Do you wonder how approximately sixteen million tourists fly to the same destination each year? What magic must such a destination hold? It’s Thailand, and it is magic. Despite the influx of tourists, this country maintains its cultural integrity. It hasn’t changed much other than in its infrastructure. A constitutional monarchy, Thailand has 77 provinces that contain 63 million people, even in the mountains. Before you visit Thailand, we suggest you familiarize yourself with a few facts about this fascinating country. Here they are!
Basic Thailand Facts
1. Thailand exports the largest quantity of rice to other countries in the world.
2. The combined length of Thailand’s coastline is 3219km long, if you were to measure it with a tape.
3. About 90% of the Thai follow the Buddhist religion. The remaining 10% comprises of Muslims, Hindus, Christians and others.
4. In Thailand culture, saying or doing anything that goes against the monarch is punishable under strict Lese Majeste laws. One could be severely fined or even imprisoned for saying something out of turn. In fact, the Hollywood movie ‘The King and I’ was never shown in Thailand because it was felt that the movie was derogatory to the King.
5. Did you know that of all the Southeast Asian countries, Thailand is the only one that the Europeans couldn’t colonize? Good for them!
6. Thailand is the one country where the smallest and the largest of creatures live in harmony. The bumblebee bat is the smallest mammal in the world, and the whale shark is the largest, and both call Thailand home.
7. There was a time when all young Thai men were required to become Buddhist monks before they turned 20. They could come out of the order after a while or continue to be monks.
8. Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand has been named the world’s hottest city! Best not to visit it during summer.
9. A tenth of all the animal species in the world call Thailand home, as do a tenth of all bird species. In fact, Thailand has more birds than the combined land mass of Europe and America!
10. Bangkok has a long, unpronounceable name – it goes something like this: Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. What this actually translates into is, ‘City of Angels, Great City of Immortals, Magnificent City of the Nine Gems, Seat of the King, City of Royal Palaces, Home of Gods Incarnate, Erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s Behest.’
11. Logging is completely banned in Thailand because over the last 100 years, Thailand has lost 3/4th of her forests.
12. Bangkok houses a tenth of Thailand’s entire population, being the nation’s capital and its largest city.
13. Another interesting piece of Thailand information – the country has about 35,000 temples, all of them beautifully designed and executed. One must be dressed modestly while visiting any Thai temple – no shorts or sleeveless shirts!
14. Don’t touch anyone on the head while in Thailand. Don’t ruffle a child’s head, even for fun. The head is considered very important, and Thai culture forbids touching another person’s head. Also, when you meet someone older than you, you must keep your head low at all times. Remember some of these Thailand information and facts when you visit Thailand.
15. Thailand’s national flower is the orchid and you can find over 1,500 species of orchids growing in Thai forests. Thailand is one of the world’s largest orchid exporters.
16. Thailand has more than 5,000 elephants, though more than half of them are domesticated. A hundred or so years ago, Thailand had about 100,000 elephants, a fifth of them wild.
17. The biggest and the most poisonous snakes can be found in Thailand. The King Cobra, the most poisonous snake in the world lives freely in Thai jungles, as does the reticulated python that grows to over 33 feet long.
18. Thailand used to have 23 types of Siamese cats originally, but now there are only six. The country was once known as Siam in honor of these cats. In fact, a Thai bride is given a pair of Siamese cats for good luck at her wedding. One of the cooler Thailand culture facts!
19. Bangkok was cut through by water canals, which were filled in later on to create streets. In fact, Bangkok used to be known as the ‘Venice of the East’owing to the buildings that were constructed over the water on stilts, and the gondolas used to traverse to them.
1. Yes, this is 100% true and not some middle-schooler’s idea of perverted fun. In Thailand, it is indeed illegal to leave one’s home without underwear. No idea how they find out but it’s still illegal.
2. In the Lopburi Province, an annual ‘feast for the monkeys’ is held to thank the monkeys for the increased tourism to the area. This festival is held in front of the Pra Prang Sam Yot temple, and a buffet of meat, fruit, nuts, ice cream and peanuts are laid out for the tailed critters. Obtaining a Thailand visa is worth it just to see those tailed gluttons going at the food!
3. Did you know that ‘Thailand’ actually means ‘the land of the free’? And it’s the US that has that phrase in its national anthem!
4. In Thailand, apart from stepping out without underwear, one more thing is illegal. You cannot step on Thai currency, even by mistake. That’s because Thai currency has an image of their king printed on it.
5. The Thai Muay boxing style is referred to as the ‘art of eight limbs’. No wonder it feels like there are too many limbs when Muay boxers fight!
6. Thais are required to keep their head lower than those who are older or more important or be chided for it. Must be getting massive cricks in their necks by the time they’re adults!
7. One more – you simply cannot do the California thing and drive shirtless during your Thailand travel, even if you’re soaking wet due to the perspiration.
It’s hard to stop at just a few facts when it comes to this intriguing country of such contrasts! Some of these facts are very important for tourists to note and remember, especially the lese majeste ones. The Thai are a generous people and readily forgive small faux pas committed by tourists but be careful not to break any of the bigger rules. Do visit Thailand as soon as you can and check the ‘Land of Smiles’ out for yourself!