Welcome to the Kingdom of Thailand. There is so much for you to discover! This section will provide you with some quick facts about Thailand, its culture, and common Thai words and phrases.
Capital: Bangkok or Krung Thep in the Thai language, which means the City of Angel.
Location and Geography: Thailand covers 198,114 square miles (around 513,115 square kilometers). Cambodia and Laos border the country to the east and northeast, and Myanmar lies to the northwest. To the west is the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma. The long southern region, connecting with Malaysia, is hilly and forested. The highest mountains are in northern Thailand.
Demography: Thailand has a population of approximately 70 million and ethnic Thais account for the majority of the population (75%). Approximately 14% of them are Thai Chinese, and around 11% of them are from diverse ethnicities.
Linguistic Affiliation: Thai is the official language of Thailand. The standard Thai is spoken in the central region and around the country. Three main dialects are widely spoken in some regions: Northeastern Thai (Isan), Northern Thai, and Southern Thai. Many Thais also understand and speak English, especially those in Bangkok and the major tourist areas.
Currency: Thailand’s currency unit is “Baht. One US Dollar (USD) to Thai Baht (THB) exchange rate is 35.99 (a reference exchange rate on August 4, 2022).
Symbolism: National symbols are the symbols representing the nation, reflecting different aspects of its cultural life, history, and biodiversity, such as, Garuda emblem, Sala Thai, Ramakien, Thai elephant, and those associated with Buddhism. Images of the Buddha can be found in shrines and temples, public buildings (including schools and government offices), and homes.
History and Culture: Thailand, previously known as Siam, is a constitutional monarchy. In the Thai language, the name of the country is Prathet Thai, which means “land of the free. The culture of Thailand has evolved greatly over time from the Sukhothai era to the Ayutthaya era where they integrated different cultures from Khmer, Burmese, Chinese, Indian, and European origins. Until this day, their influences are still evident in the traditional Thai culture.
Food: Rice is the staple food for most people, with polished white rice eaten in central and southern Thailand and sticky rice eaten in the north and northeast. Traditional Thai cuisine consists of four categories: tom (boiled dishes), yam (spicy salads), tam (pounded foods), and gaeng (curries). Seven Thai dishes (tom yam goong, pad thai, som tam, massaman curry, green curry, Thai fried rice, and nam tok mu) appeared on a list of the “World’s 50 Best Foods” in 2017 by CNN travel.
Etiquette: Thai people and other Buddhists follow the widespread Buddhist custom of not touching a person on the head (which is considered the highest part of the body). A person should not point their feet at anyone or at an image of Buddha. It is impolite to do so in Thai culture. Footwear is removed while entering a temple or a house. Buddhist monks must preserve doctrine and discipline (e.g., refraining from sexual misconduct). It is traditional to greet a person with a prayer-like gesture, known as “wai”.
Religion: About 85% of Thai people are Theravada Buddhists. The Buddhism of Central Thais is often referred to as Lankavamsa, reflecting its Sri Lankan origins. Approximately 10% of the population is Muslim, primarily ethnic Malays in the south. Although Christian missionaries have been active since the 19th century, around 1% of the population is Christian.
Performance Arts: The Thai classical dance had developed from folk dances and incorporated Indian hand gestures and body movements, which probably were added by Mon and Khmer cultures. Folk dances are regional, with the individual dance styles associated with various ethnic minorities.
Best Places to Visit: From coastlines to big cities, Thailand is made up of so many destinations that it is hard to decide which places deserve the distinction of the best in Thailand. However, Thailand will not disappoint whether you are here for the world-class beaches in the south or the mountain villages in the north. Here is a list of top tourist attractions in Thailand:
Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, is an amazing place to visit. Most major tourist attractions are historical sites or religious sites such as Wat Phra Kaeo (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and Wat Arun (the Temple of the Dawn-a great place to watch the sunset).
Krabi province has the most famous beaches, such as Koh Phi Phi and Railay Beach.
Chiang Mai province is an ancient city with a modern twist and is known for having the best elephant sanctuary in Thailand.
Sukhothai (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and Ayutthaya (the former capital): These old cities are historic cities that offer a magnificent peek into the glory of ancient Thailand.
Floating markets at Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak: It is a unique way to get a closer look into a traditional way of life.