Do you think you know everything about Thailand? Well, you couldn’t be further from the truth. This beautiful country is known as Prathet Thai which means “land of the free.” Apart from its incredibly friendly people, Thailand is full of diverse ecosystems which include lush jungles, rugged coastlines, hilly forests, endless beaches, fertile rice fields, rivers, plains, waterfalls, and so much more. Oh yeah and Thailand boasts over 1,400 islands that are stunning to explore.
That were already a couple Thailand facts and I didn’t even get started!
Thailand is my most visited country and in total I have been 17 times as of February 2020. I partied in Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Samui, backpacked from North to South and from East to West. Did my dive master training in Koh Tao and lived for a while in Bangkok. Traveling to Thailand? Read all my 63 essential Thailand travel tips in this article.
Some quick interesting facts about Thailand?
- The elephant is the national animal of Thailand.
- Thailand saw a record number of 40 million tourists in 2019.
- Mangosteen is the national fruit of Thailand
- Ratchaphruek is the national flower of Thailand
30 interesting facts about Thailand
1. Thailand ranks as the world’s 51st largest country at 198,115 square miles. Russia is the largest and the United States is the 3rd largest. Thailand’s population is estimated at 69, 428,453 making it the 20th most populated country in the world.
2. Thai is Thailand’s national language. Its alphabet has 32 vowels and 44 consonants. Scholars believe that it’s a form of Chinese that was brought into the country over time (between the 7th and 13th centuries). Just like Lao, Vietnamese, and Chinese, Thai is a very tonal language.
3. Over time, Thailand has had several name changes. At some point in time, it was known by the names of its dominant cities such as Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, and Thonburi. Since 1800, switches occurred repeatedly between Thailand and Siam up until 1939 when the country of smiles was officially named Thailand.
4. Thailand is also known as the country of smiles. The friendly locals who among tourists always seem to smile gave the country this beautiful nickname.
5. Buddhism is the largest religion in Thailand which explains why the country is generally referred to as “The Land of Buddhism”. About 94.6% of the country’s population practices Buddhism. Muslims make up 4.6%, Christians make up 0.7%, while “other” religions make up 0.1%.
Dress appropriate when you travel to Thailand, respect the people and its culture. Check out my what to bring to Thailand in my packing list article.
6. Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that wasn’t colonized by a European nation hence the name “Land of the Free”. The country is officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand.
7. The laid king of Thailand was the longest reigning king in the world. He died in 2015 after reigning the country for 70 years and 126 days. King Rama IX Bhumibol Adulyadej is considered a God, always speak highly about him.
8. After the king died, Thailand officially mourned for 1 year in total and festivals and celebrations were cancelled all year long.
9. Thailand is the top tourist destination in Asia and the world with almost 40 million tourists annually. Only Dubai has come close to rival with Thailand as Asia’s tourism capital.
10. The highest point in Thailand is the Doi Inthanon at 2,565 m (8,514 ft). It is a popular place to visit in Thailand, about 12,000 people visit the summit on New Year’s Day alone. This is a recurring question in trivia about Thailand.
11. Thailand has three seasons which are wet, cool, or hot. Every year, there are 6 months of rain, followed by 3 months of dry, cool temperature, and 3 months of heat. The climate here is hugely influenced by the Southeast and Northeast monsoon winds.
The best time to travel to Thailand? December to April is the high season, but it depends where you go. Read more about it my article with 63 things to know when traveling to Thailand.
12. About 100 years ago, the northern part of the country was covered with densely populated hardwood forests. Today, only a quarter of the whole country remains with forest cover. Thailand has the second-highest rate of deforestation in Southeast Asia; Singapore is leading. As a result, logging was banned in Thailand.
13. The tap water here is officially not safe for drinking. Since local beers cost just as little as bottled water, most tourists prefer it to water. But when living in Bangkok I used to drink the tap water from the airbnb I was staying at.
14. Many locals, especially in Bangkok, wear face masks due to the dangerously high levels of air pollution. At least 20% of the policemen in the capital have some form of lung disease and it’s estimated that the pollution costs the country up to 2.3 billion USD every year in lost production, wasted energy, and health costs.
15. In the past, all the young Thai men including kings became Buddhist monks for a short time before their 20th birthday. Very few young men observe this practice today. The typical duration as a monk was/is about 3 months.
16. The country is also home to the largest golden Buddha in the world. The 5.5 ton Buddha is housed inside Wat Traimit.
17. In Thailand, the head is considered to be the most important part of the body. People aren’t supposed to touch others in the head. It’s custom for Thais to try and keep their head lower than that of an older person or one who is more important as a way of showing respect.
18. Consequently, feet are traditionally considered to be lowly because they symbolize an attachment to the ground which causes human suffering. When a person is sitting down, the feet must always be tucked underneath the body and shouldn’t be pointed to a statue or another person.
19. Shaking hands is quite uncommon in Thailand. The typical and more polite Thai greeting is “Wai” where people place their hands together and raise them upwards towards the face while lowering the head in a slight bow. How high you raise the hands depends on the status of the person you greet e.g. for the elderly, you raise your hands to the bridge of the nose while for your peers, the hands only go up to your chest.
20. Thailand has the highest HIV/Aids prevalence in Asia. The first HIV/Aids case was reported in 1984. This may be attributed to the fact that sex tourism became significantly rampant in the 1960s and 1970s during the Vietnamese War.
21. Although prostitution is illegal in Thailand, the law is rarely enforced. The estimated number of active female commercial sex workers is 300,000. Plenty of red-light districts can be found across the country. Nana in Bangkok, Bangla Road in Phuket or Pattaya in general are popular places to visit for sex tourism in Thailand.
22. Thailand has been known for having a third gender for many years already, commonly referred to as “lady-boys”. Lady boys (transsexuals) are commonly seen on the streets of the popular tourist destinations around Thailand.
23. Sexual tolerance is high as there are many transsexuals visible in mainstream society. Thailand is considered safe for LGBT travelers.
24. Tuk-Tuk which is an open 3-wheeled vehicle is the fun mode of transportation across short distances in Thailand. The name is an onomatopoeia that mimics the sound made by their 2-cycle engines. However, if you’re going for longer distances, find an alternative means of transport.
I like to day that Tuk-Tuks especially in the popular tourist destinations in Thailand are a tourist trap!
25. Thailand holds the record for the longest catwalk which is 1,584m long. The catwalk was part of the Pattaya International Fashion Week back in April 9, 2010.
26. The Chatuchak Weekend Market is the biggest in Asia with aisle after aisle of vendors who sell anything that you can imagine. There are also a couple of colorful boat markets that are quite the experience to visit as well.
If you use the Thai language in market bartering, it’s less likely that you will be ripped off. So knowing a few phrases like thao rai (how much) will get you far.
27. Thai Baht is the official currency in Thailand. The image of the King appears on the money and therefore it is illegal to step on bank notes in Thailand.
28. You’re also not allowed to stand above any image of Buddha.
29. In Thai, “ko”, means “island” and is often used preceding the name of the island. For example, when you’re writing the name of an island in English, you can either leave out “ko” (Phuket Island) or leave out “island” (Ko Phuket). If you say “Ko Phuket Island” it is kinda repetitive as it would translate into “Island Phuket Island”.
30. Thailand holds the world record for a number of other things such as the largest number of skydivers in a free-fall formation and the longest line of washed plates. The former took place in 1999 when 282 skydivers held the link for 7.11 seconds. The latter took place in May 2010 when 10,488 washed plates were lined up. This record is now broken in India as they washed 15,295 plates.
15 Fun Facts About Bangkok
I have put together a list of 10 fun facts that you most probably didn’t know about this city. Enjoy!
1. Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand and covers an area of 1,568.7 sq km with a population of almost 10 million people. Bangkok is also known as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon in Thai - the locals refer to it as Krung Thep.
2. Bangkok is the world’s most visited city and receives the most tourists per year: 23 million tourists traveled to Bangkok in 2019.
3. Bangkok has the longest city name in the world. It’s commonly known as Krung Thep which is a short form of its actual name which has 169 characters. The full name is “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit” which roughly translates to “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.”
4. Grand Palace is the most visited tourist attraction in the world. There are approximately 8 million visitors to the Bangkok Grand Palace every year, more than the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Colosseum in Rome. Believe it or not I have only been one time ever.
Other top tourist attractions in Bangkok are the Buddhist temples Wat Arun and Wat Pho.
5. Bangkok is the World’s hottest city by mean average according to the World Meteorological Organization. The average temperature is 28°C throughout the year. Between March and May, the temperature is at a sticky 34°C. The best time to visit is between November and March because the city is a bit cooler and the skies are clearer.
In 2016 I was in Bangkok when they hit an all time low and temperatures in the city dropped to 16 degrees only.
6. Bangkok has the world’s biggest Chinatown which is locally known as Yaowarat. The vibrant market has endless alleyways and is home to more than 1 million Chinese. The prices here are the cheapest compared to those found anywhere else in Bangkok.
Chinatown in Bangkok is the right place to try all different kinds of Thai street food. Click on the link to read my list with best Thai street food to try including a printable list so you won't miss any of the famous street food dishes.
7. Bangkok was once called the Venice of the East because its original buildings stood on stilts above canals, locally called ‘khlongs’. Just like Venice, waterways were used to transport and travel throughout the city. Most of the canals are replaced by roads in the current day. Towards the Eastside of Bangkok you can still do canal tours.
8. There are two international airports in Bangkok. Intercontinental flights will mostly always arrive on BKK Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Most domestic flights and low-cost airlines fly from DMK Don Mueang Airport. The airports are about 1 hour drive away from each other so make sure you go to the right one.
Traveling by plane in Thailand is very popular, click here to find cheap domestic flights in Thailand. Train travel is not so popular, but deginitely amazing. Read about my trip from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur by train.
9. Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport is home to the tallest aircraft control tower which is 132.2m high.
10. There are 200,000 millionaires (in USD) living in Thailand, more than 90% of them live in Bangkok.
11. The popular energy drink, Red Bull, originates in Bangkok. It has been a popular drink in Thailand since 1976. It is also called Krating Daeng. The Thai version of Red Bull is slightly different than the Red Bull produced in the West. Krating Daeng is un-carbonated and therefore easier to drink.
12. Siam Square is the city’s unofficial center. If you ever get lost in Bangkok, the best way to bring back your sense of direction is retracing your steps back to Siam Square.
13. Sukhumvit is the most famous street in Bangkok and may be even Thailand. On Sukhumvit Road you can find Siam Square, Nana District,
14. Kao San Road is unofficially the most famous backpacking street in the world and located in Bangkok, not far from Grand Palace. It is also one of the most famous tourist attractions in Bangkok. Kao San Road is just 500 meter long but you can find 2 Starbucks, 2 Mc Donalds, 2 Burger Kings, countless bars and restaurants, street side massage salons and thousands of travelers from around the world.
15. The famous movie Hangover 2 is partially recorded in Bangkok. The Sirocco skybar in the Le Bua Hotel became incredibly popular after the movie was released. The views from the rooftop bar are absolutely amazing, but cocktails cost $25 easily!
12 Facts About Thailand Food
Thai food is characterized by the strong aroma, the presence of a spicy edge, coupled with simple preparation. Thailand has one of the most fascinating cuisines in the world ranging from spicy curries, coconut soups, fried rice, seafood extravaganza, exotic fruits, and sweet desserts.
For Thai people, eating good food is a huge part of their everyday life. Let us find out more impressive facts about Thai food that you will find interesting:
1. Thai cuisines are divided according to the five regions which are Northern Thai, Central Thai, Southern Thai, Bangkok, and Isan.
2. Thailand is the second-largest exporter of rice in the world with the most esteemed being Jasmine rice. Rice is the base of all meals including breakfast and dessert.
3. When saying I am hungry in Thai language their literal words translate to “I want to eat rice”.
4. Thai street food is amazing! Thailand is well known worldwide for its fabulous street food culture. Some delicacies that you should expect to find are meat skewers, pad thai, fried chicken legs, but you can also find grilled chicken intestines, fried insects and scorpions. This is not typical Thai food btw, but mostly just for crazy tourists to try when they travel to Thailand.
Find here the 25 best street food dishes in Thailand.
5. Thai street food is delicious and safe to eat, although this one is important to know: 'Mai Sai Phong Surot'. This basically means NO MSG in Thai language. Almost all the street food in Thailand contains MSG, so now you know how to order without!
6. Chopsticks are typically used in Thailand although modern Thais eat with spoons and forks. Back in the days most times, traditional foods were eaten using their hands. Commonly locals sit on a mat on the floor and food is served in the middle.
7. Chili peppers are a common ingredient in Thai food. However, you can also find many mildly spicy dishes.
8. Only in Thailand you will find the no-name vegetable, as the name says it has named after not having a name.
9. The Durian is the world’s smelliest fruit. The smell is so pungent and overwhelming that the fruit is banned from public places like train stations and hotels. This rare exotic fruit is regarded as a delicacy and a popular ingredient in many Thai desserts. Its taste and smell are so unique that it’s difficult to describe. But from my own experience I don’t like it at all.
10. Meat is traditionally served in bite-size pieces as is stated by the Buddhist custom that no whole animal is to be cooked or served. Also, not all Buddhists are vegetarians. Monks are allowed to eat pork, chicken, and fish.
11. Thailand had the biggest population of beer drinkers in the world. The beer is served with ice or ‘on the rocks’. I can tell you, in such a hot and humid climate, an ice cold beer is the best way to cool off.
12. When it’s time to pay, the person who has the highest social rank and is usually the wealthiest is expected to pick up the bill.
11 Thailand Facts For Kids
Who wouldn’t want to see their kids impress everyone with some cool facts about Thailand? The information in the list below will help them learn more about Thailand while enjoying a range of fun facts and trivia that is perfect for kids.
The facts are about Thai animals, food, the national sport, and so much more.
1. There are five great UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit in Thailand, Three of them being cultural and the other two natural. Khao Yai National Park, protected by UNESCO, was the first official national park in Thailand.
2. The national sport in Thailand is Muay Thai. It’s like what American football is to the United States and football to Europe, Africa and South America. Muay Thai matches are even considered to be sacred.
3. Some temples sell trinkets to raise money. You can buy a small Buddha statue although it’s officially illegal to take it out of the country.
4. It is acceptable to take a photo of Buddha in temples unless a sign instructs otherwise.
5. Have you ever wanted to use a golden restroom? You have a chance to do so in Thailand. The White Temple, Wat Rong Khun is home to Thailand's most beautiful bathroom.
6. About 10% of the world’s bird species live in Thailand. Kaeng Krachan National Park which is Thailand’s largest national park is listed as one of the best bird-watching locations in Asia.
7. The term “Siamese Twins” originated in Thailand when the country was still known as Siam. The brothers were born in 1811 in a village near Bangkok. The name has been replaced with conjoined twins.
8. Elephants are a symbol of Thailand; if you look at the map of Thailand keenly, you will realize that it resembles the head of an elephant. In the past they roamed freely, but unfortunately they are having a hard time in Thailand. If you enjoy spending time with elephants, you can visit one of the elephant sanctuaries. But do you research before going!
9. Thailand is the world’s number one exporter of orchid. The country is home to more than 1,500 different species of orchids that grow wild in Thai forests.
10. The national flag has two red horizontal stripes and two white horizontal stripes. The red stripes symbolize the land and its people while the white stripes symbolize the purity of Buddhism. It should be raised every morning at 8 am and lowered at 6 pm.
11. When someone offers you a meal and you enjoy it, it’s polite to leave a small bite or two on the plate to signify it was tasty and you are full. A clean plate implies you haven’t had enough.
Thailand travel blogs
As you can understand Thailand is one of my favorite countries to travel and I love to say Thailand is always a good idea. In total I wrote more than 50 Thailand travel blogs, click here to scroll through them. From a Full Moon Party guide to the best way to travel from Bangkok to Koh Tao to complete island hopping itineraries and much more!
Another handy Thailand blog post is my Thailand packing list, with 40 items to bring.
By 2022 I want to have traveled to every country, follow along on this journey on my Instagram: @traveltomtom. Although travel blogging and Instagramming around the world seems like the best job in the world, it is not as simple as it seems. Check out here how I became a travel blogger.