Thailand in Numbers

A Brief Introduction to Thailand

Thailand, located in Southeastern Asia, draws more visitors than any of its neighboring countries – all the credit goes to its alluring combination of breathtaking natural beauty, renowned hospitality, inspiring temples, amazing food, and ruins of great ancient kingdoms. Its neighboring countries include Malaysia, Burma, Cambodia, and Laos.

Thailand’s geography consists of a western mountain range and a southern isthmus that joins the landmass with Malaysia.

From active lifestyle adventures, tribal arts, and cultural discoveries to crafts traditions, every traveler can easily find what they desire in Thailand. Yes, Thailand, like other Asian countries, has also been influenced by foreign cultures, but the Thai culture has always been more dominant, even in modern city life.

Whether you are traveling to Thailand to experience their rich culture and mesmerizing sights or just want to know more about Thailand, read on! The data, facts, figures, and charts we have put together in this article will surely help. Let’s get started.

a brief history of thailand

A Brief History of Thailand

Chinese house

Thailand consists of some of the oldest settled areas in the world. Homo erectus, an extinct species of archaic human that date back to 1.6-0.5 million years ago, has been discovered here. Historical Chinese records also mention the existence of cities and towns in several parts of Thailand dating back thousands of years.

Moreover, an early peak in the population was reached during the tenure of 600 to 1,400 AD, with large settlements and towns surrounded by moats and walls. The kingdoms of Lan Na and Sukhothai Thani and others were also established by the 13th century. This was the same period when the Thai style of crafts, art, and architecture was formed.

Greater political and cultural achievements were also attained with the beginning of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya (1350-1767 AD), known for its far-reaching diplomacy and commerce. However, with the destruction of this kingdom, Thai armed forces moved south to Thon Buri to regroup the kingdom. During this period, the center of power moved across the Chao Phraya River when Bangkok (Krung Thep) was founded in 1782.

Since then, the Royal House of Chakri has been ruling over the kingdom.

Ancient History of Thailand

Archeological pre-historic human clift paint

Several indigenous Mon-Khmer and Malay civilizations used to live in this region now we call Thailand. However, not much came into the knowledge before the 13th century due to the lack of literary sources. Today, all the knowledge we have about the ancient history of Thailand is taken from archeology only.

Thailand’s culture and religions have been highly influenced by the Kingdom of Funan, the Khmer Empire, and India. The ‘Indianized Kingdoms,’ what we now call central Thailand, Srivijaya, and Cambodia, played an important part in the flow of Buddhism from India to Siam (now known as Thailand). Not only this, but there were other significant influences too, including the Pallava dynasty, the Gupta Empires of India, and the Maurya Empire.

For four centuries (10th-14th), Thailand saw a period of Khmer domination on a large part of what is now Central Thailand and a southward expansion of Thai tribes. However, Thai city-states became independent gradually as the Khmer Empire weakened.

Various states and kingdoms, including Ayutthaya Kingdoms, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, and others, fought each other for full control. The Ayutthaya Kingdoms were lucky – they successfully retained their independence from other countries and city-states. They maintained their independence for about 400 years before falling to the Burmese like other city-states.

In the early 18th century, Thailand entered into various treaties with western nations, and the credit goes to their diplomacy skills. They built their relations, particularly with France and Britain. Many historians say that this was the major diplomatic strategy adopted by Thailand to retain control during a tenure full of western colonization in the region.

Historical Timeline (Important Events)

Pre-Thai Civilization

3600-250 BC

Ban Chiang culture grew in northeastern Thailand.

AD 4th-8th Century

Mon and Khmer empires’ influence spread into Thailand.

9th-13th Century

During this period, the Khmer empire was founded in Angkor. At the same time, Tai Peoples migrated into northern Thailand, Burma, and Laos from China.

Sukhothai Era

1238

The Sukhothai Kingdom was founded.

1296

Lan Na kingdom was founded in Chiang Mai.

1280-98

Ram Khamhaeng or Pho Khun Ram Khamhaeng Maharat reigned in Sukhothai. Also, during this period, the first attempt was made to unify the Thai people.

1298-1347

Ram Khamhaeng’s reign ended, and Lo Thai’s reign starts at Sukhothai. His leadership wasn’t successful, so the slow decline of the Sukhothai kingdom started during this period.

1438

The power shifted to the Kingdom of Ayutthaya as Sukhothai got almost deserted.

Kingdom of Ayutthaya

1350

Thai people got unified under the reign of King Ramathibodi or Phaya U Thong.

1390-3

Chiang Mai and Angkor got captured by Ramesseum.

1569

Ayutthaya got captured and destroyed by the Burmese.

1590

Naresuan becomes the 18th monarch of Ayutthaya and throws off Burmese suzerainty.

1628-55

Thanks to Prasat Thong and his reign, trading contracts expanded, and regular trading was established with Europe and China.

1656-88

Another monarch jumps in the shape of Narai. Due to him and his leadership qualities, the reputation of Ayutthaya as a great city spread across Europe.

1733-58

Finally, during this period, Ayutthaya saw some peace due to which art and literature flourished. All the credit goes to the reign of King Boromakot.

1767

Burmese again attacked and invaded Ayutthaya. Therefore, the capital moved to Thonburi, near Bangkok.

The Chakri Dynasty

1767

General Phraya Taksin was crowned as a King.

1779

After capturing Chiang Mai, the Burmese got expelled, and the Emerald Buddha was brought to Thonburi from Vientiane.

1782

King Taskin got removed from the position. General Chao Phraya Chakri founded the Chakri Dynasty. The capital was also moved across the river to Bangkok.

1868-1910

Somdetch Phra Paramindr Maha Chulalongkorn or “Chulalongkorn” reigns the throne. Under his supervision, the military, government, schools, and infrastructure modernized.

End of Absolute Monarchy

1932

This was the biggest event ever happened in the history of Thailand when a coup ended the absolute monarchy of various kings and introduced a constitutional monarchy.

1939

Siam gets a new name, ‘Thailand.’

1941

Thailand allowed Japanese land to pass through their country after negotiations.

1942

Thailand declared war on the British and the United States.

1945-1946

After World War II, Thailand was forced to return the territory it had taken from Cambodia, Malaya, and Laos. Exiled king also returned in 1945; however, he was assassinated by a mysterious gunshot in 1946.

1965

Thailand allowed the US military to use its bases during the Vietnam War. The Thai troops fought the US in Southern Vietnam.

1973-1976

The military government fell due to student riots in Bangkok. Therefore, free elections were held. However, the military took the authority back in 1976.

1992

Another clash between civil demonstrators and military forces; hence, the military left the government to civil politicians.

Contemporary Thailand

1997

Baht lost half of its value; therefore, Thailand’s economy and banking systems were affected badly.

2000

Senators were elected for the first time ever in a democratic manner.

2004

A massive tsunami struck and resulted in the loss of around 8,000 lives.

The Population of Thailand

A crowd of people are standing in blue, white and red robes, making up the word Thailand. Thailand flag made from people

The current population of Thailand is around 70 million (2021), and according to projections, it will reach its peak in 2026 at 70.37 million[1].

As countries become more developed, it is common to see an increase in the aging population and a decline in fertility rates. Thailand saw this transition relatively quicker between 1970 and 1990. During this tenure, the fertility rate dropped from 6 births per woman to only 2 births per woman[2].

Thai Population by City

Thailand is the 21st most populous country in the world, with more than 70 million people spread across around 513,000 square kilometers. Although there are only 32 self-governing cities in Thailand, the small towns and cities give the country its massive population.

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is also the largest city; it is home to over 10 million people and is the only city to surpass the milestone of one million residents[3].

Thaiand Population by City (1)

Figure 3: Data By: World Population Review[4]

Thailand – Urban and Rural Population

Thailand – Urban Population

Figure 4: Data By: Statista[5]

In just 9 years (from 2010 to 2019), the urban population of Thailand increased by 19.7422%[6]. Hence, people prefer living in urbanized colonies and cities because of better job opportunities and great city life facilities.

However, the annual growth percentage of the urban population has been in downfall since 2001. It was 4.563% in 2001, but 19 years later, in 2020, the annual growth percentage decreased to 1.696%[7].

According to the data by Macro Trends, the rural population of Thailand decreased by 21.16% from 2000 to 2020 – in just 20 years. The population in rural areas increased from 1960 to 1990, but people moved to big cities due to better job opportunities. Hence, we can clearly see that people’s preference to live in rural areas decreased from 1990 onwards[8].

Largest Cities in Thailand

The urban population of Thailand is mainly centered around the Bangkok Metro Area. Following are the three biggest cities in Thailand:

1. Bangkok

Sunrise with Grand Palace of Bangkok, Thailand

Krung Thep, also known as Bangkok, is a beautiful city full of rich culture, exotic food, temples, and friendly people. Bangkok consists of almost 1,000 square kilometers of area, which is densely populated with more than 10 million people. In charts, Bangkok makes other urban cities look dwarfs in population and size.

The rich history of the city and its culture attracts tourists and adventurers from all over the world. Not only historical temples, but the city is also home to more than 500 modern, high-rise buildings. Ever since Thailand got rid of absolute monarchy and switched to constitutional rule, they have flourished rapidly. However, the only problems one might face in the city are high pollution and traffic jams – due to the high population.

2. Chiang Mai

The best of landscape in Chiang mai. Inthanon mountain

This one’s a famous city located in the mountainous region of northern Thailand. If you are a fan of history and rich culture, you will find many Buddhist temples in this city. The best examples include the 14th century Wat Phra Singh temple and the 15th century Wat Chedi Luang temple.

In addition, no matter what time you go out shopping, you will always find a market open. If you are an art lover, you will find peace in Art in Paradise Museum, experiencing illusions and taking photos of the 3D art.

3. Nonthaburi

Beautiful white pagoda in temples at Ko Kred in Nonthaburi Province in Thailand

The capital of the province of the same name, Nonthaburi, is the second biggest city in Thailand in terms of population. Just like other Thai cities, Nonthaburi is home to many Buddhist temples, including Wat Sanghathan. If you love go-cart racing and speed thrills, Impact Speed Park is for you.

Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, Nonthaburi is a beautiful agricultural region.

Most Expensive Cities in Thailand

  • Bangkok: the estimated monthly cost of living is around $1,150
  • Hua Hin: the estimated monthly cost of living is around $1,050
  • Phuket: the estimated monthly cost of living is around $1,000

Cheapest Cities in Thailand

  • Chiang Mai: the estimated monthly cost of living is around $700
  • Hat Yai: the estimated monthly cost of living is around $800
  • Nakhon Ratchasima: the estimated monthly cost of living is around $800

Thailand Total Area

Map of Kampuchea,Cambodia

According to World Bank, the total land area of Thailand is 510,890 square kilometers[9]. Out of this total land, 36,597 square kilometers are designated as urban land[10], while rural land is spread over 474,183 square kilometers (as of 2010)[11].

Agricultural Land

Agricultural land (% of land area) - Thailand

Figure 4: Data by: World Bank [12]

Thailand saw around 5% growth in agricultural land from 2010 to 2014, in just four years. However, there was no growth noticed in the total agricultural land from 2014 to 2018.

Top 9 Global Universities in Thailand

Rank in Thailand

University

Global Score

Enrollment

1st

Mahidol University

51.4

29,160

2nd

Chulalongkorn University

50.8

35,076

3rd

Chiang Mai University

43.8

33,357

4th

King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi

36.1

15,348

5th

Prince Songkla University

35.6

35,735

6th

Kasetsart University

35.0

67,633

7th

Khon Kaen University

35.0

32,528

8th

Thammasat University

32.8

28,843

9th

Suranaree University of Technology

31.5

14,295

Figure 11: Data by: US News & World Report[13]

GDB Contribution in Thailand by Sector (2020)

GDP Contribution in Thailand by Sector (2020)

Figure 17: Data by: Statista[14]

The most contribution to Thailand’s GDP in 2020 was done by the Manufacturing industry – around 4 trillion Thai baht. The second-most flourishing industry in Thailand was Wholesale and Trading, which contributed around 2.64 trillion Thai baht in 2020[15].

Economy of Thailand

Double explosure with businesss charts of graph and rows of coins for finance at night city background

In the 2021 index, Thailand’s economic freedom had 69.7 points, earning the rank of the 42nd freest country in the world. Among 40 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Thailand is ranked 9th. Its overall score is higher than that of the regional and world averages.

Tourism is one of the biggest industries that contribute to Thailand’s GDP. However, due to the pandemic, there was a sudden stop in tourism flows; hence, its GDP fell by 6.1 percent in 2020. It’s considered the largest contraction since the Asian financial crisis[16].

Moreover, low-skilled workers and migrant workers have been hit the hardest in employment opportunities in contract-intensive sectors.

GDP Growth Rate of Thailand 2019-2022 (Forecast)

GDP Growth Rate of Thailand 2019-2022 (Forecast)

Figure 18: Data by: Asian Development Bank[17]

The GDP growth rate in 2019 was 2.30%, but it fell to -6.10% in 2020 due to the pandemic and various industries being affected by Covid-19. However, economists predict that the GDP rate will grow again in 2022[18].

Exports

In 2019 alone, Thailand exported goods and services that accounted for $249 billion, making it the 23rd biggest export in the global export world. In 2009, the reported exports were about $12.2 billion only, which after 5 years (in 2014), increased to $236 billion[19].

Top Exports (2019)

Thailand Exports (In US$ Billion)

Figure 20: Data by: OEC[20]

Imports

The total imports of Thailand in 2019 were more than $216 billion. Moreover, in 2020, the imports of goods and services were equivalent to 46.5% of the total GDP of Thailand[21].

Thai Government Debt

In 2020, Thai government debt accounted for 44.9% of the country’s Nominal Gross Domestic Product. In the previous quarter, the ratio was 42.4%. A record low government debt was recorded at 5.7% in 1998, and it reached an all-time high of 44.9% in 2020[22].

Thailand kept its debt percentage almost stable from 2012 to 2018, but it increased in 2020. The government debt to GDP ratio of Thailand increased by 20.81% from 2018 to 2020[23].

The Climate of Thailand

Loh Samah Bay

Thailand has a tropical climate, which is very hot, especially between March and May. In these three months, April is considered the hottest month of the year. The monsoon season starts in May or June and ends in October – during this season, the climate remains hot and humid with torrential rains[24].

If you are traveling to Thailand for leisure, the best time to visit is November to March.

If you love rain and want to enjoy rainy weather when visiting Thailand, September would be the best month for you. However, if you just want pleasant weather with cool breezes, November-March are the suitable months to travel.

Thailand and Tourism

Young Asian traveling backpacker in Khaosan Road outdoor market

Thailand is one of the world’s famous tourist destinations. This Southeast Asian country is well-known for its cultural values, exotic food, rich history, and beautiful landscapes. Tourism in Thailand started in the late 1950s, and during that time, Thailand was hosting approximately 40,000 international guests per year.

Tourism from foreign visitors in Thailand gradually increased from 2015 up until 2019. Another benefit that came with the hike in the tourism industry was the opportunities for employment.

Number of International Tourist Arrivals in Thailand (2015-2020)

Number of International Tourist Arrivals in Thailand (2015-2020)

Figure 29: Data by: Statista [25]

In 2020, only 6.7 million international tourists came to Thailand, which is a drastic decrease from the previous year – almost 83%. It was all due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns imposed because of it [26].

In 2020, the revenue generated from international tourist arrivals amounted to 332 billion Thai baht, a major downfall from the previous year which amounted to 1.91 trillion Thai baht. The Thai tourist industry was badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, due to which foreign travel was prohibited, hence the drastic decrease [27].

Top 5 Main Festivals of Thailand

1. Songkran (The Water Festival)

Songkran festival

With the arrival of April comes the great Water Festival of Thailand, Songkran. It is celebrated throughout the whole country to mark the beginning of the Buddhist year. Thais celebrate this event wildly with live music, dances, drinking, parades, and on top of everything, water fights.

People sprinkle water on each other to bid farewell to bad thoughts and wish others good luck for the coming year. Moreover, as April is the hottest month in Thailand, this festival is an excellent way to enjoy yourself.

Songkran festival is a tourism magnet in Thailand that attracted more than 3 million tourists worldwide in 2018 (mainly from Asia). In April, the foreign visitors spent around 157 billion Thai Baht; the top spenders were from Russia, China, Malaysia, the UK, the US, South Korea, Japan, South Korea, Germany, and India[28].

2. Phi Ta Khon (Ghost Festival)

Colorful ghost mask used in Phi Ta Khon Festival, Thailand

At this festival, you will witness a combination of local handicrafts, religious traditions, and a party atmosphere. Phi Ta Khon is a 3-day festival celebrated by the locals who wear colorful masks and costumes to entertain others. The event takes place on the weekend of the 6th full moon of the lunar calendar.

To enjoy this wonderful event, you have to travel to Dan Sai Town in Loei Province. You can take a bus from Udon Thani or Chiang Mai, which are 3 and 5-hour drives away from Dan Sai Town, respectively.

More than 103,000 tourists traveled from all around the world in 2019 to join the festival of Phi Ta Khon. Around 123.6 million Thai Baht of revenue was generated from accommodations, restaurants, souvenirs, community products, and tourism to Dan Sai Town and other districts in the Loei province[29].

3. Loy Krathong (Festival of Lights)

Thai people release sky floating lanterns or lamp to worship Buddha's relics with reflection. Traditional festival in Chiang mai, Thailand

You won’t find such a bright and cheerful festival in the whole world. People light up thousands of candles at this festival, load them on banana leaf boats, and send them down rivers, lakes, and canals. It is the second biggest festival in Thailand, just after Songkran.

The festival is celebrated for different reasons: 1) to say goodbye to last year’s mistakes and misfortunes and make wishes for the New Year; 2) to mark the end of the rainy season; 3) to pay homage to the water goddess and ask for forgiveness for polluting and using too much water.

4. Visakha Bucha Day (Buddha’s Birthday)

People walk with lighted candles to respect Buddha at thailand

It is one of the three most important Buddhist festivals held in Thailand and other countries that follow Buddhism. On this day, Buddhists visit their local temples, make offerings, and participate in rituals, such as meditating and listening to Buddha’s teachings.

In some big temples, candlelight processions are also performed, making the whole festival serene and peaceful.

5. Boon Bang Fai (Rocket Festival)

Phanomphrai, ROI-ET,THAI-June 4 -Rocket decoration car in Rocket

Rocket festival is celebrated by entire villages before the planting season in the farming communities of Issan (especially in the province of Yasothorn). Homemade rockets that take months to build are launched into the sky; according to the villagers, launching these rockets will encourage the gods to send plenty of rain that will help rice crops grow well. The festival attracts more than 50,000 visitors each year[30].

Before launching the rockets, they are paraded around the city. The ones whose rocket reaches the highest in the air and takes off most dramatically win. On the other hand, those who fail to launch their rockets are punished – by throwing them into the pools of mud.

Best Time to Travel Thailand

Couple on the shore of Paradise island

Although you can visit Thailand all year round, the best time to visit is from November till early April. This is when the weather is the coolest and dry; hence the temperature is cozy and comfortable. This also means that Thailand is at its busiest in these months – therefore, you will see inflated rates in these months.

If you want to head to the coast, the best time is April to June, which is generally very hot and dry. However, the sea breezes in coastal areas of Thailand are sure to provide you with the most soothing atmosphere.

If you are a budget traveler and rains/flooding don’t disappoint you, the months from July to October are the best for you. However, the rain is usually short but intense. You can enjoy lower crowds and prices throughout the country. Furthermore, some islands are shut down, and boat services are limited due to stormy weather.

Let us tell you about each month when visiting Thailand:

January: cool and dry weather – the peak tourist month.

February: still a high season, but much less crowded than January.

March: the weather starts getting hot and dry – the students of Thailand are on a semester break, and you will see them everywhere on sightseeing trips.

April: the weather gets pretty hot and dry – the whole country gets ready for the big event, Songkran.

May: expect plenty of rain. Although the rates are low, the temperature is still pretty hot.

June: this month is a shoulder season in which the rainy season is just an afternoon shower. So many exciting events take place this month, including Phi Ta Khon.

July: summer holidays give tourism in Thailand a boost this month.

August: expect daily showers and overcast skies in the region; hence, you will see fewer tourists.

September: the rain continues this month, too, keeping the tourist crowds at bay.

October: people get ready for religious preparations for the end of the rainy season, and Buddhist Lent begins.

November: the best season for tourism with cool and dry weather. If you get to Thailand early enough in November, you can avoid the tourist crowds.

December: the peak of the tourism season with cool weather and fair skies. People head towards beach resorts to chill and party.

Famous Thai Food

1. Tom Yum Goong

Tom Yum kung

Tom Yum Goong is the most popular Thai version of hot and sour soup with shrimps. You can eat several variations of Tom Yum, depending on the main ingredients. The soup is usually made with chicken, prawns, fish, or mixed seafood and mushrooms.

If you are a first-timer, it is recommended to try the Tom Yum Goong variant of the soup made of shrimps.

2. Tom Kha Kai

Bowl of Tom kha kai

This one’s another most popular soup among Thais. The key ingredients in this soup are thinly sliced young galangals and coconut milk. If you don’t like spicy food, you can try out this milder version of Tom Yum.

Moreover, like most locals, you can also pair your bowl of tom kha kai with steamed rice.

3. Pad Thai

Pad Thai

If you are a fan of Thai-style stir-fried noodles, this dish is for you. If you are introducing yourself to Thai food, Pad Thai is the best dish to get started with. It comprises an excellent combination of eggs, peanuts, tofu, and bean sprouts – all are healthy.

Although Pad Thai mostly contains seafood, especially crab or squid, fish or crab, you can also find its chicken, beef, and pork versions in some restaurants.

4. Som Tum

Thai food (Som Tum), Spicy green papaya salad

Coming from the Northeastern part of Thailand, Som Tum is a spicy green papaya salad. The main ingredients of this salad are cherry tomatoes, shredded raw papaya, green beans, garlic, and chilies that are pounded using a pestle and mortar. Some variations also have peanuts, salted crab, or dry shrimps in the mix.

Locals love to pair it with sticky rice.

5. Khao Pad

Koh Mak, Thailand, Fried rice with seafood, Thai fried rice

Khao pad or fried rice is the favorite of most Thais. The dish usually includes the meat of your choice – chicken, beef, shrimp, pork, or crab combined with onions, eggs, cilantro, garlic, tomatoes, and delicious seasoning.

Thai Cuisine Map (Specialty Dishes)

North: Khao Soi

Northeast: Larb, Nam Tok, Som Tum

Central: Pad Thai, Khao Phat, Kaeng Phanaeng, Khao Phat Kraphao, Tom Yum

South: Kaeng Massaman

Best Travel Destinations in Thailand

If you are planning your trip to Thailand for leisure, here’s a list of top travel destinations in Thailand:

1. Bangkok

China Town at Yaowarat Road

The Thai capital is unmissable, with so many things to see and experience. Packed with cultural and historic sites, Bangkok also has a modern side with tall skyscrapers, amazing art galleries, museums, and modern architecture.

Thanks to numerous buses, tuk-tuks, taxis, MRT subway, and BTS sky train, getting around the city is quite easy.

Best places to see in Bangkok:

  • Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho
  • The Grand Palace
  • Chatuchak Market
  • Chao Phraya River
  • Bangkok National Museum
  • Lumpini Park

 2. Railay Beach

Thai traditional wooden longtail boat and beautiful sand beach

Railay beach, located in Krabi province, is one of the most stunning beaches in Thailand. Here, you can experience beautiful turquoise-blue water, white sand, and serenity that will make you feel you are on a slice of paradise.

While the beach might be the first reason to visit the island, there are plenty of other things you can do there, such as:

  • Rock climbing
  • Ocean rafting
  • Kayaking
  • Scuba diving
  • Exploring Tham Pranangnai Cave
  • Paddling to Ton Sai Beach

 3. Khao Yai National Park

Haew Narok Waterfall Khao Yai National Park in Thailand

If you have visited Bangkok and want to go on a road trip, head toward Khao Yai national park. You can reach there in a car from Bangkok in about 2 hours. Khao Yai is the oldest national park of Thailand and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that comprises various flora and fauna of the region.

Best places to go in Khao Yai:

  • Khao Yai Art Museum
  • Primo Piazza
  • PB Valley Khao Yai Winery
  • Lala Mukha Tented Resort
  • My Ozone Khao Yai
  • Hobbit House (Baan Suan Noi)

 4. Chiang Mai

Landscape of two pagoda at the Inthanon mountain at sunset

Often known as the northern capital, Chiang Mai is home to impressive temples, including the 80-meter-high Wat Chedi Luang. In addition, the city is a hub for artists with so many art galleries, MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, and studios galore.

Once you have done all the sightseeing in Chiang Mai, you can head towards Blackitch to have a taste of creative and modern Thai cuisine.

Best places to go in Chiang Mai:

  • Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
  • Doi Pui Village
  • Doi Inthanon
  • Wat Chedi Luang
  • Wat Phra Singh
  • Chiang Mai Gate Market (For mouthwatering Street Food)
  • Elephant Nature Park

 5. Pai

Aerial view of Pai rice terraces, river and mountain in Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, thailand

Pai is a small town in northern Thailand (in Mae Hong Son province). It is a perfect starting point in the north to look at the country’s mesmerizing natural beauty and experience famed Thai hospitality. This town has developed a reputation for attracting hippies and backpackers.

Following is a list of places you should visit in Pai:

  • Pai Canyon
  • Wander Pai’s Walking Street
  • Pambok Waterfall
  • Mo Paeng Falls
  • Tha Pai Hot Springs
  • Wat Phra That Mae Yen
  • Tham Lod Caves

Best Places to Get Married in Thailand

  • The Tongsai Bay
  • Bandara Resort & Spa
  • Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort
  • Rayavadee
  • The Sarojin
  • Rocky’s Boutique Resort
  • Kata Thani

How Much Does a Trip to Thailand Cost on Average?

On average, a 2-week trip to Thailand will cost around:

Expenses

Estimated Daily Cost (Low-High)

Estimated Total Cost (Low-High)

Average Airfare

N/A

$113-$550

Transportation

$1-$60

$14-$840

Food and Drinks

$5.5-$75

$77-$1050

Accommodation

$10-$120

$140-$1680

Attractions

$1.5-$65

$21-$910

Total

$18-$320

$252-$4480

Table 1: Data by: The Broke Backpacker[31]

Demographics and Ethnic Groups of Thailand

Group of Senior Retirement Friends Happiness Concept

More than 85% of Thais speak the Tai language and share a common culture, making Thailand’s population relatively homogenous. Thailand’s core population comprises central Thai, Northeastern Thai or Lao, northern Thai, and southern Thai.

Central Thai language is taught in schools and used officially.

Following are some demographical facts about Thailand:

Ethnic Groups

Demographics and Ethnic Groups of Thailand

Figure 31: Data by: YWAM Thailand[32]

Estimates claim that about 75% of Thailand’s total population is ethnic Thai; this means that about 25% of the population are minority groups, including Malay, Chinese, Muslim, etc.[33]

Languages and Religions in Thailand

More than 95% of ethnic Thais are Buddhists. However, their beliefs actually reflect a blend of Theravada Buddhism, Hinduism, and animism. Among them, some southern Thais are Muslims that follow Islam.

In addition, Animism is quite common in Thailand. Followers of this belief believe that spirits inhabit almost everything. Also, they believe that spirits can help or harm humans.

Major Religions (2020)

Religion Population Share (%)
Buddhism 94.6%
Islam 4.3%
Christianity 1%
Other 0.1%
None 0.1%

Figure 34: Data by: CIA[34]

Interesting Facts about Thailand

  1. You might have heard about “Bridge Over the River Kwai.” It is actually located near the town of Kanchanaburi; it is a part of the Burma-Siam railway. Around 80,000 people died in making that railway.
  2. There are approximately 1,430 islands in Thailand, and many of them have been featured in several Hollywood movies.
  3. Orchids are the national flower of Thailand – you can find more than 1,500 orchid species growing wild in the Thai forest.
  4. Thailand is home to more than 35,000 temples.
  5. “Thailand” means “the Land of the Free.”
  6. 1/10th of the entire population of Thailand lives in Bangkok.
  7. Thailand has both world’s largest and smallest creatures. The bumblebee bat, the world’s smallest mammal, lives in Thailand; the world’s largest fish, the whale shark, is found in Thai waters.
  8. It is illegal to drive in Thailand without a shirt. In worst cases, the punishment can also include prison time.
  9. Wondered why most Thais get around on two wheels (moped)? Because it is way cheaper than cabs and cars. As a tourist, you can also rent a moped for about $5 a day. All you need to have is an international driver’s license.
  10.   While Buddhism is not the country’s official religion (it doesn’t have one), the king must be Buddhist. In fact, about 95% of Thailand’s population are Buddhists.
  11.   Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that has never been colonized by Europeans.
  12.   Thailand is one of the largest exporters of rice in the world.
  13.   Stepping on the baht, Thailand’s official currency is legally a crime.
  14.   Thailand was known as Siam. Although people no more call it by its older name, its name can be found in many places and things, including ‘Siamese’ cats.
  15.   According to the World Meteorological Survey, Thailand is the hottest city in the world. It is not because of particularly impressive peak temperatures but because it remains consistently hot all year round.
  16.   You will be less likely to find baked food in Thailand. They love to stir-fry, deep fry, and grill their food.
  17.   Thais only use chopsticks to eat Chinese food, which might be surprising for many. Otherwise, Thais use a fork and spoon for eating and cutting food.
  18.   There are 38 districts and 77 provinces in Thailand; each one is administered by its own governor.
  19.   Thailand is similar in size to France and twice the size of the UK.
  20.   The Thailand flag has three colors, and each represents something. Red represents the people, white is the religion, and blue represents the monarchy.
  21.   Bangkok’s real name is the longest of any city in the world: Krung Thep Maha Nakorn Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayutthaya Mahidol Pop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchawiwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.
  22.   It is illegal to step on a baht, according to national law. As all the currencies in Thailand have the king’s portrait or a decreased royal family member, it is disrespectful and against the law to step on a currency or burn/tear/write it.
  23.   Thai baht is made of special cotton and designed to be extra durable. Each Thai note has a different feel and thickness, so anyone can tell them apart, even people who cannot see.
  24.   Before banknotes, Thai currency included shells, pot duang, and baked clay coins.
  25.   Thailand faced currency shortages many times due to the price hikes of tin and copper. The price of tin and copper rose in the world market, way above the coins’ face value. Therefore, people started using casino currency called “pee.”

References

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[2] Hirschman, Charles, et al. “The Path to Below Replacement-Level Fertility in Thailand.” International Family Planning Perspectives, vol. 20, no. 3, Guttmacher Institute, 1994, pp. 82–107. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.2307/2133509.

[3] “Population of Cities in Thailand.” Retrieved from https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/cities/thailand

[4] “Population of Cities in Thailand (2021).” Retrieved from https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/cities/thailand

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[6] “Urban population in Thailand from 2010 to 2019.” Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/603394/thailand-urban-population/

[7] “Urban population growth (annual %) – Thailand.” Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.URB.GROW?locations=TH

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[9] “Land area (sq. km) – Thailand.” Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.TOTL.K2?locations=TH

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[15] “Gross domestic product (GDP) contribution in Thailand in 2020, by sector.” Retrieved from  Thailand: GDP value contribution by sector 2020 | Statista

[16] Stella Kaendera and Lamin Leigh, June 23, 2021. “Five Things to Know about Thailand’s Economy and COVID-19.” Retrieved from https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2021/06/21/na062121-5-things-to-know-about-thailands-economy-and-covid-19

[17] “Economic indicators for Thailand.” Retrieved from https://www.adb.org/countries/thailand/economy

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[21] “Thailand: Trade Statistics.” Retrieved from https://globaledge.msu.edu/countries/thailand/tradestats

[22] “Thailand Government Debt: % of GDP.” Retrieved from https://www.ceicdata.com/en/indicator/thailand/government-debt–of-nominal-gdp

[23] “Thailand Government Debt to GDP.” Retrieved from https://tradingeconomics.com/thailand/government-debt-to-gdp

[24] “Thailand weather, climate, and geography.” Retrieved from https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/asia/thailand/weather-climate-geography/

[25] “Number of international tourist arrivals in Thailand from 2015 to 2020.” Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/994693/thailand-number-international-tourist-arrivals/

[26] “Number of international tourist arrivals in Thailand from 2015 to 2020.” Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/994693/thailand-number-international-tourist-arrivals/

[27] “Tourism receipts incurred from international tourist arrivals in Thailand from 2015 to 2020.” Retrieved from Thailand: total tourism receipts from international tourist arrivals 2020 | Statista

[28] 17 May, 2018, Suchat Sritama. “Songkran attracts 3.09m foreign visitors.” Retrieved from https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1466750/songkran-attracts-3-09m-foreign-visitors

[29] 2 march 2020. “Dan Sai’s Phi Ta Khon Festival: Thai ghosts find global fame.” Retrieved from https://hr.tcdc.or.th/en/Articles/Detail/loei-dan-sai-phi-ta-khon

[30] “Rocket Festival Thailand (Bun Bang Fai) 2021.” Retrieved from https://www.travelbeginsat40.com/event/rocket-festival-thailand-bun-bang-fai/

[31] November 14, 2021, Clair Cathryn. “Is Thailand Expensive? (Learn How to Save Money in 2021).” Retrieved from https://www.thebrokebackpacker.com/is-thailand-expensive/

[32] “CENTER FOR MINORITY GROUPS.” Retrieved from https://www.ywamthai.org/cmg

[33] “CENTER FOR MINORITY GROUPS.” Retrieved from https://www.ywamthai.org/cmg

[34] “Explore all Countries – Thailand.” Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/thailand/