Did you know there are so many Fascinating Facts about Thailand that some foreign tourists are completely unaware of when visiting this amazing part of the world for the first time? And this is nothing compared to what we see on television or read in travel brochures. But what we do know is that Thailand is one heck of an exotic destination and we all inspire to someday visit. And visit you must.
Thailand is a place of immense beauty. There are breathtaking beaches, awesome islands, magnificent temples, amazing cultural treasures, tasty culinary delights, friendly people and so much more.
However, there's a legendary mysticism and extraordinary presence about Thailand that draws millions of pleasure seeking tourists every year. And this despite the country not always being politically correct. But it's still one of the best South East Asian countries you should visit.
I bet you didn't know that Bangkok has the longest city name in the world. Its full title is... Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintarayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Nopparat Ratchathani Buriram Udomratchanivet Mahasatan Amon Piments Avatan Sathit Sakkathattiyya Vitsanukam Prasit. Wow! What an absolute mouth full.
Simply put the name means... The City of Angles, The City of Royal Palaces, The Magnificent City of Nine Gems, The Great City of Immortals, The Home of Gods Incarnate, Seat of the King and by no means least, Erected by Visakarman at Indra's Behest. Having to fit in all this greatness gives you an idea why the city's name is so long. It's been immortalised in the Guinness Book of Records for some time.
Isn't it odd that only the traffic police in Bangkok appear to wear those white surgical type face masks when directing traffic in the city? You'd think that locals too would want to wear them because of the dangerous levels of air pollution. It is said that more than 20% of Bangkok's police force have some form of lung infection. Makes you wonder what percentage of ordinary citizens have lung problems too.
Especially those working the streets all day, every day. And also because the nation's annual health costs amount to a staggering $2.4 billion in lost production. I always travel with my own face mask just in case, and as a tourist, you should consider taking one with you too.
Hard as it may seem, are you aware that Bangkok was rated the hottest city in the world according to the World Meteorological Organization. It's not unheard of to see the thermometer soar above 40C (104F) and winter (what winter! Bangkok doesn't have a winter) the temperature hovering around 30C (86F) I can think of a few other places in the world that are as hot as hell - Too hot to mention here.
Did you know that Chinatown in Bangkok is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world? Perhaps that's largely because Thailand is in close proximity to China.
The ancient city of Muang Boran located south of Bangkok is the largest privately owned theme park and open-air museum in the world.
I bet you didn't know that the oldest profession in the world is technically illegal in Thailand. But then nobody really cares here in the land of smiles. And the law certainly doesn't enforce it either. If that was the case certain officials would have to find other means of supporting their growing lifestyles. Heck man, corruption is so rife in Thailand it seems that just about everyone is on the take. The same can be said for both locals and foreigners alike.
Prostitution in Thailand is the real reason why sex tourists love it so much here. Who can really blame these men with all these pretty girls running amok! The girls do pretty well out of it too. Seems like a win-win situation for all who dare. Though just for the record it's estimated that the sheer number of sex workers in Thailand varies from around 30,000 to more than 1 million. And that figure is growing daily.
The rise in sex tourism in Thailand came about mainly because of the Vietnam War whereby American soldiers used the Kingdom as a resort playground during their vacations. It was initially to get some rest and relaxation but just how much rest they actually got is another story. However, they sure got to have their fair share of relaxation. Now tourists from around the world come here for their holidays and the added pleasures that come with the territory.
Thailand is the only country in South East Asia that has never been colonised by the French, English or any other country for that matter.
It's a fundamental fact that Thailand is better known as the Land of Smiles, simply because every single place you travel around the country the locals always have a big fat smile on their faces.
Orchids are big business in Thailand. Big in bloom. Big in size. Big in income and big in export. You only have to go to the flower markets in Bangkok to see just how big this industry actually is. About $250 million in flower sales annually. That's one heck of a lot of orchids to go.
However, Thailand is still the world's largest exporter of rice and has the largest pineapple harvest. Both of which find their way across the globe.
It may not be this time round, but at one stage between 1970 and 1996, the Thai economy was the fastest growing economy in the world. Then in 1997 things got a bit wobbly in Thailand. But you have to remember that the country has a remarkable way of getting back on track despite all its political unrest. It seems China is fast flying forward.
It's a common fact in western cultures that patting someone on the head is a sign of acceptance and in some respects, a comforting gesture. However, in Thailand because the head is considered the most important part of the body, patting someone on the head is taboo. It's disrespectful to lay your hand on the head of a Thai person, whether it be a child or an older person.
Once at the night market in Chiang Mai, my friend and I met up with a cute kid on the arms of his father and my friend gave him what he thought was simply a friendly pat on the head. Oh my gosh! I had to quickly remind my friend that his actions were not the accepted norm in Thai customs.
On the other hand (excuse the pun) the pointing of the feet and toes is also not the done thing in Thailand. Feet are the lowliest part of the body and they represent an attachment to the ground as well as human suffering. Be aware that should you be required to sit facing a statue in a temple. (Buddha or other) you don't sit pointing your feet towards the image. Best to tuck your feet under your body pointing in the opposite direction.
I only found this out recently and I thought I knew everything about Thailand. Turns out, I don't. But did you know that one of the most unbelievable, yet fascinating facts about Thailand, is that they have this silly law (amongst other crazy things) that it is illegal for you to leave home (be it your hotel or otherwise) without your underwear on. Have you any idea who actually enforces this law? Things can really get out of hand here.
Who of you believes in ghosts? The Chinese do. They burn monopoly money and hope to get the real stuff in return. But do the Thais believe in ghosts? Well, apparently they do. Many Thais are firm believers in ghosts and the spirit world. An example of this fact can be witnessed with the purchase of a house (new or older) where it would be common place to build a small spirit house for whoever previously occupied the site. And then to give offerings to that spirit. It's a mad, mad world we live in - Ghosts or no ghosts.
Did you know that Thailand was originally known as Siam which in turn derived its name from the Sanskrit word Syam. Siam was also the place in 1811 where two famous brothers Eng and Chang, known as the Siamese twins were born. They were joined at the chest by a five-inch-wide band of flesh.
When seventeen years old they left for Boston in the United States and later toured parts of Europe. While they were never surgically separated, both brothers married and between them had 22 children. Chang died of pneumonia in 1874 and Eng died shortly thereafter.
If you should have a fascination with any other type of medical phenomenon in Thailand then perhaps you'd like to take a journey into the extraordinary world of Thai medical science at the Siriraj Museum located in Bangkok.
And I bet some of you didn't know that world-famous golfer Tiger Woods is the only son of an African American father and a mother from Thailand. His mother is actually a mix of Thai, Chinese and Dutch and was raised as a Buddhist. Now you can see where Tiger gets his good looks from.
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