Thailand (previously called Siam up until 1939) and is believed to have been populated dating back to the first years of civilization in Asia.
The first signs of Thailand's history date to the Bronze Age about 4,500-5,000 years ago. Important periods of Thailand’s 800-year-history include the Sukothai Period, the Ayutthaya Period, Thonburi Period and Rattanakosin Period. Each of these eras led to the construction of ancient sites like palaces, shrines and temples, and each has its own unique and lavish architectural style.
There are still plenty of ancient cities to explore in the country on the Thailand travel packages which make a stunning visual feast, while also giving the opportunity to learn more about the historical significance of the sights.
Thailand is a country that has never been colonised and therefore able to retain its culture throughout its history. Thai art, music, theatre and dance have been created and developed over the years and continue to play a worthwhile role today. Also, the country’s museums and galleries help to house the treasures of a bygone era which are certain to be a delight to see on the cultural Thailand holidays.
During the early 9th to 11th century, the civilization in the western and central regions of Thailand was controlled by the Mon race, referred to as the Dvaravati. The Mon shared a similar ancestry as the Khmers and settled in southern Burma later.
By the time the 11th and 12th century arrived, the Mon had started to gain significant influence over parts of central Thailand. The influence of the Khmer cultural included religion, art and language. The Khmer was involved in the early construction of stone temples with many renovated and available to see in the northeast of the country on the Thailand customized tour.
The Sukhothai Period (1238 to 1378) was the time when the Thai people first started to appear as a powerful force in this part of the world. Also, the Thais were able to gain power because the existing rulers: the Mon and Khmer Kingdoms were loosing their influence and control of the region. One of the original cities to emerge was Sukhothai (also called the Dawn of Happiness). Throughout this time-frame the region experienced its golden age, which was greatly influenced by the rule of King Ramkamheng the Great. The king had the ability to promote growth in relation to the arts scene, religion, economy and power. The territory ruled under the king slowly expanded until it included parts of Burma, central and eastern Thailand, and most of Laos and Malaya. The country saw a lot of prosperity with trading with other regions of the world including China. Also, during this time, the Thai alphabet was created which led to the first written records of Thailand’s history.
But, with the passing of King Ramkamheng the Great and the kings that followed, the power in the region started to gradually decline and saw the emergence of the Ayutthaya state in 1350.
The Ayutthaya period (1350 to 1767) was a major force in mainland Southeast Asia for hundreds of years and first established by King U Thong. The kingdom of Ayutthay started near the Chao Praya River basin and slowly expanded over time to include major regions of Siam (former name of Thailand) that stretched from the north (Sukhothai) to the south (Malay Peninsula). For the 417 years of the ruling history, Ayutthaya was regarded as the state capital which helped to bond the people with its unique culture, art and language. By the time the 17th century arrived, the country starting to increase commercial and diplomatic relations with other regions of the world, including the western countries. But, during this time there was constant infighting inside the country relating to the control of the throne, while also experiencing conflicts with local neighbours such as Burma.
Burma grew to become the major enemy, and with conflicts taking a serious turn in 1767 when the troops from Burma invaded Thailand and succeeded in gaining control of Ayutthaya which led to a significant amount of destruction. The ruins of this ancient city are now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular attraction to visit on the Thailand tours.
Even so, the Burmese were unable to maintain control of Siam for long. Phraya Taksin escaped from the city and made his way to Chantaburi. After recovery and building an army, the general returned to Ayutthaya and was successful in outing the Burmese occupation.
The Thonburi period (1767 to 1772) was quite short lived. On arrival in Ayutthaya and regaining control of the city, Praya Taksin made the decision to locate the country’s capital to Thonburi, which was believed to give the greater defensive position from future attacks.
But, the country found it difficult to recover from the collapse of Ayutthaya while also continuing to experience problems internally with uprisings throughout the kingdom and repeated battles with Burma. Because of these issues, the Thonburi period lasted a grand total of 15 years. One of the reasons for this was the removal of Praya Taksin (reported to go insane) who was later executed.
The Rattanakosin Period (1782 to present) saw a shift in power that led to the start of modern-day Thailand. After the death of Taksin, the country was ruled by Chao Praya Chakri, a former general who claimed the throne for himself and became the original king of the Chakri Dynasty, King Rama I.
The country’s capital was further moved to the present-day site of Bangkok with one of the major reasons to help prevent future attacks from the Burmese. With the relocation of the kingdom and boundaries secured against attack, the country was able to prosper in relation to its culture, architecture and arts. King Rama I attempted to revive the splendour of Ayutthaya by commissioning the construction of temples like the Grand Palace. Further kings that came to the throne continue to increase the prosperity in the region with more international trades, and greater interest in the arts and religion.
By the time King Rama IV and King Rama V came to power, the country had taken significant steps to modernize and diplomatic relations with other parts of the world had prospered. Even in times of Colonialism in neighbouring countries, the shrew diplomacy of the country’s rulers helped to retain its independence. In 1932 the country made the decision to change from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy, while the democratic government in 1939 changed the country name from Siam to Thailand.