Thailand’s culture is strongly influenced by Buddhism. There are splendid temples in all major cities. The oldest preserved remains of Thai architecture from Dvaravati period from approximately AD 500 to 1000. In the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, you can see the remains of impressive buildings in stone. Art and architecture from this period was influenced by the kingdoms of Cambodia, Burma and Sumatra. It was only with the Chiang Mai-style from the year 1000 onwards, the country developed its own artistic expression.
Almost all older buildings have a religious function and is richly decorated with one or more Buddha statues. The statues closely follows the description of the Buddha found in sanskritdigtningen – ‘legs like a deer, chin like a mango kernel, hair like scorpion sting’. Also the classical arts was linked to religion – there was only at the end of the 1800s, the more popular designs got space in painting.
The Thai literature occurred in the 1200s, and from that time comes several poems, often based on Buddhist legends. Prose work Thraiphum Phraruang from 1345 is probably written by King Lithai and describes the inner world, the earth, the sky and a utopian future world. It has had a major influence on Thai worldview.
The first modern writer was national poet Sunthon Phu, in the first half of 1800 were read and appreciated both at court and in the part of the public who could read. The Thai novel originated in the early 1900s.
An important feature of Thai everyday culture is the cult of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his family, who enjoys great respect in the population. Their portraits are often in private homes, and sent half an hour on the royal family on television every day.
- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Thailand due to the threat of terrorist attack, particularly in the provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla, where we advise you not to travel. For more information on the threat of terrorist attack in Thailand, including in Bangkok, see under Safety and Security: Terrorism.
- Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- Large scale political demonstrations and related incidents in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand have occurred in recent years. You should avoid protests and political rallies, and any security deployments associated with such events.
- Carefully consider your safety and the implications of accidents if you hire a motorcycle or jet ski and seek advice on any restrictions that may apply (such as insurance cover if you are not licensed to ride a motorcycle in Australia). You should check with your travel insurer whether these activities are covered by your policy. You may be detained and arrested by police following jet ski and motorcycle accidents until compensation, often in thousands of dollars, can be negotiated between parties.
- Australian travellers continue to report harassment and threats of violence by jet ski operators on beaches across Thailand, and particularly in Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.
- Tourists may be exposed to scams and more serious criminal activity in Thailand. Be aware that food and drink spiking occurs in Thailand, including around popular backpacker destinations such as Khao San Road in Bangkok the night-time entertainment zones in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, and during the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan.
- Travellers planning to attend Full Moon parties at Koh Phangan or other locations should carefully consider personal safety issues and take appropriate precautions. See our Partying Overseas page for advice on the risks you may face when attending Full Moon parties and tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.
- Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty. The possession of even small quantities of “soft drugs” for recreational purposes can result in lengthy jail sentences.
- We strongly advise you not to travel at this time to the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla or overland to and from the Malaysian border through these provinces due to high levels of ongoing violence in these regions, including terrorist attacks and bombings that result in deaths and injuries on an almost daily basis.
- We advise you to exercise particular caution in the areas surrounding the Preah Vihear Temple (known as Khao Pra Viharn temple in Thailand) and the Ta Kwai and Ta Muen Thom temples, all on the Thailand-Cambodia border, due to the presence of unexploded ordnance. There was renewed fighting in the area in early 2011 and there continues to be a military presence in these areas.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy. Remember that if you cannot afford travel insurance you cannot afford to travel to Thailand.
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it’s reissued.