Website of Smiles
Welcome to About Thailand, the best source of information about “The land of Smiles”. Our information is based on years of travelling around Thailand, and we would like to share our experiences with you. This site is NOT an encyclopedia, it's all about practical information you need to know. We focus on visual information, photo and video. And feel welcome to share your personal experiences with the community.
Short Fact List
Thailand is a country in South-East Asia. There are more than 66 million citizens. The main religion is Buddhism. The official language is Thai. The capital is Bangkok. Thailand is a Kingdom. The name of the current King is King Rama IX also known as Bhumibol Adulyadej. He is the longest serving head of state in the world. Most Thai are literate. The national sport is Thai Boxing or Muay Thai. Thai cuisine can be very spicy. Rice is the standard food. The national currency is the Baht. The climate is hot but it is a bit gentler in the higher north and on the breezier islands. The new year celebration is named “Songkran” and is held on 13 to 15 of april every year. A western foreigner is referred to as a “Farang”.
Thailand is a Buddhist country, although in the south you will find a considerable amount of Muslims. Every Buddhist country has their own interpretation, and across Thailand you will find subtle differences too. Officially Thailand adheres to Theravada Buddhism. It is recommended to visit at least a couple of temples and don't limit yourself to the big tourist temples. At some temples you can speak to the Monks. They are eager to speak english and talk to you about Buddhism. Upon entering a temple you have to take of your shoes and you have to dress in a modest and respectful way.
In Thailand people drive on the left side of the road. There are many types of public transportation and overall the travel options are very good. There are many domestic flights, you can travel by train, bus and boat. And don't forget the specific Thai (Asian) verhicles; the TukTuk, the Bicycle Taxi and the Songtaew.
In Thailand you can shop until you drop. You can go to the huge Shopping Malls or to the markets on the street. You can buy cheap souvenirs or expensive designer clothes. In regular stores the prices tend to be fixed, on markets you can usually get a discount. Always try to be be friendly and fair during a negotiation. Do not buy weapons, animal products like ivory or antiques, they are illegal to export.
The Thai cuisine is world-renowned for its combination of opposing flavors. Rice is the default food, Thai rice (named Pandan or Jasmine) is very aromatic and has a long grain. Noodle dishes are also popular. Soy sauce, Oyster sauce and Fish Sauce (Nam Pla) are very common in the dishes. You can get pork, beef, fish and tofu dishes, there are plenty of options for vegetarians too. The Thai word for “tasty” is “Aroy” and “delicious” is “Aroy Maak”.
If you want some Western food don't worry, you can get every item you can think of, often “Aroy Maak” and surprisingly cheap. Italian restaurants with Pizza and Pasta are everywhere, but also American style Ribs, Steaks and Burgers are easy to find. There are also plenty of Sushi restaurants.
And you HAVE to try the fresh street food. Don't worry, if there are many Thai people eating there you will not get sick. The ingredients are fresh, the turnover is high and the prices are low.
Or as you might know it as “Thai boxing”. This style of competitive fighting looks particulary violent and brutal to the spectator. Hands, arms and legs are used for punching and kicking the opponent. There are many training camps all over Thailand that are also welcoming tourist for short or longer training schedules. The most famous boxer is probably Parinya Charoenphol. Born a man, now a transexual woman, she became a boxer to pay for her medical costs and to support her family.