Published 14th November 2019
Thailand is a popular country with tourists and TEFL teachers alike so you might think you know a lot about the country, but there is more to Thailand than beaches, temples and elephants. Here are a few interesting facts about Thailand you probably didn’t know.
Thailand is the only South East Asian country that was never colonized by a European country, unlike Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos. Its name Prathet Thai means land of the free.
Thailand is home to the smallest mammal in the world, the bumblebee bat, as well as the biggest fish, the whale shark.
The full name of Bangkok is the longest city name in the world – Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit, meaning City of Angels, Great City of Immortals, Magnificent City of the Nine Gems, Seat of the King, City of Royal Palaces, Home of Gods Incarnate, Erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s Behest. Try saying that five times fast!
Thailand follows the lese majeste rule which means you can go to jail for disrespecting the King. In practice this means that you cannot insult or criticise the King. What many people don’t realise is that you also shouldn’t step on money because his image is on the paper notes and coins, so if you drop any money on the ground make sure you pick it up (with your hands) quickly.
The King’s Anthem
Before any movie begins in a cinema in Thailand, the King’s anthem will be played and everyone in the cinema will stand up out of respect. Many schools will start the day with the anthem as well. This is not the same as the Thai national anthem, though your response should be the same. The Thai national anthem is played every day at 8am and 6pm. It is played on TV and radio and in public places such as bus stations, train stations, parks and shopping markets. When it is played you are expected to stop what you are doing and stand in silence as a mark of respect.
At the time of his death, King Bhumibol Adulyadej was the world’s longest-reigning monarch (living). He reigned for 70 years until his death in 2016. Now Queen Elizabeth II holds the record.
The original conjoined twins – also known as Siamese twins – came from Thailand, which used to be called Siam. Chang and Eng were born in Bangkok in 1811. They were sent to the United States to work when they were teenagers, performing in different shows as attractions. They later married a pair of sisters and had 22 children between them. Chang died when he was 62 and Eng died a few hours later even though he was seemingly healthy.
The year is not 2019 in Thailand. In fact, it’s the year 2562. Thailand uses the Buddhist calendar, which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar that the Western world uses.
Thailand is a major tourist destination. Not only does it have 1 430 islands and 40 000 temples waiting to be explored, Bangkok has been the most visited city in the world for the last four years, welcoming 22.7 million international visitors in 2019.
The Thai language can be quite confusing for non-native speakers. It consists of 44 consonants, 32 vowels and 6 tones! If you compare that to the total of 44 sounds in English it can seem an impossible language to learn – to make things easier for you, the word for hello and goodbye is the same: sawasdee!
Thai men are required to become monks at some point in their lives. This is usually done for a period of three months before the man is 20. It often coincides with the death of a family member.
The Water Festival
Thai New Year is also known as the Water Festival, or Songkran. It takes place during the hottest month of the year, April, and during these three days you cannot expect to go anywhere in public without getting soaked by a water gun or a bucket of water thrown off the back of a truck.
It is illegal to go commando or to not wear a shirt when driving.
There is a fruit that is so smelly that it’s banned on trains, hotels and public places. The durian smells like sweet rotting onions and tastes like it smells!
If these facts about Thailand haven’t piqued your interest in Thailand, we don’t know what will! What are you waiting for – do your TEFL course and book a one-way ticket to Thailand!
Studying a TEFL course with us could be your first step to discover all of this!