Knowing all about the 'Land of Hospitality'
An in-depth review of Thailand's history

Thailand's History and Social Life

There is no denying the popularity of Thailand, the tropical paradise located in Asia that seemingly gets thousands and thousands of visitors all year round. Being one of the leading travel places in Southern Asia, there is little to no such information virally discussed. Thailand’s history is equally interesting as the island itself, and to pay tribute to the rich history of the ‘Kingdom of Thailand’, we have gathered information regarding its culture, religion, festivities and more.

Thailand's History: The brief history of ruling in Thailand

So starting from the very beginning, long before the emergence of kingdoms in Thailand and the history that steams from it, Thailand was an average state and according to the recorded history. The island is said to be ruled by Mon and Khmer groups early on before Tai took over. (Tai is an ethnic group that migrated from Southern China to Vietnam and eventually made its way to Northern Thailand)

The Mon Civilization that habitat northern Thailand were by known as ‘Dvaravati’. This mysterious civilization was serving as an important religious centre. Along this aspect, the Mon’s also started to establish internal and external trading routes that later proved to be very vital for the development of Thailand. Mon’s have helped make Thailand the core Buddhism place as they left tons of Buddhist artwork that testifies the significant influence Indian Culture and religion had on the region.


Dvaravati culture in ancient Thailand


Thai people were the ones who changed the trajectory of Thailand altogether; though they were people relatively minor in the Asian region but settling in Thailand gave them the opportunity to establish a new area.

Around the 2nd century CE, Thailand’s history had a noteworthy turn of events; the Srivijaya Empire of Sumatra expanded and made its way to the South of Thailand from Malaysian Peninsula. Nakhon Si Thammarat and Chiaya, Surat Thani have founded this era to make trade easy. This expansion also marked the beginning of the kingdom journey in Thailand.

After the 2nd century, another enormous life-changing alternation occurred in Thailand’s history in the 6th century that extended to the early 9th century. The Mon Civilization had finally established trading routes that gave the boost that Thailand required.

However, in the late of 9th century leading up to the 11th century, the Khmers of Angkor were the next who expanded their reign to Thailand. Unlike Srivijaya Empire, Khmers made their way to the heart of Thailand, one of the most essential parts. From there, spanning over many centuries, the native population adopted the Khmer culture. The landmark or, in this case, history marks during this era is for sure the temples at Phanom Rung, Phimai, and Lopburi.


Lopburi Thailand


During the reign of Khmer of Angkor, Lopburi were the ones who often asserted independence from them and played a vital role in burgeoning Syam culture. It is documented that Lopburi requests for independence date back to as early as 1001. 
The Angkor reign in Thailand was an essential part of Thailand’s history as it paved the path to the kingdom system in the country and from the unrest of Angkor invasion marked the century-long problems that bud in Thailand.


Sukhothai is the first official kingdom establish in the country, according to Thailand's history. It is said that the first Thai script was invented by King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai.

During the 13th century, the Thais finally took a stand and started their journey of to become the ruling party of Thailand. They started to emerge as a dominant force and eventually asserted their independence from Khmer and Mon kingdoms.

The founders of the movement/force were Khun Pha Muang and Khun Bang Klang Thao, who later declared it as a kingdom after they came in power and titled it as "the dawn of happiness". This time in Thailand's history is marked as the golden era, where the island was ruled by paternal and benevolent kings who deeply cared about the system, progression and prosperity of the country. The notable king of that time is King Ramkamhaeng, whose greatness still transcends till date, and he was the one who expanded Thailand's border further away.
 The outstanding contributions of the first Thailand kingdom are incredible, from creating beautiful Thai art to developing modern Thai alphabets; this era was definitely very flourishing for Thailand and paved the path to greatness.

However, unfortunately, after the demise of King Ramkamhaeng, the Sukhothai kingdom started to derail, and Lan Na kingdom found an excellent opportunity to take over Thailand.


Ancient Kingdom of Sukhothai



Lan Na were former suzerains of Sukhothai, and upon finding out the demise of King Ramkamhaeng, this neighbouring kingdom made its way to Thailand in the middle of the 15th century.

This kingdom was ravishing with arts and literature reaching pinnacle during the time. However, soon, their King Tilokoraj passed away, which weakens them internally and externally, too, as Burmese took control over Chiang Mai in 1564. Though the Burmese had occupied Northern regions of the Thailand for a couple of centuries, but unfortunately or fortunately for Thailand, they did little to no development in Chiang Mai, especially in relation to the military base and, as a result, the first chance the Kingdom of Ayutthaya got, they struck and very victorious is seizing Chiang Mai and Thailand for centuries onwards.


Ancient Thai Mural Art - Lanna Kingdom



During the  Ayuthaya Period, the most popular monarch was none other than ‘King U Thong’, who founded the kingdom in 1350. The kingdom, over time, becomes so powerful in economy, politics and trade in all of southeast Asia, which made them expand their reign further.

And hence eventually, they make their way to Thailand, defending Burmese and taking over the nation. The Ayutthaya kingdom is one of the popular rules in Thailand’s history and the most influential one, especially in Thai culture. The Kings of Ayutthaya were heavily influenced by Khmer culture and reinforced that on the people. The kings of these kingdoms were strict monarchs and considered self-titled themselves as Devaraja (God-king).

During the early 17th century, the start of diplomacy started with commercial relations, especially with the western countries being the focus, diplomatic and commercial relations with western countries. Ayuthaya made a strong strategic decision by making Thai groups interacting with foreign countries such as Portugal, France, Netherlands, China, and Japan.

However, it wasn’t long before the steady progression and prosperity were faltering. In 1569, Aythaya Kingdom fell to Burmese though they were able to manage to stabilize the fallback, but n 1767, Ayuthaya Kingdom finally fell at the hands of Burmese troops. The Burmese invasion marked the end of the Ayuthaya period in Thailand.


Ayutthaya Kingdom



However, the ending of Ayuthaya Kingdom didn't end here. After the downfall, King Taksin gathered all his troops to defeat the Burmese army and later choose Thonburi as the new capital.

The reason for the shift of capital was to facilitate foreign trade better. His idea was to ensure that the procurement of arms and defence would be more accessible in case Burmese attacked again.

But after his demise, King Yot Fa (Rama I) founded the 'Chakri Dynasty' and shifted the capital of Thailand from Thonburi to Bangkok, one of an integral part of Thailand's history. This shift was also marked as the start of the Rattanakosin period.


The Rattanakosin may not be the popularly known time period of Thailand but unquestionably changed the trajectory of the country as mentioned in Thailand's history. King Rama I, was the one who established Rattanakosin in Thailand.

During his rule, Thailand faced a threat of invasions from western states, but he strategically halted it by establishing a trading and international relations agreement with western countries in order to keep Thailand an independent state.
 His rule was considered to be life-changing for Thailand as in 1932, he shifted the governing system of the country from 'Absolute Monarchy' to the present day 'Democratic System'. However, despite the shift, the governing head was still the King.

Later on, when King Mongkut, Rama IV, came into power, they helped Thailand reach beyond; their ruing helped the land get western fame. They had established various treaties with European countries, which enabled them to prevent colonialization, and aided in modernizing Thailand, especially in terms of numerous social and economic reforms.

That was not all; King Chulalongkorn, Rama V, followed the footsteps of his father and created various other reforms and the most notable by far would be the abolishment of slavery. Improving public welfare and administrative systems are some of the great things the King worked towards.

As far as the Educational reforms go, they made it compulsory for everyone to get an education.  King Vajiravudh, Rama VI, was very particular about this. And following his footsteps, King Prajadhipok, Rama VII and King Ananda Mahidol Rama VIII made some serious changes. In fact, during King Ananda Mahidol Rama VIII, the country's name was changed to Thailand from Siam.

And with that, it ends long extensive Thailand's history. If it weren't for all things that went down, we wouldn't have known this incredible Tropical Paradise and the wonders its offers. However, that's not all that Thailand's rich history holds, to further now the gravity of Thailand's history, let's walk through the civil history of Thailand.

Thailand’s History: The brief history of the Thai way of life

Culture and traditions are very important in Thailand; if you have visited Thailand or know anything about it, you quite easily will understand the priority they give to their traditions and culture, from hospitality to food to religion and so much more.


Religion is a focal point in Thailand; despite having different religions living peacefully in the country and being a secular state, Thailand is known for its Buddhist religion, specifically the ‘Theravada Buddhism’.

Theravada Buddhism has been part of Thailand’s history for thousands and thousands of years; practised religion it is by far the most important religion in the country, with over 94% practitioners. 4.6% of the population are Muslims, and the rest are divided amongst Catholic Christians, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism and Jewish.

Though the country’s constitution allows freedom to follow any religion, excluding the Kings, but Buddhism teachings are what the constitution is based on.


Buddhism in Thailand



Thai people are very particular about their etiquettes, especially the ones associated with Buddhism. Despite having different religions, the country is heavily influenced by Buddhist customs and religion; hence their way of life is commonly adopted.

For example, it is considered offensive if someone touches another person’s head as it is the highest/ top part of the human body and considered sacred. Similarly, patting a child’s head is deemed dangerous for their well-being.

Other than that, whether you are a stranger or a friend, you will see a common thing that stands out by margin in Thailand is the way locals greet others. ‘Wai’ is a common way to greet, apologize and show respect to others. Moreover, showing temper in public or having an emotional outburst is condemn upon.

As far as the Buddhist temples are concerned, it is wrong to point a finger or foot at Buddha statues. Plus wearing food wear, tight clothes, glasses, and similar attains in the temple complex are considered offensive. As for the monks, it is forbidden for women to touch them.


Thai People Greetings



Like religion, the concept of Family is very vital in Thailand. In fact, Thailand’s history has shown time and time again that family always comes first, even the extended family.

It might be foreign to the western states, but it is very common for extended families to live together in a unit or close to one another. To Thai people, it is very important as it helps to foster a strong link and connection within the family, and in case of any issue, there is always someone for someone. For example, it is common for kids to take care of older relatives financially and do house chores.


Thailand has a well-accumulated array of festivals and festivities all year round. There are numerous Buddhist religious festivals in the country, along with many local events related to particular places and individuals.

Talking about Buddhist religious festivals, the festivals are celebrated based on the Buddhist calendar, which begins with Songkran around mid-April. During this time, all the Buddha statues in the Kingdom of Thailand are washed, and the monks receive special alms. This celebration is marked by dousing people with water and activities such as singing, theatre, dancing and other performances such as a fire show.


Songkran Celebrations


Visakha Puja is another popular festival in Thailand that is celebrated to pay tribute to Buddha's birthday, his enlightenment and entrance into nirvana. This day is very important for Buddhists all around the world, but in Thailand, it is very, very important. The day starts with ceremonial watering of the banyan trees (according to Thailand's history, it is assumed that Banyan trees were the ones under which Buddha was sitting when he attained enlightenment) followed by various worshipping activities.

Thawt Kathin has a long celebration starting from mid of October to the middle of November. During this time, monks received monastic robes and other paraphernalia items from the locals. In fact, in some communities, people work together to make new garments for monks and Budhha staties in a single day.

Magha Puja, celebrated in February to commemorate Buddha's preaching and his path to enlightenment.


The most famous and globally recognized aspects of Thailand is known other than their cuisine. The cuisine is so popular that it has not only played a vital role in Thailand's history but has influenced many western countries as well as the neighbouring countries cuisine.

The great thing about Thai cuisine is that it has an ethnic diversified background which means it is fitting for everyone. Thai cuisine is very popular for the sheer fact that it has a balanced combination of sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter flavours that create a mind-blowing mix that is a treat for the palette.


Thai Cuisine


However, Thai cuisine is also influenced by Buddhist religion to an extent; for example, In Thailand, large cuts of meat are not found in many places. However, seafood is most commonly noticed everywhere and considered a great supplement.

All in all, it cannot be denied the greatness of Thai cuisine and its role in Thailand's history and Thailand's popularity in the world.