Thailand is a land of surprise (and beautiful beach resorts)! Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country that was never colonized by an European country. In fact, in the Thai language, the name of the country is Prathet Thai which means “land of the free.” Very fitting! Thailand is where you’ll find both the smallest and the largest creatures. The smallest mammal in the world, the bumblebee bat, calls Thailand home. You can also find the largest fish, the whale shark, in Thai waters. Males were all Buddhist monks for a while. There was a time when all young men in Thailand (including royalty) were required to become Buddhist monks–even if only for a short period of time–before they turned 20. What most people don’t realize is that over one hundred years ago, nearly all of northern Thailand was covered in hardwood forest. Today, about a quarter of that forest is left. Only Singapore has lost more trees. For this reason, logging is completely banned in Thailand. One-tenth of the entire population of Thailand lives in Bangkok. It is the capital of this great nation, and, of course, the largest city.
Thailand loves its King, and shows great respect for the monarchy. The well-known Hollywood movie “The King and I” was never shown in Thai theaters because it was considered to be derogatory to the King. How serious are they about their King? Thailand has the lese majeste rule, meaning that if you commit disrespectful acts toward the King, you could be imprisoned for treason.
- There are about 35,000 temples in Thailand. Thailand is truly a land of temples. Visiting them requires modest clothing, meaning no shorts or sleeveless shirts.
- Showing respect for another person’s head is imperative in Thailand. The head is considered to be the most important part of the body, and so Thai culture forbids touching anyone on the head (even a child). Should you meet someone who is older or more important than you, it is best to lower your head in deference to show proper respect.
- Thailand is home to many, many animals. About a tenth of all of the animal species on the planet call Thailand home, and a tenth of all bird species. To put that into perspective, Thailand has more birds than Europe and America combined!
- The national flower of Thailand is the orchid. If you love exotic flowers, you’ll be pleased to know that 1,500 orchid species can be found growing wild in Thai forest. There’s a reason why it is one of the world’s largest orchid exporters.
- People associate elephants with Thailand. There are more than 5,000 found there (though more than half are domesticated). Over a hundred years ago, though, there used to be about 100,000 with about one fifth of them wild.
- Thailand has many flags. If you’re observant, you’ll notice the national flag of Thailand being raised at 8 a.m. each morning, and lowered at 6 p.m. There are also many other flags called the “Royal Flags” which are flown along with the nationalflag to honor the monarchy. You will only see the Royal Flags in Thailand, but they are a common sight.
- Thailand has a few big snakes. You can find the reticulated python in Thai jungles, the world’s largest snake. The biggest one found was over 33 feet long. It doesn’t stop there, though. The longest poisonous snake in the world, the king cobra? Yep. You can find those in Thailand, too.
- Each year, about 6,000,000 tourists visit Thailand. That number continues to grow by leaps and bounds as the world discovers what a wonderful place it is. Bangkok feels an influx of 11,000,000 non-resident visitors each year.
- A smile can go a long way, and you’ll find more smiles in Thailand than just about anywhere else. In fact, it’s sometimes known as the “land of smiles” because the people of Thailand seem to be always ready with a smile. They are a peace-loving culture, desiring harmony over conflict.
- The most important mineral you’ll find in Thailand? It might surprise you, considering all of the beautiful gold jewelry and statues in temples, but it is actually tin. And the most exported crop? Rice, of course! Think of all the tasty Thai dishes that you love. Rice is a staple in Thai cuisine.
- Thailand used to be known as Siam, and it is the country where Siamese cats originated from. Though there used to be 23 types of Siamese cats originally, there are now only six. Giving a pair of Siamese cats to a bride on her wedding day is considered good luck.
Thailand is such a unique country that it is difficult to stop at just 25 facts! Each visitor to Thailand leaves with a better understanding of how special the country is, with many coming back to get married in a place they fell in love with.