27 interesting facts about Thailand

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The most interesting facts about Thailand, from a colour for every day of the week to the women who spent 33 nights with deadly scorpions.

Interesting facts about Thailand include its magnificent temples
Interesting facts about Thailand include its magnificent temples (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Kingdom of Thailand
Population: 69.6 million
Area: 513,120 sq km
Capital city: Bangkok
Major languages: Thai, Malay, Burmese, English
Major religions: Buddhism
Time zone: UTC+7 (Indochina Time)
– Source: CIA World Factbook

Interesting facts about Thailand

1. Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia, bordering Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia.
– Source: Britannica

2. Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia and one of just five countries in the world to have never been under European colonial rule (the others being Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Liberia).
– Source: Vox

3. The Mekong River runs through Thailand, acting as the border between it and Laos. At 4,350km, it is the longest river in Southeast Asia, the 7th longest in Asia, and the 12th longest in the world.
– Source: Britannica

A map of Thailand
Thailand is located in Southeast Asia (Shutterstock)

4. Archaeological evidence suggests Thailand has been continually inhabited by humans for around 20,000 years.
– Source: Barbara Leitch LePoer (1989) Thailand: A Country Study. Library of Congress: Washington DC

5. Thailand was known as Siam until 1939 when it changed its name to Thailand following a coup against the king at the time. Led by an army officer called Phibun (Luang Phibunsongkhram), the aim was to replace the king with a democratic government. However, Phibun would eventually become a dictator.
– Source: History Today

6. The Thai flag is made up of horizontal stripes of red, white, blue, white and red. Red is the symbol of the blood Thai people have shed for their country, white is for religious laws and the purity of Buddhism, and blue stands for the royal family.
– Source: Britannica

7. Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, has the world’s longest place name. The transliteration 168-letter official name for Bangkok is krungthepmahanakhonamonrattanakosinmahintharaayuthayamahadilokphopnoppharatratchathaniburiromudomratchaniwetmahasathanamonpimanawatansathitsakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. The official short 111-letter version (without capital letters which are not used in Thai) is krungthephphramahanakhon bowonratanakosin mahintharayuthaya mahadilokphiphobnovpharad radchataniburirom udomsantisug.
– Source: Guinness World Records

8. Thailand is the second-largest exporter of rice in the world, after India. In 2020, Thailand exported $3.88 billion worth of rice.
– Source: Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC)

9. Siamese cats, known for their striking blue eyes, are native to Thailand.
– Source: Britannica

10. Thai conjoined twins, Chang And Eng Bunker were the “original Siamese twins”. Born in 1811, Chang And Eng were joined at the sternums and were taken to America in 1829 and forced to perform in a freak show. They would later both marry and father 21 children between them. They died in 1874.
– Source: National Public Radio (NPR)

11. The name Thailand means “Land of the Free”.
– Source: BBC News

12. Thailand’s national sport is Muay Thai boxing, a combat sport that originated in the 16th century known as the “art of eight limbs”.
– Source: The Guardian1, The Guardian2

two men Muay Thai boxing in Thailand
the 2015 World Muaythai Championship in Thailand (Shutterstock)

13. In 2009, Thai woman Kanchana Ketkaew spent 33 days and nights in a glass room with 5,000 deadly scorpions. Known as the “Scorpion Queen”, she was bitten 13 times on her arms, legs and fingers, but appeared unharmed.
– Source: The Telegraph

14. Thailand is known as the “Land of Smiles”.
– Source: Rough Guides, Lonely Planet

15. Bangkok was known as the “Venice of the East” as it was built upon water with its river and canals forming thoroughfares until roads were constructed in 1851.
– Source: The Guardian

Bangkok at night showing its river and canals
Bangkok was known as the “Venice of the East” (Shutterstock)

16. In Thailand, the feet are considered the lowest part of the body so it is considered bad etiquette to point them (especially the soles) towards somebody.
– Source: Rough Guides

17. The world’s smallest mammal can only be found in Thailand. The bumblebee bat or Kitti’s hog-nosed bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai) has a body no bigger than a large bumble-bee: 29-33mm (1.14-1.29in) in length; a wingspan of approximately 130-145mm (5.1-5.7 in); and a weight of 1.7-2g (0.05-0.07oz).
– Source: Guinness World Records

18. Thailand is home to the world’s largest solid gold sculpture. The Golden Buddha, officially called Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon, in Bangkok is 3m (9.8ft) tall and is made of 5.5 metric tonnes of solid gold.
– Source: Guinness World Records

The Golden Buddha in Bangkok
The Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon (Shutterstock)

19. In 2018, 12 members of a junior soccer team and their coach became trapped in a Thai cave by monsoon rains for 17 days. The massive rescue operation sparked intense worldwide public interest when it included over 10,000 people and anaesthetizing the trapped boys. Eventually, all were saved.
– Source: CNN

20. Nearly 95% (94.6%) of Thailand’s population is Buddhist, a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of Buddha.
– Source: CIA World Factbook, Smithsonian

21. There are over 40,000 temples in Thailand with more than 33,000 still in use by Buddhist monks.
– Source: Fodor’s Travel, Smithsonian

Buddhist monks in a Thai temple
Buddhist monks in Thailand (Shutterstock)

22. Thailand holds a giant water fight every year – often referred to as the world’s biggest water fight. The traditional Thai New Year is celebrated on 13 April every year and sees people splash water over each other as a symbolic sign of cleansing and washing away the sins of the past year.
– Source: BBC News, The Guardian

23. Thailand has a colour for every day of the week. It is widely believed that dressing in a particular colour each day will bring good luck. Monday is yellow; Tuesday, pink; Wednesday, green; Thursday, orange; Friday, blue; Saturday, purple; Sunday, red; and black is reserved for funeral days.
– Source: The Independent

24. Thailand is one of Southeast Asia’s biodiversity hotspots. The country is home to elephants, tigers, bears, around 10% of the world’s bird species and a huge host of marine wildlife.
– Source: Lonely Planet

A wild tiger in Thailand
A tiger in Thailand (Shutterstock)

25. Thailand has six properties inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List: three natural and three cultural. These include archaeological sites, historic settlements, forests and wildlife sanctuaries.
– Source: UNESCO

26. Thailand is the eighth most visited country in the world, receiving 39.8 million visitors in 2019 according to the latest edition of the International Tourism Highlights report.
– Source: UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

27. Elephants are a national symbol in Thailand and a source of cultural identity. The country celebrates National Elephant Day every year on March 13th. They are, however, also used for labour, transport and entertainment and the country has come under pressure from animal rights groups to end the traditional elephant shows and rides.
– Source: Reuters

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Thailand using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.