One of the most incredible things about visiting Thailand is that it’s virtually impossible to run out of places to go, things to do, and experiences to discover. Indeed, from the bustling streets of Bangkok to the rustic hill tribes of the north, Thailand has something for everyone. And we haven’t even said a word about Thai food, which is nothing short of spectacular. Pad thai, anyone? Perhaps with a glass of cha yen?
And so, whether you’ve never been to Thailand but are eager to go — or you’ve been fortunate to visit — here are ten amazing, interesting and fun things that you probably don’t know about the land of smiles:
- Thailand is home to the world’s smallest mammal: the Craseonycteris thonglongyai, which is also aptly known as the bumblebee bat because it’s only about 1” in length and weighs around 2 grams.
- Speaking of animals: about 10% of the planet’s animal species live in Thailand, including the world’s longest snake: the reticulated python. The biggest one ever found measured a whopping 33 feet from end-to-end. That’s nearly five times longer than the largest living lizard — the monitor lizard — which is also native to Thailand.
- If you love orchids — and how can you not? — then you’ll be happy to know that Thailand is the world’s largest orchid exporter. In fact, over 1,500 species of orchids can be found growing wild in Thai forests. Not surprisingly, the orchid is Thailand’s national flower.
- Despite the fact that it’s only about as large as the state of Wyoming, Thailand is home to more than 35,000 temples.
- Thailand is comprised of around 1,430 islands (though only about 25 are accessible to tourists).
- If you’re in Thailand, then make sure that you treat baby dolls with care and respect. This is because many Thais believe that it’s good luck to treat baby dolls as if they were actual children.
- In the West, probably the worst insult that one can hurl at another is to tell them to do something anatomically impossible with their body parts (or with another person — probably a relative). However, in Thailand, just about the nastiest insult in the books is to call someone a buffalo. This is because buffalos are generally viewed as stupid and uncultured. With this being said, if you do accidentally refer to someone as a buffalo — not out of malice, but just as a well-intentioned joke — then apologizing profusely and humbly is the smartest and best way to mitigate the damage. Soothing any jangled nerves over a bottle or two of Singha beer can also be quite beneficial.
- Thailand produces some high quality kratom (mitragyna speciosa). Many proponents of this herb claim that kratom can help with issues such as pain relief, depression and anxiety, and some scientists suggest that it can help with addiction to opioid medications.
- If you’re traveling around Thailand and see a quaint little stone house next to buildings — such as offices, shops, homes, and so on — then it’s not there to enhance the esthetics. Thais have a very strong belief in the existence of ghosts, and these stone houses are there to give them a place to stay while they’re visiting. Otherwise, they would be forced to come inside and start haunting the place. How’s that for combining the supernatural with the practical?
- If a wealthy and generous Thai invites you to try “bird’s nest soup” (and pick up the tab!), then prepare yourself to enjoy one of the world’s most expensive, rarest and coveted delicacies made from strands of saliva from the male swiftlet bird. How much are we talking here? Well, a single pound of swiftlet nests can fetch more than $1,000 USD. Bon appétit!