There is evidence of human habitation in Thailand that has been dated at 40,000 years before the present, with stone artifacts dated to this period at Tham Lod Rockshelter in Mae Hong Son. Similar to other regions in Southeast Asia, Thailand was heavily influenced by the culture and religions of India, starting with the Kingdom of Funan around the 1st century CE to the Khmer Empire. Thailand in its earliest days was under the rule of the Khmer Empire, which had strong Hindu roots, and the influence among Thais remains even today.
The ruins of Wat Chaiwatthanaram at Ayutthaya
Indian influence on Thai culture was partly the result of direct contact with Indian settlers, but mainly it was brought about indirectly via the Indianized kingdoms of Dvaravati, Srivijaya, and Cambodia. E.A. Voretzsch believes that Buddhism must have been flowing into Siam from India in the time of the Indian Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Empire and far on into the first millennium after Christ. Later Thailand was influenced by the south Indian Pallava dynasty and north Indian Gupta Empire.
According to George Cœdès, “The Thai first enter history of Farther India in the eleventh century with the mention of Syam slaves or prisoners of war in” Champa epigraphy, and “in the twelfth century, the bas-reliefs of Angkor Wat” where “a group of warriors” are described as Syam. Additionally, “the Mongols, after the seizure of Ta-li on January 7, 1253 and the pacification of Yunnan in 1257, did not look with disfavor on the creation of a series of Thai principalities at the expense of the old Indianized kingdoms.” The Menam Basin was originally populated by the Mons, and the location of Dvaravati in the 7th century, followed by the Khmer Empire in the 11th. The History of the Yuan mentions an embassy from the kingdom of Sukhothai in 1282. In 1287, three Thai chiefs, Mangrai, Ngam Muang, and Ram Khamhaeng formed a “strong pact of friendship”.
After the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 13th century, various states thrived there, established by the various Tai peoples, Mons, Khmers, Chams and Ethnic Malays, as seen through the numerous archaeological sites and artefacts that are scattered throughout the Siamese landscape. Prior to the 12th century however, the first Thai or Siamese state is traditionally considered to be the Buddhist Sukhothai Kingdom, which was founded in 1238.
Following the decline and fall of the Khmer empire in the 13th–15th century, the Buddhist Tai kingdoms of Sukhothai, Lanna, and Lan Xang (now Laos) were on the rise. However, a century later, the power of Sukhothai was overshadowed by the new Kingdom of Ayutthaya, established in the mid-14th century in the lower Chao Phraya River or Menam area.
Cairo – the capital of Egypt, home to the Giza Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum and fabulous Islamic architecture
Alexandria – Egypt’s window on the Mediterranean, with still-palpable glimpses of the past
Aswan – a more relaxed option, full of amazing sights
Luxor – gateway to the Valley of the Kings, amongst other fabulous attractions
Hurghada – a town on the Red Sea, filled with all-inclusive resorts and diving
Cairo International Airport
Luxor International Airport
Aswan International Airport
Hurghada International Airport
Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport
Burg Al-Arab International Airport
Marsa Alam International Airport
As a major tourist destination whose economy is dependent upon tourist money, Egypt is relatively easy to enter and/or obtain visas for if necessary. There are three types of Egyptian visa:
Tourist Visa – usually valid for a period not exceeding 3 months and granted on either a single or multiple entry basis
Entry Visa – required for any foreigner arriving in Egypt for purposes other than tourism, e.g. work, study, etc. The possession of a valid Entry Visa is needed to complete the residence procedure in Egypt.
Transit Visa – rarely needed and only for certain nationalities
Entry visas may be obtained from Egyptian diplomatic and consular missions abroad or from the Entry Visa Department at the Travel Documents, Immigration and Nationality Administration (TDINA). Non-Egyptian travelers are required to have a valid passport.
Citizens of many countries may obtain a visa on arrival at major points of entry; the fee is demanded on arrival and it is expensive to change money and then pay the fee. At airports, you must obtain these from a bank office before passport control, ostensibly to verify that the currency is real; however, you will have no problem obtaining one. Check with your nearest Egyptian Consular mission for more details concerning visa regulations applying to your citizenship. The fees for a single-entry visa are as follows:
UK citizens: £15
US citizens: US$15
Irish citizens: €15/US$15
Australian citizens: A$45
Canadian citizens: C$26
other countries: US$15
Citizens of Bahrain, Guinea, South Korea, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen receive a 3 month visa on arrival. Citizens of Kuwait can obtain 6-month Residence Permit upon arrival. China and Malaysian citizens receive a 15 day visa on arrival. Citizens of China(only Hong Kong and Macau SAR) may have a 30 day visit without visa.
Citizens of the following countries are currently required to have a visa before arriving, which must be applied for through an Egyptian consulate or embassy outside of Egypt:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malaysia (if you intend to stay for more than 15 days), Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and all African countries (except citizens of Guinea and Libya, who do not require visa).
Visitors entering Egypt at the overland border crossing at Taba or at Sharm el Sheikh airport can be exempted from a visa and granted a free fourteen day entry visa to visit the Aqaba coast of the Sinai peninsula, including Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab and St. Catherine’s Monastery. Visitors wishing to leave the Sinai peninsula and to visit Cairo and other Egyptian cities are required to hold full Egyptian visas, although strictly speaking there is a small possibility no one will check for this unless you attempt to exit the country. These are not issued at the Taba border crossing and must be acquired in advance either in the country of residence, at the Egyptian consulate in Eilat or airport upon arrival. Visitors traveling on organized tours often may be able to have their visas issued at the border, but you should verify in advance with their travel agent or tour operator if this option is available to them. Those in possession of a residence permit in Egypt are not required to obtain an entry visa if they leave the country and return to it within the validity of their residence permit or within six months, whichever period is less.
Tourists visiting Sharm-el-Sheikh who are planning to undertake scuba diving outside local areas (i.e. Ras Mohammed) will need to obtain the tourist visa, because this technically means leaving the Sharm-el-Sheikh area and leads to the requirement for a visa. Officials on boats may check dive boats whilst on the waters so you are advised to obtain the visa beforehand: there may be fines involved for you and the boat captain if you are caught without the appropriate visa. Most reputable dive centers will ask to see your visa before allowing you on trips.