Inspiration Explore 6 Fun Facts About Thailand You May Not Know

6 Fun Facts About Thailand You May Not Know

December 8, 2023
Trees tied with ribbons, a fun fact about Thailand. - Luxury Escapes

Soup carried in plastic bags, beer with ice, and ribbons tied in trees are just a few of the things you might notice in Thailand.

The allure of Thailand's beaches and cities is undisputed, but it's the country's people that enrich the travel hotspot beyond all else. Experiencing a way of life that is different from our own is one of life's greatest pleasures and privileges, and those with the fortune to spend time in Thailand will soon uncover an array of unique ways to live, think and eat.

Read on to discover six unexpected Thai rituals and routines.  

Ready for your next adventure? Discover our collection of Thailand stays here.

1. Drinking beer with ice 

It’s a phenomenon that has baffled beer connoisseurs and out-of-towners for years, but any local will tell you that drinking suds on the rocks makes total sense in a country where the temperature has one setting: sticky and hot. Worried about a diluted drink? Fear not. In 2023, Heineken Laos and Wunderman Thompson Thailand united to create Heineken Star Ice: star-shaped ice cubes made of Heineken beer, created using a blast freezing technique to solidify it at –35°C, making them 20% colder than regular ice. 
 
This preference has evolved over the years, with jelly beer now a popular choice of tipple. Walk down any major thoroughfare and you’ll see wooden oscillating barrels filled with ice, salt, water and bottles of Thai lager (most commonly Singha or Chang). The constant swishing motion cools the drinks to negative degrees while the pressure inside the bottle creates an alcoholic slushie, with citrus syrup and honey promptly added. Delicious.   

2. The national anthem is played publicly twice a day 

Each day, at 8am and 6pm, the Thai National Anthem rings from every television and radio station in the country, plus schools and public spaces like train stations. National pride is enormous, with citizens stopping in their tracks twice daily to solemnly and silently ruminate the love they hold for their fellow citizens and leaders.  

The royal anthem, which pays respect to the monarch, similarly plays in movie theatres before the start of every film, with moviegoers standing to pay respect.

3. Soups and curries are carried in plastic bags 

Thin, nonrigid plastic bags might not be the most obvious packaging option for takeaway broths and curries, but in Thailand, the practice is largely adopted, and the reason why makes a lot of sense. The country, known for its exquisite cuisine, has a culture of street food, with local markets and hawkers on seemingly every corner selling cheap, ready-to-eat meals like fried rice, skewered meats and coconut soups. While it may not be the most environmentally conscious habit, vendors can tightly secure their products in plastic with a single rubber band, ready to be doled out to hordes of customers at a minute's notice. Consumers are then able to swing past the stall on their motorbikes to collect their delicious fare, hanging the plastic bag’s handles on their pinky finger – leaving their hands free to drive home. There, the double-wrapped, insulated soup is transferred into a bowl before consuming.  

4. You'll hardly ever hear cars using their horn 

Even in the notorious traffic of Bangkok, the use of the car or motorbike horn is rare; the habit considered aggressive and provocative. A small 'peep, peep' to avoid an accident? No problem. But outward road rage goes against the nation’s deep-rooted Buddhist religion – practised by upwards of 90% of the population – which emphasises tolerance and humility. As Buddha famously said: to be angry is to let others’ mistakes punish yourself. 

5. Consulting fortunetellers is common before major life decisions 

In Thailand, the prophecies and advice offered by 'doctors that see' are sought out by most at least once during their lives. The subsequent enlightenment on topics like finances, career development and all matters of the heart viewed as accepted truths. In 2019, King Maha Vajiralongkorn had his horoscope cast by royal astrologers as part of his coronation, while birth charts and planet positions helped many choose a preferred leader during the 2023 general election. 

“Saturn is weak in his birth chart. It is in transit and currently in a state of debilitation, which could make it hard for him to win any major public event,” wrote astrologer Joydiip Mukkarji about Pita Limjaroenrat as part of a Bangkok Post article that compared contenders based on the time-honoured tradition.  

6. Ribbons on trees? The reason why might surprise you  

The story goes that the legendary ghosts of Nang Mai are the spirits of women who died in the forests of Thailand, with the beautiful Nang Ta-khian fairy now inhabiting Thailand’s native Ta-khian tree. She is considered a helpful and gracious spirit, only haunting those who cut down her branches or fail to extend appropriate respect. Devotees place lengths of patterned, woven fabric around the tree’s exposed roots or silk, pink dresses the base of the trunk as shrines – and in the hope that by doing so, they will be blessed with good fortune. The majestic, colourfully-dressed trees can be seen widely throughout the superstitious country.  

Need more inspiration? Read Seven Offbeat Experiences to Have in Phuket

About Madeleine Keck
Journalist and travel writing aficionado: Madeleine has visited six continents and worked throughout four. At home in Melbourne, you'll find her reminiscing on past solo backpacking journeys, dreaming of the next adventure and wishing she lived in a continuously warmer city.

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