Thailand with a population of more than 66 million, is one of the most visited countries in Asia. The country used to be called Siam, but in 1939 the name was changed to Thailand, which means “Land of the free”.
The colours of the Thai flag are red, white, and blue. Red is for the Thai people, white represents religion, and blue, in the centre, represents the monarchy.
The capital of Thailand is Bangkok, which is a major economic and cultural hub and a paradise for travellers.
In this post, I share some fun facts about Thailand which help you to learn more about the culture, food, people and landscape in Thailand.
You can also read: 14 Fun Facts about Turkey
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1. Monkeys have a special party in Thailand
Thailand hosts many festivals throughout the year. But one of the most unusual festivals in the country is the annual Monkey Buffet festival which takes place in the Lopburi province on the last Sunday of November.
As you can guess by its name, it is a buffet provided by locals for the monkeys. Many tourists visit Lopburi for this peculiar festival. If you are interested in attending, keep in mind that monkeys are considered sacred animals, so you should be respectful to them and the locals.
2. Touching people's heads is offensive
In Thai culture, the head is considered sacred and the cleanest part of your body. That is why you should avoid touching people’s heads or hair, and this applies to kids as well. If you do this accidentally, apologise as soon as you can.
3. Feet are considered dirty
Now that we all know the head is the cleanest part of the body in Thai culture, what is the dirtiest part?
The answer is the lowest part of the body, the feet.
Thai people consider shoes even dirtier than feet, that is why you have to take off your shoes when entering someone’s home, a temple or even some shops.
If you are in Thailand you should never ever point at anyone or anything with your feet. It is considered rude and offensive. When you are sitting, make sure your feet are on the floor and not pointing towards anything.
4. Stepping on money is illegal
Insulting the king and the Thai royal family is illegal and people not following the rule can end up in jail.
And as you now know, feet are dirty, so if you step on Thai currency, Baht, your act will translate into offending the kings’ dignity because the kings’ face is on the Thai notes and coins. This is a criminal act and the punishment can be up to 15 years of imprisonment.
5. Thailand is one of the world’s largest orchids producers
There are more than 1,000 species of orchids in Thailand. Even though Colombia with more than 4000 different species, has the largest number of Orchids in the world, Thailand is the world’s largest orchid exporter.
More than half of all the orchids in the world are coming from Thailand.
6. Red Bull's birthplace is Thailand
Did you know that the world-famous energy drink, Red Bull, has its roots in Thailand?
Basically, Red Bull is a modified version of a popular drink in Thailand called Krating Daeng. This drink was invented by Chaleo Yoovidhya to cure a hangover but later an Austrian businessman on his trip to Thailand discovered the drink and made the Red Bull we all know today.
7. Thailand is home to the smallest mammal
The bumblebee bat, the smallest mammal in the world, is native to the Kanchanaburi Province in Thailand. It is also known as Kitti’s hog-nosed bat. The body length of this bat is between 29 and 33 mm and it weighs under 2 grams. It lives in limestone caves near rivers.
8. Noodles are relatively new in Thailand
I know that most of us consider noodles as the main ingredient of many Thai dishes, especially Pad Thai. But did you know that noodles were introduced to Thailand during World War II as an alternative to rice?
Anyway, let’s not forget that rice is still the main base for Thai cuisine.
9. Whistling at night brings bad luck
While whistling might be seen as something you do when you’re bored or something to entertain yourself, in Thailand it’s quite different, especially at night.
Thai people believe that by whistling at night, you are calling the evil spirits and it will bring troubles and bad luck to you.
10. Chopsticks are not for Thai food
Unlike in China and some other Asian nations, chopsticks are not used to eat a bowl of rice in Thailand. Thai people use forks and spoons, and sometimes they eat with bare hands.
They use chopsticks only for Chinese dishes, including noodles.
11. Prostitution is illegal in Thailand
This fact might surprise you the most. Prostitution has been banned in Thailand since 1960. But I know what you think, the reality seems quite different. Despite being illegal, prostitution is widely practised in Thailand. There are red districts in almost every major city in the country, including Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket.
12. The Thai language has 32 vowels
The official language in Thailand is Thai which has 44 consonants and quite surprisingly, 32 vowels! Here’s the list. It is a tonal language with five different tones. Thai also has its own numerals and they look like this.
13. Thailand is home to 1430 islands
Without any doubt, Thailand is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. But did you know that this country has 1430 islands?
The most famous ones are: Koh Samui, Phi Phi island and Khao Phing Kan, known as James Bond Island. Keep in mind that Thailand is also home to some of the most amazing dive sites in the world.
14. Every day has a unique colour
In Thai culture, every day of the week has its own colour. While the practice of wearing the colour of the day is not as common as it used to be, it can still be seen in some situations. However, almost all Thai people are aware of the day of the week they were born on and their corresponding "lucky" colour.