• Divided into 77 provinces or changwat, Thailand was known as Siam until 1939 (and again from 1945 to 1949); some academics suggest changing the name back again, to better reflect the country’s Thai and non-Thai diversity.

• The population of 63 million is made up of ethnic Thais (75 percent) and Chinese (14 percent), with the rest comprising mainly immigrants from neighbouring countries as well as hill-tribespeople.

• Buddhism is the national religion, Islam the largest minority religion, but nearly all Thais also practise some form of animism (spirit worship).

• Since 1932 the country has been a constitutional monarchy. King Bhumibol, also known as Rama IX (being the ninth ruler of the Chakri dynasty), is the world’s longest-ruling head of state, having been on the throne since 1946; the current prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, entered politics only six weeks before winning the general election in 2011 with an absolute majority.

• Thailand fell to 153rd out of 178 countries on Reporters without Borders’ index on press freedom in 2010, because of a surge in the use of the lese-majesty laws.

• The world record for nonstop kissing was set by two Thai men in Pattaya on Valentine’s Day, 2012, at a gobsmacking 50 hours, 25 minutes and 1 second.

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Thailand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand

Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand

Thailand is the quintessential backpacker destination. Here you can make the first footprints on secluded sands, dance shoeless under a full moon and swim benea…

15 Feb 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month