The five regions of Thailand
So far a number of product groups have been classified for promotion: food and beverages, cotten ans silk, woven handicrafts, artistry items, gifts, household and decorative items and nonedible herbal products. These cover a vast variety of traditional items made in communities the length and breadth of Thailand, each lovingly crafted from local materials with skill and pride handed down through many generations, each with the inimitable flavor and style of their localities. Just look at the renowned Thai silks, whose designs, patterns, colours, even weaving style are strongly influenced by the topography of where they are produced.
The North is a mountainous region with dense rainforests populated by colourful hilltribe minorities, who have their own customs and crafts, including embroidered cotton fabrics and silver jewelry. The fertile valleys are rich in history with a long tradition for superb handicrafts, particularly carved wood, rich silverware, paper products made from natural fibre, ceramics and bamboo baskets.
The raised plateau of the Northeast is a large, relatively poor region where agriculture is the prime livelihood and communities have a tradition of making products by hand, especially fabrics and baskets, for their own use. The production of silk and cotton fabrics is especially widespread, with the most popular being the tie-dyed mudmee designs and naturally-dyed silks, whose patterns and colours vary from locale to locale. The most famous of these are the Lai Khid and Phrae Wa silks. Other popular items include reed mats, baskets woven from water hyacinth and the inimitable triangular pillows.
Geographically, the Centre is Thailand’s heartland, the great rice bowl of the central plains surrounding the Chao Phraya River. This is a fertile farming area, home to orchards, paddy fields and plantations. Its early history is influenced by the Mon and Khmer people, its later history by the great capitals of Ayutthaya and Bangkok. Today it is the modern centre of Thailand, where traditional handicrafts of bamboo and bail lan, great earthen pots, Dan Kwian pottery and terra cotta items continue to be produced.
The East is formed from the narrow coastal strip that runs from Bangkok to the Cambodian border, a rich agricultural area famed for its variety and quality of fruits. Pickled and processed fruits of the region are much sought after. In addition to earning a living from the popular tourist centres of Pattaya, Rayong and Trat, easterners are famed for their variety of bamboo and rattan baskets, reed mats and mudmee fabrics.
The South is peninsular Thailand stretching down to Malaysia, characterized by a long coastline of beautiful bays and tropical islands, with rugged mountain ranges running down its spine. Apart from the produce of the sea, the people of the deep south mainly earn their living from rubber, tin, coconuts and pineapples. Local products from lipao, bulrush and panan pandanus, mother-of-pearl inlays and carved wood products are prevalent.