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28 Interesting facts about Thailand

Khao Sok National Park

Thailand is home to stunning scenescapes, awe inspiring temples, and some incredible food. But the Land of Smiles is so much more than just a beautiful spot where you can slurp on Khao Soi to your heart’s content. If you’re headed to the Southeast Asian country and want to know some interesting facts about Thailand to impress your fellow travellers, then read on! 

1. Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country that wasn’t colonised by the Europeans

The Kingdom of Siam, as it was then known, was the only nation in the region that managed to avoid having its wealth syphoned out by Western powers, which is how it got one of its many nicknames: Land of the Free. 

2. In the past, all Thai men had to become Buddhist monks

This interesting fact about Thailand might be hard to believe while you’re having fun partying on the beach with locals during your Island Hopper East tour, but it’s true. Every young man had to enter a monastery and live the reserved life of a holy man.  

3. Thailand is home to roughly 1 out of every ten animals and birds in the world!

Although its scenery is rightfully revered, Thailand’s wildlife is among the most diverse and populous in the world, with around 10% of the world’s animals calling the country home. Wild stuff. 

4. Thailand is home to the smallest mammal in the world

With such a diversity of animal life, it’s not surprising to see that Thailand is home to some record breakers, including the Bumblebee Bat. Also known as the Kitti’s Hog-Nosed Bat, these creatures are around 1 inch long on average, and weigh less than a U.S penny. 

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5. …as well as the largest fish in the world

The Whale Shark, which calls the waters of Thailand home, can grow up to 40 feet, making them the largest fish in the world, and the third largest creatures in the ocean. Thankfully they’re gentle giants, even though they might look terrifying. 

6. One out of every ten Thai people live in Bangkok

When you’re in the Chiang-Mai leg of your Total Thailand tour and exploring the city’s bustling old town, this might feel hard to believe, but it’s true. More than 10% of the population live in the thrumming capital. 

7. Bangkok is the world’s hottest capital city

With all those people, is it any surprise? 

8. Bangkok’s actual name is a mouthful

One of the most interesting facts about Thailand is that basically no locals refer to Bangkok as such. Instead, it’s usually called Krung Thep, which translates roughly to “City of Angels.” However, in reality its full name is even more elaborate:  

Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.  

This means: The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn. 

We’ll stick to Krung Threp or Bangkok for now, though. 

9. There are over 35,000 temples in Thailand

These religious buildings come in all shapes and sizes, and each have their own charm, although a few are home to some truly memorable artefacts and attractions, like solid gold Buddha statues. 

10. The world’s largest solid gold Buddha is in Thailand

Phra Phuttha Maha Suwana Patimakon temple is home to a gilded deity that’s 15-foot tall and weighs approximately 5.5 tons. The temple is in Bangkok, and is well worth going to see in general, but this highlight is particularly special. 

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11. The Thai languages can be understood in other Southeast Asian countries

As impenetrable as the language will be to most Westerners, and even though the nations surrounding Thailand have their own distinctive tongues, Thai can be understood by many people in Southeast Asia. This is especially true in neighbouring Laos. Although it may be more useful to learn than you might think, it’s still hard for a number of reasons. 

12. The Thai language has a massive 76 characters

And this is one of the most obvious! With 44 consonants and 32 vowels you can spend your entire Thai Island Hopper West tour getting to grips with the language, but you still might not have enough time to even cover the alphabet. Still, it’s always good to try and learn a language, and like most places in the world, locals will usually appreciate any attempt to speak in their mother tongue. 

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13. Around 6 million people visit Thailand per year

This means that nearly 1/10 of the entire population comes to visit every year, so you’re part of a big group if you travel here. 

14. There are nearly 1,500 islands in the country

1,430, to be exact. So, if you are planning on a visit, make sure you’re prepared to go island hopping in Thailand

15. Thai dishes vary heavily depending on where you are

It’s only when you travel around the nation do you really get to grips with how different the regions are. The best dishes in Thailand come from all over, and each area has its own specialties. So, while we’re all for eating ungodly amounts of Pad Thai, make sure to try some local specialties. 

16. Thai cuisine has plenty of fusion elements

Part of the reason for this diversity is thanks to the different influences other cultures have had on Thai food. India and China are two of the biggest, with dishes from well beyond the border regions influencing modern Thai flavours.

17. Muay Thai fighters begin their training as children, with many having their first pro fight before the age of ten

Thai boxing is the national sport of Thailand, and in most big population centres you will be able to catch a fight with ease. But you might not know that many of these skilled fighters began having professional bouts before they’d hit double figures. 

18. Thailand is home to the world’s biggest Chinatown

China and Thailand have a lot of shared history, and the cultures, while different, do have many similarities. This explains why Bangkok is home to such a large Chinese diaspora, and why plenty of Thai people have Chinese heritage. All of that means a massive Chinatown, full of delicious restaurants, cool shops, and plenty of signs in Mandarin. 

19. You shouldn’t touch people’s heads in Thailand

The head is seen as the most holy part of the body, and touching it can cause great offence. But, anyway, why would you touch a stranger’s head in the first place? 

20. When visiting Thailand you should respect the “wai” greeting

That is, clasping your hands together and bowing your head. Possibly not so much an interesting fact about Thailand, but more of a pointer on how to be respectful. 

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21. Your trip to Thailand to see wildlife can and should be ethical

Alongside the large diversity of wildlife in Thailand sadly comes those who wish to exploit animals for their own gain. These sorts of wildlife parks and so-called sanctuaries are sadly still prevalent in the country, although the government is cracking down. There are plenty of ethical places you can get your wildlife fill, though (especially ethical elephant sanctuaries). You just need to do the research. 

22, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market isn’t the only one in Thailand

Many will crowd to this world-famous floating market, and it’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful destinations in Thailand, but there are plenty of others dotted throughout the country which offer a less crowded experience. 

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Thailand

Image source:Contiki

23. The national anthem is played twice per day

The monarchy is a big deal in Thailand, and many Thai people are very proud of their country and culture, so it makes sense that they play the national anthem twice a day. If you’re in public you’ll probably hear it, so don’t be surprised by the sudden music. 

24. It’s illegal to step on Thai currency

This interesting fact about Thailand is also a good legal pointer. The reverence for money stems from the respect that the monarchy in Thailand is given. As banknotes and coins have the royals on them, stepping on one is not allowed. 

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25. Bangkok was once known as “the Venice of the East”

Although its waterways aren’t as prevalent anymore, Bangkok was once navigated mostly by canals and rivers. Nowadays you can still get on the boat, and many locals commute that way, but you’re more likely to get on an airconditioned bus or metro. 

26. Red Bull is from Thailand

Originally the drink was called Krating Daeng, which translates to Red Gaur (a guar is a type of bison), and was created by Chaleo Yoovidhya. Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz discovered the drink cured his jet lag, went into business with Yoovidhya, and the rest is a very jittery history. 

27. It’s illegal to be out in public without any underwear

This fun fact about Thailand comes from the fact that, generally speaking, most Thai people are quite modest when it comes to nudity. To be honest, we’d recommend this in most countries. 

28. Siamese cats are native to Thailand

The cat breed are very much the sort people either love or hate, but no matter where your opinion falls, it’s always true that they’re from this part of the world. 

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