Thailand is known as ‘the land of smiles’ and anyone who has been lucky enough to visit, knows why.
The first thing many visitors notice is the gracious Thai greeting, the Wai. To Wai, the palms are pressed together as in prayer, as you bow slightly. Although traditionally used as a greeting, it is also used as a way to express gratitude, or apologise, or farewell.
From the bustling centre of Bangkok to the beachside retreats made famous by many a movie, a gracious and gentle warmth comes from everyone you meet, which is as intrinsic to Thai culture as the exotic flavours of the cuisine.
Wherever a Thai meal is served; in a restaurant, on a Bangkok street, or at home, the meal is a relaxed and sociable affair and eaten in the company of family and friends. It is not divided into separate courses, the dishes are all brought to the table at the same time and diners help themselves to a little of each, picking, mixing and tasting – even the soups are part of the main meal. Read More>>
Centred around rice or rice noodles, a typical meal might include soup, two curries, a salad, a steamed dish, and a fried dish. Read More>> Each on its own would be suitable as a single, substantial snack. Harmony in flavours is key, but the appearance of Thai food is also very important, with contrasting colours (e.g. sliced red chillies atop a green curry) used to provoke appetite.
There are two key events in the Thai calendar that we like to recognise:
Songkran is the Thai New Year festival, falling on the 13th of April every year, but celebrated until the 15th. Representing transformation or change, it is rich with symbolic traditions. Mornings begin with merit-making (giving with the notion of purity and goodness). Visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks is commonly practiced, whilst pouring water on Buddha statues, the young and the elderly is considered an iconic ritual, representing purification and the washing away of one's bad luck. The holiday is known for its water festival, when major streets are closed to traffic and used as arenas for water fights.
Loy Krathong, literally “to float” is about paying respect to the Goddess of the Water, showing gratitude for the plentiful use of water and asking for forgiveness for its pollution. It is also about getting rid of misfortune that has happened in the past and asking for good luck in the future. For this, people float a “krathong” in the river. In North Thailand, the festival coincides with ‘Lanna’ festival, which is all about lanterns. If you are visiting Chiang Mai during this time, you’re in for a treat. The Loy Krathong festival takes place on the evening of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. That date changes every year. In 2018 the dates are November 21, 22 and 23.