Most visitors to Thailand will end up falling in love with the local culture. The people of Thailand love to have fun, which they call sanuk, and they have a very laid back approach to life - this is summed up by one of the most popular sayings 'mai pen rai', which basically means 'no problem'. About 95% of the population of Thailand is Buddhist, and this has had a huge impact on their approach to life.
History of Thailand
There is evidence of people having lived in the area now called Thailand for at least the last 40,000 years. For most of its history, Thailand was known as Siam - although Siam did not include all of the area that is in modern-day Thailand. The Tai people arrived around the 10th Century from Southern China, and they created the country that has become modern Thailand. Unlike all the bordering countries in South East Asia, Thailand was never colonised by a European power. This is mostly because the former kings of Siam knew the art of diplomacy and they were skilful at playing one European power off another. Buddhism is believed to have arrived in Thailand around the sixth century AD.
Respect in Thailand
The people of Thailand are usually very tolerant and laid back, but it is not okay to make any disparaging remarks about the Royal Family. It is also not acceptable to be rude about Buddhism - in fact, it is not acceptable in Thailand to be critical about any religion including your own religion. Thai people are very non-confrontational, but this attitude changes if they are made to lose face. It is not okay to shout at people or to be rude to them.