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22 Interesting Facts about Thailand

22 Interesting Facts about Thailand

In Thailand, you’ll find many exciting things, from a world-record name to Hollywood stars! There’s no shortage of things to know in this beautiful country.

Let’s sit down as we tackle fun facts about the Land of Smiles!

1. Before Thailand, it was called Siam.

Before Thailand, it was called Siam.

Siam was after the Sanskrit word, syam. In fact, former Prime Minister Phibun Songkhram changed the name to Thailand in 1939 as part of a nationalistic campaign.

But under Pridi Phanomyong’s leadership, they changed the name back to Siam in 1945. However, Phibun regained his power back after a military coup in 1947.

And in 1948, Phibun changed the name back to Thailand and it hasn’t been changed since.

2. Thailand was never colonized by Europe.

Thailand was never colonized by Europe.

In fact, no other country colonized Thailand. Did you know it’s the only southeast Asian country that has never been colonized by the French or British?

Although European countries tried to invade Thailand, they were ultimately unsuccessful. Western influence actually came from Thai kings who hired westerners and their sons who brought western technology back from studying overseas.

3. Siamese twins

The first documented case of conjoined twins was recorded in Thailand back in 1811. Chang and Eng Bunker were born in Meklong, Siam, in a face-to-face position.  

The twins actually had separate organs, except for shared liver tissue. In 1829, they traveled to the United States and had financial success by going on tours with a circus.

They worked for a while with P.T. Barnum (you may have seen the Hugh Jackman movie, The Greatest Showman). Contrary to popular belief, Barnum didn’t make them famous.

The twins were already quite popular in their own right because of their independent tours.

They eventually married sisters, Adelaide and Sarah Yates, and had a total of 21 children. Chang died at 61 years old, and just three hours later, Eng also passed away.

4. Bangkok’s name is a mouthful.

It has a Guinness World Record for having the longest place name in the world. It’s actually krungthepmahanakhonamonrattanakosinmahintharaayuthayamahadilokphopnoppharatratchathaniburiromudomratchaniwetmahasathanamonpimanawatansathitsakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit.

It translates to “City of angels, the great city of immortals, the magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra’s behest.”

5. Thailand has over 40,000 temples.

Thailand has over 40,000 temples

Temples play a vital role in Thai people’s everyday life. It’s a place for meditation and praying for good health and fortune.

Bangkok has over 400 temples alone, and whether you travel by foot or taxi, you’ll find many beautiful and iconic temples in the city.

6. We have an Emerald Buddha.

The Wat Phra Kaew houses the Emerald Buddha, a 66 cm tall statue carved from green jasper. Despite the small size, it’s actually regarded as the palladium of Thai society.

If you happen to visit the temple, you’ll find the Emerald Buddha in seasonal gold decorations. That is if the royal family isn’t using the temple for religious ceremonies.

7. There’s a strict dress code when visiting temples.

There's a strict dress code when visiting temples.

It’s summer vacation, and some tourists dress in short outfits due to Thailand’s hot climate. But did you know you’re expected to wear appropriate clothing when visiting temples, particularly in Wat Phra Kaew?

First off, men and women must cover their shoulders. Basically, you should never wear tank tops.

Second, women should wear long pants or skirts that cover their knees. Meanwhile, men aren’t required to cover their knees, but some temples will deny access if you’re wearing shorts.

Third, expect to be asked to remove your shoes, hats, and sunglasses before entering a temple.

Last, be respectful of the rules and tradition because temples are sacred spaces in Thailand.

8. Thai men become monks.

Thai men become monks.

Becoming a monk is regarded as a rite of passage for Thai men as it shows devoted faith in Buddhism. They usually start training in monasteries before turning twenty and shave their heads, eyebrows, and facial hair.

This is a strong tradition as this shows commitment to the Buddhist faith. Some parents wouldn’t even allow their daughters to marry men who haven’t become monks. 

9. Around 93% of Thai people are Buddhists.

Around 93% of Thai people are Buddhists.

So many Thai people practice the Buddhist faith that it’s ingrained in daily life. There are so many festivals, holidays, and other events centered around Buddhism.

Tourists will most likely see Buddhist monks when they visit our country doing normal urban life tasks.

10. Change my name, change my name

Change my name, change my name

It’s normal for Thai people to change their names, especially if they feel it can change their luck in life.

It’s quite common for children not to have an official name instantly. Instead, parents opt for a nickname before deciding, and they can consult with a fortune teller about which name has a positive effect.

Usually, if one experiences a series of bad luck, a name change might be the solution. Some reasons can be financial troubles, bad relationships, or health issues.

Did you know that our very own Lisa from Blackpink was named Pranpriya Manoban when she was born? Under the advice of a fortune teller, she changed her name to Lalisa.

A week after she did, she got a call from YG Entertainment! And now, we’ve got our famous dancer and rapper!

So maybe we should send her fortune teller a thank you card? You know, just for nudging her to the music agency.

11. We have one of the largest open-air markets in the world.

We have one of the largest open-air markets in the world

If you can, try to spend a day at the Chatuchak Market, also called Jatujak Market, because there’s an abundance of things to see, do, buy, smell, and eat!

Considered Thailand’s largest market, it’s got everything you need! Like trendy clothes, bags, food, souvenirs, and even plants!

But make sure you have cash on hand since most vendors don’t take card payments. Also, try to go here without a full stomach because there’s plenty of yummy food to eat!

Must-try foods at Chatuchak Market

1. Coconut Ice Cream

Thailand’s coconuts are considered some of the best in the world. This tasty treat is a must-try when you visit Bangkok for that sweet and refreshing scoop on a hot day.

2. Viva 8’s Paella.

You’ll find Spanish chef Fernando Andres Yusta cooking his famous paella in these large pans. His fun personality brings a smile to his customers while waiting for their authentic Spanish dish.

3. Fruit or soda popsicles

Naturally, going to a weekend market can get tiring and hot! Here, you can find a refreshing popsicle made of soda or fresh fruits!

12. Sweet dreams are made of mangoes.

Sweet dreams are made of mangoes.

Chachoengsao province, an old town east of Bangkok, holds a mango festival annually. This event invites tourists from different countries because of the many types of mangoes you can try.

You’ll be sure to find vendors selling varieties of desserts made out of sweet, delicious, fresh mangoes.

13. We have one of the smallest animals in the world.

The Kitti’s hog-nosed bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai), also known as the bumblebee bat, is the world’s smallest bat. It’s so tiny it weighs only around two grams, that’s like a bottle cap!

You can find these tiny species (*cough* if you can *cough*) in Thailand and Burma, living in limestone caves along rivers. There are usually around 100 bumblebee bats living in a single cave, but sadly they’re a near-threatened species.

14. Thailand is already in the future.

Thailand is already in the future.

Thailand is actually 543 years ahead of us. Although we use the western calendar to, uhm, keep up with the rest of the world, the Buddhist calendar is already in B.E. 2565 when compared to the year 2022.

15. Look, ma! It’s a monkey!

Look, ma! It’s a monkey!

Monkeys are smart, and by that, we mean really, really brilliant. They can be found in popular tourist spots, searching, begging, and stealing food.

The common primate you’ll see are macaques (pronounced makaks), aggressive but sometimes cute. There are many reported injuries from a simple interaction with these primates, so be careful when you see one because there will usually be a horde nearby.

Macaques have even overrun the temple grounds of Phra Prang Sam Yot in Lopburi. Even so, the locals hold an annual Monkey Buffet Festival where they gift monkeys with fruits and vegetables.

16. Little shop, little shoppa horrors!

Little shop, little shoppa horrors!

At the Khao Sok National Park, you’ll find Rafflesia, the largest single flower in the world. It’s unique because it’s a parasitic plant that has no roots, stems, or leaves.

It can grow up to 3 ft in diameter and weigh 7 kg! It’s pretty and that giant bowl in the middle sure looks inviting, but cover your nose because it carries a strong, offensive odor (something like rotting animals!).

But that stench has its benefits because it attracts flies and lays eggs, leading to cross-pollination.

Sadly, they’re in danger of extinction due to poaching and deforestation. 

17. ODORable fruit

ODORable fruit

Durian is a tropical fruit native to Thailand, and you’ll find it everywhere. It’s known for having an overpowering smell once you open that hard, prickly shell.

You see, many public modes of transport system have banned passengers from carrying this sweet but smelly fruit. But did you know that durians are high in nutrients?

There are several health benefits because they are rich in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. They even have more B vitamins than apples!

It’s so famous that you’ll find it mixed in with sweet and savory dishes. Also, this giant fruit is used as snacks, like candies, ice cream, and juices!

18. Ouch! The Phuket Vegetarian Festival!

Ouch! The Phuket Vegetarian Festival!

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival, also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, is an annual tradition held on the 9th Chinese lunar month and runs for nine days.

It honors the Nine Emperor Gods, where the devotees will adhere to strict rules and diet to purify their minds and bodies

Since the devotees have a strict diet, many vendors there will use yellow flags as a sign they’re serving vegan or vegetarian meals in participation.

Halt! This isn’t for the faint of heart! You will see people piercing their cheeks with sharp objects like knives and skewers.

There’s definitely a lot of blood and gore, and the devotees seem to get bolder year after year. Despite that, the festival attracts many tourist to simply watch or photograph the event.

19. Thailand has a blind cavefish.

The waterfall climbing cavefish (Cryptotora thamicola), also known as cave angel fish, is a blind, tiny cavefish endemic to Thailand.

These elusive creatures can grow just about 1.1 inches. Ever heard of the phrase small but terrible? That’s because these tiny fish can climb up on steep rocks in high-flowing waterfalls. 

20. Do not feed the birds or go to jail.

Do not feed the birds or go to jail.

There’s a ban on feeding pigeons in Thailand, but for a good reason. There has been a growing number of residential complaints because of the increasing pigeon population.

The thing is, there has been a reported 10,000 increase in pigeons at Tha Pae Gate in 2018. These high numbers can cause multiple health and safety concerns.

So, avoid feeding the pigeons (there are Do Not Feed signs, after all) because you might get a fine or, worse, a three-month stint in jail!

21. Siamese cats.

Siamese cats

Siamese cats originated in Thailand. These furry felines were introduced sometime in the 1800s in North America.

In Thai, these famous cats were called Wichien Maat (which means moon diamond) or simply, The Thai. 

It’s no secret the Siamese is a beautiful breed, which is why many breeders started breeding them to preserve their distinct features. Many famous breeds were from the Siamese, like the Himalayan, Burmese, and Tonkinese.

22. Toto, I feel like we’re not in Thailand anymore…

…because we’re in Hollywood!

We’re sure it’s common knowledge that Thailand is a beautiful country (duh!) and that some Hollywood directors decided to shoot their big-name movies here.

F9 (Fast & Furious 9), which starred Vin Diesel and John Cena, used a total of eight scenic locations in Thailand, including Krabi, Surat Thani, and Phuket.

But one of the most famous spots is Maya Bay, made famous by Leonardo Di Caprio’s film The Beach. It got so famous that too many tourists flocked to the little paradise.

Unfortunately, too many people, boats, and bad tourism devastated the natural resources. So, to help the coral reefs recover, it was closed for almost four years.

In January 2022, it finally opened with a new set of rules to protect the environment. Let’s stick to good tourism practices to protect our beautiful beaches this time, okay?

FAQ about Thailand

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