Thailand Culture Guide: Getting to Know the Land of Smiles Even Better

thailand culture

Thailand is one of the most visited countries in the world as it offers amazing tourist spots that are aesthetically pleasing and have a rich history, delicious food meant to satisfy the foodie in you, and of course, the rich Thailand culture that many people are eager to learn about.

About Thailand Culture

Travelers love visiting Thailand because of its majestic tourist attractions and the gastronomic adventure it offers. But more than these things, the Thailand culture and tradition makes people come back and experience it all over again because of its uniqueness, diversity, one-of-a-kind cultural practices in Thailand, values (especially when it comes to Thai family culture).

What’s inside this blog?

Read this culture of Thailand summary to learn more about the Thailand culture and tradition and some Thailand culture facts that could help you appreciate the Land of Smiles even more.

Language

Part of the Thai culture is the language. Their official language is Thai, which is taught at schools and spoken throughout the country. But in the far south and northern Thai provinces, there are different dialects that exist like Isan, Phu, Phuan, Thai Dam, Galung, or other dialects and minority languages.

Food

Thailand food cuisine thailand culture

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Many people would travel to Thailand because of the food and it’s not difficult to see why. The Thailand traditional food is rich in flavor, making people want for more. Thai cuisine has many regional variations as it has been heavily influenced by neighboring countries. 

The combination of sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy flavors create a sumptuous mix that has become one of the world’s most popular cuisines.

Part of the food cultural practices in Thailand are:

  • Thai people eat with a spoon and fork for most meals, and sometimes with hands or chopsticks for dishes from India or China, respectively.
  • Licking fingers is sometimes considered offensive in Thailand, once of the Thailand culture facts you must take note.
  • As part of the Thailand traditional meal, you’ll be served rice with numerous other dishes simultaneously, and the different dishes will be shared by all .

Culture

people thailand culture

Photo credits to Justin Vidamo via Flickr

Thailand culture might surprise you because the people really have strong Thailand beliefs and traditions that shape who they are today and give them a cultural identity. See below to learn more about the Thailand culture and tradition in terms of family, beliefs, and status.

Family 

When we say Thailand family culture is really strong, we mean it. Family matters and it’s one of the most important values of the Thai culture. For the Thais, family almost always comes first. For them, they treat their cousins as brothers and sisters so if you’re shocked by the number of siblings a Thai person has, it could mean that those are their cousins. 

Also, it’s normal for extended families to live close to each other. And even if Thais move away for work, they maintain strong links with their home villages. Thai family culture really shows how strong their relationship is. 

Beliefs 

Here’s another Thailand culture fact: they strongly believe in ghosts and Thais are very superstitious. For instance, they believe that if you call a baby cute, a ghost will take the baby away. Thais also give babies a nickname to trick evil spirits that may want to steal the baby.

Status

Believe it or not, status is a huge thing in Thailand culture. A person’s status is perceived through age, family, job, education, connections, and income levels. When a group of people is socializing or hanging out, the Thailand traditional practice is the highest earner in the group will pay the bill.

Values and Etiquette

people thailand culture 2

Photo by Evan Krause on Unsplash

One thing that foreigners love about Thailand customs and traditions are the values of Thai people. They are extremely polite and have their own ways of showing respect. They use the gesture called wai, a Thailand traditional practice to show respect to people. When talking with each other, they have words that indicate a person’s age: pee is used before an older person’s name to show respect, and nong for somebody younger than them. 

They also treat the head of a person as a sacred part of the body so as part of the Thailand customs and traditions, you should not touch someone’s head. Left hand is also considered dirty in Thailand, it shouldn’t be used to eat, shake hands, or receive gifts. 

The feet are also considered dirty so you shouldn’t use it to point at things, especially at an image of Buddha. And when entering on houses and temples, footwear must be removed.

Music, Arts and Literature

cultural dance thailand culture

Photo credits to Jason D’ Great via Flickr

The Thailand art and culture is one of the things travelers love about the country. Beyond showing a masterpiece, it also has a rich history behind every art piece. Traditional Thailand art and culture is mostly composed of Buddhist art and scenes from the Indian epics, similar with the other styles from Southeast Asia, such as Khmer. You can see some of the most amazing art pieces at Bangkok arts and culture center.

When it comes to literature in Thailand art and culture scene, poems are the most popular. The Suphasit Phra Ruong, the oldest known poem, was written in the late 1200s.

The two most popular traditional Thai music are luk thung and mor lam. Even though Thailand was never colonized by Western powers,European and American music influenced modern pop music in Thailand. 

Religion

buddha thailand culture

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay 

Now, let’s talk about the Thailand religion and culture. 

Theravada Buddhism is the main religion in Thailand and remains a strong element in Thailand religion and culture that draws on influences from Hinduism and animism. The second major religion in Thailand is Islam, and lastly, Christianity, which is said to be less than 1% of the Thailand population. 

Clothing

chut thai clothing thailand culture

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The traditional Thailand clothing is called chut thai, which literally means “Thai outfit.” It can be worn by men, women, and children. 

There are several types of chut Thai for women, each has different styles, garments, patterns, and accessories. Some Thai outfits can be worn at any formal occasion, while others are typically more associated with particular events. The chut thai for women are: Ruean Ton, Chakkri, Siwalai, Boromphiman, Chitlada, Amarin, Chakkraphat, and Dusit.

As for the men, chut thai for them is known as suea phraratchathan (“royally-bestowed shirt”), the shirt is buttoned, has a long collar, and can have sleeves of any length.

Here’s another Thai culture and tradition you must take note: skimpy attire is seen to be offensive by many Thais. Shorts are seen inappropriate for adults.

Celebrations

songkran festival thailand culture

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Land of Smiles may be popular for its Thailand culture and tradition, beautiful tourist spots to see (including some UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Thailand), and oh-so-good cuisine, but it also boasts some of the most colorful festivals in Southeast Asia. 

Most celebrations are associated with Buddhism or other religions like Chakkri Day, Coronation Day, the Royal Plowing Ceremony, the queen’s birthday, Chulalongkorn Day, and the current king’s birthday (5 December). 

Other famous festivals in the country that make the Thailand culture and tradition so popular are Songkran (The Water Festival), Loy Krathong (Festival of Lights), Yi Peng Festival, Magha Puja, and Visakha Bucha (Buddha’s Birthday).

Frequently Asked Questions About Thailand Culture

Q: What is unique about Thailand culture?

A: Thai culture is a unique one because of its diversity, values, customs, and traditions. The Thai culture is the child of Indian influences, Chinese traditions, and elements that are absolutely Thai. 

Q: What is Thailand known for?

A: Thailand is known for its beautiful tourist spots, delicious food, Thai customs and traditions, rich traditional Thai culture especially the Thailand family culture, and very polite people. The Thailand unique culture also gives people something to look forward to when traveling. Aside from these, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country that has never been colonized by a European power. 

Q: What is the cultural icon of Thailand?

A: While Thailand unique culture has lots of icons, the most popular cultural icon of Thailand is the elephant. The elephants are celebrated for their strength, longevity, endurance and intelligence. And, they had a long role in Thai society: elephants were used in warfare centuries ago, and they also hauled logs and farm produce.

Q: What are the famous festivals in Thailand?

A: Here are the famous festivals that make Thailand’s culture and traditions loved by so many people across the world.

  1. Songkran (The Water Festival)
  2. Loy Krathong (Festival of Lights)
  3. Yi Peng Festival
  4. Magha Puja
  5. Visakha Bucha (Buddha’s Birthday)
  6. Royal Plowing Ceremony
  7. Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival
  8. Phuket Vegetarian Festival
  9. Lopburi Monkey Banquet
  10. Chinese New Year

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