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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.
Here are some of our favourite somewhat random facts about Thailand and Thai people.
“Khun”, which in English is the pronoun “you”, is used to call anyone whether they are older or younger than you. In Thai, it is not polite to call anyone older than you only by their names, but you must add a word to address them. This may be “Khun”” but there are many other words in the Thai language that have different levels of politeness and friendliness.
Besides the standard personal pronouns, Thais use family terms as personal pronouns. Such 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!
A fun Thai food fact is there are several foods whose names can cause confusion over their origins. The following are foods invented in Thailand and can be found only here: American fried rice, Kanom Tokyo, Kanom Krok Singapore, Lod Chong Singapore, and Kanom Jeen (jeen means China).
When you go to the 7-Eleven store, especially in the city’s outskirts or in non-touristy areas, you may be surprised by homeless dogs lying around. 7-Eleven store seems to be a popular place for them to get cold air (when the door opened). As the weather in Thailand is very hot (too hot even for dogs). Plus Thais are too kind to drive them away. Some people even walk around them to get inside the store as they do not want them to get disturbed.
Thai traditional weddings are unique. There are a lot of processes including dowry system or what they call “sin sord”.
It is cash that a groom needs to give to his bride’s family to honour 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 sord is vary depending on mutual consent between two sides. Mostly based on their social status as well. The amount can vary from 10,000THB to 100 million THB!!!! These days not every family insists on it and many families return the sin sord to the couple after the ceremony.
In addition to sin sord, 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. The groom will give such things to his wife. This is similar to giving an engagement ring in the West but a lot more complicated. Nowadays, this custom still exists as it is deep-rooted in Thai culture.
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. This is also the case in some buildings or important places. You will also see the “please take your shoes off” sign in front of temples.
All students need to wear uniforms from primary school until university!
The style varies 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!
University is more standard as each university has very similar uniforms. Wearing a white shirt with black pants, or a skirt. However, what makes them look different are the neck tie colours, belt buckle, pin, and shirt button. Also, some faculties have their own uniforms such as faculty of an engineer, architecture, aviation, medicine, and nurse.
However, this rule is flexible in some universities where 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.
Kids like to point their fingers at rainbows when they see them, and sometimes they accidentally hit each other face. Just to avoid the accident, older generations would tell them not to point their fingers at the rainbow as the finger will fall off. This trick then has been used ever since.
It is very common in Thailand when you buy fruits from street vendors, you always get a pack of “prik glua”. This is a salt chilli sugar dip. Thais like to dip fruits such as sour mango, guava, and pineapple in prik glua. They go very well together and especially for sour fruits.
If you get a chance to learn the Thai language, you may have a headache. There are 44 consonants and 32 vowels of the Thai alphabet. That is not enough, you can have a severe headache caused by 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… see any differences? The difference is in the tone! Glai (mid-tone, meaning “far”) and glâi (falling tone, meaning “near”).
Don’t touch anyone’s head unless you’re a barber or a hairstylist. 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 can be considered disrespectful behavior.
Every Buddhist man in Thailand is expected to become a monk for a period once they turn 20 or before getting married. This practice has several main reasons behind it.
First, to learn Buddha’s teachings which will lead them to become mature and be a better person. Second, Thai people believe in life after death. If you get ordained for your parents, they will be peaceful in heaven. This can be considered as a big gift from a son to their beloved ones.
How long is dependent on their willingness and convenience. It can be only a few days, a few months, a year, or even throughout their lives.
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.
In some cultures a black cat is a sign of good luck, However, in Thailand if a black cat cuts in front of you while driving or walking, 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 unpredictable.
Thailand has 3 seasons – wet, cool, and hot. Typically, 6 months of rain, 3 months of cool temps, and 3 months of heat. But some may simply say 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. Sometimes the cold weather (around 20-25 degrees…) lasts only 3 days and gone like a dream.
“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 to people in Thailan, you can wai them. However, you should only initiate a Wai to people who are older or more senior to you.
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 krub/ka” (say krub if you’re male and ka if you’re female to be polite).
However, wai has three levels. First, 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. Your chin meets the tip of your thumbs. Second, if they are older, your index fingers should move up to touch between the brows and your nose touches the thumbs. Last, to pay respect to a monk or a Buddha image, your thumbs should move up to touch between the brows.
An interesting fact about Thai people is there is a belief thatgetting a haircut on Wednesday will bring bad luck. According to this belief, you will notice that most barbershops are closed on Wednesday.
The background is dating back to 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.
In Thailand, it is very common to see people drinking 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 don’t want it. Thais love cold drinks as the weather is hot. 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.
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. It has become one of the favorite snacks for many kids.
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is the name that foreigners know. It comes from the old name – “Bang Makork” before it was changed. While most locals refer to it as “Krung thep”, the official name is much longer. 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:
“Krungthep Mahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit”
Which translated 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!
In Thailand, toilet 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 decent restaurants provide napkins. Thais seem to get used to saying “tissue” even though it is a napkin they will call it a tissue by the way.
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.
It is common to see a truck bumper full of stickers on Thailand’s street. We are not sure why it is popular among truck drivers but cannot deny that they are creative. Funny sentences, motivational quotations, and even rated 18+ stickers are quite entertaining.
Thailand has five UNESCO world heritage sites:
Thailand is one of the countries that is 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. There is a lot more things to surprise you, so come and discover it for yourself.
For more random facts about Thai people and Thailand check out Random Thainess
Also check out this article for more ideas of how to explore Thai culture from the comfort of your own home.
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