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Thailand Off the Beaten Path Blog

Apr 12
Heet Sip Song: Isaan Thailand Merit Making Traditions

Heet Sip Song (ฮีตสิบสอง) are monthly merit-making events in the Isaan region of Northeast Thailand. The word “heet” in Isaan means “a time-honored tradition” — being related to the Thai word “jareet” (จารีต), which has the same meaning. Sip Song meanwhile means “twelve,” referring to each of the monthly merit making events throughout the year. […]

Apr 11
Phu Phan Museum Rotunda Mural – Sakon Nakhon Art

Previously, we’ve talked about bas-relief Thai artwork, how it’s made, and classic examples of it at the Ajarn Fun Acharo Museum at Wat Pa Udom Somphon. There is a lovely bas-relief tile mural at the Phu Phan Museum’s open air rotunda. However, the museum hasn’t taken the necessary steps to protect the tiles with proper […]

Apr 10
Seri Thai in Northeast Thailand | Free Thai Movement WW II

The Seri Thai Movement, meaning “Free Thai Movement,” was a significant part of Thailand’s history during World War II. This underground resistance group worked against the Japanese occupation of Thailand, which began in 1941 after the Thai government under Field Marshal Plaeck Phibunsongkhram (แปลก พิบูลสงคราม) was coerced into an alliance with Japan. Volunteers in Northeastern […]

Apr 09
The Thai King who Smiles and Never Rests

During his 70 year reign, King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great of Thailand was popularly known as “the Father of all the Land” (พ่อหลวงปวงแผ่นดิน). He wasn’t regarded as a stern parent, but a kind father who always had Thailand’s best interests at heart. This aspect of HM King Bhumibol doesn’t get discussed enough. Historically, Kings around […]

Apr 08
The Thai Word for Love: Its Cultural Meaning in Thailand

I’ve written before how the Thai language shapes Thai culture and the personality of the Thai people. For example, how the brevity of the language encourages concrete thought versus abstraction. Today, I’m going to talk about how the sound of a single word informs Thai culture. That word is “love”. Or as it’s said in […]

Apr 07
The Isaan Monks of Thailand’s Forest Tradition

Sakon Nakhon is considered by many to be the spiritual mecca of Northeast Thailand (Isaan). This is evidenced by the cave exhibition at the Phu Phan Museum, which features life-like sculptures of eight of the most revered forest monks, all of whom had deep spiritual ties to Sakon Nakhon province. The most influential member of […]

Apr 06
Thai Kaloeng Tribe of the Mekong Basin & Phu Phan Mountains

Above Photo: Thai Kaloeng women from the early 1900s. Note that Siamese women commonly went topless (or semi-topless) until the mid 1800s, when the colonial powers started visiting. Then the practice began to fade, but continued in Northeast Thailand (Isaan) until the 1930s. The Thai Kaloeng (ไทกะเลิง) — also spelled Tai Kaleung or Thai Kalerng […]

Apr 05
The Thai Yoi Tribe of Northeast Thailand

Seen Above: Thai Yoi faculty members at Sakon Nakhon Rabjabhat University, dressed in traditional indigo-dyed attire. The Thai Yoi (ไทโย้ย) immigrated to Northeast Thailand from the region around the Hom Thao Huse River (แม่น้ําฮ่อมท้าวฮูเซ) in the Khammouane Province of central Laos. First arriving in Sakon Nakhon during the 1800s, tribe members settled largely in Amphur […]

Apr 04
Wat Sawang Hua Na Kham – Kalasin Temples

Wat Sawang Hua Na Kham (วัดสว่างหัวนาคำ) is one of the most sacred temples of Kalasin province, with a history that stretches back to 1729. The new temple that sits on the grounds has been under development for about the past 15 years. The temple’s most striking feature is its new ordination hall, “Ubosot Isaan Mai […]

Mar 29
The Buddhist Era: How to Read Thai Dates

Thailand is the only country that uses the Buddhist Era calendar as its official date system, so it’s an important aspect of Thai life to understand. In the Thai language, the Buddhist Era is referred to as “PuttaSakarat” (พุทธศักราช). It gets abbreviated to the initials “พศ” when written beside dates, as frequently is seen in […]

Mar 25
Khanom Dok Bua: Cheap Thai Pancake Dessert

Khanom Dok Bua (ขนมดอกบัว) is a sweet Thai pancake found occasionally at outdoor markets in Thailand. It is one of our favorite snacks, a runner up to Thai fried bananas. While other sweets, such as Roti and Khanom Bueang (ขนมเบื้อง), often are called Thai pancakes, Khanom Dok Bua is the only doughy sweet really deserving […]

Mar 24
Thailand’s Buddhist Vision of Hell in Literature & Temples

Depictions of Hell at Thai temples will often feature sinners in a boiling cauldron of blood or water, as seen here at Wat Khao Tham Phra in Sakon Nakhon (Northeast Thailand). Terrifying representations of hell have been used by most societies to encourage good behavior and tamp down on evil. Thailand is no different in […]

Mar 23
Wat Khao Tham Phra Photo Gallery (วัดเขาถ้ำพระ)

Located in the Phu Phan Mountains of Northeast Thailand, Wat Khao Tham Phra (วัดเขาถ้ำพระ) is one of the most interesting temples of “Undiscovered Thailand“. Built on a hilltop and surrounded by a forest of monkeys, this Sakon Nakhon temple is a true spiritual retreat, where visitors can practice meditation and mindfulness. Guests also will be […]

Mar 20
Sufficiency Economy Rajabhat University Project for Thailand

In honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, and to strengthen the legacy of his Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, we have developed a project proposal for Rajabhat Universities in Thailand. Rajabhat universities are publicly funded universities, similar to State Universities in the United States. In fact, like State Universities, Rajabhat Universities started out as “Teacher’s Colleges,” […]

Mar 18
A Defense of Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy

King Bhumibol the Great of Thailand had many accomplishments during his 70 year reign, but his greatest legacy might be his promotion of a Sufficiency Economy, which is a socio-economic philosophy that emphasizes moderation, self-sufficiency, and resilience to external shocks. His Majesty first introduced the concept of Sufficiency Economy in the late 1970s and early […]

Mar 17
The Architecture of Village Houses in Northeast Thailand

In the early 1960s, Pete Seeger made famous the Malvina Reynold’s song “Little Boxes,” which satirized the cookie-cutter existence of life in the suburbs of America, where people “all come out the same”. Today, the monotonous march of mechanized living stretches worldwide. Even in Thailand, there are neighborhoods filled with houses that all look alike, […]

Mar 15
Bas-Relief Thai Artwork at Temples in Thailand

Seen above: Ancient bas-relief stone tiles at the Wat Non Sawan (วัดโนนสวรรค์), Phu Din Daeng, temple in Sakon Nakhon, Northeast Thailand. At Thai temples, you’ll often find murals made of tiles with raised images on them that fit together to form a scene from the life of the Buddha or a famous monk. This is […]

Mar 11
The Mythological Kala – Scary Faces at Khmer & Thai Temples

Seen above: A well preserved lintel with carved face of Kala, from an 11th century temple in Thailand (about the same time Phra That Dum was built). The demon-like figure Kala (กาล) is found in ancient Khmer temple art and Hindu-Buddhist iconography throughout Southeast Asia. However, it is one of the lesser known mythological figures […]

Mar 11
Wat Phra That Dum – Sakon Nakhon Khmer Ruins

Wat Phra That Dum (วัดพระธาตุดุม) is a Sakon Nakhon temple complex that contains the ancient ruins of the Khmer era stupa Phra That Dum. Around 1000 years old, it is one of several ancient Khmer ruins in Sakon Nakhon province — the most famous one being the mountaintop ruins of Phra That Phu Phek. New […]

Mar 07
Thailand Mangoes: Amazing Benefits, Varieties, and Uses

Back in the 1700s, during the reign of King Boromakot of Ayutthaya, Prince Dhammathibet wrote a poem honoring the Thai mango, which back then was referred to in Thai as “màak-mûang” (หมากม่วง) or “purple betel nut” — not to be confused with the betel nut that has been traditionally chewed as a stimulant (learn more […]

Mar 06
How to Say Goodbye in Thai

In Thailand, the most common way to say goodbye is the same as the Thai greeting “sàwàt-dee” (สวัสดี) accompanied by a wai gesture. The polite particle khráp (for a man) or khá (for a woman) will of course also be tacked onto the end of the phrase, so it becomes “sà-wàt-dee khrap/kha”. In Thailand guidebooks […]

Mar 02
Secret Thai Hangover Cure & The Hang Energy Drink

Years ago in Thailand there was a popular hangover drink called Hang that was made by the famous Thai energy drink maker Osotspa, creators of the Kingdom’s top-selling energy drink, M-150. Hang was made in 3 different formulas (Original, Foreplay, and Virgin), which included ingredients that improved liver function, settled stomachs, and boosted cognitive function. […]

Mar 01
Thai Journalist Day – Remembering Rong Wongsawan

In Thailand, “Journalist Day” (วันนักข่าว) occurs every year on March 5th. Formally known as “National Mass Communication Day” (วันสื่อสารมวลชนแห่งชาติ), this day for honoring Thai journalists coincides with the establishment of the Journalists Association of Thailand on March 5th, 1955. Fifteen pioneering Thai journalists joined together to form the journalists association, including Choti Maneenoi (โชติ มณีน้อย) […]

Feb 29
Thai Butterfly Pea Tea – Nootropic Blue Tea

For centuries, Thai Butterfly Pea Tea (also known as Blue Tea) has been treasured in Thai culture as a delicious nootropic with potent healing properties. Known as “Cha Anchan” (ชาอัญชัน) in Thai, this vibrant brew is sourced from the petals of the Clitoria ternatea flower, which gives it its distinctive blue hue — and yes, […]

Feb 27
Buddhist Prayer Beads (Rosary) in Thailand

In Thailand, the use of “rosary” beads for prayer and meditation is common among Buddhist monks. However, their use in meditation among the Thai people occurs only among the most devoted of the Kingdom’s 67 million Buddhists. Thais frequently use prayer beads as a personal talisman (much like they use a sacred amulet). They will […]

Feb 25
Chao Pu Thala & The Phu Thai Tribe of Northeast Thailand

The Phu Thai (ชาวภูไท) are one of several tribal peoples who live in Northeast Thailand, including Sakon Nakhon and the neighboring province of Nakhon Phanom. It’s believed that the Phu Thai migrated from Laos into the Northeast (Isaan) from the 15th to the 18th centuries, with a spiritual belief system that combines Buddhism with animism […]

Feb 24
The Best Thai Coffee: Jeed Jad on the Moon (Chiang Mai)

It’s been a while since we tried a new brew in our search for the best coffee in Thailand, so today we will review Jeed Jad On the Moon from SnoozeintheGlum Coffee. This light roast Thai coffee contains 9 different flavors of beans, and is harvested from the Galyani Vadhana (กัลยาณิวัฒนา) district in Chiang Mai […]

Feb 23
Chao Pu (Phaya) Yommarat – Phra Yom Mantra

At Wat Pra That Phon Thong there is a small pavilion with a statue of an unusual figure not ordinarily seen at a Thai temple. It is a statue of Chao Pu Yommarat (เจ้าปู่ยมราช). This is not actually a specific historical figure but refers to the distinguished 14 Thai men who were awarded the Royal […]

Feb 21
Ajarn Fan Acharo & HM King Bhumibol the Great (Rama IX)

Seen Above: HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej (The Great) and Queen Sirikit of Thailand at the Funeral of Monk Luang Pu Fan Acharo King Bhumibol the Great (Rama IX) had a long relationship with the revered Isaan monk Ajarn Fan Acharo (pronounced “ajahn fun ajaro”). His Majesty would often visit Wat Pa Udom Somphon in Phanna […]

Feb 20
Luang Pu Fan Acharo: Mystical Teachings & Mantra

Seen above: Ajarn Fan Ajaro smoking a cigar to repel mosquitoes, as was a customary practice at the time. Luang Pu Fan Acharo (หลวงปู่ฝั้น อาจาโร) is the most well-known Thai monk to have emerged from Sakon Nakhon province. Born in 1899, Ajarn Fan was a disciple of Ajarn Man Phuritatto, the co-founder of the Thai […]

Feb 18
Preta: Hungry Ghost Spirits in Thailand

Thai culture is filled with supernatural spirits or ghosts, such as Nang Tani (the spirit who haunts wild banana trees) and the cannibalistic Phi Pop who will eat your internal organs with glee. These spirits are part of Thai folklore rather than Buddhist traditions, thus you’ll rarely, if ever, see one depicted inside a Thai […]

Feb 14
Blind Thai Singers & Musicians: Who Are They?

While efforts have been made to improve the lives of blind people in Thailand, many obstacles continue to exist for Thais who are visually-impaired. This is especially true in rural provinces like Sakon Nakhon where access to resources are difficult. It’s been estimated that only 10% of Thailand’s blind have the opportunity to receive rehabilitation, […]

Feb 13
Young Thai Artists Exhibition: Area63 SNRU 2024

Young Thai artists are getting better every year, as is seen in a new exhibition of paintings at the Thongthawapee Art Gallery (หอศิลป์ทองทวาปี มหาวิทยาลัยราชภัฏสกลนคร) in Sakon Nakhon, Northeast Thailand. The name of this vibrant art show is “Area63: Boundary Free Art of the 9 Styles”. It’s the senior thesis exhibition from art students at Sakon […]

Feb 12
Esoteric Symbols in Thai Buddha Statues

Most people aren’t aware of “mystical Thailand” and the esoteric symbols found in many Thai Buddha statues. These hidden symbols make temple visits all the more interesting, when you realize they are waiting to be discovered. For example, take this blue Buddha statue at Samnak Song Hin Taek Phawana (seen above). Note the serpent at […]

Feb 10
How to Build a Thai Temple: Rules & Regulations

As we discussed in our article “How Many Temples Does Thailand Have?” there are over 43,000 temples the Kingdom. This might lead you to wonder how hard it is to get approval to build a Thai temple? Well, as the 43K+ number suggests, it is not too difficult actually. So, if you have a nice […]

Feb 02
Thailand: Misconceptions Vs. Reality

Recently there was a photo making the rounds in Thailand of two tourists at Phuket Airport wearing Speedos and flip flops. This reminded me that there is a big difference between how many foreigners view Thailand versus how it exists in reality. Thanks to films like The Hangover, comedy skits on TV shows, and YouTube […]

Jan 30
Thailand Soft Power: Spreading Thai Cultural Values

In recent months, there has been a lot of talk about “soft power” in Thailand, with Prime Minister Settha Thavisin creating the National Soft Power Strategy Committee to guide initiatives that will develop and promote soft power industries such as Thai food, tourism, music, and sports. The term “soft power” refers to a countries ability […]

Jan 26
Avoiding Criticism in Thailand while Achieving Success

In Thai culture, criticism is avoided. As a result, Thailand is often criticized! According to the critics, the Thai people’s avoidance of criticism is stifling the kingdom’s growth into a first world country and economic powerhouse like Japan and South Korea. However, the rulers of Thailand (stretching back to King Mongkut of the mid- 19th […]

Jan 20
Third Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge (3) in Nakhon Phanom

Nakhon Phanom is one of 4 places where a Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge has been built — the other 3 locations being in Nong Khai, Mukdahan, and Chiang Rai province. A 5th Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge (Beung Kan – Bolikhamxai) is set to open later in 2024, and a 6th bridge (Ubon Ratchathani – Salavan) has plans […]

Jan 16
Why Learn Thai? The Cognitive, Cultural & Health Benefits

When people talk about the best foreign language to learn, you’ll often hear suggestions like Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, or Japanese. What you rarely, if ever, hear suggested is the Thai language, as it is spoken only in Thailand — which has a population of about 70 million, and is still considered a developing country. […]

Jan 14
Thai Marriage Advice – Counseling of Buddhist Monks

In Thailand there are few professional marriage counselors, except in the upper class social circles of Bangkok. Thai marriage counseling traditionally has been handled by head monks at village temples, and this practice continues to this day — although only a small percentage of Thai couples seek out this assistance when having problems. When Thai […]

Jan 12
Generosity in Thailand: Having a Water Heart (Nam Jai)

The Thai word for generosity is “kwaam mee náam jai” (ความมีน้ำใจ), which means to “have a water heart”. In Thailand, water is a symbol of abundance. The water in the fields produce rice, and the water in the rivers produce fish. To have a “water heart” thus means to have a heart that creates abundance. […]

Jan 09
Laos Limestone Mountain Karsts – Nakhon Phanom Views

The cool season is the best time of year to visit Nakhon Phanom and view the limestone hills of Laos, as the view is much crisper, with less haze. The cliffs are located just across the Mekong River and rise up like jagged teeth, evoking the great Naga serpents that are said to live in […]

Jan 07
Traveling the Eightfold Path in Buddhist Thailand

Traveling in Thailand can be a lot of fun, which is why millions visit the Land of Smiles every year. However, the Kingdom also offers a unique opportunity for personal development and self-growth, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in Thai culture — an experience which can challenge your comfort zones, while providing fresh perspectives on […]

Dec 26
Littering in Thailand: How to Solve the Problem

Anyone who has visited Thailand knows that the Kingdom has a littering problem. It’s not only Thais who are guilty of littering. Tourists are sometimes to blame — especially those who come from countries where littering is common, and strong social stigmas are absent. Thailand has tried many familiar solutions to tackle the littering problem. […]

Dec 22
Traditional Thai Family Culture & Values

The traditional Thai family has taken a hit in recent decades. The decline began as Thailand started its transition from a predominantly agrarian society to a country with a large manufacturing base and tourism industry. This caused large numbers of young Thai fathers (and mothers) to move to the Bangkok metropolitan area (and other cities) […]

Dec 19
How to Make Merit in Thailand

In Thailand, “making merit” is an important activity for Buddhists. In the Thai language, it’s referred to as “tham boon” (ทำบุญ), which means “do good deeds”. The word “boon” is derived from Pali word “punya,” which means a tool to purify the mind. Buddhists thus view merit as a tool for purifying the heart of […]

Dec 18
Why Does Thailand Have So Many Temples?

In our last post, we answered the question, “How many temples does Thailand have?” Now, let’s move on to another commonly asked question, “Why does Thailand have so many temples?” To begin, it should be recognized that temples in Thailand are not simply places of worship. They also function as a unique kind of Thai […]

Dec 18
How Many Temples Does Thailand Have?

Everyone knows that Thailand has a lot of temples, but just how many exactly? The number of temples in Thailand is tracked by the Buddhist Monastery Department (กองพุทธศาสนสถาน). According to the department’s latest figures, there is currently 43,005 temples in Thailand (only five of which do not have Thai monks living on the premises). Of […]

Dec 15
A New Thailand Curriculum Framework (Competency-Based)

For decades education reform has been on the agenda in Thailand, with experts encouraging a transition from the current content-based curriculum to a competency-based curriculum (CBC). This new curriculum framework would emphasize the acquisition of skills and knowledge that can be applied to daily life, instead of the rote content learning that typifies the education […]

Dec 12
How to See Undiscovered Thailand

If you are planning a Thailand “Off the Beaten Track” holiday (or if you want to discover hidden Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Phuket) it’s important to learn “how to see” undiscovered Thailand. This involves developing a few easy-to-learn skills, and building a new mindset: one that reframes your outlook from tourist taker to beauty explorer. […]

Dec 10
Thailand Solo Art Exhibition: Ink Drawings

The Thongthawapee Art Gallery at Sakon Nakhon Raabhat University is home to both collective and solo art exhibitions of Thai artists, in particular artists from the North of Thailand (Isaan), many of whom are considered among the best artists in Thailand. The university gallery is currently hosting the first solo exhibition of Thai artist Piriya […]

Dec 09
Thailand Street Art (Soi Sin) – Thai Alley Artists

In recent years, Thailand street art has become popular among Thais and tourists. Artwork on the street is referred to as “Soi Sin” or “Sin Nai Soi” in the Thai language. The word “sin” (ศิลป์) is a shortened version of the word “sinlabpa” (ศิลปะ), both of which mean “art” or “artistic,” while the word “soi” […]

Dec 03
Thailand Lakeside Retreat: Nam Un Reservoir

One of the loveliest places in Northeast Thailand is the area around Nam Un Reservoir in Sakon Nakhon. Nong Han Lake, the largest natural lake in Northeast Thailand, tends to get all of the attention among tourists to Sakon Nakhon, but the beautiful Nam Un Reservoir, with rolling Phu Phan mountains clearly visible in the […]

Nov 18
Metal Bodh Gaya Chedi in Thailand w/ Baby Buddha Statue

Thailand is a Kingdom of Temples. It also is filled with sacred chedis (stupas), especially in the Northeastern province of Sakon Nakhon. Many chedis in Thailand are inspired by the famous Buddhist chedis of India. For example, Phra Chedi Sadaeng Pathom Thesana (พระเจดีย์แสดงปฐมเทศนา) is a replica of the Dhamek Stupa located in Varanasi, India, which […]

Nov 16
The 7th Rajabhat University National Research Conference

Sakon Nakhon Rajabhat University had the honor and pleasure of hosting The 7th Rajabhat University National and International Research and Academic Conference (RUNIRAC VII). The scholarly conference was held on the campus from November 14th – 16th (2023). Sakon Nakhon Rajabhat University often has the honor of hosting large events. Every year it hosts the […]

Nov 12
Wat Sawang Tek Somboon – Thai Temple Photo Gallery

Wat Sawang Tek Somboon (วัดสว่างเต็กสมบูรณ์) is a village temple in Sakon Nakhon. Its name means The Bright Temple of the Perfect Architect. This is an unusual name for a Thai temple, and its the only one with such a name in Thailand. The Thai word “tek” (เต็ก) is an abbreviation of the English word architect, […]

Nov 01
Do Thais Like Foreigners Who Can Speak Thai?

Foreigners in Thailand are notorious for their bad takes about Thai people and culture. And although it is counterintuitive, the worst takes are often by foreigners who have lived in Thailand the longest. We were reminded of this again recently on seeing a farang teacher warn “newbies” against learning to speak Thai. The old expat […]

Oct 28
Wan Ok Phansa: Its Meaning & History in Thailand

Wan Ok Phansa (วันออกพรรษา) literally means the “Rains Retreat Exit Day”. This religious holiday marks the end of the Buddhist Lent period in Thailand. Wan Ok Phansa falls every year on the 15th day of the waxing moon of the 11th lunar month. In 2023, it is celebrated on October, 29th, the first day of […]

Oct 23
Respect in Thai Culture & Language

Respect is an integral part of Thai culture. It is deeply entwined with how the people of Thailand conduct themselves in their personal, professional, and public lives. Respect also is related to other aspects of Thai culture, such as saving face, being “greng jai,” and performing the wai greeting. Thailand remains a very hierarchical society. […]

Oct 19
How to Stay Out of Trouble in Thailand

Thailand is generally a very safe country to travel in — especially if you use some common sense. When in the densely populated tourism areas of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, or Phuket there usually is little to worry about, even late at night. However, when traveling off the beaten path in Thailand, extra precaution should […]

Oct 18
Wat Phutthamok Phalaram (Photo Gallery)

Wat Phutthamok Phalaram (วัดพุทธโมกพลาราม) is a vast complex of temple grounds currently being developed by the well-known and highly revered abbot Luang Pho Noon Suwichayo (หลวงพ่อหนุน สุวิชโย), also spelled Luang Phor Nun Suwichayo — who is a disciple of the famous Buddhist meditation master and mystic Luang Phor Lersi Lingdam (หลวงพ่อฤาษีลิงดำ) of Uthai Thani. Luang […]

Oct 13
King Bhumibol Adulyadej Memorial Day: Royal Projects

HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great Memorial Day (Oct. 13th) honors the life and achievements of King Rama IX, who was the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history. He reigned from 1946 until his passing in 2016. Throughout his reign, King Bhumibol implemented many Royal projects aimed at improving the lives of all Thai people, from […]

Oct 06
Toilets in Thailand: Squat, Flush & Bum Gun

*Seen above is a common Thai restroom welcome sign with traditional figurine. In Thailand, there are basically three kinds of toilets: the traditional Thai toilet, the Western flush toilet, and a combination of the two. The traditional Thai toilet is what is known as a squat toilet. These are still found everywhere in Thailand, including […]

Sep 30
How to Buy, Sell & Pawn Gold in Thailand

In Thailand, buying and selling gold at a Thai gold shop is a common investment strategy. It also is a way that Thai people save money so as to avoid the temptation of emptying their bank account. In this post, we will cover everything a foreigner needs to know about buying, selling, and pawning gold […]

Sep 28
Manomayitthi – Thailand Mind Power Meditation & Mantra

There is a mystical (occult) Buddhist meditation in Thailand that often is practiced by monks engaged in “magic” psychic practices, such as the making of sacred amulets and incantations (mantras) that are alleged to grant good fortune and happiness. This Thai meditation is known as “Manomayitthi” (มโนมยิทธิ) which means the magical power of the mind. […]

Sep 27
Phra Chai: The Thai Buddha of Victory Amulet & Talisman

Seen Above: A small statue of Phra Chai Ayutthaya in Phon Na Kao District, Sakon Nakhon One of the most “magical” of all Buddha images in Thailand is the figure of Phra Chai (พระชัย). You rarely, however, will see a statue of Phra Chai at Thai temples. The figure most often appears as an amulet, […]

Sep 21
Thailand Eggs: Tasty Dishes & The Thai Omelette

*Seen above is a special skillet used to fry quail eggs in Thailand. If you love eggs, Thailand has many delicious types of eggs and dishes made with eggs. Farm fresh eggs often taste better in Thailand, especially at street food vendors in rural provinces, because the eggs were bought from village egg sellers with […]

Sep 19
Phi Fa: Thailand Ghost Healers and Isaan Shaman

Anyone familiar with Thailand’s culture knows that Thai people have a strong belief in ghosts and the supernatural (see our post on the Thai zombie village). This is especially true among the tribal peoples of Isaan (Northeast Thailand), such as the Phu Tai, Tai Yo, and Tai So tribes. Many Isaan tribes have a belief […]

Sep 18
Patongko: The Best Donuts in Thailand

Patongko (ปาท่องโก๋), or Thai donuts, are a Thai street food that TasteAtlas has ranked one of the top 5 desserts in the world, followed by Thailand’s mango sticky rice (khao niao mamuang) at #11, fried bananas (gluay thawt) at #45, and bamboo sticky rice (khao lam) at #48. So, the best donuts in Thailand are […]

Sep 16
Thai Novice Monks & The Naga Serpent of Thailand

Anyone who has visited Thailand has seen Naga serpent statues at temples. But did you know that novice monks are also called “naga” — or as it is spoken in Thai: “nak” (นาค). How did novice Thai monks come to be called Naga? One story says that a Naga King named Nandopananda wanted to become […]

Sep 15
Thai Temple Bell Towers, Drums & Gongs

Thai temple bell towers, known as Ho Rakang (หอระฆัง), traditionally have played a central role of village life in Thailand. Years ago, when most villagers didn’t own clocks (much less smartphones), the temple’s bell, drum, or gong would sound periodically throughout the day as the village timepiece. Today, one of the main functions of a […]

Sep 14
Buddhist Sabbath & Holidays in Thailand

Buddhists in Thailand have a weekly sabbath day, just as Christians do. However, unlike the Christian sabbath, the Buddhist sabbath does not fall always on the same day of the week (such as Sunday or Saturday). It can fall on any day of the week, and corresponds to the 8th day of the waxing moon, […]

Sep 13
The Thailand Diet: Lose Weight Fast with Thai Food

The Thai people have a history of being quite skinny and not struggling with their weight. However, this is changing as Western foods have been introduced, as well as highly processed food. If you are in Thailand and struggling with your weight, or are looking for the Thai secret to weight loss and maintaining a […]

Sep 12
The Ramakien Thai Love Story – What it Really Means

The Ramakien often is described as a grand love story between Phra Ram and Nang Sida. It is an epic tale where the beautiful Sida must be rescued from the demon King Tosakanth by her courageous husband and the brave monkey warrior Hanuman. After many battles and successful rescue, we are led to believe that […]

Sep 11
Ganesh Chaturthi in Thailand – Thai Temple Ganesha Statues

Ganesh Chaturthi is a Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesha, who is known as Phra Phikanet (พระพิฆเนศ) in Thailand. Ganesha is an elephant-headed deity who is revered as the “Remover of Obstacles” and the harbinger of good fortune and success. While Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most popular festivals in India, […]

Sep 10
The Ramakien Story Summary – Thailand Khon Drama

The Ramakien (รามเกียรติ์) is Thailand’s national epic. The story draws inspiration from the Indian Ramayana but weaves into it the fabric of Thai culture, traditions, and beliefs. Its origins trace back to as early as the 13th century, but the story as it exists today rests largely on the work authored in part by King […]

Sep 09
Lost Phone in Thailand – What to Do – Keep Your Number

If you have lost your phone in Thailand, you can still keep your old phone number. The process is simple, because when you buy a Thai SIM card, you need to show identification. For expats, this usually means showing your passport. Your phone service provider now will have your identification on record. If your phone […]

Sep 07
The Ideal Woman: Suay vs. Narak in Thai

Today, let’s talk about who is considered the most attractive Thai woman, without getting us into too much trouble! 😄 In Thailand, women can be referred as beautiful or cute (sometimes both). Cuteness isn’t an adjective confined only to younger ladies or girls — as it tends to be in Western countries. So, what is […]

Sep 06
Makruk Thailand: The History & Rules of Thai Chess

There is an old Thai expression that says: “Dern mâi doo dtaa máa dtaa reua” (เดินไม่ดูตาม้าตาเรือ). This saying means to walk ignorantly or blindly, not being careful to look ahead at the obvious hurdles in your path through life. The literal translation of this saying, however, means to walk without looking at the eyes of […]

Sep 04
Thai Tamarind: So Tasty But Beware!

Tamarind in the Thai language is called má-kăam (มะขาม). Its history in Thailand stretches back over 700 years. Tamarind is believed to have originated in Africa, and then brought to Thailand sometime prior to the reign of King Ram Khamhaeng (Rama the Bold), who ruled the ancient Sukhothai kingdom from 1278 -1 298. Tamarind is […]

Sep 01
The Thailand Tradition of Giving Flowers to Monks at Temples

In Thailand there is a tradition of giving flowers to monks (ประเพณีตักบาตรดอกไม้) at temples. But what are the origins of this tradition? According to Thai legend, the origin of the flower giving custom began in the era of King Bimbisara (544 -492) who reigned over Magadha, which today is located in Northeastern India. The king […]

Aug 31
What Did King Chulalongkorn Do? His Achievements

Seen Above: A photo of King Chulalongkorn (center) while in Europe in 1907. Every year Thailand celebrates a holiday called “Chulalongkorn Day” on October 23rd. This leads some people to ask, “What did King Chulalongkorn do?” Let’s answer that question in detail now. King Chulalongkorn of Siam is also known as Rama V. His 42 […]

Aug 28
Store Bamboo Shoots for Eating In Thailand

Thailand grows the most delicious bamboo in the world. Almost everyone who lives in the Thai countryside has easy access to wild bamboo. So, it’s one of the many free foods that Thai people take advantage of when making dishes such as bamboo shoot curry, fried bamboo shoots with pork, and bamboo shoot soup. Bamboo […]

Aug 27
Betel Nut & Leaf Chewing in Thailand

Marijuana and Kratom have gotten all the publicity in Thailand with their recent legalization. However, betel nut and betel leaf have been used by Thais for centuries for their medicinal and psychoactive properties. There is an ancient pillar from the Sukothai Period (1238-1438) that reads: “Betel forests were cultivated throughout the city. Everywhere there were […]

Aug 26
The Thai Word “Jai”: Its Meaning & Cultural Implications

One aspect of the Thai language that is critical to understanding Thai people, and successfully navigating through life in Thailand, is the word “jai” (ใจ). The Thai word “jai” encompasses 3 meanings: “heart,” “mind,” and “spirit”. This linguistic phenomenon significantly impacts Thai culture, psychology, and human relationships — for it reflects a holistic view of […]

Aug 24
The Most Common Butterfly in Thailand

One of the most common butterflies in Thailand is the Common Mormon, a species of Swallowtail butterfly. One of the most fascinating aspects of the Common Mormon butterfly is its mimicry behavior. It exhibits multiple forms, each mimicking different toxic or inedible butterfly species. This mimicry provides protection from Thai predators as they mistake the […]

Aug 24
Top 10 Thailand Twitter (X) Accounts in English

In past years, Twitter (now known as X) wasn’t a major player on Thailand’s social media scene, compared to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok. For one reason or another, many Thais and expats in Thailand started Twitter accounts but then abandoned them after awhile (likely due to lack of engagement). However, […]

Aug 19
Thai Smiles: Understanding Their Different Meanings

Thailand famously is known as “The Land of Smiles”. The Thai smile’s legendary status can be traced all the way back to the Ayutthaya Period (14th – 18th Centuries), with foreigners writing in travelogues about “Yim Siam” (ยิ้มสยาม) — the word “yim” meaning smile in the Thai language. Westerners, who have a tendency to frown […]

Aug 12
Thailand Education Reform: Less English, More Thai

Much has been written about Thailand’s struggle to learn the English language. Nearly every year there is hand-wringing over Thailand’s basement floor ranking in English acquisition among Southeast Asian countries. Thai Education Ministers from multiple ruling parties have long championed “education reform” as a top objective. Having taught at Thai universities for for two decades, […]

Aug 11
The Highest Thai Virtue: Harmony of Heart & Mind

To fully understand Thai culture and the Thai way of life, one must always keep “harmony” at the forefront of your thoughts. From face-saving culture and the avoidance of conflicts to the flexible nature of Thai time and art of being “greng jai,” the preservation of harmony is a driving force that shapes behavior in […]

Aug 09
Thailand Alternative Cancer Treatment Centers

Arokhayasala at Kham Pramong Temple in Sakon Nakhon is one of Thailand’s most prominent alternative cancer treatment centers. Established in 2004 by the Buddhist monk Pra Ajarn Paponpat Jiradhammo (who once cured himself of cancer), Arokhayasala is the first traditional Thai medicine hospital dedicated to treating cancer patients. It’s traditional approach is integrated with modern […]

Aug 08
The Thai Wai: It’s Spiritual & Cultural Meaning

If you live in Thailand, the traditional “wai” (ไหว้) greeting is a regular part of daily life. We wai so often, however, that it’s easy to lose sight of the greeting’s spiritual and cultural significance. And when that happens, we run the risk of making a casual, perfunctory wai — which potentially could offend the […]

Aug 05
Thai Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners in Thailand

Ask a Thai college student what job they want after graduation, and they often will say, “Mâi yàak bpen lôok jâang!” (ไม่อยากเป็นลูกจ้าง), which means, “I don’t want to be an employee.” This isn’t surprising considering that over 50% of Thais are self-employed, and over 65% of those who don’t have a job yet want to […]

Aug 05
The Best Thai Robusta Coffee – Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Previously we talked about how Tak province produces some of the best Robusta coffee in Thailand. A close competitor are the coffee growers in nearby Kanchanaburi province. These farmers, like those in Tak, are largely members of the Karen mountain tribe. In recent years, they have developed boutique coffee plantations in the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife […]

Aug 04
Learn How to Speak the Isaan Language Quickly

The Northeast of Thailand is called Isaan. It also is spelled Isan, Esan, or Esarn, as there is no single accepted way to transcribe Thai words into English. The official language of Isaan is Thai. However, the language commonly spoken among friends and family members is the Thai dialect also known as Isaan. This dialect […]

Aug 03
Buddhism and Christianity in Thailand – Religious Similarities

While Buddhism is the National Religion of Thailand, with 92.5% of the population identifying as Buddhists, the Christian religion has a strong (albeit small) presence in the Kingdom. There are close to a million Catholics and Protestants in Thailand (or 1.4% of the population), with Catholics making important contributions to Thai education, operating over 300 […]

Aug 02
How to Get Rid of Ants in Thailand

If you live in Thailand, you likely have had unwelcome ants in your home, especially on kitchen countertops and cabinets. During the rainy season, ants become even more plentiful as they escape their flooded nests in search of someplace dry, such as behind the ceilings or walls of a Thai house. The Best Ant Killer/Bait […]

Jul 31
What Does Khao Phansa Mean? Buddhist Lent Day in Thailand

Wan Khao Phansa (เข้าพรรษา) literally means “Rainy Season Entrance Day,” but colloquially it means Buddhist Lent Day. In Thailand, the 3 month Buddhist Lent period also is called Phak Fon (พักฝน), which means the “Rains Retreat,” because this is the time when Buddhist monks must stop taking pilgrimages and remain in a Thai temple until […]

Jul 30
Punctuality in Thailand – Why are Thais Late?

There is a common misconception that Thailand doesn’t take punctuality seriously, that it isn’t considered a Thai virtue (such as being greng jai is). While it is true that many Thai people are regularly late and seem to have a “flexible” view of time, punctuality long has been considered a virtue in Thailand and a […]