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Moving to Thailand: What You Need to Know

Thailand, once called Siam, is known for its unique cuisine, tropical islands, colourful shopping and sacred temples.  It attracts of tourists and immigrants from all over the world every year. Whether you’re still entertaining the thought of joining them or have already decided to go, there are a number of important things you need to know about Thailand to make the change easier. But first of all, here are some basic facts about the Kingdom of Thailand so you know what to expect.

The Regions

Thailand is divided into several regions and provinces. The main ones are: Northern Thailand, Northeastern Thailand, Central Thailand, Eastern Thailand and Southern Thailand. Northern Thailand is home to mountain villages and cities like Chang Mai, where you’ll get a more historical perspective of the country. Northeastern Thailand, or Isan, is bordered by Laos to the north and east, and by Cambodia to the Southeast. This is really off the beaten track in terms of tourism and it’s there to discover. Central Thailand on the other hand is the most populated region of the country and features the capital city, Bangkok. The east coast of Thailand is an extremely popular holiday destination due to beaches like Ko Samet, and lastly there is Southern Thailand with its full moon parties and island hopping tours. You can find out more about the regions and provinces of Thailand here: http://www.tourismthailand.org/Thailand/geography.

The Weather

Thailand’s seasons can be divided into three: hot, cool and rainy. The climate differs depending on which coast you go to. The weather fluctuates dramatically between the dry and wet season on the Southern coast, and a lot of tourists visit between November and February to avoid the seasonal peaks. The official website of the Authority of Thailand (http://www.tourismthailand.org/Thailand/weather) goes into more detailon how the weather affects different parts of the country and when best to be there.

The Culture

Thailand is a country steeped in tradition and culture. It has a combination of strong Indian influences, Chinese traditions and elements that are uniquely Thai. With a monarchy, temples and attractions of great spiritual importance, Thai culture is deeply influenced by religion. The belief system and values of Buddhism play a significant role in the day-to-day life of the people. As a foreigner in Thailand this may be unfamiliar to you so it’s a good idea to brush up on the culture to avoid offending the locals. This website is useful when it comes to learning the different customs, manners and etiquette: http://www.tourismthailand.org/Thailand/weather.

On the whole though, Thailand is a very friendly country and the Thai people will impress you with their warmth and hospitality.

The Language

The language of Thailand is of course Thai. It is a difficult language to learn but it would certainly be worth it if you intend to settle down there. A lot of people do speak English because of the importance of tourism in Thailand. You should not have too much difficulty communicating but be prepared to use some hand gestures to help you when necessary. If you are planning to learn Thai, make sure you visit this (http://www.learn4good.com/great_schools/thai_language_courses_thailand.htm) website to find the right language classes for you.

The Food & Drink

Thai food is is popular all over the world. The local Thai cuisine uses fragrant, fresh ingredients for some truly delicious meals such as the well-known Pad-Thai and Panang curry. These dishes are readily available throughout the country but it’s always worth visiting the street food stalls for some great tasting and very cheap food. Admittedly, it may take some time to adjust to the rich and spicy ingredients, but freshly cooked food in front of your eyes makes for a great meal and a mouth watering spectacle!

Many regions have local dishes that are unique to them. An example of this is the Khantok dinner in Northern Thailand. Find out more about the different regions here: http://www.thaiwaysmagazine.com/thai_foods/thai_food_north.html.

This (http://www.khaosanroad.com/index.php/en/thailand/359-food-and-drink-in-thailand-) website takes a close look at popular dishes in Thailand as well as the flavours commonly associated with Thai food. Vegetable, soups and noodle dishes are popular in Thailand with many local variations. They also have translations of foods.

When it comes to drinks, Chang beer is one of the cheapest around and probably the best value for money if you fancy a cold one. Take a look at this link (http://thaholiday.com/top-5-drinks-in-thailand/) for an unofficial insight to the top 5 drinks in Thailand. Ok, you might say it’s a little touristy, but we think it nails the best drinks in Thailand. That said though, it misses out on one that you will begin to discover is everywhere, the fruit shake. Fresh fruit is blended with ice on just about every street corner in Southern Thailand as well as in the more touristy areas. Try it for yourself!