Facts About Thailand
'How Much Do You Know?'

I quickly realized I knew little about Thailand including its people and their culture during my first holiday to Bangkok back in 2005.  However, several years later and now as a frequent traveler to Thailand I have gained more of an insight into this fascinating country including its friendly people, rich culture, unique customs and exciting nightlife.

BACKGROUND

Having some basic knowledge before you arrive in Thailand will make your vacation even more enjoyable. 

If you would like to know more regarding Thailand culture and history then just follow this link. 

Economy

Thailand is one of the most fertile regions in the world with 10% of the world's animal species present here.  Rice is the staple of the Thai diet and economy.  Rice cultivation has been performed in Thailand for thousands of years with some of the earliest evidence of the practice has been discovered by archaeologists in Ban Chiang in northeastern Thailand.  Rice even plays a major role in Thai mythology and temple rites and there are over 3.7 million Thai families involved in rice growing.

One interesting fact about Thailand is that this country with its developing industrialized economy has a very low unemployment rate between (0.7-1.1%), and a growing middle class with a 40 million strong workforce.

Over the past two decades the number of Thai people living below the poverty line has been greatly reduced providing more Thai families with a middle class lifestyle, thus making Thailand's economy a true success story.

Another interesting note about Thailand is that despite this increase in wealth, Thailand still represents great value for money for tourists as an overseas vacation destination, which is probably why tourism accounts for about 6% of Thailand's GDP and is growing. 

For example, in October 2013 the Thai government noted that Chinese visitors alone had increased by approximately 80% over the same period in 2012 to nearly 4 million.   A proposed waiver  of visa requirements between the two countries will only increase the number of Chinese visitors. 

OTHER INTERESTING FACTS

The main industries in Thailand include: Automobiles and Automotive parts (11%), Financial Services (9%), Electric appliances and components (8%), Tourism (6%), Cement, auto manufacturing, heavy and light industries, furniture, plastics, textiles, garments, agricultural processing, tobacco and beverages. The main agriculture products are rice, rubber, cassava, tapioca, corn, sugar cane, coconuts, soybeans.

Fishing is also a large industry within Thailand.  In respect to the rubber industry, Thailand is the largest exporter of rubber in the world.

Politics  And Government

Name of country: Kingdom of Thailand, formerly known as Siam. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy. The head of the country is King Bhumibol Adulyadej or King Rama IX (see image below).

Political system: Thailand has a Democracy and the current Prime Minister is Yingluck Shinawatra, who is Thailand's first female prime minister and sister of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thailand has a history of civil unrest.  In 2006 a coup was held and the then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was removed.  

In 2010 clashes between police and pro Thaksin supporters (red-shirts or UDD) (i.e. United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship) clashed with police resulting in around 25 deaths.

Population of the Kingdom of Thailand: The present population of Thailand is approximately 66.7 million people (as of 2012).

The capital of Thailand is Bangkok with around 10.9 million people residing there. Because Bangkok was built over a swamp approximately 200 years ago the city is actually sinking.  In 2013 it was the most visited city in the world with over 24 million visitors.  Three million of those people arrived from China. 

There are 77 administrative divisions, known as provinces in Thailand. For example, Chiang Rai and Bangkok are provinces.

Ethnic groups: Thai people represent about 75% of the total population. Chinese people account for around 14%, Malay's represent about 3% and other ethnic groups make up 8% of the population (which include the hill tribes of Chiang Mai, see image below).

Religions: Buddhism 94.6% of Thai's identify as Buddhists. Muslims account for approximately 3%, Christians 0.7% and other denominations 0.1%.

Language spoken: Thai, although English is widely used especially within the popular tourist destinations such as Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai.

Writing: The Thai alphabet or script with it's 44 consonants, and 28 vowels is used to write the Thai language. These consonants are written left to right horizontally. However, the English language and alphabet is also taught within Thai society.

An interesting fact about Thailand culture is that within the family structure, the traditional kinship system has been maintained. Hence, within Thailand's hierarchy system, the eldest male within the family home assumes the role of patriarch and it is not uncommon to have several generations of a family still living under the same roof.

For those traveling to Thailand for the first time, it is important to know the Thai visa requirements. A visa for travel within Thailand is generally not required if your stay within the Kingdom is to be less than 30 days, but regardless of the length of stay your passport must be valid for at least 6 months travel when you enter the country. 

Thailand has a full time military and police force although in the tourist area's such as Phuket and Pattaya they also have a Tourist Police Force (which is made up of volunteer expats from countries including Australia, Ireland and England). 

  • Time zone: GMT+7.
  • Calling code: +66.
  • Tourist Police phone number. 1155 (freecall).
  • Thai Police phone number. 191 (freecall).
  • Electricity 220 volts and 50 cycles per second.
  • Vehicles drive along the left side of the road.

DRINKING WATER

If you don't wish to be sick on your Thailand holiday another important point is don't drink tap water. Thai people generally don't drink tap water as it can contain fecal or other bacterial matter. Therefore it is extremely important to drink only bottled water including at meal time while eating at restaurants etc.

Additionally, when I visit Thailand I only use bottled water when cleaning my teeth.

Climate

Whenever I am speaking about Thailand weather with my Thai brother-in-law, his favorite comment is that Thailand's climate is hot and very hot.  Thailand has one of the hottest climates in the world being located close to the equator.

Having a tropical climate with a monsoon season Thailand is subject to flooding especially around Bangkok.  Its temperatures are also quite high (i.e. averaging 26-34 degrees centigrade all year) as is their annual rainfall, although my experience has been that in Bangkok 40 degree centigrade temperatures can be expected.

The cool season (i.e. most notable in the northern provinces including Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai) is between the months of November and February with temperatures averaging between 26-28 degrees centigrade although although at Angkhan Mountain (located 160 kilometres from Chiang Mai within the northern region) temperatures at night have been known to drop below zero (see image below).

Because of the cooler temperatures in the northern regions many Thai's and overseas visitors choose the northern regions for their holidays.

The hot season (particularly in locations such as Bangkok and the southern provinces including Nahkon Si Thammarat) experience their summer between the months of March and June with average temperatures between 28-34 degrees centigrade but also expect 40 Degree days.

The monsoon season is between the months of July and October which is when Thailand receives much of its annual rainfall. In the southern provinces this amounts to around 2,400 millimetres each year, with the central and northern provinces receiving around 1,400 millimetres annually.

Telephone calls: Telephone calls in Thailand are quite cheap, and there are inexpensive mobile phone plans that can be purchased at numerous shops in Thailand. As a general rule calls to a land line cost 1 Thai Baht every 3 minutes.

While this page does provide some basic facts about Thailand I do discuss a broader range of information on my other pages so please continue to navigate around this site and enjoy.

Thai Currency and Public Holidays

In Thailand the currency is called the Thai baht.

When visiting Thailand you will need to learn their currency and the exchange rate between the baht and the currency of your own country. This is important if you are to know exactly how much you are paying for goods and services within the "land of smiles". The basics of Thailand currency are noted below.

Coinage:

  • 1 Satang,
  • 5 Satang,
  • 10 Satang (these first three Satang coins are rarely used now).
  • 25 Satang
  • 50 Satang
  • 1 Baht
  • 2 Baht
  • 5 Baht
  • 10 Baht.

Notes:

  • 20 baht
  • 50 Baht
  • 100 Baht
  • 500 Baht
  • 1000 Baht.

Conversion: During 2012 1 Australian/ American dollar buys around 31 Thai Baht.

Thailand Public Holidays (2012)

  • January 1-3, New Years day.
  • January 23 Chinese New Year.
  • March 7 Makha Bucha Day.
  • April 6 Chakri Day.
  • April 13-16 Songkran Festival (Thai New Year).
  • May 1 Labour Day.
  • May 7 (normally May 5) Substitute day for Coronation Day Holiday.
  • June 4 Visakha Bucha Day.
  • August 2 Asahna Bucha Day.
  • August 12 Mothers Day.
  • August 13 Substitute day for Queens Birthday.
  • October 23 Chulalongkorn Day.  Remembering King Rama V.
  • December 5 Kings Birthday.
  • December 10 Constitution Day.
  • December 31 New Years Eve.

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