Fact 1. Thailand is one of the most visited countries under the sun.
According to the report from Suvarnabhumi International Airport, the largest international airport of the country, there are 45 million people appearing in the airport annually from around the world, with the expansion plans underway the capacity of it will increase to 60 million by 2019.
Actually, MasterCard ranked Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, the most visited city in the world in the year of 2016. There were 21.47 million of people from aboard stayed over at least of one night. It might be the reason there are traffic jams anywhere in Bangkok! Ha-ha!
Fact 2. Buddhism is Thailand's largest religion
Buddhism is the largest religion in Thailand. It is around 95% residents practice Buddhism. The rest of them are Muslims and Christians.
The Buddhism of Thailand blends elements of Hinduism and the local folk custom and animism, which is why you see Buddhist shrines, Buddhist temples, monks, prayer tattoos all around the country.
Fact 3. There are countless Buddhist temples in Thailand
There are over 40,000 temples in Thailand. It is really a land of temples. It holds the tallest Buddha in the world – The Great Buddha of Thailand, at the Wat Muang Monastery in Ang Thong Province. Phra Pathom Chedi, the world's highest stupa, is 127 meter high. It also holds the world's largest gold Buddha; it weighs in at 5,500 kilograms and is worth about $250 million.
Temple are sacred and strictly require decent clothing covering shoulders and legs. Wearing shoes in the temples is forbidden. While visiting the country, you may want to visit some temples. Therefore, some customs you should learn before you go.
1. You can rend sarongs to cover your shoulders and legs at the gate of the most temples if you did not dress appropriately.
2. You'd better wear slipper as you are required to take off them once you enter every temple.
3. Step over the threshold of the temple when you go inside. Never stand on the threshold.
4. Please show your respect and be quiet once you are in the temple.
5. Never point at a Buddha or monk with your feet.
Want to have a deep insight and learn the myths behind temples in Thailand? UME Travel reccommends you these following Thailand tour packages.
12-Day: Thailand Historical, Cultural and Natural Tour - An Overview of Temples in Thailand
6-Day: Heart of Thailand Tour - Gems of Thai Temples
Fact 4. All the boys are required to be monks once for a while in a lifetime
According to Thai tradition, boys before 20 should be Buddhist monks for a while to pass on merits to their parents, especially to mother, because generally women cannot be ordained to improve their karma as men can. They live in a local temple, following a strict discipline of meditation and study of the doctrines of Buddha. Adult men can return as novice monk temporarily at any time.
Fact 5. Monkeys have their own temple - Prang Sam Yot
Prang Sam Yot is also called Monkeys Temple. It is a Khmer temple in Lopburi, just outside Bangkok. You will see thousands of macaques roaming free there, in the trees, the fountain, sunbathing on the ruins, climbing on the benches and fences and even on you, if you give them a chance. If you want to get close with these creatures in person, you will never disappointed. However, they are not scared of human being and will steal whatever they want from you. So be careful and it is wise to leave the valuables like jewelry back at hotel and be sure you have your rabies vaccinations up to date if you plan to meet the monkeys.
Every year in November, there is a Monkey Festival with folk music, traditional dance and a fruit buffet to honor the monkeys. There are over 600 monkeys are invited to the feast to enjoy the over two tons of fresh fruit, grilled sausage, ice cream and other treats. The locals believes these inhabited animals can bring good luck to them and bring more tourists next year.
Fact 6. Magica Sak Yant Tattoo in Thai temple blessed by the monk
Traditionally called 'Sak Yant' in Thai language, it is the Thai temple tattoo with a history over 2000 years. These tattoos are hand-etched onto the skin with ancient geometric designs mixed with prayers of Buddhist. People believe that the tattoo provide wearer magic powers with strength, health, lucks, and protection against evils. In ancient times, Buddhist monks would engrave 'Sak Yant' into warriors before the war broke out in order to seek strength and protection in battle. The tattoo always covered their whole bodies from head to toe with magic Buddhist prayers to prevent knives and arrows from piercing their skin.
Nowadays, 'Sak Yant' Tattoo are getting more and more popular in the world, especially after Angelina Jolie-Pitt exposed in Thailand and made a 'Sak Yant'. You can get an ajam or local tattoo shop to do an authentic-looking 'Sak Yant' or you can to go to Wat Bang Phra to do it. It is the main temple monks do tattoos.
Fact 7. Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia was never colonized by Europe.
You may witness some western-style building around Bangkok's Old Town. They were built by King Rama V. He did it at that time just in order to cooperate with the British and French and save the country from invasion. However, the French still occupied the Chanthaburi and Trat provinces on the Thailand and Cambodian border in 1895, but French return them to Thailand in exchange for the western part of Cambodia.
Fact 8. The monarchy is highly respected in Thailand.
Thailand is the one of the few constitutional monarchy countries. The monarchy is highly respected in Thailand. Criticize the monarchy is illegal. You may witness this love of the royal family everywhere you go. You will find portraits of key royals all around the country. The anthem for the royal family is played twice a day in the public transport stations in Bangkok. A short film praised the king is played before every movie and when it is played everyone must stand up.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej was the longest-serving king of Thailand in the world. He has been serving as a king for 70 years before passing in the year of 2016. Be sure to treat your Thai baht respectful, because it bears the head of the much-loved and longest-serving king.
Fact 9. The head is very important but feet considered lowest
The head of a person or stature is the most important and sacred part of one's body in Thailand. It is considered rude and it goes against Thai culture to touch someone, even a child, on the head. It is also regarded disrespectful to touch the head of a statue, especially a statue of the Buddha.
While the head is revered as the most important, the feet are traditionally considered lowest and dirtiest parts of the body because they symbolize an attachment to the ground, which is a cause for human suffering. So do not raise your feet over somebody's head; never sit with your feet pointing to a statue or any person; do not step over people who are sitting or sleeping on the ground.
Fact 10. Splashing water to celebrate New Year
Songkran, Thailand's traditional Thai New Year, from April 12-15 annually. It is Thailand's grandest and most important event. It is also an amazing event, while there are deeply solemn aspects to the rituals, the most famous one that is fun-filled entertainment, is 'water splash'. People young and old, rich and poor, locals or visitors will engage in this big water fights. The water fight is a Buddhist ritual blessing good-luck for the coming New Year.
Fact 11. Rice is a staple food in Thailand
Agriculture is one of the most important industries in Thailand. Rice is a staple food in the country, and it is considered sacred. Leaving any rice on the plate is taboo and it should never be stepped on. Thailand was the largest rice export country in the world years ago. Recently it fell to the second place just behind India.
Fact 12. The Wildlife in Thailand
The skies, seas, jungles, and river of Thailand are full of amazing animal species. It is said, one-tenth of all animal species on Earth inhabit in Thailand. It is the home for both the smallest mammal- the bumblebee bat that only weights two grams and the largest fish – the whale shark. Others like elephants, tigers, pink dolphins, wild cats, snakes, wales, otters, buffalos, geckos, monkeys, and thousands of species of butterflies and birds are also regards Thailand as their home town.
The longest snake was found in Thailand. It is the reticulated python. The largest one ever found stretched over 33 feet. The longest poisonous snake, the king cobra, which can reach over 18 feet long, and once bite from it can kill an elephant is the native of Thailand as well.
Probably, there are 10% of the bird species on the world live in Thailand, estimated, it is greater than in all of the North America and Europe.
Thailand is also the home for the largest lizard. The monitor lizard can grow as long as 7 feet.
The swiftlet nests collected from the caves in Thailand are over $900 per pound. It is one of the world’s most expensive food. They are made of strands of saliva from the male swiftlet bird.
One of the most curious creatures in Thailand is the mudskipper. It is a fish! It can use its fins to 'walk' on the land and 'climb' the trees. It also can 'breath' oxygen through its skin and lining in its mouth. It spends most of time in the land, eating the algae in tidal pools.
Fact 13. Encounter Elephants in Thailand
There are more than 100,000 elephants lived in Thailand around a century ago, with about 20,000 of them were wild. Now, there are only around 5,000 in total and less than half of them are wild. You can meet elephants in elephant camps and safaris around Thailand. However, the conditions there are not ideal for the elephants. More and more people now realize that protect the elephants are the responsibility of human beings. Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai and Phuket Elephant Sanctuary are two famous organizations that care for ex-loggings. Visitor can apply to be the volunteer to take care of the elephants: cook for them, bath them and walk them, etc.
Fact 14. Logging is banned in Thailand
More than 100 years ago, the northern part of Thailand was covered with dense hardwood forests. It is said that over 90% places are forests. However today, there are only about one fourth of left.
A century ago, northern Thailand was covered with dense hardwood forests. Today only about ¼ of the country remains wooded. Thailand has the second-highest rate of forest loss in Southeast Asia. Only Singapore has lost more. Today, logging is banned in Thailand.
Fact 16. Thailand Food is amazing
Thailand food is famous worldwide and Thai cuisine is one of the tastiest around the world. Thailand has become a heaven for food lovers around the world. The cuisines are mix of sour, sweet, and spicy very tasteful. The street food is especially good. You should definitely have a try. You can choose the one with most people to have a try. You will find everything from fried crickets and BBQ seafood to banana pancakes to ice cream sandwiches… Are your mouth-watering now? Come and explore the flavors of the Land of Smiles.
Fact 17. Diving is first-class in the world
The Similan Islands in the Andaman Sea are the ideal and fantastic places to dive and you can even get your diving certificate. There are considered in the top 10 dive sites in the world for their abundance and diversity of marine organism. You will find over 500 species of turtles, manta rays, coral and whale sharks and under water caves and boulders. In order to protect the islands and marine life, the islands are not well developed so the sands, the sea and the water are quite natural and really the first class. There are many live aboard boats and day trips from Phuket. Due to the monsoon, the islands are only accessible from mid-October to next mid-May.
Fact 18. You can always go island hopping
Thailand has thousands of islands and islets and there are about more than 20 islands are accessible by regular travelers. Each of them has distinctive personality, from the developed modern Phuket to young people crowd Samui, to diving heaven Similan and to the sleepy and far-flung Koh Phayam and Koh Phu. Many island-hopping travelers once they find an island they love most and do not want to leave anymore then they would set there. That is why you will find there are many foreigner live there as locals.