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Fun Factoids on Thailand & Thai Culture

Ever wondered about Thai culture? Or looking for some interesting facts on Thailand? Stop by often to see our section of Thai Tidbits and the new info we will add each month.

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95% of Thai people are Buddhist, so Buddhist principles apply to etiquette there. Some of Thai people’s most important values are self-control, respect and a non-confrontational attitude.

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Feet are very important in Thailand. Never show the bottom of your feet, as they are considered dirty and it would be disrespectful. Never step over anyone who is sitting or sleeping on the ground, and never put your feet up on a desk, table or chair.

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Thailand is known as “The Land of Smiles” because of the outgoing, friendly nature of people there. They will forgive many faux pas, but they are even more appreciative of visitors that take the time to learn about their customs and conventions.

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Never touch people’s head or hair; even ruffling a child’s hair is considered very rude. Thai people consider the head the most sacred part of the body.

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Pointing at anything is not acceptable in Thailand. Lifting your chin in someone’s direction, making a patting motion (palm down) to call someone over, or pointing at inanimate objects or animals with your whole hand rather than one finger are all acceptable to Thai people.

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Getting visibly angry or showing strong emotions is not something you’ll see much of in Thailand. If you can stay cool when something goes wrong, you’ll earn respect rather than being seen as a tourist. Thai people say “mai pen rai” with a smile (meaning “no worries”) when something goes wrong.

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Never throw things; even tossing money down can be seen as rude. Hand people whatever it is carefully, face-up and with your right hand, preferably. Money should always be unfolded when purchasing something.

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Removing your shoes before entering a temple or someone’s home is non-negotiable, and some restaurants and businesses will also prefer it. If you check the entrance and see a pile of shoes, or see that the staff is barefoot, that’s a clue! Floors are kept clean, and simple footwear is preferred for this reason.

Rent V38 Offers Apartment Living for Digital Nomads

To enhance the comfort, safety and lifestyle features that today’s tenants desire, RENT V38 provides green communal areas that include ground floor garden seating and a rooftop garden with stunning views of the Bangkok skyline.

These social areas are perfect for chilling out alone or getting to know your neighbors; creating a sense of real community spirit.

More Fun Facts

Got a fun fact to share? Send it to our contact form and we just may feature it.

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A wai is a gesture of greeting and respect in Thailand, hands together in front of you, head slightly bowed. Always return a wai given to you; only the king and monks do not have to. If you give one to a monk, holding your hands higher indicates respect for his status.

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In Thailand, the host or highest-ranking person at a gathering does not sit at the head of the table. They are always seated in the middle of the table, and honored guests are seated across from them for ease of conversation.
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Always wait for your host to seat you, rather than choosing your place at a table. If you are seated on bamboo mats on the floor, make sure the bottoms of your feet are under you rather than showing to anyone seated at the table with you.

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Thai meals are served a little at a time, so take very small helpings when a dish is offered. Refilling your plate is smiled upon, but taking too much at once is seen as greedy. The last bit is always saved for the most important person at the table–but will usually be offered to someone else.

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Thai meals are shared, nobody orders their own dish. If you’re sharing a meal with Thai people, the eldest ladies at the table will order for the group.

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It is considered more polite to decline a food you don’t want than to politely accept it and not eat it. Still, do try to taste new foods when you’re a guest.

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When serving yourself from a communal dish, taking from the edge of the bowl is polite, while scooping from the middle isn’t.

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If a dish is served with sticky rice served in a small basket, you may eat it with your hands. Form a ball of rice with your right-hand fingers and use it to scoop up food and sauces.

Did you know Rent V38 Offers Boutique Apartments Near Chatuchak Market, Rathchayothin Flea Market & many other exciting places?

Besides being a serviced apartment complex, Rent V38 is also a hotel for nightly stays. Our building was recently created as a work of art by the Acton Family. We offer many amenities as the big name brand hotels, but with the added flair of being a family owned and community supported hotel apartments.

Besides being a serviced apartment complex, Rent V38 is also a hotel for nightly stays. Our building was recently created as a work of art by the Acton Family. We offer many amenities as the big name brand hotels, but with the added flair of being a family owned and community supported hotel apartments.

Interesting Factoids on Thai Culture

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In Thailand, chopsticks are only used for noodle dishes. All rice based dishes are eaten mainly with a spoon in the right hand and the fork in the left, to help manipulate the food. Items not eaten with rice, such as chunks of fruit, may be eaten with a fork.

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Knives stay in the kitchen. Thai food is already in bite-sized chunks, so they are not needed outside of preparation. If you do need your food in smaller pieces, using the edge of your spoon is acceptable.

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Condiments are essential in Thailand. Unlike fancy western restaurants, it is always acceptable to add extra sauces or seasonings to your food. Just be sure to taste it first, as Thai people are known for loving spicy food.

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Age and social status always come first in Thailand, so take social cues before digging into a meal. If the most senior person at the table doesn’t say anything, wait till they start eating before you do.

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In Thailand, it is considered polite to leave anything inedible, such as bones, together at one side of the plate. Also, be sure there is nothing on the table around your plate, and put your spoon and fork together on top of the plate to show you’re finished.

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Thai custom dictates the host or most senior (often the person who is seen as wealthiest) is expected to pay for a meal. Never argue over payment of a check. If your offer to contribute to the check is declined, never insist.

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Thai people never talk or laugh with their mouth full, blow their nose at the table, or make noises while eating, Some Asian countries approve of slurping, but not in Thailand. Never forget to thank your host.

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Thai is a tonal language and the slightest shift in tone will change the meaning. However, Thai people appreciate Westerners making an effort and will ignore this in favor of you trying to communicate rather than expecting everyone to speak English.

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Sawasdee (Thai greeting) has only been in use since the 1940s, and was developed by a Thai professor from a Sanskrit word. 

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The left hand is considered dirty in Thailand, so avoid handling food or serving utensils with it.

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Eat slowly. Meals are leisurely in Thailand, so don’t rush. Be social, eat slowly, and of course, never use your phone at the table.

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It is considered polite and friendly to top off others’ drinks at a meal. Don’t be surprised if someone does this for you, or adds ice to your drink. Someone may even add ice to your beer!

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More Interesting TidBits on Thailand

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Sawasdee (pronounced SAH-WAH-DEE) is the standard Thai greeting. It is used regardless of the time of day or to whom you are speaking. To be correct, you must end your greeting with the correct finishing participle. Men say sah wah dee khrap! with a short, sharp finish. Women say sah wah dee khaa…. with a long, drawn-out finish.

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His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej ruled Thailand from 1946 until his death in 2017. He was highly educated, earning an engineering degree in Switzerland, and is accepted as leading Thailand to the modern age. King Chulalongkorn, the son of the king in “The King & I,” was his grandfather.

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The energy drink Red Bull is based on Krating Daeng (which translates to red bull), a drink popular in Thailand since 1976, but altered to appeal to Westerners. It was originally created to give laborers the energy they needed to work.

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Orchids are Thailand’s national flower. With more than 1500 species found there, they are the largest exporter of orchids in the world, but in Thailand you can even see them  growing by the side of the road.

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Ghosts are big in Thailand. Traditionally the Thai place small replicas of houses near their homes, believing ghosts will take up residence there instead of haunting the main house. They  leave offerings in front of these spirit houses, especially bottles of strawberry Fanta. Why? A few reasons: it’s red, a lucky color in Thai culture. Red is also the color of blood, so the soda is seen as a replacement for blood sacrifice. It was the favorite drink of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, ruler from 1946-2017, so offering strawberry Fanta was a sign of love and respect to the king. Finally, Fanta is bottled in glass in Thailand and are less likely to be blown over in a storm.

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Thai people refer to non-Asian foreigners as farang, (pronounced FAH-RONG) usually in a harmless or playful way. It is not unusual for someone in Thailand to tell you they have many farang friends, or that many farang come to a restaurant or club; they don’t mean it in a derogatory way. However, if you’re referred to as farang ki nok, it translates to “birdshit farang,” and is not meant to be a compliment!

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To sound even more authentically Thai, follow up your sawasdee with sabai dee mai,(pronounced SAH-BYE-DEE-MYE)  ending with khrap (male) or kha (female) based on your gender. This translates to “you’re feeling good/happy, aren’t you?”  The response will usually be sabai dee (well or good) sabai sabai (really relaxed or chilled out) or mai sabai (not so good, or even physically ill)

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The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is an annual event in October, and though it does serve all-vegetarian fare, it also has an aspect that may strike foreigners as bizarre. There is a parade of worshipers who self-mutilate by piercing their faces and other body parts with strange everyday objects (anything is fair game, from model warships to a shock absorber from a car) and march to purify their souls in a trance-like state. There are fireworks, people who walk across beds of hot coals, people paying respects to ancestors and inviting the Nine Emperor Gods down to earth for the festival, where they receive many offerings.

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The Monkey Buffet is held every year in November at the Pra Prang Sam Yot temple (translated: Monkey Temple) in the Lopburi province. The temple is famous for the monkeys that frolic around it, and the locals give the festival to thank the monkeys for bringing tourists year-round to see them. The feast is huge, made up of about two tons of meat, fruit, ice cream and other treats for the monkeys.

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Thailand is home to the Cryptotora Thamicola, a blind cavefish that climbs waterfalls! It uses its front and back fins to propel itself up the falls, and can crawl on land the way any other animal would. The skeletal adaptations that allow it to do this are unknown in any other fish, yet it is distantly related to the common goldfish.

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Jasmine rice is the most popular variant  grown in Thailand. Although it doesn’t produce as bountiful a crop as other strains of rice, it is sold at twice the price on the global market, which makes it profitable for the farmers to grow.

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Elephants are Thailand’s national animal. A century ago, there were around 100,000 elephants there, but today there are only about 2,500 in the wild, with around the same number of domesticated elephants.

Stop by and see us in Chatuchak

graphical map of the chatuchak area bangkok where Rent v38 building is

Snippets of Thai Culture & Thailand Factoids

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The national flag of Thailand is raised at 8am and lowered at 6 pm every day. There are many flags in Thailand known as “Royal Flags,” which are flown as well to honor the King.

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Bangkok is considered the world’s hottest city, with the most consistent hot temperatures throughout the year.

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Thailand is home to the world’s largest snake, the reticulated python (the longest one ever found was 33 feet long!) as well as the longest poisonous snake, the king cobra.

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Thailand has 1,430 islands and shares a border with four different countries: Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia.

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Males in Thailand used to all be required to serve as Buddhist monks before the age of 20, including royalty. Some returned to regular life and some remained monks, but this is no longer universally observed.

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Thailand used to be known as “Venice of the East,” because it had many buildings on stilts over the Chao Phraya river and many canals that were used for trading around Bangkok. Some of these canals still exist, but many were paved into streets to accommodate larger populations.

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Thailand, formerly Siam,  is the original birthplace of the Siamese cat. There used to be 23 varieties of Siamese cats, but now there are only 6. It is considered lucky for brides to receive a pair of Siamese cats on her wedding day.

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Although you’ll see a lot of gold statues in Thailand, tin is the most important mineral to the nation. Tin is used to solder microelectonic components to circuit boards and can prevent corrosion when used to cover other metals. 

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Gratitude is always appropriate in Thailand. Thank people politely and often, and if you combine it with a wai (head bowed with hands held palms together in front of you), it is very appreciated.

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Each year there are 6 million tourists visiting Thailand, and 11 million visitors to Bangkok (both Thai and foreign).

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Thank you is kawp khun (khrap/kha) (pronounced KOP KOON KRAP/KAH)

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Mai pen rai (pronounced MY PEN RYE) can be used as “You’re welcome,” and is also something of a Thai motto, “No worries.”

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Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that has never been colonized by a European country. The name of the country in Thai is Prathet Thai, and means “land of the free.”

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Thailand is home to the largest and smallest creatures on the planet; the bumblebee bat and the whale shark.

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Logging is completely banned in Thailand, as over the past century 75% of the hardwood forest that used to cover northern Thailand is gone.

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The capital and largest city in Thailand is Bangkok, and it accounts for 10% of Thailand’s population.

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The most famous western world story about Thailand, “The King & I,” was banned in Thailand. It was considered treasonous, as Thai people have the utmost respect for their monarchy.

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Thailand is home to more species of birds than Europe and the United States combined. About  10% of all the birds and 10% of all animals on the planet live there!

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Thailand’s biggest export is rice. With the fifth-largest amount of land devoted to rice farming, it is second only to India in the amount of rice exported.

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Thailand boasts over 41,000 temples, and 35,000 are still in use today.

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