Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand, formerly known as Siam, is a country at the center of the Indochinese peninsula in Mainland Southeast Asia. The country experienced rapid economic growth between 1985 and 1996. It ranks third in quality of life among the ten ASEAN countries. 

Here are 88 interesting facts about Thailand.

Political facts about Thailand

Fact 1: Thailand is one of the few nations where a monarch is still present. King Bhumibol Adulyadej is currently the world’s longest-serving head of state, with a staggering 70 years as king. He is certainly an inspiration for anyone who wants to live a king-sized life.

Fact 2: The King of Thailand wasn’t even born in Thailand. He was born in America and studied engineering in Switzerland.

Fact 3: The irony of Thailand’s history is that it never developed any major army, yet it was never colonized by European powers, unlike Asian giants such as India and China. In fact, the very meaning of “Thai” is “free man.”

Interesting facts about Thailand: Thailand Map
Interesting facts about Thailand: Thailand on world map

Fact 4: There are more than 100 state-owned radio stations in all of Thailand. Private companies are given time slots in these stations’ shows.

Fact 5: Though the name of the country means “free,” on May 22nd 2014, the Royal Thai Armed Forces organized a coup and overthrew the government. It was the 12th coup since the first one occurred in 1932. Seems like Thailand likes to colonize itself!

Fact 6: It is illegal to step on its currency or even tear it. It may seem like an odd way to respect money, but the real reason is that its currency carries the image of Thailand’s king. It is actually illegal to disrespect the monarch.

Fact 7: Thailand has one of the strictest punishments for drug trafficking….a death sentence. Many tourists and foreign nationals are currently serving long terms for minor offenses related to drug use.

Fact 8: Underwear law of Thailand: Don’t leave your home without wearing your underwear in Thailand unless you want to get arrested. I am not kidding — it’s technically an offense.

Fact 9: Thailand is serious about its respect for the King. Monorails sometimes stop their services when the king is visiting Downtown to maintain the traditional law that the king’s head can’t be lower than anyone else’s. Luckily, there is no ban on flights flying above, up in the sky.

Fact 10: The king’s anthem is played before any cultural performance, even before Hollywood movies at modern multiplexes.

Fact 11: It is illegal to be shirtless in public in Thailand, and driving a car without a shirt on can land you in jail. This means you should always carry spare shirts if you’re renting a car, in case you find yourself with a sick baby or too much sweat from exposure to the scorching Bangkok sun.

Fact 12: The Garuda, a half man and half eagle from the Indian epic Ramayana, is the national and official symbol of Thailand.

Facts about animals in Thailand

Fact 13: The country has its own brand of patented cats — Siamese cats — which are native to this island nation. And it’s good luck to give one to a bride as a wedding gift!

Fact 14: PETA will surely appreciate this animal loving country, which treats its animals as gods. The annual Monkey Buffet Festival, a unique part of Siamese tradition, is exactly what it says it is….a buffet for monkeys, organized in Lopburi, Thailand.

Fact 15: Siamese crocodiles are nearly extinct, but a few remain at various national parks in Thailand.

The Siamese crocodile, Thailand.
Interesting Facts About Thailand: The Siamese crocodile. Image credit

Fact 16: Thailand is the land of white elephants, but don’t expect to see white elephants roaming around, literally. White is just a color used to signify Thailand’s purity. The elephant, though, happens to be Thailand’s national animal.

Fact 17: Thailand’s fascination with elephants doesn’t end there. Thailand is one of the two places on earth where people actually play elephant polo. Yes, you read it right! In case you are wondering, the other place is India.

the bumble bat
The bumble bat. Image credit – Daniel Hargreaves

Fact 18: The Land of Elephants is down to only 5000 Asian elephants. But many elephants on the borders of Myanmar are fed methamphetamines to make them work overtime on illegal logging. No bad karma for evil loggers?

Fact 19: Thailand is also home to the world’s largest fish, the whale shark.

Fact 20: Thailand is also home to the world’s smallest mammal, the bumble bat.

Fact 21: The most expensive pet wedding happened in Thailand between two cats named Phet and Ploy. The wedding bill amounted to $16,241.

Fact 22: Watch out for Thai ants. They have a huge extended family, with too many members and species to count, and they are not shy with humans. Stay away from colonies of Red Weaver ants, in particular; they don’t wait for trespasser excuses before they bite.

Fact 23: Some time in Thailand prepares you for any kind of monkey business. The country is overrun with monkeys, many of which go from cute to menacing in a snap. These indulged creatures even have a festival to themselves in Lopburi, where they are fed mountains of food in an all-you-can-eat fashion.

Fact 24: The Khao Yai National Park is home to macaques, who are clever opportunists and great tool-users. In fact, they earned the name crab-eating macaques because they have been known to comb beaches for crabs. Keep your bottled water, food and even asthma inhaler safe from their curious hands!

Thai Food and drinks

Fact 25: Thailand likes to have its beer on the rocks. Most of the people in Thailand drink beer mixed with nam keng, which means “ice.”

Fact 26: Thai beer, particularly Chang Beer, which the locals drink a lot, is super strong. Alcohol content can vary since the beer is unregulated, but it has been known to swing between 6% and 7%. It is no wonder that Thai island parties are such happy and wild affairs!

Fact 27: Sato, the local alcohol, is made from starchy rice and is sipped with a straw.

Fact 28: Rice is not only a food grain, but also sacred. It’s unholy to leave any rice on the plate. Even stepping on rice is a sin.

Fact 29: Local Thais love instant MAMA noodles, which they even carry with them in bulk when they go overseas!

Fact 30: In Northern Thailand, tough cuts of beef are marinated, grilled and then beaten until they are forced to become the delicious dish called Jîn đúp.

Fact 31: Fairy floss crepe is very real in Thailand. They call it Roti Sai Mai. It is, at the very least, interesting!

Fact 32: Steamed fish curry in a coconut shell or banana leaf? The Thais call it Hor Mok, and it’s delicious!

Fact 33: Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of orchids.

Fact 34: The king of tropical fruits, Durian, is native to Thailand, but banned in most hotels for its pungent smell.

The king of tropical fruits Durian, Thailand.
The king of tropical fruits Durian, Thailand. Image credit

Fact 35: Red Bull, the popular energy drink, was originally a brand in Thailand, created by a local.

Fact 36: The Mekong River is a biological hotspot for fishes, with 1,300 species. The popular catfish found here weigh approximately 700 lbs. each.

Fact 37: The Thais have a sinful, lesser-known snack called Khao Mao Tod, which is ripe banana slices deep fried with a coating of unripe sticky rice, coconut and palm sugar. It is a 30-year-old creation of a lady named Mrs. Sanom, who initially sold it from a boat.

Fact 38: The delicate Khao Kriab Pak Moh, or steamed rice skin dumplings, used to be food for royalty, and the making of them is an art. You can watch super thin, gauzy sheets of rice skin being steamed over stretched-out muslin at street stalls and at the Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai.

Facts about Thailand’s history, culture, rituals, religion and tourism. 

Fact 39: Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?” Thailand vindicates this saying by changing its name from time to time. Earlier known as Siam, it changed its name to Thailand in 1939. Then in 1945, it again changed its name back to Siam, but in 1949 turned it back to Thailand. Thankfully, it never changed again.

Fact 40: Bangkok, Thailand’s largest city, is the simpler version of its original name, which happens to be a total alphabet soup — Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit. Leave it to the native people to pronounce.

Fact 41: Though small, it currently ranks as the world’s second-largest exporter of rice. It held first place before losing to India in 2015.

Fact 43: “Siamese Twins,” a term for conjoined twins, was coined for Eng and Chang Bunker, two residents of Thailand.

Fact 43: Thailand is heavily influenced by both India and China. They took their religious ideas from India, and combined the traditional values of the Chinese to create their unique identity.

Fact 44: Thailand respects the third gender well, and has public bathrooms for transgender males, along with conventional male and female. These are known as pink toilets.

Fact 45: Bangkok is also the world’s most visited city, edging out top cities like London and Paris.

Interesting facts about Bangkok
Interesting Facts About Thailand: Bangkok Skyline: Image credit – Swaminathan

Fact 46: Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand. Often deadly, it is known as “The art of eight limbs.” The knees, elbows, shins and hands are each treated as a separate set of limbs.

Fact 47: The country has a strong history of civilization, and is as old as the Bible. It started its journey way back around the first century, CE, when the Kingdom of Funan was formed.

Fact 48: It has always been an epicenter for world trade, and had ancient links to Asia, the Middle East and Europe. In its heyday, Ayutthaya an ancient city of Thailand was a world class city for international trade.

Fact 49: Buddhism remains the principal religion of the Siamese people, practiced by around 95% of the population, but the state is secular. It is one of the world’s most religiously tolerant countries.

Fact 50: Thailand is the prostitution capital of the world, and is notoriously famous for its red-light districts.

Fact 51: The Academy Award winning movie The Bridge on the River Kwai is based on a real bridge in Thailand near Kanchanaburi. During the construction of the bridge, a staggering 100,000 people reportedly died.

Fact 52: Thailand has the second highest rate of deforestation in Asia. Once coverd with a thriving tropical forest, the tree cover was reduced to 25% of total land area. Currently, logging is banned in Thailand.

Fact 53: Bangkok is dense and is getting denser. Nearly one tenth of the total population of Thailand lives in its capital city.

Fact 54: Fake monks roam around the city of Bangkok, conning tourists and acting as a menace to the authorities.

Fact 55: Tiger Woods, a world-renowned golfer, has Siamese blood running through his veins, as his mother comes from Thailand.

Fact 56: Personal appearance in Thailand is actually a form of gesture. To show respect, wear your clothes properly.

Fact 57: Thailand incorporated many religious habits from India like the namaskar gesture, which carries the symbolic meaning that the leg is a lowly part of the body, but the head, which is believed to be holy, should be revered. The head can only be touched by a priest to give blessings.

Fact 58: It is disrespectful to point your leg toward the direction of any god or holy place; footwear is strictly forbidden inside temples.

Fact 59: Thailand has the highest number of HIV+ patients, and the number is only increasing with each passing year.

Fact 60: Buddhists believe Buddha was an elephant before he took on a human form. An elephant tattoo is a powerful thing to have, so consider getting one if you’re in Thailand.

Fact 61: The Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon is a gold statue of Gautama Buddha, weighing an amazing 5,500 kilograms. It is around 86% pure and is worth $250 million, given current gold prices.

The golden Buddha, Thailand
Interesting facts about Thailand: The Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon – The golden Buddha. Image credit

Fact 62: Bangkok was once known as the Venice of the East for its many canals. As the density of the city increased and the space crunch got worse, those canals were modeled into roads.

Fact 63: Bangkok was once criss-crossed with canals or ‘khlongs.’ Buildings and houses stood on stilts. And since we must compare everything we see, it is not surprising that Bangkok was called the Venice of the East.

Fact 64: Several districts of Ayutthaya celebrate blacksmiths who make Aranyik knives in a festival called Pithi Wai Kru Bucha Tao. The festival is a reminder of the Viantian goldsmiths and blacksmiths who came over from Laos to settle in the bamboo-forested region in the early 1800s.

Fact 65: Fish mobiles are Thai prosperity charms that hang as decorations in many houses. They used to be made of palm leaves. But Thai craftsmen are changing with the times to make beautiful crafty versions of these highly collectible mobiles.

Fact 66: A Thai incantation for those who can pronounce Pali…and have a desire to vanish: (Na Mo Phutthaya Phu Tha Ha La Ti Tha SaMa Ni Na Ma Pha Tha Pha Tha Na Ma Tha Na Ma Pha Phuttho A Ra Hang)

I Ti Ri Thi

It’s not clear where you disappear to after chanting, however…

Fact 67: Thais love their country. You are required to stop and pay your respects twice daily when the national anthem is broadcast.

Fact 68: Locals wear yellow shirts on Mondays, since auspicious colors are associated with certain days of the week, according to local customs.

Fact 69: The ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ is actually in Thailand, near the town of Kanchanburi. You can visit it today!

The ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’
The ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ Thailand. Image credit

Funny facts about Thailand

Fact 70: Intrigued by the temples stamped on the Thai baht coins? All of them are in Bangkok, and you can visit them in a day. See if you can match the silhouettes on the 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht coins to the temples you visit.

Fact 71: Be careful so you don’t have a close encounter with a giant centipede the size of a man’s forearm on your Thai holiday. Yes, they are very real, and painfully poisonous.

Fact 72: Locals love to keep it cool and smile. There is even a commonly used phrase for “nevermind” – “Mai pen rai.” You’ll hear it used often!

Fact 73: Thailand has more than 40,000 temples. Don’t worry; no one has ever been able to visit them all.

Fact 74: Crazy-looking, fatally beautiful Thai caterpillars are usually sending you a warning sign: Stay away! They can inject clouds of poisonous hair into you to drive you mad. Scram if you hear the word “Buung Haan.”

Fact 75: Current Prime Minister and ex-army chief Prayut Chan-ocha has two songs to his name, one of which is called ‘Because You Are Thailand.’ Now how many such songwriting heads of state do you know, even if they are dictators?

Fact 76: Thai devotees typically offer juices, coffees, sugary and fatty foods in the hopes of attaining good karma. Instead, the sugary foods are taking a toll on the health of the monks who can’t really refuse an offering. Hopefully readers will know better if they ever visit a Thai temple with karma in mind!

Fact 77: When a Thai man stole a diamond belonging to a Saudi royal family. it led to the series of events that became the Blue Diamond Affair. Saudi-Thai relations were soured, and Saudis are now banned from visiting Thailand. The Thai national, however, became a monk to redeem karma.

Fact 78: Mother’s Day in Thailand has nothing to do with your mother. It is about paying respect to the royal family.

Fact 79: What if Rapunzel posed as Mona Lisa? Thai graphic designer Thunyamon Charoensuttikul has imagined Disney princesses in Renaissance poses and settings that lovers of quirky art may enjoy.

Fact 80: It is forbidden to touch a local on the head – it’s best to lower your head — even to a child — in Thailand!

Fact 81: Thailand doesn’t have a climate conducive for wine making, but the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard south of Bangkok is one place you can enjoy the scenery while you sip Monsoon Valley wine.

Fact 82: Twenty minutes in a speedboat from crowded Phuket lies the pristine island of KOH YAO YAI, where ‘pristine’ still means something!

the pristine island of KOH YAO YAI
The island of KOH YAO YAI. Image credit – Eustaquio Santimano

Fact 83: There is a little, hidden jungle in Bang Krachao, across the river from crowded Sukhumvit, where you can rent a bike and a hand-drawn map of bike trails to explore the place that literally means ‘green lung.’

Fact 84: Visit the island of Ko Pha-Ngan for secret full-moon parties.

Thailand in the Movies

Fact 85: James Bond and Thailand seem to be inseparable. The Man With the Golden Gun and Tomorrow Never Dies feature Bond and Thailand.

Fact 86: If The Beach (2000) intrigued you, you’ll want to visit Ko Phi Phi Leh, though things have changed drastically since filming of the movie took place there.

Fact 87: Two Brothers (2004) is a heart-rending movie about two infant tiger cubs set in Thailand. Keep tissues handy.

Fact 88: The Greeks in Thailand? Not sure if that happened historically, but some of the scenes in Oliver Stone’s 2004 movie Alexander were shot on the banks of the Mekong.

Quick facts about Thailand

Capital CityBangkok
13°45′N 100°29′E
Largest CityBangkok
13°45′N 100°29′E
Total area513,120 sq km
Population67,959,000 (2015 estimate)
Official LanguageThai
BordersCambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar.
CurrencyBaht (฿) (THB)
Life expectancy74.43 Years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Climatetropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); southern isthmus always hot and humid
Terraincentral plain; Khorat Plateau in the east; mountains elsewhere
Agricultural land41.2%
Birth rate11.19 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate7.8 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio0.97 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
National symbolsgaruda (mythical half-man, half-bird figure), elephant; national colors: red, white, blue
National anthem"Phleng Chat Thai" (National Anthem of Thailand)
Industriestourism, textiles and garments, agricultural processing, beverages, tobacco, cement, light manufacturing such as jewelry and electric appliances, computers and parts, integrated circuits, furniture, plastics, automobiles and automotive parts, agricultural machinery, air conditioning and refrigeration, ceramics, aluminum, chemical, environmental management, glass, granite and marble, leather, machinery and metal work, petrochemical, petroleum refining, pharmaceuticals, printing, pulp and paper, rubber, sugar, rice, fishing, cassava, world's second-largest tungsten producer and third-largest tin producer
Exports$214.8 billion (2015 est.)
automobiles and parts, computer and parts, jewelry and precious stones, polymers of ethylene in primary forms, refine fuels, electronic integrated circuits, chemical products, rice, fish products, rubber products, sugar, cassava, poultry, machinery and parts, iron and steel and their products
Imports$196.4 billion (2015 est.)
machinery and parts, crude oil, electrical machinery and parts, chemicals, iron & steel and product, electronic integrated circuit, automobile’s parts, jewelry including silver bars and gold, computers and parts, electrical household appliances, soybean, soybean meal, wheat, cotton, dairy products
GDP - per capita (PPP)$16,100 (2015 est.)
Time ZoneICT (UTC+7)
Internet country
Internet users26.726 million
percent of population: 39.3% (July 2015 est.)
Calling Code+66
Drives on theLeft