In 1989 Thailand Banned Logging
Deforestation is a huge problem in Thailand, and much of the open land you see was covered in hardwood forest until the 20th century.
Thailand is Home to the Smallest Mammal in the World
But you probably won’t see it. The “Kitti’s hog-nosed-bat” is only about an inch long – hence its nickname, the bumblebee bat.
Thailand Also Counts the World’s Largest Fish Among its Residents
The whale shark can reach up to 40 feet long (or about the size of a school bus). You have the best chance of seeing one if you visit the islands during April.
You Can See the World’s Largest Solid Gold Buddha in Thailand
Because it was covered in a stucco disguise, the 15-foot-tall gold statue of Phra Phuttha Maha Suwana Patimakon was spared from looters who stole temple statues throughout the centuries. Today, it’s in Bangkok’s temple, Wat Traimit. It weighs an impressive 5.5 tons and is worth millions of dollars.
Beer, and Often Wine, is Served on the Rocks
It’s not as bad as it sounds! In fact, in this hot and humid country, you might find yourself asking for extra ice in your beverage.
Driving With no Shoes? No Problem. Driving With no Shirt? Go to Jail
It’s not only illegal to drive without a shirt in Thailand, but the punishment can also include prison time. Keep in mind this law applies to scooters too – which is probably what you’ll find yourself renting.
It’s Cheaper to Rent a Moped Than it is to Take a Cab/Grab
Most Thais get around on two wheels. Tourists also take advantage of this cost-effective mode of transportation. All you need is your passport and about $5/day to rent a moped. (You also need an international driver’s license, but most tourists get by without one. They just pay the $15 fine if they get a ticket.)
The Temples on the Thai Currency are all in Bangkok
In fact, there are an estimated more than 40,000 temples in Thailand! Don’t forget to bring a shirt (that covers your shoulders) and wear long pants if you plan on visiting them.
Love Jasmine Rice? You Have Thailand to Thank
This fragrant long grain rice comes from Northern Thailand. While the country was once the world’s largest exporter of rice (by dollar value), it’s now #2, behind India.
Most Thai Men Were Once Monks
If you meet a Thai man over the age of 30, there’s a good chance he has experience in the monastery. For centuries, it was a required rite of passage for men under the age of 20 to go live and study with Buddhist monks.
More Than 9 out of 10 People in Thailand are Buddhist
According to the U.S. Department of State, about 95 percent of Thailand is Buddhist. While Buddhism isn’t the country’s official religion (it doesn’t have one), the king must be Buddhist. It’s a requirement since he’s considered the “guardian of the faith.”
Thailand is Slightly Larger Than the State of California
It also has more than 1,000 islands. The Phi Phi islands off the coast of Krabi are famous for being featured in the 2000 film, “The Beach.”
Thailand’s Language, Thai, has 76 Letters
It’s a very tonal language, and therefore incredibly hard to learn unless you’re good at inflections. There are 44 consonants and 32 vowels!
Thailand’s National Anthem Plays Before Every Film at the Movie Theater
After the previews and before your movie starts, expect to be asked to stand and pay respect to the kingdom as the national anthem plays.
Every Year, Thailand Hosts the World’s Largest Water Fight
During the Songkran Festival, which rings in the Thai new year every April 13-15, millions of Thais and tourists armed with squirt guns soak each other in the streets.
Thailand Hosts an Annual Monkey Festival
If your bucket list includes feeding thousands of monkeys at 13th-century temple ruins, don’t miss the “Monkey Buffet Festival” in November. It’s held in Lopburi where the locals think the macaque monkeys bring them good luck.
Thailand’s Most Expensive Fruit is Also the Most Stinky
Durian fruit smells so bad that it’s actually banned in a lot of places and definitely on all public transportation. It smells like stinky feet mixed with rotten eggs. Despite its aroma, it’s highly sought after and sells for as high as $100 USD for one fruit (about the size of a small watermelon, but with spikes).
There’s a “Museum of Death” You Should Visit AFTER You Eat
Technically, its name is the Siriraj Medical Museum, and it’s dedicated to medicine and science. But a lot of what can be seen (but not photographed as cameras aren’t allowed) has to do with death. Think photos of fatalities from the 2004 tsunami and even a mummified serial killer from the early 20th century.
You Can Order a (Naturally) Color-Changing Tea Made From a Flower
Even skeptics are amazed when they watch a glass of butterfly pea flower tea change from brilliant blue to bright purple and dark red (if hibiscus is added). The tea is made from the petals of the butterfly pea plant, and it’s available at most restaurants catering to tourists.
Thailand is the Only Country in Southeast Asia That Was Never Colonized by Europeans
This fact might play a part in Thailand being nicknamed the Land of Smiles. Most, if not all of the Thais you’ll encounter, especially in the tourism industry, will greet you with a smile and/or a bow.