When Thais meet, they greet each other by saying “Sawasdee.” Pronounced “sa-wa-dee,” it’s how to say “hello.” You can also say it to mean “goodbye” when you part. It’s a friendly and courteous way to wish someone health, safety, prosperity and everything good.
This spoken greeting often goes together with the famous Thai gesture of respect, the wai. You bow your head gently, raise both hands to chest level and press them together like a lotus bud. Holding your hands close to your heart in this way helps convey your sincere feelings of friendliness and good intentions.
CULTURAL MELTING POT
Thai society is diverse, with many different cultures, ethnicities and religions. The Thai people live together harmoniously and enjoy equal rights. Freedom of religion is protected by law. Buddhism is the nation’s official faith, practiced by more than 90% of Thais.
Thailand’s culture is a mix of local traditions together with influences from nearby cultures, especially India and China. Since ancient times, Thais have “made merit” by donating food to Buddhist monks. At festival time, Thais pour perfumed water over the hands of their elders. Like many other local practices, these rituals reflect the Thais’ characteristic generosity, respectfulness and good cheer.
The Thais’ remarkable gift for assimilating the best of other cultures from around the world is one reason visitors are so charmed. During the past decade or two, Thailand has become one of the world’s favorite destinations for tourists.
The nation’s official language is Thai, which is spoken throughout the country. The written characters are the same nationwide, but different communities have somewhat different accents and dialects, divided between the four main regions of Central Thailand, the Northeast (Isan), the North and South.
English is widely used in international communication, especially in Bangkok and other cities.
GREAT PLACE TO VISIT
Thailand’s geography is an advantage. Located near the equator, the climate is tropical, with temperatures usually ranging between 19 and 38 degrees Celsius (66 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit). There are three seasons:
– Summer, from March to mid-May
– Rainy season, from mid-May through September
– Winter, from October through February
Regardless of season, Thailand is a year-round travel destination, easily reachable by air, land or water. The beautiful mountains and rice fields, the seaside and beaches, the charming villages and lively cities all invite tourists to come and discover and enjoy. Thailand is one of those very special places that you simply must visit at least once in your lifetime.
Every year, Thailand wins top spots in tourist rankings and awards. In 2019, India’s SATTE Awards named Thailand as the “Best International Destination of the Year,” while MasterCard ranked Bangkok as the “Global Destination Cites Index” for four consecutive years.
Thailand is the hub of Southeast Asia in terms of both transport and economy, linking the region for business, travel and investment. Thailand is part of regional cooperation frameworks like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
Thailand connects with its neighboring countries through ongoing transport infrastructure projects such as the East-West Corridor, North-South Corridor and Belt and Road Initiative. Thailand has an Urban Transportation Network Development project to build a solid foundation for security, business, safe travel and cargo transport, which will support the economy, trade and investment. This includes the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project, which fosters domestic and foreign investment in target industries to support the economy’s growth in the digital era, as the nation reaches toward its new technological paradigm, known as Thailand 4.0.
TOURISM GATEWAY OF REGION
Thailand welcomes more than 40 million tourists per year, generating tourism revenue of some 1.9 trillion baht, or 72 billion dollars, via 13 international airports and other ports of entry. The nation’s main transport hub is Suvarnabhumi Airport, near Bangkok, which connects to over 200 cities around the world via more than 150 leading airlines.
Time zone, internet, country code
Time zone: UTC + 7
Internet TLD: TH
Country code: +66
DOING BUSINESS IN THAILAND
Thailand is a good place to do business thanks not only to infrastructure but also government efficiency. Among 190 countries surveyed in 2020, Thailand ranked 21th in the World Bank’s comprehensive Ease of Doing Business report, which examines how laws, regulations and government officials’ performance affect business operations.