is southern Thailandís largest province, covers some 12,800 square
kilometers, and has an extensive coastline lapped by Thai Gulf waters.
The provincial capital is 685 kilometers south of Bangkok
Thani boasts some of Thailandís loveliest islands, namely the Penang-sized
Ko Samui, Thailandís third largest island, palm-fringed jewel of
a sparkling archipelago that includes the stunning 250 square kilometers
Angthong (Golden Bowl) Marine National Park.
Thani once formed part, and may have been the center, of the Mahayana
Buddhist Srivichaya Empire which, steeped in legend and mystery,
dominated the Malay Peninsula and much of Java some 1,500 years
ago. Srivichaya was the best described by the itinerant Chinese
monk I Ching after a pilgrimage he made to India during the late
600s. Arch-aeological discoveries at Chiya district indicated the
former empireís splendour.