Thai culture includes religion, architecture, hobbies, and more. In this post, we highlight five ways to get to know the people of Thailand.

5 Ways To Get To The Heart Of Thai Culture

Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. Last year a record 38.27 million tourists visited the Southeast Asian country. The Thai Tourism Ministry expects even more visitors this year, and rightfully so. It has many attractions, including majestic islands such as Chicken Island. Thailand also has a rich, interesting culture, which is another reason to visit the Land of Smiles. So without further ado, here are 5 ways tourists can get to the heart of Thai culture…

Visit The Bangkok National Museum

The former Wang Na Palace is the perfect place to learn about Thai culture and history. It was originally opened by King Rama V to showcase the antiques and gifts given by his father, King Mongkut. Now it is an exhibit of Thai tradition. The Sivamokhaphiman Hall shows important artifacts spanning the Sukothai and Rattanakosin periods. The Archaeological and Art History collection, on the other hand, displays items from the prehistoric era all the way to the 18th century. The exhibits include gold treasures, precious stones, traditional musical instruments, Khon masks, and carriages used for royal cremations. Each object has its history explained to help you get a better appreciation and understanding of everything on display.

Exhibit inside the Bangkok National Museum
Image via Flickr by Anandajoti

Get Wet During The Songkran

The Songkran is one of Thailand’s biggest celebrations, and over half a million tourists take part in it. This festival marks the Thai New Year and the highlight is a nationwide water fight. Most foreigners troop to either Khao San Road (a popular backpacker haunt) or Silom Road (a well-known tourist hotspot) for all-day, all-night partying.

For more reserved, introspective celebrations, you can visit Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Kalasin, Chanthaburi, or Sing Buri. Here, the highlight is the Nang Songkran parade, where images of Buddha are paraded through the streets. Passers-by can then throw water on the images to cleanse them and wash away misfortune. The Songkran is mainly a reflection of Thais’ devotion to religion, but it also shows their fun-loving side.

Songkran celebrations are a way to embrace Thai culture
Image via Flickr by james_antrobus

Watch Muay Thai

A Culture Trip feature on Muay Thai describes it as being “steeped in age-old traditions.” Its history dates backs to ancient times, when royalty trained in the art of eight limbs. The sport is closely associated with religion with each part of a fighter’s attire having spiritual significance. Despite being an old practice, reverence for Muay Thai has remained. Today, it is an important sport and pastime with many Thai’s watching it live.

An Expatbets guide to Thai card games details how nearly all gambling activities in the country are illegal. However, betting on Muay Thai is exempt from this ban, and many fans of the sport head to either Lumpinee Stadium or Rajademnern Stadium to place wagers on their favorite fighters. This highlights just how deeply ingrained this martial art is in Thailand and why following it is a popular pastime. It also underscores why catching a few fights live offers an intense look at Thai culture. Don’t miss out on this sporting spectacle.

muay thai fighters
Image via Flickr by ariationblogr

See The Ramakien

The Land of Smiles is also a land of dance. Most popular among Thai dances is the Khon, which is actually a form of theater. So, if you want to delve deeper into Thai culture, make it a point to watch Ramakien. It is Thailand’s national epic, where the main character, Rama, fights the demon who abducted his wife. The show itself is riveting. It also showcases the masked dance of the Khon — accompanied by traditional Thai music played with indigenous Thai instruments. Those are three facets of Thai culture right there: dance, music, and theater.

Watching a Ramakien is a great way to experience Thai culture
Image via Flickr by Pol TaTham

Visit The Temples

Thailand is home to many temples, as its main religion is Buddhism. That is why visiting temples is a good way to experience Thai culture. Wat Pha Sorn Kaew north of Bangkok is a must-visit site, with its ornate pagoda and breathtaking location atop a cliff. There are plenty of other temples worth visiting, including Wat Pho (largest and oldest temple in the country), Wat Rong Khun, and Wat Phra Kaew. Each are a showcase of spectacular architecture and history.

Buddy at one of the many temples in Thailand
Buddy at one of the many temples in Thailand

Pro Tip: We also recommend taking a Thai cooking class. It’s a great way to learn about local ingredients and customs.


Final Thoughts On Thai Culture

Getting to know Thai culture is an amazing experience and we’re so glad that we were able to visit this beautiful country. We can’t wait for a return trip!

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Thai culture includes religion, architecture, hobbies, and more. In this post, we highlight five ways to get to know the people of Thailand.