Located in a fertile, tropical landscape in the heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand is a mosaic of diversity and culture. A nation of over 60 million, the Thai sense of identity is allied with Buddhism and the Monarchy. It is a country proud of its independence, rich heritage and tradition, but it has also adapted and embraced the rapid change brought about by globalization.
Thailand is a warm and rather humid tropical country with monsoonal climate. There are three seasons. Hot and Dry: March – May, Rainy: June – October, Cool: November – February. Because Chiang Mai sits in a valley surrounded by mountains, the weather tends to be milder than in Bangkok and other parts of the country.
The population in Thailand as of 2015 is 65,729,098, of which more than 10 million live in the capital city, Bangkok. The population of Chiang Mai is 170,000 in the city proper, but there are more than one million in the metropolitan area. Along with a large Thai population, there are also many ethnic Hill Tribes in Chiang Mai and the surrounding northern regions.
The national language is Thai. The Thai language is tonal, meaning that when you speak a word, the pitch of your voice is an integral part of that word. If you speak with the wrong pitch, you are saying a different word. For example, in Thai, the word that sounds (roughly) like “maa” means “to come,” but the word that sounds (roughly) like “maa?” means “dog” or “horse” depending on how you say it.
Buddhism is the primary religion in Thailand. Buddhists comprise 94.2% of the population, with Muslims at 4.6%, Christians at 0.8%, and others at 0.4%. There is a well known and widely accepted saying in Thailand: “To be Thai is to be Buddhist, to be Buddhist is to be Thai.” Buddhism is so closely intertwined within Thai culture that it impacts almost every area of life in Thailand.
Bangkok and Chiang Mai have numerous clinics and hospitals catering to a variety of needs and are generally well regarded within SE Asia. Major public and private hospitals are equipped with the latest medical technology and internationally qualified specialists. Almost all pharmaceuticals are widely available.
220 volts, 50 cycles throughout the country.
Thai Baht is the standard currency unit.
Chiang Mai and its surrounding province is an area of land with thousands of years of history. Its old walled city, including a moat, harkens back to a long ago era before Chiang Mai was joined with the country of Thailand. With its mist covered mountains, ethnic Hill Tribe villages, rolling rivers, historic temples, and wild elephants, it is a place where inspiring scenery and the potential for adventure abounds. It is also known as one of the most livable cities in the world, enjoyed for its low cost of living and modern conveniences. There are many grocery stores with imported items, along with five shopping malls, theaters, and Western restaurants. One third of the world’s population lives within a three hour plane ride from Chiang Mai, making it a strategic hub for travel and a popular base of operations for missionary work.