Geography, climate, and government
Thailand is easily divided into six regions, which are as follows:
The mountainous north [including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Sorn]
The north east plateau [commonly called Isaan]
The central plains [Bangkok, surrounding areas etc]
The coastal east [Rayong, Pattaya, Trat etc]
The south / The Islands [Phuket, Phang Nga etc]
The Deep South [Yala, Hat Yai, Songkhla etc]
The mountainous north is quite rugged and home to thousands of isolated villages. It can get cold in this region, down to a few degrees above zero early in the evening and early morning, especially during the rainy season.
The north east plateau is widely populated and is bordered by the Mekong River.
The central plains are flat and used for both agriculture and industry alike. The capital city, Bangkok, is located at the south of these plains, just inland from the Gulf of Thailand. It can be incredibly hot, humid, and still during the summer months. Be prepared!
The coastal east is a popular retreat for many Bangkokians, and is home to Pattaya, one of the larger resort and conference cities in Thailand. Rayong, with its port facilities on the Gulf of Thailand, is also a large industrial centre.
The two southern districts are undulating, with the Kra Isthmus leading to the Malay Peninsula.
Thais often joke that there are really only three seasons in Thailand–hot, hotter, and really hot. In reality, though, you can find a cooler season with the monsoons coming around the middle of the year, usually June to October. From November through to February, while still quite hot during the day, it can get a bit cool at night and early in the morning. The hottest period, especially in Bangkok, is the March to June period, except in the southern provinces where it is just plain hot all the time.
The head of government in Thailand is the Prime Minister. This position is usually given to the leader of the largest party in the government. Thailand has a bicameral parliament, with a House of Representatives [500 seats] and a Senate [200 seats].
Members of both houses are elected by popular vote. All Thais can vote once they are 18 years of age.
Thailand is an active member of the regional Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and hosted the regional meeting in 2003. Note: the entire city will shut down, with schools and government offices and many private companies closing during times when large functions such as this are on. This is mainly to avoid having large traffic jams and other problems while the VIPs are here. Unless you are attending the meeting, it’s a good idea to avoid visiting Bangkok for business during these times.
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