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Thailand: General Information

Here, you will see the basic information of Thailand.
What kind of a country is Thailand ? :-)

 Kingdom of Thailand

Thailand is a kingdom ! I got to know that when I visited Thailand for the first time.

The king is highly respected by all the people. You'll see pictures of the king and queen all over the country such as in shops, homes, along the streets, in taxis and so on.

  • Official name: Kingdom of Thailand (Prathet Thai)

    The official name of Thailand is Kingdom of Thailand. In Thai language, it's called Prathet Thai. (Prathet means country). Around until 1939, the country was known as "Siam" and then it was changed to the current name, "Prathet Thai", or "Thailand" once. However, it was renamed back to "Siam" from 1945 to 1949, then back to "Thailand" on May 11, 1949.

    "Thai" means "free", therefore, "Thailand" means "Land of the Free."
    It must show their pride about the fact that Thailand is the only one country that has never been colonized in Southeast Asia while other countries around were colonized by Great Britain and France.

  • King and the country

    The current king is Rama 9
    - King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great.

    Since his ascension to the throne, His Majesty has provided support (it's said that more than 3,000 royal initiated projects have been set up) for all regions of the country, especially remote areas in need of support.
    (The photo is from the factory Queen Sirikit manages in Ayuttaya)

    The king is highly respected by all the people. Pictures of the king and queen can be seen all over the country such as in shops, homes, along the streets, in taxis and so on.

About the King, see the related pages as follows:
Rama 9 The Sixtieth Anniversary - Exhibition in honor of His Majesty Royal Flora Ratchaphruek - Indoor Exhibition

Related Links
- Thailand's Monarchy (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Thailand)
- Biography of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (The Golden Jubilee Network)

  •  National Flag

    The current national flag of Thailand was adopted on September 28 in 1917 (B.E.2460) by Rama VI (King Vajiravudh).
    (Until then, the design of a white elephant on a red background had been used since the era of Rama IV.)

    The national flag of Thailand is called "Thong Trairong"; Blue stripe in the middle, white bands up and down of it, and red stripes sandwiches them. Each of those colours has an important meaning as follows:

    - Blue : The monarchy of Thailand.
    - White : Religion / Buddhism
    (It looks like it came from white elephant that is very sacred for Thai people)
    - Red : Thai people

    On week days, the national flag is raised at 8.00 a.m. and lowered at 6.00 p.m. at public places, offices and schools mostly with the Thai National Anthem.

    Related Links
    - Historical Flags (Thailand)

  • National Anthem:   Phleng Chaat

    ("Phleng": song, "Chaat": country)

    In Thailand, the national anthem is played in public places, on TV or radio at 8:00 o'clock in the morning and 6:00 o'clock in the evening.

    If you hear this song in Thailand, stand still until the song finishes. You don't need to be bewildered (I was at first). Just do as people do.

  • Capital:   Bangkok

    Commonly called "BKK" for short.
    In Thai, it's called "Krung Thep" (means "The city of angels").
    The ceremonial name is actually really long (the longest in the world):

    "Krung Thep Maha Nakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuttaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udom Ratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanu Kamprasit"
    (Why is this so long ???)

    This long name means "The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukam." by Wikipedia about Bangkok.
    It must be very difficult to remember this for even Thai people. That's maybe why a musician made a melody for this long name to sing and remember. :-)

  • Language:   Thai

    They have dialects in south or north.
    The letters of Thai language is quite different from English or Japanese alphabets, like, ขอบคุณครับ (this means "Thank you"). If you are interested in Thai language, check the Thai Language page of this site. It must be fun to learn new languages. :D

    About English:
    You can use English in hotels or restaurants where tourists come from overseas. However, you can not at small restaurants along streets.

  • Electricity:   220 volts 50 cycles

    Japan is 100V. U.S is 110V, right ?
    If you want to take electric appliances with you to Thailand, check if they can work with 220V beforehand.

    If you really want to use an electric appliance not for 220V, you must get a voltage converter from 220V to the appliance voltage at an airport or an electrical stores.
    If you use an appliances which is not for 220V, not only the appliances will be permanently broken but it may causes a fire ! Be careful !

    Related Links
    - Electricity in Thailand
    (This page has the photo showing the wall receptacle design usually found in Thailand.)

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 Where is Thailand ?

Where is Thailand ?
Looks like it's close but actually far from Japan more than I thought. How about from your country ?

  • How long does it take ?

    Thailand is located in the heart of the Southeast Asian. About 6 hours from Tokyo, Japan.

    Some people might think it takes a short time but it's a very long time for me. Is it because I have not been to many countries (and it's an economy class...) ??

    Even six hours, it makes my buttocks hurt ! I really recommend you should have gentle stretching exercise or enjoy walking on the plane sometimes.

    By the way, it takes seventeen hours from New York to Thailand. Unbelievable ! I'll die...

    - New York To Bangkok  17 hours
    - London To Bangkok 12 hours
    - Paris To Bangkok 12 hours
    - Rome To Bangkok 10.5 hours

    Related Links
    - Thai Airways

  • Time difference

    The time difference between Japan and Thailand is 2 hours. (Thailand is 2 hours behind.)
    When you go to Thailand from Japan, set your watch 2 hours delayed. In this case, 12:00 in Tokyo is 10:00 in Thailand.

    Check the time difference between Thailand and your country beforehand !

    - Tokyo (Japan)  +2 hours
    - New York (U.S.A)  -11 hours
    - London (U.K.) -6 hours
    - Paris (France) -5 hours
    - Rome (Italy) -5 hours
    - Moscow (Russia) -3 hours

    By the way, I once took an atomic clock with me from Japan to Thailand. It worked; the time was set automatically but the clock had no function to set it to local time. As a result, the clock was always set to Japan time.... Very sad.... So, I tried to set the time manually but while I didn't noticed it, the time came back to Japan time (2 hours ahead of Thailand time). Wow, very confusing !
    If you want to carry an atomic clock, check if it has a function to localize the time beforehand.

    Related Links
    - The World Clock - Time Zones

  • Size

    Approximately 513,000 square kilometers.
    Almost the same size as France and about 1.4 times larger than Japan. (I thought Japan was larger, though.)

    The shape is very curious; if you see the northern part as an ear, Bangkok area as a mouth and the southern part as a nose, the whole land looks a profile of an elephant !

  • Typography

    Thailand is mainly divided into five regions: the North, the Northeast, the Central, the East, and the South.
    The country comprises 75 provinces and the special province, Bangkok.

    About regions:
    Regions of Thailand is explained as 6, 5 or 4 as follows:
    - 6 parts (North, Northeast, Central, East, West, South)
    - 5 parts (North, Northeast, Central, East, South)
    - 4 parts (North, Northeast, Central, South)

    This website, adopts 5 region system as the website, Tourism Authority of Thailand does.

    There is an ancient capital Chiang Mai in the north (some Japanese say it's Kyoto in Thailand because it has a rich history) and the world-famous resort with beautiful sea, Phuket is in the south. Thailand has mountains and oceans like Japan..

    There are a lot of countries next to Thailand; Myanmar(Burma), Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia.

    Related Links
    - Provinces of Thailand (Wikipedia)

  • North: ChiangMai and South: Phuket

    It's about one hour from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or Phuket by air.

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 Climate and Seasons

As you maybe know, basically it's hot in Thailand. However, be careful ! :-)

  • Climate

    - Tropical monsoonal climate.

    The average temperature   around 29 degree Celsius
    The highest temperature  30 to 35 degree Celsius
    The lowest temperature  24 to 27 degree Celsius in Bangkok
     14 to 24 degree Celsius in Chiangmai in the North

    Usually, you'll hear like the above, but ...

    From November to January, it gets cool or cold even in Thailand. Around this season, it's kind of cool in Bangkok but the northern part like Chiang Mai, sometimes under 10 degree Celsius early morning, and if you visit a northern mountain like Doi Inthanon, the temperature can be under zero, (they say from -8 to 22 degrees Celsius) and the average is 12 degrees through the year. Even though Thailand is a hot country, be careful not to catch a cold !

    - The humidity : 70 to 80 percent

  • Dry or rainy season

    Mainly 3 seasons.
    (My wife from Thailand often says jokingly like, Thailand has three seasons; Hot, Hotter, Hottest. :-D)

    • Dry season (November to February)
      A lot of comfortable and fine days in this season.
      But the area close to Gulf of Thailand in the south is exceptional. Around November to December, the amount of rain in this area is highest. If you'd like to visit the Southern area, February to April might be the best season.

    • Hot season (March to May)
      Even at night, the temperature doesn't go down, and it's hot from early morning.
      In the latter half of this season, sudden showers in everyday.

    • Rainy season (June to October)
      It rains and stops, rains and stops. Not means rain all day.

  • Climate in Bangkok
    • It's hottest in April. The average temperature is 30 degree but around 40 degree when it's the hottest.
      The famous festival, Songkran Festival (or Water Festival) is held in this period.

    • The average temperature in December: around 25 degree.

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 Thai Currency, Prices

  • Currency:   Baht (or "THB", "B")

    The Thai currency is called Baht. It's simply called "Baht" or "Thai Baht".
    ("Thai Baht" sounds more specific, I guess, and I also often call it "Thai Baht")

    1 U.S. Dollar is about 33 Thai Baht (THB).
    100 Japanese yen is about 31 Thai Baht (THB).(as of Jan in 2014)

    Check out "Exchange Rate by" to know more about Exchange Rate.

    Prices are inexpensive compared in Japan, and you can have a light meal with about 30 Baht (about 1 U.S. Dollar or 100 Japanese yen).
    About fruits, 1kg is about 30 or 40 Baht, depending on the kind or the freshness, though.

    Related Links
    - Finance & Banking (

    • The Thai currency is called Baht
      It's simply called "Baht" or "Thai Baht".
      ("Thai Baht" sounds more specific, I guess, and I also often call it "Thai Baht")
      In Thai บาท, the sign is ฿ and the code is THB.
      (฿ is a special character on the net and English Alphabet B is used instead often.)

    • Exchange rate
      As of Jan in 2014, 1 U.S. Dollar is about 33 Thai Baht (THB).
      100 Japanese yen is about 31 Thai Baht (THB).

      Check out "Exchange Rate by" to know more about Exchange Rate.

      Roughly speaking,
      Baht x 3 /100 = U.S. Dollar
      U.S. Dollar /3 * 100 = Baht

      Let's say, when you spend 100 Baht in Thailand, that means you spend 3 U.S. dollar (100 Baht x 3 / 100). Likewise, if you spend 1000 Baht, that means you spend 30 dollar (1000 Baht x 3 / 100).

    • Banknotes (6 kinds)
      1000 Baht, 500 Baht, 100 Baht, 50 Baht, 20 Baht, 10 Baht
      (I never seen 10 Baht bill, though)

    • Coins (6 kinds)
      10 Baht, 5 Baht, 2 Baht, 1 Baht, 50 Satang, 25 Satang
      (1Baht = 100 Satang)

    • Keep small bills !
      When you go on a trip to Thailand, it's better to have small bills (100 Baht or less) of Thai Baht more than big bills (1000 Baht).
      You'll see but when you buy something, it's okay if it's at a big store but if in a small shop along a street or a market, they sometimes don't have enough for change or they go somewhere to change a big banknote into small and you have to wait for a long time.

      When I go and exchange from Japanese Yen to Thai Baht, I always tell them to give me small bills more. 20 Baht bills are important for me because I use 20 Baht as a tip to a bellboy at a hotel when he carry my bags or something for me.

  • How about prices in Thailand ?

    I don't know if it's compared to things in U.S. but I feel cheaper than in Japan. You can have something to eat around 50 Baht (1.5 dollars).
    About fruits, it depends on the kind or how fresh but 1kg is 30 to 40 Baht (about 1 dollar).

    Electric appliances or products from overseas are as expensive as in Japan or much more (cars are much more expensive !). However, very roughly speaking, it costs 1/3 for going around compared in Japan.

    For example, let's say, you shop something at 1,000 Baht.
    1,000 Baht is about 3,000 yen, and the price of commodity in Thailand is about 1/3 compared in Japan, that is, 1,000 Baht shopping values almost 10,000 yen (about 9,000yen) !
    I still don't realize the value of money in Thailand, be careful not to spend too much while you don't notice it even though they are not expensive. (in various meanings)

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  • Buddhism: 95 percent (Theravada Buddhism).

    The rest are Muslim or so.

    • About Thai Buddhism:
      Different in Japan, Buddhism in Thailand is "Theravada".
      (Buddhism in Japan is "Mahayana".)
      ("Theravada" is also called "Hinayana" (Lesser Vehicle) against "Mahayana" (Greater Vehicle), but this is inaccurate or disparaging term. Trying to define superiority or inferiority is funny.)

      This Buddhism was spread from India to southeast Asia such as Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar including Thailand, and the purpose is the emancipation of the individual by own efforts. It is believed that ordinary people can earn merit by giving something as charity or doing good things to monks or temples and can be happy. This means that the one who is thankful is not monks but ordinary people.
      (Monks until 20 years old have 10 religious precepts, and monks at the age of 21 years old or more have 227 religious precepts.)

    • Buddhism is really sacred
      Buddhism is really sacred for Thai people.
      When you visit temples, they might not accept to enter if you don't care about clothes, like if you wear clothes with showing a lot of your skin such as shorts and sleeveless shirts. Correct behavior and proper clothes are necessary when visiting temples in Thailand.

    Related Links
    - Buddhism in Thailand (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

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Now, do you know how many people in Thailand ?
More than in your country ?

  • Population

    Approximately 65 million.
    (by National Statistical Office of Thailand - Looks like the latest data is from the year of 2005 to 2006 as of Jan. 2014.)
    Male female ratio is approximately 1:1. Roughly speaking, the population is half of the one of Japan.

  • The population of the capital city, Bangkok
    30% of the country population live in urban areas and 35% of it live in Bangkok. That is, the population of Bangkok is about 6.8 million.

  • Japanese living in Thailand
    The population of Japanese who live in Thailand is about 56,000.
    About 40,000 of it live in Bangkok and 3,000 in Chiang Mai in the northern part of Thailand.
    (by Research and Statistics of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan issued in 2013)

    By country, Thailand is 7th in the world. No.1 is U.S, then followed by China, Australia, England, Canada, and Brazil.
    (After Thailand, Germany, France, South Korea and Singapore follow.)

    By city, Bangkok is 4th in the world. No.1 is Los Angeles followed by Shanghai and New York.
    (After Bangkok, London, Singapore, Sydney and Vancouver follow.)
    This is amazing, I guess. Bangkok is No.4 in the world.

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 Famous Festival

 They have various kinds of festival. The major festivals are as follows.

  • Songkran Festival

    Songkran Festival, that is held from 13th to 15 in April, the hottest season in Thailand. The festival is well-known as " Water Festival " also .

    The period of Songkran Festival is a new year in Thailand, and the day before, they say that people have a big cleaning. (Same as a big cleaning for a new year on the 31th in Dec. in Japan.)
    Have a wild and wonderful time, and be careful if you go to this festival because it'll be packed with local people and tourists from overseas and they try to shoot water to everyone else !
    (Check what Songkran Festival looks like)

  • Loy Krathong Festival

    One of the most fascinating and popular festivals in Thailand is this "Loy Krathong".
    (This looks similar "Toro-Nagashi" in Japan.)
    This festival is taken place at night on the full moon in November (in December on the lunar calendar).

    People go down to their local canal or river and float their "krathongs" (lotus-shaped or boat-shaped ones, usually decorated with banana leaves, candles and so on) to say thank you to the god of water or water itself and at the same time to throw away their misfortune and purify their souls.
    (Check what Loy Krathong Festival looks like)

  • YeePeng Festival (or Yi Peng Festival)

    The same period as Loy Krathong Festival above, YeePeng Festival is held in the north of Thailand in which a multitude of Lanna-style sky lanterns called khom loi (floating lanterns) are launched into the sky during a Buddhist ceremony.

    The YeePeng Festival held in San Sai, Chiang Mai in northern Thailand is very popular and famous. A lot of tourists from overseas visit this festival but be careful, it takes a long time to reach the amazing scenery with sky lanterns: you have to listen two-hour monk's preach and pray so many times before the launching lanterns into the sky. (I didn't know that. This is quite a hard work. :D ) Remember, this is not just a festival but a Buddhist rite.

    Even if you don't know about Thailand, some of you maybe have seen a picture like this somewhere before. (To tell you the truth, I was one of them.)

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 People are with a lot of affectionate smiles.
 This is why Thailand is called "The Land of Smile".

  • The Land of Smile

    In Asia, I have been only to Hong Kong except for Thailand, and my impression was that people in Hong Kong didn't smile. (I often felt they were angry ...)
    But, my impression about Thailand is that it is a fantastic country with a lot of smiles of the people. That's why the country is called "The Land of Smile".

  • Against Japanese

    I feel Thai people are very familiar and friendly to Japanese, and Thailand is said a pro-Japan country. (I'm very happy about this.) I guess one reason is they like Japanese products and cartoon films
    Historically speaking, a Japanese village in Ayuttaya was flourished during Edo era of Japan. The Imperial Family of Japan and the Royal Family of Thailand have had a good and close relationship for a long time.

    I'm still sometimes surprised that some people in Thailand speak Japanese words to me, even though they are easy words such as Kon-nichi-wa (Hello) and Arigatoh (Thank you). Is this because a lot of people travel to Japan ?

  • Becoming a monk

    In Thailand, people are devout Buddhists, and men become a monk at least once in their life. (It looks like this depends on their circumstances, though.)

    The term of being a monk is one week to about 3 months. This is for themselves and also means a great merit against their parents. Especially, moms can not be a monk and therefore, this also means sons become a monk instead of their moms. It is also believed that if sons become a monk, their parents can go to a heaven.

  • Military service

    They have a military service for two years. (There is no military service in Japan, though.)
    When males reach to the birthday at the age of 20, they gather at each place and draw lots (!) if you have to be a soldier or not. (Unbelievable way to decide)
     Looks like those who loose shout "Chaiyo" (Wow, I'm lucky !) in great delight. Those who win are divided into each section at that moment; the army, the navy or the air force, and have to have strict practices.

    I heard that this is not for all men but can be exempted if you have a class about military service in a certain period.

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