"If you have time for but one
  province in China, Yunnan should
  be it.
"
           
- Lonely Planet
 

 

Volunteer in Kunming, Yunnan,
a city with year-round Spring weather. Trips to 26 cultures &
5 nearby countries.

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Thailand


Though Yunnan does not have a direct border connection, there is a close link between Yunnan and Thailand. Anthropologists have believed that the Thais, the main population in Thailand, share the same ancestral roots with the Dais, one of the ethnic groups living primarily in southern Yunnan. There are many similarities in their cultures, customs, and religious beliefs. The no-longer widely used ancient Dai language has a lot of in common with the Thai language. You still can find the similarities between the present Dai language and that of the Thai language. The Lancang-Mekong river runs through seven countries of Southeast Asia, passes both Yunnan and Thailand; Yunnan and Thailand are two of the most active members in the Great Mekong Sub-Region (GMS). Bilateral economic and trading activities have become more and more frequent. Official foreign diplomatic relationships, as well as people-to-people diplomacy at grassroots level, are improving for the better. Apart from the waterway of the Lancang-Mekong River, there are frequent airplane flights between the two countries. The newly opened expressway linking Kunming and Bangkok added another option in 2008 for people to travel back and forth.  Due to these convenient transportation options and the close geological position, Thailand has become one of Yunnan's top tourist source countries, and vice verse, Thailand has long been one of the most chosen travel destinations for people from Yunnan province.  

Because of its exotic subtropical sceneries, its profound Buddhist cultures, its unique folk customs, and well known for its abundant tourist attractions, Thailand is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Southeast Asia for people from all over the world.

Located in the center of the Indo-China peninsula, Thailand borders with Myanmar in the northwest, Malaysia in the southwest, Laos in the northeast and Cambodia in the southeast. It is a melting pot of multicultural races. With Thai as the major population, there are other groups like Chinese, Burmese, Malay, Indian and Laos.

The mountain areas are covered by dense vegetations, within which are a great number of rare flowers and animals. Many of these areas have been assigned to be nature reserves or forest parks. Mountains, waterfalls, lakes and wild animals, all these contribute to the breathtaking landscapes and are beckoning tourists from everywhere.

The major tourist cities in Thailand are “the City of Angels” Bangkok, the holy land for Buddhism pilgrimage, Chiang Mai, and tourism regions are Pattaya, the Oriental Venice, Phuket, the pearl of Thailand, the golden triangle and the Ayuthaya, the ancient capital city of the Siam kingdom. The major tourist attractions are the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok and Wat Prasing of Chiang Mai.

With over 90% of the population following Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism has been regarded as the national religion of Thailand. Thailand is known as “A Country with Thousands of Buddha”, and is reputed as a “Yellow Roped Buddhist Country”. It is a country that has been influenced by Buddhism culture for almost 2000 years. In this mysterious land, there are over 30,000 ancient Buddhist temples and magnificent palaces, all of which have mystical and legendary stories. The temple architectures are grand and spectacular, elegant in every detail of the buildings. They are the best representatives and icons of Thai culture and regarded as the “Museum of Thai Arts”. People from all over the world are attracted to experience the mysterious Buddhism cultures.

 Bangkok

Over the years Bangkok, as the capital city of Thailand, has undergone dramatic change. It is transforming into a modern, dynamic and cosmopolitan city. Visitors are presented a city with modern development as well as the glamour of ancient history. It is where the ancient meets the modern.

As you travel around Bangkok, you will notice that temples are one of the most fascinating themes of the city. There are more than 400 Buddhist temples, each with its own beauty and distinction. Different temples with various characteristics earn the name “City of Angels” for the capital city of Thailand. Early morning will be the best time to visit most temples. There are less crowds and the weather is more comfortable for walking. It is also an opportunity for you to witness how monks practice their beliefs, as most of Buddhist ceremonial activities are preformed in the morning.

Some of the temples are:

Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which enshrines the Emerald Buddha carved from a single block of jade; Wat Arun in Bangkok, also called the Temple of Dawn, which is believed to have hosted the victorious King Taksin after a fight against the Burmese army at the dawn; Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, which is the largest Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It earns its fame for hosting a gigantic reclining Buddha statue 46 meters long.  Wat Mahathat, Thailand’s Buddhism monastery Vipassana Meditation Center, is a place where you can study Buddhist ideas and participate in meditation. There are English services available for foreigners. There are also many other temples like: Wat Traimit (Temple of Golden Buddha), Wat Sutat (Great Swing), and Wat Saket (Temple of the Golden Mount). Stroll around the city and explore the tranquility and calmness derived from Buddhism.

The Grand Palace in Bangkok 

This is definitely one of the must-see sights in Bangkok, one of the most eye-catching landmarks in Bangkok. Since its construction in 1782, it has served as the royal residence for the Thai kings.  

  Bangkok Museums

Museums are the windows for you to peek into the cultures and history of a nation. There are many museums in Bangkok which serve this purpose. The Ancient City is a place where the country’s historical significant structures are displayed as smaller replicas. Constructions, including palaces, pavilions, temples, halls, and Buddha images, are arranged according to their geographic position. M.R. Kukrit's Home is the museum which was the residence of Thailand’s talented Prime Minister during 1974 an 1975. Bangkok National Museum, located just next to the Grand Palace, hosts the largest collection of art and crafts in Thailand. Bangkok Folk Museum is a folk house turned museum. With classical setting and items, it presents what the life of a middle class family was like during the time of World War II. There are many museums for you to explore at your convenience: Children's Discovery Museum, Erawan Museum, Suan Pakkad Palace, Corrections Museum, Forensic Museum, House of Museums, Kamthieng House, among others.

Riverside scenery

There is a close co-relationship between the history of Bangkok and the rivers running through it. Rivers like Chao Phraya, which used to be called “Venice of the East”, and many other canals witness the evolving of the city. Bangkok’s most classic attractions are located along the river, such as Grand Palace, the Temple of Dawn and Wat Phra Kaew. At the same time, it is also where a number of the best five- star hotels are located. The riverside is where you get the sense of people’s real everyday life. 

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is located in northern Thailand where the earliest Thai civilization was born and cultivated. It is the home of many cultural and archaeological interests. It is also known for its wide spectrums of diverse cultures, among which the most appealing one is the indigenous ethnic culture.

Formerly serving as the capital to the Lanna Thai Kingdom from the 12th to 18th century, throughout history it has grown to be the hub of economics, culture, tourism and communication. It is the second largest city in Thailand. It is the sister city of Kunming, China.

Like in many other parts of Thailand, there are many Buddhist temples, or Wats, in this region. Some of the famous ones are: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai's most famous and obvious landmark; Wat Phra That Doi Kham, one of the oldest sacred temples, which was originally built in 687 A.D.; Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong, built in mid 1400s, and has precious collections of relics of Buddha; Wat Chiang Man, which can be dated from 1296, originally served as the residence for the founder of Chiang Mai, King Mengrai; Wat Suan Dok, which was built in the 14th century for the purpose of serving as the garden for the Lanna Thai monarch. Its beautiful scenery makes it heaven for photographers.

San Kamphaeng Cotton and Silk Weaving Village

The village is known for being the production site of most Thai silk and cotton in Chiang Mai. The woven fabrics are produced according to a traditional technique on the wooden looms. Products of different varieties are available for customers to buy. The village is about 13 KM (8 miles) from town.

Festivals

Being the cradle of Thai cultures, Chiang Mai has preserved many traditional festivals. It is one of the best places to observe how these festivals are celebrated.

The important ones are the Flower Festival, on the first Friday and weekend of every February when flowers blossom in season; the Songkran, on the 13-15 of April each year, is a festival to mark the traditional Thai New Year with religious ceremonies; and Loi Krathong, which falls on the first full-moon night of the twelfth lunar month (November). During this festival, people float rafts down the river made from banana plants and decorated with lit candles, flowers, incense and other things.

Sukhothai

This is a place of history and one of the must-visit sites. Sukhothai Historical Park, is honored to be a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In the history of Thailand, Sukhothai was known as being the first sovereign Thai kingdom. Later on when the kingdom reached its apex, King Ramkhamhaeng reformed the old Thai alphabets in 1283. A new one was introduced and it has been used ever since.

Sukhothai Historical Park

What people can see now in the Sukhothai Historical Park was the co-effort preservation of the National Fine Art Department and UNESCO. It is the site of ruins of royal palaces, various parts of the old city and Buddhist temples. It is the site of a fine display of the spirit of Thailand and the cultural heritage of mankind as a whole.

Besides this UNESCO honored site, there are other options for visitors to enjoy their stay in Sukhothai: Si Satchanalai National Park provides exclusive outing experiences; Sangkhalok Museum showcases ceramic wares; Ramkhamhaeng National Park (Khao Luang Sukhothai) presents a perfect combination of natural beauty and a good sense of the historical; Si Satchanalai Historical Park boasts a whole collection of temples.


 

 

Impact Abroad provides International Volunteering & Community Service Opportunities
to people in the western world to help children in Yunnan, China

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