Last updated on January 5th, 2019
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. With these 88 interesting facts about Thailand, let’s learn more about this beautiful Asian country!
Political facts about Thailand
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.
2. The King of Thailand wasn’t even born in Thailand. He was born in America and studied engineering in Switzerland.
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.”
Flag of Thailand
4. There are more than 100 state-owned radio stations in all of Thailand. Private companies are given time slots in these stations’ shows.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
10. The king’s anthem is played before any cultural performance, even before Hollywood movies at modern multiplexes.
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.
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
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!
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.
15. Siamese crocodiles are nearly extinct, but a few remain at various national parks in Thailand.
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.
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.
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?
19. Thailand is also home to the world’s largest fish, the whale shark.
20. Thailand is also home to the world’s smallest mammal, the bumble bat.
21. The most expensive pet wedding happened in Thailand between two cats named Phet and Ploy. The wedding bill amounted to $16,241.
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 #23.of Red Weaver ants, in particular; they don’t wait for trespasser excuses before they bite.
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.
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!
Thailand on the map
Thai food and drinks
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.”
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!
27. Sato, the local alcohol, is made from starchy rice and is sipped with a straw.
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.
29. Local Thais love instant MAMA noodles, which they even carry with them in bulk when they go overseas!
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.
31. Fairy floss crepe is very real in Thailand. They call it Roti Sai Mai. It is, at the very least, interesting!
32. Steamed fish curry in a coconut shell or banana leaf? The Thais call it Hor Mok, and it’s delicious!
33. Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of orchids.
34. The king of tropical fruits, Durian, is native to Thailand but banned in most hotels for its pungent smell.
35. Red Bull, the popular energy drink, was originally a brand in Thailand, created by a local.
36. The Mekong River is a biological hotspot for fishes, with 1,300 species. The popular catfish found here weigh approximately 700 lbs. each.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
42. “Siamese Twins,” a term for conjoined twins, was coined for Eng and Chang Bunker, two residents of Thailand.
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