Thailand is a country in Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma. It has a tropical climate with a warm rainy season from March to September; and a cool dry season from September to March.
But Thailand has a lot of other weird facts about the country that you definitely would love to know before visiting the country. Here are a few examples: how do Thais use cutlery? How do Thais view tossing things? Which food must you finish and which must you not?
Above all, especially for a visitor, what is the value of smile to the Thais? Get the answers to all these and more in the following 13 weird facts about Thailand.
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Currency: Thai Baht
Population: 67,741,401 (2014 est.)
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Monarch: Bhumibol Adulyadej
Prime Minster: Prayut Chan-o-cha
Weird Facts About Thailand
1. RESPECT THE KING
Always respect the king, his images, even his picture on the Thai baht. Although Thailand’s laws are controversial, open disrespect toward the king can actually land you in prison! You may find it weird that people have been arrested for Facebook posts speaking evil of the monarchy.
2. THE UNISEX KHUN PREFIX
In Thailand, people generally use first names rather than surnames. The honorific title Khun is used before the name. Now here is the weird fact: Khun is an all- purpose form of address that is appropriate for both men and women
3. NO THROW, NO TOSS
Don’t throw things to anyone, even kids. Tossing an object or money in someone’s direction is seen as very rude. Take time to hand things to people properly, with your right hand. Unfold money when paying someone.
4. ABOUT GIFTS-GIVING
If invited to a Thai’s home, a gift is not expected, although it will be appreciated. Gifts should be wrapped attractively, because appearance matters. Bows and ribbons add to the sense of festivity. Appropriate gifts are flowers, good quality chocolates or fruit.
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5. WHAT TO GIVE AND HOW
Never give marigolds or carnations; they are associated with funerals. Gold and yellow are considered royal colours, so have gifts wrapped in such colours. But you might find it weird to never wrap gifts in green, black or blue; they are funeral and mourning colours.
6. KEEP FEET AWAY
Pointing your feet at someone, raising your feet higher than someone’s head or simply putting your feet on a desk or chair are considered extremely rude in Thailand. Soles of feet are dirty: don’t show them to people! If sitting on the ground, sit in a way the soles of your feet won’t show.
7. FORK/SPOON COMBO
The usual eating cutlery is a fork and spoon. The spoon is held in the right hand and the fork in the left. The fork is used to guide food on to the spoon. A bit weird, but the left hand has a function here. However, sticky rice is often eaten with the fingers of the right hand.
8. HEAD IS SACRED
Never touch someone’s head, no matter how friendly you are. As the feet are considered the lowliest, dirtiest parts of the body, so the head is revered as the most sacred. So, never touch someone’s head or hair, including playfully ruffling a child’s hair!
9. LEAVE A LITTLE FOOD
You may begin eating as soon as you are served; you do not need to wait for anyone. But here comes the weird part: you must leave a little food on your plate after you have eaten to show that you are full. Finishing everything indicates that you are still hungry.
10. FINISH YOUR RICE
You are expected to leave a bit of food on your plate to show you are full. However, never leave rice on your plate: it is considered wasteful. The words for food and rice are the same. Rice has some kind of mystical significance in addition to its ‘daily bread’ status.
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11. NEVER LICK FINGERS
The big serving bowl with food is always there. But you must wait to be asked before taking a second helping. Remember to never take the last bite from the serving bowl. And, even though sticky rice is eaten with the fingers, do not lick your fingers! How weird!
12. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR COOL
Shouting, blowing your top, or displaying strong emotions are all a no-no in Thailand. Keep your cool even when things go wrong; you’ll be respected for doing so. So, weird as it may sound, you will be disparaged for getting angry even if you have cause to.
13. SMILE, SMILE, SMILE
Smile! Doing so will definitely help you a lot. The “Thai smile” is essential to Thailand etiquette, and Thais show it whenever they can. Always return someone’s smile. Smiles are used during negotiation, in apology, to relax whenever things go south, and just in everyday life.
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