24 Fun and Interesting Facts about Thailand and Thai People

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Wonderful attractions, delicious foods, fascinating cultures, and history are the reasons that draw millions of travelers to Thailand each year. Many of them end up falling in love with the country and moving to live here. Do you think those factors mentioned above are all the reasons that make them stay? Maybe there is a lot more about this country that you have never known. If you would like to know more, here are some of our favorite fun and interesting facts about Thailand and Thai people that will make you surprised and feel a little more connected to Thailand.

All Thais are One Big Family

a picture of two local women

In English, the pronoun “you” is used to call anyone whether they are older or younger than you. But in Thai, it is not polite to call anyone older than you only by their names. Also, it is not nice enough to call everyone “you” as the Thai language has different levels of politeness.
Besides the standard personal pronouns, Thais use family terms as personal pronouns. Those pronouns are commonly used even with strangers who have no blood relation at all! You might hear someone calls an old street vendor “pa” – aunt or calls an old taxi driver “lung” – uncle. And in a restaurant, a waiter would probably call you “pi” – older brother/sister. Do not get confused or offended, that is just one of the ways to show respect. Everywhere in Thailand, we can be a family!

World Domination

Thai dessert picture

In Thailand, there are several foods that when you hear their names you will get confused and misunderstand their origins. American fried rice, Kanom Tokyo, Kanom Krok Singapore, Lod Chong Singapore, and Kanom Jeen (jeen means China). Those are foods invented in Thailand and can be found only here! 

7-11 Dogs

7 Eleven Thailand

When you go to the 7-Eleven store especially in the city’s outskirts or in non-touristy areas you must be surprised by homeless dogs in front of the store. Sometimes there is only one, but if you’re lucky you will find a pack of homeless dogs sleeping in front of the door just like a gangster! Most of them are quite nice sleeping like a log. 7-Eleven store seems to be a popular place among them to get cold air (when the door opened). As the weather in Thailand is very hot (too hot even for dogs) and the store is at every corner of the street, plus Thais are too kind to drive them away. Some Thais even carefully walk past them to get inside the store as they do not want them to get disturbed.

Thai Dowry System or Sin Sod

Thai wedding ceremony image

Thai traditional wedding is unique as there is a lot of processes including dowry system or what they call “sin sod”. It is cash that a groom needs to give to his bride’s family to honor the parents for raising their daughter well and accepting him. Also, it is a proof showing that he has financial ability to take care of the family in the future. The amount of sin sod is vary depending on mutual consent between two sides and mostly based on their social status as well. Some families return sin sod to the couple after the ceremony.

In addition to sin sod, they also have “tong mun” – tong means gold, and mun means engagement, or “khong mun”, which is any kind of property – gold, accessories, house, land, etc., that the groom will give to his wife. This is similar to giving an engagement ring in the West but a lot more complicated. Nowadays, this custom still exists and seems to last long as it is deep-rooted in Thai culture.

Please Take Your Shoes Off

Shoes at the door image

Before entering someone’s house, taking off your shoes and leaving them at the entrance is a must. It is considered as a kind of manner. As when walking on the street you might pick up some dirt, so it is not nice to bring that dirt into someone’s place. Not only a house but including buildings or important places. You might have noticed the “please take your shoes off” sign in front of temples.  

Thai Student Uniform

Thai students image

All students need to wear uniforms from the first grade of school to university! This rule has been implemented for a very long-time since King Rama V period. The uniform style has changed a lot from the past and it is vary depending on types of school – public or private, as well as grades. School students are required to wear a white shirt – normally has a full name and some symbols or pins that identify their grades on it, with dark blue/ blue/ black/ khaki shorts for boys, and black/dark blue skirt for girls. They also have a sports uniform and boy/girl scouts’ uniform as well!

For university students, each university has very similar uniforms – a white shirt with black pants, and a skirt. However, what makes them look different is the colour of a necktie, belt buckle, pin, and shirt button. Also, some faculties have their uniforms such as faculty of an engineer, architecture, aviation, medicine, and nurse. However, this rule is flexible in some universities as they allow students to wear casual clothes and wear uniforms only on exam days. Such uniforms make Thai students look so identical. When walking on the street full of crowds, you will immediately recognise who are students.

Do Not Point at the Rainbow Unless Your Finger Will Fall Off!

Rainbow image

Kids like to point their fingers at the rainbow when they see it and sometimes, they accidentally hit each other face. Just to avoid the accident, ancient Thais tell them not to point their fingers at the rainbow as the finger will fall off. This trick then has been used ever since.

Fruits and Dip

A fruit market image

It is very common in Thailand when you buy fruits from street vendors you always get a pack of “prik glua” – a salt chili sugar dip or sometimes more than one depending on the number of fruits you buy. This is because Thais like to dip fruits such as sour mango, guava, and pineapple in prik glua. They go well together especially sour fruits.

Thai Language

Thai books in a bookcase image

If you get a chance to learn the Thai language, you must have a headache because of the 44 consonants and 32 vowels of the Thai alphabet. But that is not enough, you can have a severe headache as if the tonal part of the language! Near and far, probably is a good example. The word for near is “glai” and the word for far is “glai”. Oops… any difference? Yes, the difference is the tone. Glai (mid-tone, meaning “far”) and glâi (falling tone, meaning “near”). There are a lot more words that just a quick tonal change can completely change the meaning.

Do Not Touch the Head!

Don’t touch anyone’s head if you’re not a barber or a hairstylist unless you will be in trouble. As the head is considered the sacred part of the body, it cannot be touched without permission. Many Thais take it very seriously, they don’t like it if you touch their head especially if you’re younger than them. In Thai society seniority is important, and this is also considered disrespectful behavior. Remember that you can touch someone’s head only if they’re your (super) intimate friends, younger family members, or little kids.

Males Should Be Buddhist Monks Once in a Life

Buddhist monks image

Every Buddhist man in Thailand is expected to become a monk for a period once they turn to 20 or before getting married. This practice has several main reasons behind. First, to learn Buddha’s teachings which will lead them to become mature and be a better person. Second, to make their parents or anyone who they feel grateful to go to heaven after leaving this world. Thai people believe in life after death and this is also considered as a big gift from a son to their beloved ones. How long is dependent on their willingness and convenience, can be only a few days, a few months, a year, or even throughout their lives.

What Does a Gecko tell?

Gecko is considered a warning sign that something bad will happen. Therefore, here is a belief that if you hear a gecko before going out, you should never leave the house.

Black Cat

A black cat image

When you are walking or driving if a black cat cut you off, it means something bad will happen to you. A black cat is a nocturnal animal and that is the time of spirits. Also, its black colour is considered a mystery and unpredictation.

Summer Forever

Thailand has 3 seasons – wet, cool, and hot. Typically, 6 months of rain, 3 months of cool temps, and 3 months of heat. But if you live in Thailand, you will know the fact that the 3 seasons are actually hot, hotter, and HOTTEST! You might be so confused when the winter season comes as it is not cold at all. Or sometimes the cold weather (around 20-25 degrees…) lasts only 3 days and gone like a dream. Our recommendation does not bring your coat or thick clothes here!

The Wai – Thai Greeting

Ronald McDonald with Thai greeting image

“Wai” is a way of saying hello, thank you, sorry, goodbye, asking for something, and paying respect to a monk or a Buddha image. If you want to feel connected to Thailand, whomever you see you can say hello by pressing the palms together with fingers pointed upwards as a prayer-like gesture – not just attach them together but make your hands inflate just like a lotus flower, putting the hands on your chest, lowering your head down, and saying “sa wad dee krup/ka” (say krup if you’re male and ka if you’re female to be polite).

However, wai has three levels depending on whom you see. Firstly, if they are the younger or the same age as you, your head should lower down till the tip of your nose meets the tip of your index fingers and the chin meets the tip of your thumbs. Secondly, if they are older, your index fingers should move up to touch between the brows and your nose touches the thumbs. Lastly, to pay respect to a monk or a Buddha image, your thumbs should move up touch between the brows. They do not expect you to do it 100% correctly as even some Thais do it wrong. It is not a big deal but if you can do it right you will look amazing!

Haircut on Wednesday is a No-No

Some Thais believe getting a haircut on Wednesday will bring them bad luck. Due to this belief, you will notice that most barbershops are closed on Wednesday. The background is that in the past, there were only a few hairdressers in the country. On Wednesday, those hairdressers were often required to go to the palace to give a haircut to royal family members and people in the palace. Therefore, locals were not allowed to have a haircut on that day. Nowadays, some barbers just choose Wednesday as a day off.

Beer with Ice

Singha beer with an ice bucket image

In Thailand, it is very common to see people drink beer with ice. Every time you order water or drinks, bet you will get a can or a bucket of ice even though you do not order it. It is just like a default option. You need to tell them if you do not want to. Thailand is well known for its hot weather. And because if this, they love cold drinks to make them feel refresh. Therefore, ice and drinks always come together with no exception even a beer. Somebody might curious about the taste but if you got a chance to drink beer at a street restaurant in very hot weather, probably beer with ice becomes a good idea.

Dry Instant Noodle is Snack

Thai instant noodles image

Many Thais like to eat dry instant noodles without rehydrating them in water. They just crumb the pack, add the seasonings, shake it, and eat! The nominees for the best instant noodles to be eaten as a snack are Tom Yum Goong flavour and Moo Sub (minced pork) flavour. There is a brand named YumYum Changnoi (translates to YumYum little elephant) producing a small pack of instant noodles with many flavours for kids. But the portion is too small and the flavour as corn is more like a snack. So, it has become one of the favorite snacks for many kids as well.

The Longest City Name in the World

Lan Khon Muang image

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is the name that foreigners know. It comes from the old name – “Bang Kork” before it had changed to “Krungthep Mahanakorn”. However, it is still too long, so Thai people just simply call it “Krung Thep” which is the shortest version. In fact, the official name of the city has been recorded as the longest place name in the world by the Guinness book, with 169 letters long. The full name is:

“Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit”

Which translates to:

“The Great City of Angels, the Supreme Repository for Divine Jewel, the Great Land Unconquerable, the Grand and Prominent Realm, the Royal and Delightful Capital City full of Nine Noble Gems, the Highest Royal Dwelling and Grand Palace, the Divine Shelter and Living Place of the Reincarnated Spirit”

There is no doubt why it is shortened. Even Thais cannot remember!

Napkin is Tissue

In Thailand, tissue paper is widely used anywhere not just in a restroom. Instead of a napkin, you will find a roll or a pack of tissue paper provided on the dining table at any restaurant. Only on some occasions that you will get a napkin, normally at expensive restaurants. Because of that, Thais seem to get used to saying “tissue” even though it is a napkin. So, if you are in a restaurant that is not a luxurious one, do not say napkin as they might not understand what you want, say tissue! 

Magic of Amulets

Thai amulets image

Many Thais believe that figures of monks or amulets are considered sacred objects that can protect them and bring them good luck. So, they carry such amulets with them everywhere. Some people wear a necklace with a pendant containing amulets or small figures of monks and some people also hang them on a rearview mirror of their cars with garlands. You can notice when you are in a taxi.

Truck Bumper Stickers

It is common to see a truck bumper full of stickers on Thailand’s street. Not sure why it is popular among truck drivers but cannot deny that they are creative. Funny sentences, motivative quotations, and even rated 18+ stickers are quite entertaining.

Five UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Animals at Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries image

Thailand has five UNESCO world heritage sites:

  • Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries – home to plenty of species including the large mammals, the large birds, and the land vertebrates of this region.
  • Dong Phayayen Khao Yai Forest Complex – home more than 800 species of fauna, including 112 mammal species, 392 bird species, and 200 reptile and amphibian species. 
  • Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns – The first kingdom of Thailand comprising of various temples and fascinating architectures.
  • Historic City of Ayutthaya – The second capital of Thailand after Sukhothai destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th century. History traces still remain.
  • Ban Chiang Archaeological Site – the most important prehistoric settlement discovered in South-East Asia.

Get What You Want Right at Your Doorstep     

Grab delivery man driving image

Thailand is one of the countries that are so good at delivery service especially if you live in the cities. There are many delivery companies out there providing an excellent service delivering everything from food at a street food stall hiding at the back of the alley to a popular dessert in a mall. Also, the delivery fee is very cheap! As there are many competitive companies, so they often launch lots of good deals to draw customers.

Have you discovered something new? Such facts are only a little part of a thousand. Come and experience Thainess yourself here, there is a lot more things to surprise you!

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The post 24 Fun and Interesting Facts about Thailand and Thai People appeared first on Experience Unique Bangkok.