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At the left you will notice a map of Thailand (courtesy of Lonely Planet). Thailand is generally referred to in parts of the country. The North (Chiang Mai), the North East or "Issan" (Udon Thani), the Eastern Seabord (Pattaya/Sattahip), the Central (Bangkok) and the South (Phuket/Hat Yai). You will notice "Location Links" on the side of this page to the major tourist desitnations.
Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui are shown on the map. Hua Hin is several hours drive south of Bangkok but north of Surat Thani.
One interesting site off the beaten path is Ayuddhya (spelled here Auythaya) which is about 2 hours drive north of Bangkok. In Ayuddhya you will find some fine relics of the old capital of Thailand. The Burmese came in 1782 and sacked the place and the Thais moved their capital to Bangkok ("Krung Thep").
Half way between Bangkok and Chiang Mai is the town of Sukhothai. You can get their by Bangkok Airways and they have a fantastic collection of old wats and temples there, that perhaps rivals the famous Angkhor Wat in Cambodia. Although not as famous as Angkhor Wat, I was truly impressed with Sukhothai, having been to both of them, all three of them if you count Ayuddhya.
Further to the south you will find Hat Yai, Songkhla and Pattani. These are areas that I have never ventured to. They are predominantly Muslim areas in a country that is overwhelmingly Buddhist. At the time of this writing, troubles have flared up again in the south with radical Muslims attacking police and other government officials there. Although no American has been hurt there, the United States Embasssy in Bangkok recommends that you avoid travel to the far south of Thailand. You will be fine in Phuket and Koh Samui though.
The Kingdoms of Thailand
Thailand used to be several seperate distinct kingdoms at different times, before they were all unified. There was a kingdom in Ayuddya, a kingdom in Sukhothai and their was a "Lanna" kindom in the north of Thailand at Chiang Mai. If you enjoy history and archeological ruins, then please visit all the places mentioned here.
The Beaches Of Thailand
One of the main reasons people come to Thailand is to visit the famous beaches here. They are literally famous because Hollywood made them so. Phi Phi Island off of Phuket was made famous in the movie "The Beach". Phang Nga Bay is not far from Phuket and it was made famous by a James Bond Movie, in fact, they now call it "James Bond Island" locally. Phuket is a nice island and is known for its beaches, golfing, and racuous night life. Learn more about it by clicking on the location links on the left.
Kho Samui is a quieter island on the Gulf of Thailand side, it is also very beautiful but the pace of life is a little bit slower and it is quieter than Phuket (I love it there). Pattaya/Jomtien Beach is the easiest to get to since you can get there by taxi from Bangkok in about 2 hours. The beaches are not as clean as in the south, but Jomtien Beach is the nicer of the two. Pattaya is also known for its hardcore night life and the place is literally crawling with young girls working in the bars there. Learn more about both locations by clicking on the location links on the left.
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