A land of bewitching natural beauty, magnificent islands, exotic wilderness and fascinating culture, Thailand offers a magical location for romantics, explorers and holiday-makers alike. Start your journey together in one of the most enchanting places on earth.
Thailand has recently experienced somewhat of a tourism boom, with sun-seekers, beach lovers and adventurers flocking to this magical kingdom in search of untouched beaches, lush tropical rainforests, unique wildlife and vibrant local culture. The country is home to more than 100 national parks, from beaches, islands and forests to mountains, plains and mangroves.
Ideally located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia, Thailand is bordered at its north by Myanmar (Burma) and Laos and at its eastern edge by Laos and Cambodia. Perfectly located just 15 degrees north of the equator, to the south lies the Gulf of Thailand, and to the west the Andaman Sea. Covering an area of approximately 514,000 square kilometres, Thailand is nearly equal in size to Spain. The Andaman Sea is home to some of the most popular and luxurious resorts in Asia. Phuket, Krabi, Ranong, Phang Nga and Trang and their verdant islands all lie along the coasts of the Andaman Sea.
Thailand is a country of extremes: the juxtaposition of rugged mountains against lush tropical forests, expansive rice fields in the central regions, the bustling, buzzing capital cities and the picturesque bays and post-card perfect beaches draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to the country every year, and ensnare many expats into staying long-beyond their intended departure date.
You'll find that every Thai beach and island has a personality all of its own, each one, therefore, drawing a different type of visitor. Whether you're a thrill seeker looking for a more 'back-to-basics' holiday, or a loved up couple looking for some peace and quiet and that little slice of heaven, Thailand offers everything from upscale resorts, to budget beach bungalows, world class nightlife, adventure-filled treks and laid-back, relaxed romance.
Thailand is blessed with a tropical climate, and is warm and humid across most of the country for most of the year. The country experiences three distinct seasons: the cool season, the hot season and the rainy season. The cool season occurs from November to February, the hot season from February to May and the rainy season is from May to November; but most coastal areas remain relatively unaffected. Fortunately, the rainy season in the central, northern and north-eastern regions occurs at a slightly different time to the rainy season in the southern region, meaning you'll be able to find a sunny beach almost year-round. In the hot season, temperatures range anywhere from 20C to above 40C, but even in the cool and rainy seasons, the temperatures still remain in the mid 20s, meaning Thailand is ideal for weddings almost year-round. The average temperature is about 28C.
Sea temperatures range from 27C to 31C year round, meaning the water is pleasant for swimming, surfing and snorkelling throughout the year.
If you're looking for a tropical escape with more, Thailand is for you. The country positively beams with a radiant glow, from its gilded temples and glorious beaches to the ever-present warmth of the Thai smile. Not only will you find unspoilt beaches and hidden coves with velvety golden sand, you'll be blown away by the exotic flora and fauna that abound in this tranquil island sanctuary. Religion in Thailand pervades all areas of life: about 95% of the Thai people practice Theravada Buddhism, the offical religion of Thailand. Buddhist temples, images of the Buddha and a host of shrines to Hindu gods are scattered throughout Bangkok and the countryside. Thai people frequently light incense and make offerings and prayers. Buddhism is a very tolerant religion, and you'll find the Thai people are very compassionate and respectful of other religious beliefs. Some temples allow visitors to learn the basics of meditation, and even chat with monks to help them gain more of an understanding of Buddhism.
Thailand truly is a land of diversity, with the northern peaks home to exotic wildlife and fascinating hill tribes, the central plains (otherwise known as the 'Rice Bowl of Asia') are primarily agricultural land, bearing abundant rice crops, but are also a cultural centre for the production of numerous handcrafted goods, art, folksongs and local legends. The north-eastern plateau stretches down the Mekong River border with Laos, home to dense forests, charming fields and breathtaking waterfalls. To the east you'll find delightful seaside provinces, surrounded by mountains interspersed with flat plains, large fruit plantations, forests and waterfalls and to the south are some of the most beautiful bays and beaches in the world.
Thailand is often known as "The Land of Smiles" not only because visitors adore its natural beauty and rich history and fascinating culture, but also because the country is home to some of the friendliest, most fun-loving people you'll ever meet.
What you'll need
To enter Thailand
Australian passport holders are not required to obtain a visa before entering Thailand as a visitor. Visas are issued on arrival in Thailand on the condition that: your passport is valid for at least six months from the intended date of departure from Thailand, you do not intend to stay longer than 30 days. You must also be able to provide proof of return or onward travel. If you wish to stay longer than 30 days you must obtain a tourist visa from a Royal Thai Embassy or a Consulate abroad.
To be married in Thailand
To be legally married in Thailand you will need to allow about five working days in Bangkok to satisfy all the legalities and for paperwork to be completed and authorised. You must make an affirmation (statutory declaration) of freedom to marry in person at the Australian Embassy in Bangkok. You'll be asked to give specifics of your marital status, proof of a permanent address in Australia, your occupation, income and references on a form. If either of the prospective spouses are divorced or widowed, you must provide an original divorce certificate or death certificate. Note: Women who have been divorced less than 12 months may not marry in Thailand.
You will then need to:
- Have the affirmation translated into Thai
- Present both the English and Thai version of the affirmation to the appropriate authorities at the Thai Ministry for Foreign Affairs to be authenticated and certified.
- Register your marriage at any district office in any province of Thailand by producing the documentation above
- Once the application for marriage is granted by the District Officer, you will be issued with a Thai Marriage Certificate as well as your Marriage Registration
- The Thai Marriage Certificate and Marriage Registration will then need to be translated into English and presented to the appropriate authorities at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs for certification, so that it can be used in Australia for legal purposes.
While you're there
Thailand is famous for its pristine beaches and wonderful water activities. Swim with reef sharks, snorkel amongst the coral, frolic with whale sharks and manta rays or take a scuba diving course. Take a bike tour through Bangkok, past markets and temples, through lane ways and canals, it's the perfect way to discover one of the most vibrant cities on earth. For the more adventurous among you: zipline through the forest canopy some 1300m above sea level, following the branch-to-branch style of a gibbon. Visit the Baan Chang Elephant Park and learn about these beautiful animals and their preservation, you can even take care of an elephant for the day or ride bareback through the jungle.
Take a hike through some of the more mountainous regions, stopping for lunch at a waterfall, take a local cooking class at the Krabi Thai Cookery School, take a tour around the Trang Islands, or an overnight camping trip to Ko Nui. Enjoy a river cruise along the Mae Ping on a traditional style craft known as a 'scorpion tailed boat'. Indulge yourself at the Thai Massage Conservation Club where all the masseuses are blind, but are considered to be expert practitioners due to their heightened sense of touch. Visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok - considered the most visited and most recognised landmark in Thailand, or take a walk on the Bridge over the River Kwai, made famous by several books and films, the bridge spans Maenam Khwae Yai which is a branch of Maenam Mae Klong. Or if you're partial to a bit of Hollywood-infused island paradise, why not visit the island of Koh Phi Phi, which set the location for the 2000 adventure film The Beach.
No matter what you decide to do, Thailand will absolutely ignite your senses, infuse your soul and ensnare your heart.
For more information visit au.tourismthailand.org
Currency: Thai baht
Current exchange rate: 29.63 THB for 1.00 AUD
Offical languages: Thai
At time of publishing.