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					           Faculty of Computing, Health & Science




                            THAILAND

                  BRIEFING NOTES




The Faculty Office of the Faculty of Computing, Health & Science is pleased to provide
    you with this information. Comments or changes may be advised to 6304 3453
                                 INFORMATION SOURCES


The following Background, Historical, Political, Economic and General Information
has been sourced and combined, from the following Web Sites:




Reference:         Austrade Web Online - www.austrade.gov.au
                   Aust. Dept of Foreign Affairs - www.dfat.gov.au
                   www.worldinformation.com
                   www.business-in-asia.com
                   www.countryreports.org
                   www.asiatravel.com




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BACKGROUND

Thailand (formerly Siam) is located to the north of Malaysia and also has borders with
Burma (now called Myanmar), Laos and Cambodia. It is composed of 76 provinces
with Bangkok as its capital. Thailand measures 513,000 sq km (about two-thirds the
size of NSW). It is one of the most, if not the most, friendly and tolerant countries in
the world and is known as the “land of smiles”. All people are welcome, all religions
allowed.

POLITICS

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature consisting of an
elected House of Representatives and a Senate. Since the early 1980s, there has been
considerable reform of Thailand's system of government, which is now one of the
most democratic parliamentary systems in Asia. Continuing weaknesses in the system
are the prevalence of money and personality-based politics.

The Thai constitution was amended in 1997 to reduce corruption and increase the
quality of those participating in politics. The new Constitution provided for a
significantly changed electoral system, whereby 500 MPs were elected to the House
of Representatives, 400 from single-seat constituencies and 100 from party lists. It
provided also for compulsory voting. The 1997 Constitution also transformed
Thailand's previously appointed Senate into an elected (non-party political) body.

The trend to accountability in the Thai political system has been reinforced by the
establishment of several new regulatory agencies, including the National Counter
Corruption Commission (NCCC), the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) and a
Constitutional Court.

Although few commentators believe Thai politics will be cleaned up overnight, these
generally positive developments provide optimism that the new constitution will, in
time, lead to a more accountable political culture.

Recent Political Developments in Thailand
On the evening of 19 September 2006 the Thai military, led by General Sonthi
Boonyaratglin, then Commander-in-Chief of the Army, took power while then Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was attending the UN General Assembly in New York.
The powers of government were assumed by a military junta headed by General
Sonthi. Following the coup, an interim Prime Minister, retired General and former
Privy Councillor Surayud Chulanont, was appointed and an interim constitution
approved by King Bhumibol. On 8 October, the King approved a 26-member Cabinet
chosen by Prime Minister Surayud.

On 19 August 2007 a new constitution was approved at a national referendum.
Thailand is due to hold a general election on 23 December 2007.

The September 2006 coup was the 18th in Thailand since it became a constitutional
monarchy in 1932, but the first since 1991.



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The Monarchy
The King is deeply respected and has played a stabilising, behind-the scenes role in
Thai politics during moments of crisis. Most recent examples are his intervention in
May 1992 to end the confrontation between the army and protesters calling for an end
to military involvement in politics. The King has also let it be known that he considers
the Chuan Government the most capable of dealing with Thailand's present crisis. He
is the world's longest reigning monarch and celebrated the 60th anniversary of his
accession on 9 June 2006.

ECONOMY

The Thai economy is South-East Asia's second largest, but growth is slowing. GDP
growth in 2006 was 5 per cent but the World Bank has predicted it will fall to 4.3 per
cent in 2007. Nevertheless, growth is reasonably balanced and Thailand's trade
performance improved significantly in 2006. Real interest rates – already historically
low – were cut by the Bank of Thailand (the central bank) on 17 January 2007.
Inflation had risen to a post-Asian financial crisis high of 6.2 per cent in October
2005, but eased to 3.3 per cent a year later in line with lower oil prices. Thailand's
tourism industry performed well in 2006, with arrivals up 20 per cent. Thailand's
vulnerability to external shocks has also been reduced.

Key issues for Thailand's economic outlook include the current political uncertainty,
foreign business confidence issues, a significant drop in foreign direct investment and
the prospect of lower world demand for Thai exports. Household consumption has
been an important growth driver, but has slowed. Avian influenza and its impact on
Thailand's export-focussed poultry sector remains a key risk factor.

Thailand's improved trade performance in 2006 was a key contributor to GDP growth,
although the appreciation of the baht will affect its competitiveness. Thailand's major
export earners in 2006 were machinery and electrical appliances. Thailand enjoyed a
merchandise trade surplus of US$2.2 billion in 2006, and a current account surplus of
US$3.8 billion. On 3 April 2007, Thailand signed a Free Trade Agreement with
Japan.

BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP

Australia and Thailand have longstanding, deep and broad connections, cooperating in
a broad range of areas of mutual interest, including trade and investment, law
enforcement, counter-terrorism, education, security, migration and tourism. Formal
diplomatic relations were established between Australia and Thailand in 1952. The
bilateral relationship is facilitated by mutual membership of bodies such as APEC, the
ASEAN PMC, the EAS and the Cairns Group.

Australia has strong links to the Thai Royal Family. His Majesty King Bhumibol
Aduljadej visited Australia in 1962 and the Thai Crown Prince, His Royal Highness
Maha Vajiralongkorn, studied at secondary school and military college in Australia,
subsequently completing training with the Australian Army‟s Special Air Service
Regiment in Perth.


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Australia continues to be a leading destination for Thai students and Thailand attracts
large numbers of Australians for tourism and business. Prior to Thailand‟s decision in
2003 to decline development assistance Australia was a major aid partner. Many
Thais studied in Australia under the Colombo Plan and other programs.

VISITOR INFORMATION

Visas
Visitors to Thailand who hold valid passports or travelling documents issued by any
country included in an officially issued list of eligible countries are permitted one-
month visa-free visits. If planning a longer stay, a Tourist Visa valid for 60 days must
be obtained from a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad. Visa extensions can be
applied for at the Immigration Department in Bangkok.

It is recommended that business visitors to Thailand acquire a temporary visitor‟s
visa. Visas for Australian passport holders cost A$30 for a single entry visa, A$60 for
a two entry visa or A$90 for a three entry visa. The single entry visa is valid for three
months and multiple entry visas are valid for six months. Visas must be obtained
prior to arriving in Thailand.

Holders of passports other than Australian will need to check with the Royal Thai
Embassy or Consulate whether they require a visa.

Royal Thai Consulate-General in Perth                      Tel: 9221 3237

Health

Mandatory precautions
A vaccination certificate for yellow fever is required if travelling from an infected
area.

Advisable precautions
Vaccination for diphtheria, tuberculosis, hepatitis 'A' and 'B', Japanese 'B'
encephalitis, polio, tetanus, typhoid. (If you are staying for six months or more, you
should be vaccinated against hepatitis B, rabies and Japanese encephalitis). Malaria
precautions should be taken. There is a rabies risk also dengue fever. Water should
be boiled and filtered before drinking.

Health, medical and dental care is among the best in the region. Major private
hospitals are equipped with the latest medical technology and have internationally
qualified specialists that speak English. Almost all pharmaceuticals are widely
available, nevertheless, it is advisable to have a first-aid kit with you and an
indispensable mosquito repellent.

Only limited supplies of negative blood are available from blood banks and virtually
none in the provinces, so be careful.




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There is no all-night emergency service or national emergency telephone number. In
case of difficulty, contact a hospital. Be alert to dangers of heat exhaustion and
sunburn, in particular if travelling up-country. Drink only bottled or boiled water.
Clean your teeth using bottled water available from your hotel.

Airports - International
There are four international airports in Thailand: Don Muang (Bangkok), Chiang Mai,
Phuket and Hat Yai, where one can arrive from abroad. Bangkok International
Airport, Don Muang, is one of the major air destinations in Southeast Asia, with over
45 international airlines and a number of charter companies operating flights to the
city. Thai International, the national flag carrier, flies from Bangkok to Sydney,
Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

Money exchange desks (offering the same rates as those in the city), a hotel
reservation desk, a limousine service desk and cafeteria are open 24 hours; shops and
restaurants open from 6.00 or 7.00 am to midnight.

Airport Taxis: There are counters at the entrance to the Don Muang (Bangkok) Exit
Lounge where you can hire a taxi at a fixed rate. The trip to the city will take usually
at least an hour. When departing allow 2 hours as traffic jams are frequent and you do
not want to miss your plane.

Public Taxi: Metered-taxi is available in front of terminal 1,2. Passengers are
required to pay the fare plus a surcharge of 50 Baht and toll fee. Note: Metered taxis
have to obtain a coupon designed for preventing problems which may occur, and
helping passengers in the case that they fall into trouble and need to contact the taxi
drivers. The driver‟s name will appear on the coupon which is separated into three
parts. Each of the coupon parts will be held by the passenger (s), the driver and the
Airports Authority of Thailand.

Airport Buses: There are three newly opened routes between the city and the airport:
Airport-Silom Road, Airport-Sanam Luang, Airport-Phra Khanong. A bus leaves each
terminal every 15 minutes from 5.00 am to 11.00 pm. Fare: 70 baht (A$ 2.05) per
person.
Airport Limousine: Baht 500-650 (to the city: Baht 650, Thonburi: Baht 100
surcharge)

Departure Tax: Remember to keep 500 baht (A$21.74) for departure tax which is
payable for all flights on departure.
Bangkok International Airport - Departure Information: (66 2) 535-1254, (66 2) 535-
1386; arrival: (66 2) 535-1301, (66 2) 535-1310.

Airports - Domestic
Thailand is well served with a large number of internal flights to all important cities
and tourist resorts. Domestic flight services are operated by Thai Airways
International, Phone (66 2) 280 0060, (66 2) 628 2000 and Bangkok Airways, Phone
(66 2) 229 3456. Bangkok Domestic Airport information, Phone (66 2) 535 1253.




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Ground Transport
Travelling in Bangkok has a number of problems. Pollution is worsening, driving is
slow, dangerous and confusing. Plan your appointments well ahead of time. For
convenience, safety and language reasons, taxis, hotel limousines and rented cars are
the best options for business visitors travelling in busy and vast Bangkok. Ensure that
you plan your day knowing that Bangkok traffic averages 4km an hour.

Taxis have yellow number plates and although they are metered, fares should be
agreed in advance. Tipping is not customary, but appreciated. Taxi drivers rarely
understand English and it is best to have the name and address of one's destination
written in Thai to show to the driver. Air-conditioned limousine services provided by
main hotels are more expensive than ordinary taxis. Tuk tuks are motorised trishaws.
The fastest method of city transport is by motorbike.

Thai Limousine: Baht 550-680 (Pratunam, Sukhumvit, Sathorn: Baht 550, Thonburi:
Baht 680)

Rent-a-Car: If you know Bangkok reasonably will and intend staying longer than a
few days, you could rent a car from one of the international car rental companies
which operate in Bangkok and the larger cities.

Climate
Thailand‟s tropical weather is warm and humid all year-round, with three distinct
seasons: March to May, the hottest, (April the hottest month with the largest number
of public holidays - not good for business), the heat can become oppressive as
temperatures reach over 39° C. June to October, the rainy season, is hot and very
humid. The rain falls around dusk and there is widespread flooding. Most of the day is
fine and not as hot as earlier in the year (September is the wettest month). November
to February, the coolest season (28-32° C, which is relativity high compared to
Australia) with lower humidity and minimal rainfall.

Clothing
Light clothing made of natural fibres is best suited to Thailand‟s tropical climate. In
air-conditioned offices, cars and restaurants, however, it can be very cool even by our
standards, so bring a jacket.

For business, a shirt and tie are a must. Business suits are recommended especially if
you have appointments with top decision-makers. In general, Thai business people are
more formal than Australian are and very conscious of projecting the best image.
Remember this, as first impressions are very important and lasting. Shorts and other
revealing outfits are suitable as beachwear only.

Language
The national language is Thai, a tonal language with five different tones. Thai is
extremely difficult to master. It is worth learning a few basic words and phrases, as a
little knowledge will go a long way. These will assist you greatly and be much
appreciated by Thais.

Thank you                              kop koon (followed by “krup” if you (as the speaker) are
                                       a male and “kaa” if you are a female.)

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Greeting day or evening                sa wad dee (krup/kaa)

I don‟t understand                     mai kao chai

I cannot speak Thai                    phoot Thai mai dai

How much does this cost?               nee tao- rai (krup/kaa)?

Where is the toilet?                   hong nam yoo tee nai?

Goodbye                                la gon

Pleased to meet you                    dee jai thee dai phob gan

A strong Australian accent can be difficult for Thais to understand; it is necessary to
speak slowly and clearly. The Thais are very polite and they will not admit that they
do not understand what has been said. You must ensure that effective communication
takes place, but not by speaking loudly or patronisingly, as this will meet with more
silence.

English is spoken in large restaurants; hotels, shopping centres and many Thais have a
smattering. Most road signs are in Thai and some in both Thai and English. If your
business partner has a limited command of English or you do not know Thai, ensure
that during your visit you have an interpreter working with you or ask Austrade -
Bangkok, to advise you/assist with arranging appointments and/or an interpreter and
that you follow up your appointments with a letter reconfirming the major points of
your discussion.

Tipping
Tipping is optional and not a common practice outside the major hotels and
restaurants. Show appreciation for good service as you wish. There is usually no need
to tip taxi drivers and it is very rarely done in restaurants as a service charge is
normally added. A tip of 5-10% of the bill should be left when dining in a middle or
high-class restaurant if a service charge has not been already added.

Time Zones
Thailand is one hour behind Western Australian time.

Business Hours
Government offices: Monday to Friday 8.30am to 12.00 noon, 1.00pm to 4.30pm.
Businesses: Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 5.00pm
Large Department Stores: Daily, mostly 10.00am to 8.00pm, some until 10.00pm.
Foodland: 24 hours daily. Small stores: Daily, 12 hours

Electricity
220 volt 50 cycles throughout the country. Both round and square plugs are used, so
pack an adaptor.



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Samples/Giveaways
Product samples in non-commercial quantities and giveaways which visitors bring in
when they visit Thailand are not subject to import duties or taxes.

When forwarding samples or giveaways by air or sea to a potential client you need to
declare in the accompanying documents that they: have no commercial value and are
samples only, in order for these not to be taxed upon arrival in Thailand. It is
advisable to inform the Thai consignee and provide them with a copy of the Airway
Bill prior to shipment for proper co-ordination.

Videos
VHS format is the most common type of video used in Thailand. All videos have to
be inspected by Thai customs and appropriate duties charged (30% plus 10% VAT).

Banks
Banks are open Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 3.30 pm. Bangkok Bank and foreign
exchange counters (in tourist areas) 7.00 am to 8.00 pm.

Three Australian banks are represented in Thailand: National Australian Bank,
Westpac Banking Corporation, Australian and New Zealand Banking Group. NAB
and Westpac are able to offer some banking services to Australian companies but not
personal banking facilities.

Currency
The basic monetary unit in Thailand is the Baht, which is divided into 100 satang.
Major foreign currencies can be exchanged for Thai baht with banks and authorised
money exchangers at airports, and most of the main streets of Bangkok and larger
cities. Major credit cards are also widely accepted in tourist centres.

Foreign visitors may freely bring in foreign currencies or other types of foreign
exchange. Cheques or drafts brought in must be sold to a bank within 7 days of
arrival. When leaving Thailand, you may freely take out all the foreign exchange that
you brought in. The maximum amount of Thai currency that you are permitted to take
out without prior authorisation is 50,000 baht (A$1,462) per person, or if you are
going to one of Thailand‟s neighbouring countries, 500,000 baht (A$14,624) per
person.

CONTACTS

Australian Trade Commission (Austrade)
Australian Embassy
37 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok 10120
Thailand
Phone (66 2) 287 2680 Ext 3333
Fax: (66 2) 287 2589, 679 2090

Phone (66 2) 287 2680
Fax: (66 2) 287 2029



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BUSINESS ETIQUETTE - THAILAND

Sometimes you will hear or read that Thailand is a difficult market. It is not so much
difficult as different. Once you make an effort to understand the differences and adjust
your conduct accordingly, you will find it an easier and more enjoyable market to
work in.

The Thai way of dealing with most things has developed over centuries and has been
shaped by the strong influence of Buddhism, the country‟s independent history and
cultural values. As a result, Thais are very much their own people, quietly proud of
their independence and achievements.

While in general, Thais are tolerant and easy-going people, very hospitable towards
the stranger, they do, like other nationalities, place stress on certain social customs. It
is necessary to be tolerant and patient in the process of mutual understanding.

Local Customs and Standards of Behaviour
The following points, whilst no substitute for good first-hand experience of Thai
culture, values and business norms, may assist in developing better business relations:

Thais hold both members of the royal family and Buddhism in great esteem. You will
be expected to do likewise. Proper respect should be shown to all Buddha images and
anything that bears a likeness of the king (money, documents, etc). Speaking
disrespectfully about the royal family is a criminal offence.

Touching people on the head or pointing your feet at someone is considered very rude
by Thais (big No-Nos: crossed legs, placing feet on a table or chair, or moving
something with your feet). In fact, it is the best not to touch anyone, be it on the arm,
shoulder, etc. Using a loud voice is considered ill mannered. Thais will speak softly
even at a business meeting. It is customary to take your shoes off before entering a
home or temple.

When visiting a temple, the shoulders should be covered (long sleeves). Do not wear
shorts, sandals or a revealing dress.

The most important Thai values and norms of business conduct are briefly described
below:

Build Loyalty and Trust
To be able to relate to your business contacts is more important than doing business.
Without this first step you will not achieve anything else (we call it relationship
marketing; here the relationship is the prime objective of business!). A positive
attitude, perceptive abilities, flexibility, sense of humour, a genuine win-win attitude
and patience will go a long way in developing business contacts. Social engagements
play an important role in developing trust. Maintaining a good or even a high profile
image is of paramount importance to Thais as it represents their „face‟.

Loss of „face‟ occurs when you breach trust, handling matters in a way that only takes
your interests into account. You need to create win-win solutions all the time or at


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least find compromise solutions or you will not be able to work successfully in this
market.

Business Cards
Business cards are liberally used in Thailand. It is proper business etiquette to always
present your business card. Bring many and preferably with a Thai language version
printed on the reverse side of the card if you are serious about this market.

Observe/Respect Hierarchy and Seniority
Senior officials and business people expect to be treated with respect and will most
likely meet Australian representatives in similar positions but not their juniors. They
are the decision-makers and all correspondence should be addressed to them.

Do Not Forget To Bargain
Thais will not respond well to your statement this is my best price, they need to
bargain and feel that they are winning something in the process. The approach of take
it or leave it does not work here, everything is and has to be negotiable. Your
business acumen may be judged by your ability to bargain and reach a fair deal.

Understand Doing What Is Convenient (Saduak)
If a Thai business person is late for an appointment or even fails to turn up it could
have been because of the infamous traffic or simply it was inconvenient and not a sign
of disrespect or lack of commitment. Taking the middle path, doing what is
convenient is very important and in accordance with Buddhist teaching.

Exercise Extra Politeness (Suparp)
The direct business style accepted in the West is sometimes too blunt or not
considered polite. Politeness is very important in Thailand and learnt from an early
age. Business people may not be able to deal with an impolite person.
Aggressiveness, confrontations and arrogance/rudeness are not tolerated and will
make life in Thailand difficult, if not impossible, for those that cannot control their
temper.

For example the Thai bureaucracy is well known for its slowness and red tape,
however, it is important to be patient and smile and to be prepared to compromise.
Any signs of rudeness will lead to further delay and frustration. Unresolved conflicts
result in a polite and smiling enemy.

The Thais are polite and eager to do business but they are not forceful, direct or
forthright. They do not want to hurt anyone‟s feelings and may sometimes promise
things, which they cannot fulfil. They will say yes to most of your direct questions,
and most of the time it will mean yes, I hear you, and nothing else. For this reason,
you need to elicit the truth in a way, which does not cause loss of face or
embarrassment.

Respect Self-respect
The self-respect of other people is normally considered so important that it must never
be infringed. A Thai will make a big effort not to inconvenience or upset another
person and expects the same treatment in return. Criticism or blunt confrontation can
cause loss of „face‟. Thus, Thais normally avoid conflict and keep contact with other

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people down to a minimum. It is almost taboo to oppose another person to their face.
Thais do not care for shows of anger, irritation or even raised voices. To lose one‟s
temper is considered by Thais to be the height of bad manners and achieves absolutely
nothing.

Never shout or lose your temper, if something does not seem to be happening as well
as you had expected. In the West the occasional confrontation is an acceptable way of
clearing the air, but in Thailand it will put you in a corner, bringing the walls down.

Hospitality
Enjoy Thai hospitality and smiles. Thais enjoy playing host to foreign visitors and
will expect the same treatment in return. They will use hospitality as a tool to break a
deadlock in negotiations. You will never go Dutch in Thailand, whoever invites also
pays for the entertainment and/or meal.

Thais often will smile instead off saying good morning, thank you or sorry. Please
keep this in mind and respond with a smile.

Gifts
Small, tasteful gifts will be well received as a sign of friendship and an appreciation
of hospitality. The exchange of gifts is widely practised in business in Thailand. You
need to be prepared, as it will be expected that you reciprocate. Have gifts for those
that you visit for the first time (plan your gifts well, so they are neither too thrifty nor
too expensive - your thoughtfulness will be appreciated). Gifts are opened in privacy,
not when received.

Forms of Address and Greetings
The word Khun is Thai for Mr., Mrs., Ms. or Miss. Use a Thai‟s first name when
referring to them putting Khun in front of it, eg, Khun Mallee, Khun John, etc. Thais
also have nicknames, which tend to be shorter and easier to remember. Nicknames
are used among peers or when you know an individual well. The correct form of
greeting is the wai, which is performed by placing the palms f the hands together,
raising them to the face with the finger tips at eye level and inclining the head slightly
forward. Thais do not expect foreigners to wai but are pleased when such courtesy is
shown. It is appropriate to return a wai. Normally in Thai society, the junior wais the
senior. Foreign business persons are not expected to initiate a wai. You do not wai
children, domestic staff, waiters, door attendants; acknowledge their greeting with a
nod and a smile.
The word 'ajarn' is Thai for teacher. Teachers and lecturers are respected in Thailand.
Use a Thai's first name when referring to an academic, putting Ajarn in front. Eg:
Ajarn Nalinee.




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HOTELS

A 10% service charge and 5% tax is added to all hotel bills.

The following hotels are listed on the National University Travel Consortium web site
(www.nutc.com.au). University rates have been negotiated with these hotels and are
inclusive of all charges and taxes.

            Name                    Rating         $       Min room        Approx                Location
                                                             rate           $AU
Century Park Hotel (Bkk)               4        THB        1200.00          43.75       Near National Monument &
                                                                                        Sukhumvit
Rembrandt Hotel (Bkk)                  4        THB        1800.00           65.62      Sukhumvit business area
Pan Pacific (Bkk)                      5        THB        3531.00          128.73      Silom area close to shops
Royal Orchid Sheraton                  5        THB        4300.00          156.76      Overlooking Chao Phya River
The Landmark (Bkk)                     5        THB        3400.00          123.95      Sukhumvit business area
The Peninsula (Bkk)                    5        US          188.00          284.85      Overlooking Chao Phya River

FCHS staff also use the following:

Name                              Telephone                 Fax                         Web address
Shangri-La                        662 236 7777              662 236 8579                www.shangri-la.com
Grottino Residence                668 4773 7477             662 253 6023
Siam Bayshore Hotel               663 842 8678              663 842 8730
Majestic Grande                   662 262 2999              662 262 2906                www.majesticsuites.com




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                                               Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai has been the capital of the North (Lan Na) since its foundation 700 years
ago. Until thirty years ago Chiang Mai was still a small, quiet market town servicing
the surrounding farmers and villagers. The railway reached Chiang Mai from
Bangkok in the 1920‟s, but there were no all-weather roads until the l970‟s. Hostile
surrounding countries and fear of communism also held back development.

All that has now changed and the past decade has seen remarkable growth. The “rose
of the north”, as Chiang Mai is called, has largely retained its unique characters – the
friendliness of its people, the slower pace of life, the pervasive sense of tranquillity
given by the many temples and the active devotion to Buddhism. Chiang Mai, only
one hour away by Thai International from Bangkok, has now been discovered. It is a
major tourist centre both for Thais and foreigners and a major educational centre with
three universities, well known Thai and English language schools and various
technical colleges.

HISTORY

Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 by King Mengrai of Lan Na, although traces of
neolithic culture twelve thousand years old have been found in the area. King
Mengrai succeeded in uniting its people and the scattered Thai tribes into a powerful
kingdom called Lan Na, a state strong enough to defy Kublai Khan and other
powerful neighbours and maintain its independence for 250 years. Chiang Mai fell to
the Myanmar in l558. For years it was a badly neglected backwater cut off from the
world and oppressed by its conquerors. Sometimes the Myanmar people yoke lifted
and Lan Na had years of freedom, sometimes with the Lao or the Siamese taking over.

When the Myanmar people struck at the Thai people for a second time in l776 and
utterly destroyed their capital Ayuthia, Chiang Mai was abandoned for twenty years.
Finally in 1802 the last of the Myanmar people were expelled from Thai territory and
the Prince of Chiang Mai recognised Siam as his new overlord.

It was only in the 1860‟s when American missionaries and British timber merchants
in search of souls and teak experienced difficulties that the Bangkok government took
firm administrative control of the north fearing the French or British might annex it,
or indeed, colonise the whole country.
The last northern revolt was suppressed in 1902 and Chiang Mai became a firm and
loyal part of Thailand. Compulsory Thai education has resulted in the virtual
extinction of the old Lan Na script, but all northerners still speak it as well as
Bangkok Thai. Respect for the Monarchy, a shared religion, national pride and the
excellent communications of all kinds now make Chiang Mai an important and
integral part of the Thai nation.

Airport – Domestic
Thai International Airways operate 10 flights a day between Bangkok and Chiang Mai
and there are connecting flights to many other cities in Thailand and neighbouring
countries.

Ground Transport

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There are excellent road, rail and air communications between Chiang Mai, Bangkok
and other regional centres.

The vast road building programme of the 1970‟s and 1980‟s has opened up all areas
of the country and in particular the northern region, many parts of which were almost
inaccessible because of the difficult mountainous country. It now takes nine hours to
reach Bangkok by coach or car.

The first bridge over the Mekong River to Laos was constructed with Australian aid.
There are now three more bridges taking roads from northern Thailand through Laos
and Burma to China.

The railway system is slow, comfortable and reliable. Many trains run daily between
Bangkok and Chiang Mai and the journey takes between 10 to 12 hours.

Climate

The hottest months are March to May. It can reach 40C. The rains from May to
October are often heavy, but seldom last long. November to February are lovely
months – cool at night and warm in the day with clear skies and no rain.

Accommodation

There are five star hotels such as the Westin and Holiday Inn with service, food and
facilities which place them in the forefront of those in any city in the world. There are
also smaller hotels and over 200 guest houses whose friendly family atmosphere and
low prices endear them to the younger generation.



Reference:         Austrade Web Online - www.austrade.gov.au
                   Aust. Dept of Foreign Affairs - www.dfat.gov.au
                   www.worldinformation.com
                   www.asiatravel.com/thailand.html
                   www.nutc.com.au




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