars and jeeps are from around 2,000 to 3,000 baht per day and vans from 2,500 to 3,500 baht. Typically, international rental companies charge a bit more than local companies, yet they offer a larger choice. A car can also be rented at travel agencies, many of which have branch offices in large- and medium-sized hotels. It is advisable to check whether a car is insured for liability before signing a rental contract.

1.11 Money and Financial Matters

Thai currency is called the “Baht” or “Thai Baht”. The currency code for Baht is THB. There are several currency exchanges at Bangkok’s international airport, and around most major tourist areas.

The currency exchange rate

1 U.S. Dollar is about 35 Thai Baht (THB). (As of May in 2016)

You can check out “http://finance.yahoo.com/currency-converter” to know more about Exchange Rate.

There are 5 kinds of banknotes that 1000 Baht, 500 Baht, 100 Baht, 50 Baht and 20 Baht. Also there are 6 kinds of coins that 10 Baht, 5 Baht, 2 Baht, 1 Baht, 50 Satang and 25 Satang (1Baht = 100 Satang).

It may be best to not bother to carry too much money into Thailand, or even carry on you while traveling around within Thailand, because you can get Thai baht from the ATM machines using your major credit card, even in most small towns around Thailand. The exchange rate is automatic and roughly as good as you’ll find. Withdrawal fees are usually around 150 baht per transaction, which is roughly $ 5 US, and you can withdraw amounts up to 20,000 baht from some bank ATMs, more from others. (150 baht is 1% of 15,000 baht.)

Major credit cards — Visa, Mastercard and American Express — are accepted at most hotels and restaurants. Department stores and other large shops will also generally accept all cards. However, smaller merchants may not accept any cards, or add on the credit card processing fee (3% for Visa and Mastercard, 5% for American Express) to the price of items purchased.

 1.12 Thai food

While Thai food has a reputation for being spicy, Thai food is actually based on a balance between different flavors including spicy, sour, sweet, salty, and bitter. This goes beyond simply combining the flavors within an individual dish to incorporate the contrast in flavors between two or three different dishes, which is one reason Thai’s share meals and eat family style. One distinctive aspect of Thai food is the use of fresh herbs and spices as well as the inclusion of fermented fish sauce in nearly every dish –a potential problem for vegetarians, though saying “jay” to indicate you are vegetarian goes a long way. However, there are certainly regional variations in what is typically considered Thai food; these are due to the influences of neighboring countries, such as China, Laos, Burma, and Malaysia. While some Thai restaurants specialize in specific dishes, most have a huge menu of Thai and western fare and prepare Thai food from throughout the kingdom.

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Rice:
Rice is the staple food for Thais, eaten with most meals, from breakfast to dessert. It should be unsurprising to learn then that Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of rice and that Thai rice includes more than one strain, each of which has its own characteristic and flavor. The most esteemed Thai rice is Jasmine Rice, sweet-smelling long-grain rice that is indigenous to Thailand.

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Thai curry and Soup:
Thai curry or soup is usually ordered with a meal. The consistency of each Thai curry varies widely, with some curries arguably classifiable as soups.  However, most Thai curries are coconut milk-based and some are spicier than others. Gaeng Massaman, is a mild, peanut and potato curry; Gaeng Kiaw Wan (Thai green curry) is a curry of medium thickness and spiciness, while Tom Kha is a mild coconut soup, blurs the lines between soup and curry.

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 Thai noodles:
Unlike typical Thai dishes, which are served for communal consumption, most Thai noodle dishes are served as individual dishes. While some restaurants will serve Thai noodle dishes, particularly Pad Thai noodles, noodles are more frequently served and eaten at street stalls that specialize in Thai noodle dishes. Most Thai noodles are made of rice, though egg noodles (ba mee) and mungbean based glass noodles are also common.

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Source or Paste:
Thai chili paste, or nam prik, is the base of many Thai dishes, though variations of it are also served as dips.  Thai Chili pastes are made by muddling chili, garlic, shrimp paste, lime, and other spices (depending on region of origin).  As a dip, it is served along with raw vegetables and occasionally pork rinds.

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Thai salad or Yum:
A Thai salad is generally made of raw vegetables mixed with chili, lime, and fish sauce. The most internationally recognized Thai salad, Som Tam is technically a dish of Lao origin, and is most popular in Northeastern Thailand. Som Tam consists primarily of shredded papaya and is often served with grilled chicken.

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Thai Desserts:
This includes both traditional Thai desserts as well as western fare, including cakes and ice cream. Traditional Thai desserts are quite sweet, made predominately from various combinations of rice, coconut milk, and sugar, along with a few seemingly less common dessert ingredients, such as sweet corn or kidney beans. Some egg based Thai desserts trace their history back to the influence of Portuguese missionaries.

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Thai fruit:
Thailand is undoubtedly a nation of fruits; fruit vendors sell dozens of different chilled fruits on street corners throughout the kingdom, selling sliced ponelamai (fruit) for as little as 10 baht per serving. Thai fruits include the familiar: banana, pineapple, watermelon, and papaya, as well as the exotic: dragon fruit, chompu, durian, and jackfruit.

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Thai Beer and Beverages:
While tap water is not generally recommended for consumption, ice is generally safe in Thailand and bottled water is ubiquitous and cheap. If you are concerned, you can always stick with Thai beer, its nearly as cheap and the high alcohol content of Thai beer ensures that any germs aren’t likely to survive; Singha (pronounced “Sing”) and Chang (which means elephant) are the two most popular. Fruit smoothies and fruit juice are both very popular: smoothies made with fresh fruit and sugar syrup are blended with ice that is generally safe to consume.

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1.13 Loy Kratong Festival

In November you can see Thai girls dressing in traditional Thai clothing with a beautiful floating object. That’s a sign indicating that Loy Krathong is on its way. In Thai Loy means to float and Krathong means a circular floating object with decoration of banana leaves, flowers, a candle and incense sticks. All these are related to Loy Krathong, an event which does not occur on the same date every year; instead it counts on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month. People look forward to going out and launching Krathongs together to predict the romance future by the direction the Krathongs float. However, this season is also good for strengthening relationship in family.

The history of Loy Krathong is rather obscure. Some believe that Krathong was first created by Tao Sri Chulalak or Nang Noppamas in Sukothai. Others overlook its origin yet focus on the purposes of the ritual: to pay respect to the Goddess of the Water showing their gratitude on their plentiful use of water and ask for forgiveness in the ensuing pollution. Floating the beautiful Krathong away, which is the key activity in Loy Krathong, also refers to flying away misfortune and bad things in the past and asking for good luck in the future. Although it is not a national holiday, many activities other than floating Krathong, are conducted in this festival, such as, contests of Krathong-making and Noppamas beauty pageants, local games and performances and fire.

If you are in the North of Thailand, you can join this spectacular occasion at Chiang Mai where it is specifically called Yee Peng -floating of lanterns into the sky. Or you can go to Tak where a line of thousand glittering lights are seen on the Ping River. When looking closer, you see that Krathongs here are made of coconut shells, threaded together to make chain and that’s the story of Loy Krathong Sai.

2. The city of Chiang Mai

2.1 History

Chiang Mai was co founded by three kings – Phraya Mangrai, Por Khun Ramkhamhaeng (of Sukhothai) and Por Khun Ngam Muang (of Phayao). Chiang Mai was ruled by the Mangrai Dynasty for around 200 years (between A.D. 1296 – 1558). Then in A.D. 1558 Chiang Mai lost its fight to Burma and was ruled for over 200 years until Phraya Kawila and Phraya Ja Baan, with help from Thai Kings, led the fight against Burma and won the land back.  Chiang Mai then became a colony of Siam and Phraya Kawila was crowned by HM King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke Rama I as the king of Chiang Mai. In the era of HM King Chulalongkorn Rama V, Chiang Mai was reformed as municipality shire called Payap. Then in A.D. 1933 King Chulalongkorn Rama V developed the provincial system in Thailand so Chiang Mai became a province in Thailand until then.

2.2 Geography

Chiang Mai is a province located in the north of Thailand, on a latitude of 16º N., and a longitude of 99º E. It’s approximately 1,027 feet above sea level. It covers 20,107 square kilometers (12,566,910 rai) of land and is the second largest city in Thailand. The widest part is 136 km. (85 miles) and the longest part is 320 km. (200 miles). Chiang Mai is home to 1.66 million people and divided into 25 districts. It is 750 kilometers far from Bangkok.

General area in Chiang Mai is scrubby and mountainous, and the areas on the both sides of Ping River are plain. The highest mountain in Thailand is in Chiang Mai called Doi Inthanon. It is 2,565 meters high, and located in the area of Chom Thong district. There are many other high mountains such as Doi Pah Hom Pok, 2,297 meters high; Doi Luang Chiang Dao, 2,195 meters; and Doi Suthep, 1,678 meters high.

2.3 Weather

Chiang Mai has cooler weather than Bangkok and the southern parts of the country. Summer begins in March. April is the hottest month but it can be cooled down by the Songkran Festival. After the hot season, rainy season lasts between June to October but there is not much heavy rain. Then winter season comes in November and finishes in February. The temperature could go down to 4 degree Celsius in the evening and 18 – 32 degree Celsius in the daytime. However the average temperature is 25 – 40 degree Celsius.

2.4 Northern Thai food

The food of the north is indicative of the region’s seasonal and relatively cool climate. Traditionally, the residents of Thailand‘s north ate almost exclusively kôw nĕe•o, sticky rice, known in the local dialect as kôw nêung. It can be quite difficult to find authentic local food in northern Thailand. Outside of Chiang Mai and the other large cities in the region, there are relatively few restaurants serving northern-style dishes, and the vast majority of authentic local food is sold from stalls in ‘to go’ bags.

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Gaang hang•lair:
Burmese in origin (hang is a corruption of the Burmese hin, meaning curry), this curry, which unites fatty pork belly, a mild spice mixture, and fresh ginger and garlic, is a regular at festivals and ceremonies – and restaurants – in northern Thailand.

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Kôw soy,
arguably the most famous northern Thai dish, combines wheat-and-egg noodles and a rich, fragrant curry broth. The dish is closely linked to Chiang Mai, and was probably introduced to northern Thailand by travelling Chinese merchants. Supplement your noodles with chunks of pickled vegetables and slices of shallot, and season the dish with a squeeze of lime and ground chilies fried in oil.

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Nám prík òrng:
Another legendary northern Thai nám prík, or chilli dip, this dish revolves around tomatoes and minced pork. Like other northern Thai-style dips, it’s eaten with sticky rice, vegetables and herbs, and, of course, deep-fried pork crackling.

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Sai Uoa:
This grilled pork sausage, seasoned with copious fresh herbs.

2.5 The Attractions in Chiang Mai

The Rose of the North – Chiang Mai is the land of beauty, warm hospitality and good manners, the land of fascinating, mist-shrouded mountains and fertile valleys, the land of religion with over 1,100 Buddhist temples and the land of Thai arts and handicrafts. Chiang Mai has rooted its culture so deeply that it has its own dialect, its own architecture, its own costume, its own dances and its own cuisine.

Chiang Mai literally means “new city” and has retained the name despite celebrating its 700th anniversary in A.D. 1996. Chiang Mai is one of the few places in Thailand where it is possible to experience both historical and modern. Once in Chiang Mai, however, tourists are surprised by the fact that there are so many things to discover other than its beautiful and historic temples. Intriguing diversity among ethnic tribes, a number of elephant camps, many cooking and massage schools, numerous outdoor activities, a variety of handicrafts workshops, various cultural performances, and breathtaking scenery make Chiang Mai one of Asia’s most attractive tourist destinations.

Transportations for WIF2 & 67th IEC

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