20 fun facts about Thailand
Thailand is well-known for its postcard-worthy beaches, majestic limestone cliffs, friendly locals, and glimmering temples. But beyond its natural beauty and tourist attractions, the Land of Smiles also has a unique culture and history that not many people know – some are odd and bizarre. So, if you’re thinking of visiting or living in the country, why not clue up on its exciting facts?
From a festival for monkeys to Bangkok’s mouthful real name, here are some fun facts about Thailand!
Fun and interesting facts about Thailand
1. Bangkok’s real name is super long
Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, has one of the longest ceremonial names in the world. Made up of Pali and Sanskrit root words, Bangkok’s real name is Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. The name means “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.” In Thai, people usually call Bangkok’ Krung Thep,’ which is the shortened version of the city’s full name.
2. Thailand is a land of temple
There are over 40,000 temples in Thailand, and more than 30,000 of them are still in active use. That’s why you can practically see temples anywhere you go in Thailand. Temples play an essential role in Thai everyday life, so it’s no wonder why temples are everywhere in Thailand. If you want to visit a temple, make sure to wear modest clothing and don’t show too much skin.
3.Thailand was the only Southeast Asian country to escape European imperialism
Thailand is the sole country in Southeast Asia that was never colonised by any European nation. It seems apt, then, that the country’s name in the Thai language is Prathet Thai, which means “Land of the Free.”
4. Thailand used to be known as Siam
For most of its history, Thailand was known as Siam. The country then changed its name to Thailand in 1939 before reverted back once more to Siam for a short while between 1946 and 1948. Finally, the country changed back to Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand, in 1948.
5. Siamese cats are native to Thailand
While the Kingdom of Siam no longer exists, the name can still be found in many places and things, including Siamese cats. Yes, this popular cat breed originated in Thailand. It’s said that there used to be 23 different types of Siamese cats. However, there are only six nowadays. In Thailand, giving a pair of Siamese cats to a bride on her wedding day is a gesture of good luck.
6. The first conjoined twin to become internationally known came from Thailand
Ever wondered why conjoined twins are sometimes called Siamese twins? The term Siamese twins come from the conjoined brothers, Chang and Eng Bunker, who were born in 1811 in the Kingdom of Siam. They were called “The Siamese Twins” when they first arrived in England to become circus exhibits. Today, the word is not widely used anymore.
7. Over 90 per cent of Thais are Buddhist
While Buddhism isn’t Thailand’s official religion (it doesn’t have one), over 90% of its population are Buddhist. In fact, Thailand has the second largest Buddhist population globally. The Thai constitution guarantees religious freedom for all Thai citizens. However, the law requires the King to be a Theravada Buddhist.
8. Males were all Buddhist monks
In the past, all young men in Thailand, including royalty, became Buddhist monks before they turned 20 – at least for a short amount of time. It was never a national requirement. However, those who come from a Buddhist family almost always do it. Today, the practice of monkhood is still observed, but not as widely as it used to be.
9. Home to the world’s largest solid gold Buddha
If you want to see the world’s largest solid gold Buddha, Wat Traimit in Bangkok is where you should go. The 15-foot-tall golden statue of Phra Phuttha Maha Suwana Patimakon is one of the most impressive sights in the country. A stucco disguise used to cover the statue, so it was saved from looters, who stole temple statues throughout the centuries. The statue weighs 5.5 tons and is worth millions of dollars.
10. It’s impossible to hang Thailand’s national flag upside down
The national flag of Thailand consists of five horizontal stripes in the colours of red, white, blue, white, and red. The flag is symmetrical, so it’ll look the same even when you turn it upside down. The story goes that in 1917, King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) saw the flag hanging upside-down during a flood. In order to avoid this from happening again, the King designed a new symmetrical flag that will always be right side up. The middle colour was previously red but was changed to blue later in the same year.
11.The Thai language has 76 letters
The Thai script has 44 consonants and 32 vowels! In addition, it’s a very tonal language that includes five different tones. To those who can’t speak Thai, a lot of the tones might sound the same. However, getting an inflexion wrong can make the meaning different. That’s why the Thai language can be challenging to understand.
12. The orchid is the national flower of Thailand
Thailand’s national flower is the orchid. If you’re an exotic flower enthusiast, you’ll be delighted to hear that the country is home to 1,500 different orchids. You can see this beautiful exotic flower in many places, including shopping centres, temples, markets, and festivals. They grow wild in Thailand’s jungles and forests, but you may even see them growing on the side of the road. In addition, the country is the number one orchid exporter in the world. The Kingdom exports around 45% of its orchid out of the country, while the rest are being sold to locals on the domestic market.
13. Logging is banned in Thailand
We all know that Thailand is filled with lush jungles and forests. However, there used to be a lot more. Over a century ago, almost every part of northern Thailand was covered in hardwood forests. But due to the deforestation problem, there’s only around a quarter of that forest left. Therefore, logging has been banned in Thailand since 1989.
14. Home to the world’s smallest mammal and the largest fish
Thailand is home to the smallest mammal in the world: Craseonycteris thonglongyai. Also known as Kitti’s hog-nosed bat or the bumblebee bat, this bat is only about an inch long and weighs about two grams. Besides the smallest, Thailand also has the largest. The whale shark, which can reach up to 40 feet long or about the size of a school bus, lives down below the seas around the Land of Smiles. While you probably won’t be able to see the bumblebee bat, you have a chance to get a glimpse of whale sharks if you visit the islands in April.
15. Thailand is the birthplace of Red Bull
Despite being an Austrian company today, the world-famous energy drink, Red Bull, has its roots in Thailand. Red Bull is based on Krating Daeng, a sweet and non-carbonated energy drink introduced in Thailand in the 1970s by Chaleo Yoovidhy. In 1987, an Austrian entrepreneur named Dietrich Mateschitz modified the taste of Krating Daeng to better suit westerners and launched Red Bull. Today, the logos for Krating Daeng and Red Bull are almost identical.
16. Driving with no shirt is illegal
Driving with no shirt in Thailand is illegal, and the punishment can include prison time. The law also applies to scooters, so make sure to put a shirt on before driving, no matter how hot the weather is!
17. Thai national anthem is played twice a day
The Thai national anthem is played at 8 am and 6 pm every day. These times mark the rising and lowering of the Thai flag. If you’re in a public place during these hours, make sure to stop what you’re doing, stand up, and keep silent to show your respect. The national anthem also plays before every film at the movie theatre, and you’ll have to stand and pay respect.
18. Bangkok is the world’s hottest city
Did you know that Bangkok is the world’s hottest city? The World Meteorological Organization declared the capital of Thailand as the hottest city in the world, with a median air temperature of 28ºC. It’s true that there are numerous desert cities around the globe with higher temperatures. However, these cities tend to get much colder at night or during the winter. On the other hand, Bangkok never gets cold, and the city is hot all year long. Therefore, make sure to come prepared when you visit!
19. Thailand hosts an annual monkey festival
Every November, an annual Monkey Festival is held in front of the Pra Prang Sam Yot temple in Lopburi Province. Known as the Lopburi Monkey Banquet, the local residents host the festival to thank the monkeys for bringing thousands of tourists to their village. The locals invite over 600 monkeys to feast on two tons of meat, fruit, salad, rice, and even ice cream.
20. It’s illegal to step on any of the Thai currency
Stepping on any Thai Baht can cause you to go to jail. This is because the King’s face is printed and engraved on Thai currency, both the notes and coins. Abiding this unusual law is not hard, but it’s good to keep it in mind. Therefore, if one of your coins or money fall, make sure to avoid stepping on it to stop it from flying or rolling on the floor.
I hope you enjoyed these interesting facts about Thailand! If you want to learn more about the country, be sure to read our article on the things you shouldn’t do in Thailand.
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