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10 things you didn’t know about Thailand

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Whether you’ve visited Thailand for years or have never set foot in the Land of Smiles, we bet that several of these fun Thailand facts will come as a surprise!

 

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Bangkok boasts the longest city name in the world

Did you know that Thais don’t call Bangkok Bangkok? Instead, they refer to the capital as Krung Thep. This is actually a shortened version of the city’s full ceremonial name, which is:

Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahinthara Yutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udom Ratchaniwet Mahasathan Amonphiman Awatansathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukamprasit.

The name roughly translates to “City of Angels, Great City of Immortals, Magnificent City of the 9 Gems, Seat of the King, City of Royal Palaces, Home of Gods Incarnate, Erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s Behest.”

 

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Thailand had the world’s longest-reigning monarch

The revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great reigned over Thailand for 70 years and 126 days making him the world’s longest-reigning head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history.

 

The National Anthem is played publicly twice a day

Every day at 8:00 hours and 18:00 hours the Thai National Anthem is broadcast across all television and radio stations as well as public places like schools, train stations, shopping malls and markets. Everyone in the vicinity will stop moving to listen respectfully then slightly bow as the song ends before continuing to go about their business.

 

The King’s Anthem is played before films

If you go to the cinema in Thailand, get ready to stand with the rest of the audience before the film as The King’s Anthem is played to an accompanying video montage. Not only is it expected to stand respectfully, but not doing so is illegal!

 

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Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country that was never colonised by a European power

In the 19th century, while France was taking over countries like Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and Britain colonised Burma, Thailand managed to maintain its independence thanks to its strategic location and intelligent King Rama V who ceded small portions of land to the European powers to further ensure peace. The fact is still a source of great pride for Thais to this day.

 

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Thai coins feature Bangkok temples

When in Bangkok, try to match your Thai coins to their real-life counterparts. Each coin is stamped with the picture of a significant temple, or wat, all of which are located in Bangkok.

  • 1 baht: Wat Phra Kaew (also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha inside The Grand Palace)
  • 2 baht: Wat Saket (also known as the Golden Mount or Temple on the Mount)
  • 5 baht: Wat Benjamabophit (The Marble Temple)
  • 10 baht: Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

 

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Bangkok was once known as the “Venice of the East”

The swampy lands around the Chao Phraya River in central Thailand made it so the country’s capital was built on stilts and used a complex system of canals as transportation waterways earning Bangkok the nickname of “Venice of the East.” Today, most of the canals have been filled in and are now the city’s streets but you can still find plenty of canals, particularly in older parts of the city or across the river in Thonburi, that are traversed by boats ferrying people around the region.

 

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The world’s largest Chinatown is in Bangkok

Known as Yaowarat, Bangkok’s sprawling Chinatown is home to over a million ethnic Chinese and one of the city’s most colourful districts to explore. During the day, shops and stalls sell all products imaginable while at night food stalls take over the streets.

 

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Red Bull originated in Thailand

Though popular around the world, the caffeine-packed Red Bull energy drink, known as Krating Daeng in Thai, was created in 1976 in Thailand and has been a popular brand within the country ever since. The original, syrup-like drink is quite different from the carbonated version the rest of the world knows and now you can find both to try while in the Land of Smiles.

 

The Thai language includes 76 characters

You read that right – the Thai language is made up of 44 consonants and 32 vowels totalling 76 characters to memorise…not to mention five different tones!

 

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