Thailand borders Laos to the northeast and east, Cambodia to the southeast, the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia to the south, the Andaman Sea to the southwest, Myanmar to the west and north. The core area of Thailand is the basin of the Chao Phraya , in particular the alluvial plain surrounded by terraced and hilly land, 250-300 km long, up to 100 km wide on the coast and interspersed with small limestone cliffs. It barely rises above sea level (Bangkok 2 m, Ayutthaya 4 m above sea level) and is flooded to a large extent every year in the rainy season (especially at the end of September and October). Since the 16th century, dams, sluices, irrigation and drainage canals have been built for land development, wet rice cultivation and flood protection. In Bangkok in the 19th and 20th In the 19th century many canals (klongs) were filled in again for road construction.
To the west of the Chao Phraya basin extends to the Burmese border, a mountainous country of north-south-trending, 1,500–2,000 m high chains, which are little developed and which form a natural barrier against the neighboring country. Only the Mae Klong valley with the Three Pagoda Pass (about 600 m above sea level) provides good access to the border with Myanmar. The railway line Bangkok – Moulmein (with the bridge over the Kwai, Khwae Noi) was interrupted again by the isolation of Burma. In the northwest of the country near the border with Myanmar are the wildlife sanctuaries Thung Yai and Huai Kha Khaeng (UNESCO World Natural Heritage), among others. for tigers, elephants, bears and tapirs. To the north the mountain ranges become higher and mostly reach 1,800–2,500 m above sea level (in Doi Inthanon 2,565 m above sea level); they enclose elongated intramontaneous pelvis, inter alia. those of Chiang Mai, Lampang, Pong, Nan, Fang and Chiang Rai. To the south, the mountains continue on the Malay Peninsula, which is in the isthmus of Kra has its narrowest point. The tin ores bound to granites were mined here on secondary deposits (soaps). The compensation coast on the Gulf of Thailand faces the submerged west coast with numerous offshore islands (including Phuket) and steep karst rocks.
The northeast of Thailand is occupied by the Khorat plateau (Isan), framed by mountain ranges in the west (Dong Phaya Yen; UNESCO World Heritage Site) and south. The mountainous country southeast of Bangkok, in continuation of the Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia, reaches 1,633 m above sea level in the Khao Soidao-Tai.
In the 2000s, Thailand was hit by two major natural disasters. At Christmas 2004 a tsunami caused severe damage in southern Thailand. The 2011 floods mainly hit the fertile heartland along the Chao Phraya.
The climate is shaped by the monsoonal rhythm. Most of the precipitation comes from the southwest monsoon , which blows from the Indian Ocean from mid-May to October; on the windward side of the mountains fall to over 5,200 mm / year (maximum at Ranong). During the northeast monsoon (November – January) there is generally dry season, only on the east side of the Malay Peninsula is the main rainy season. In accordance with the tropical climate, the temperatures (in the lowlands on average 26–28 ° C) fluctuate only slightly over the course of the year, most of them in the mountains (in Chiang Mai around 8 ° C); the daily fluctuations are pronounced. Check thedressexplorer to see When Is the Best Time to Travel to Thailand.
Vegetation and wildlife
About 32% of the country is still covered by forests (1950: 60%). Where there is high precipitation and high temperatures, tropical rainforests dominate (Malay Peninsula, southeast Thailand, on the edge of the Khorat plateau). Otherwise deciduous forests predominate, including above all the dry dipterocarpus forests and moist, species-rich monsoon forests (with teak and timber). In the mountains they merge into tropical mountain forests at around 1,500 m above sea level; in places there is also a mountain pine forest. On the coasts of the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea there are still remnants of mangrove and nipa palm populations available. With the deforestation of the forests, the originally high biodiversity disappeared.
Thailand is known for its extremely diverse wildlife. The country is the habitat of elephants, leopards, tigers, sun bears and monkeys. There are also countless species of insects and birds. Crocodiles and snakes live in the wetlands. Protected areas have been set up to preserve the animal world.