Around 95% of Thais are Theravada Buddhist with a small number of Muslims and very small numbers of a diverse range of religions. The Government very much approves of Thailand’s main religion and monks have both benefits and free transportation. That does not mean there is an official Thai religion and religious tolerance is practised. Traditional beliefs play a large part in Buddhism and life in general. Those on Thailand travel itineraries will see this as they move around the country on a Thailand holiday.
Families often have a miniature house, known as a spirit house, outside their homes and leave food and drink there to ensure the spirits are happy. Wooden spirit houses are also built in public places allowing people to make donations as they see fit.
Before the growth of Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism and Indian influences, Brahman, were common and even today they influence Thai folklore. Every Thailand tour package includes significant religious sites across the country so tourists will learn plenty as they enjoy their holiday.
Within the country there is a significant Chinese population who follow their own folklore religions, including Taoism and the numbers turning from Buddhism are growing. That said, many Chinese are Buddhist as well as following their own traditions. Islam is largely in the southern provinces, some being ethnic Malay.
Tourists cannot fail to see the symbols of Buddhism, golden stupas that often dominate the skyline. In that way, the architecture of Thailand is the same as other South East Asia countries as those on Indochina Tour packages will see as they travel around. In the most part the architecture is stunning and the real highlight of holidaying in Thailand.
Chinese traditional religions
The numbers following these religions do not appear in the national statistics; they will be regarded as Buddhist by and large.
There are around 7,00 churches and plenty of followers though they have no state recognition.
The major Chinese Festivals are celebrated such as the Nian, Zhongqiu, and Qingming. In Phuket, there is a nine-day vegetarian festival in honourof TuaPek Kong in September or October each year.
Thai traditional religions
The Isan worship local gods and their ancestors. Other smaller groups do likewise; there are many remote parts, especially in the north.
Thais of Indian origin are Hindu; they mostly live in towns and cities. During the Khmer Empire Hinduism was important and some non-Indians have retained their beliefs. Some Brahmins still exist and there are some Hindu shrines in the Country.
It is thought that around 4 million Thais are Muslim, two thirds of whom are ethically Malay though there are small numbers fromChina, Pakistan, Cambodia, Bangladeshand Indonesia. They live mostly in the south of the Country with the Malays now linguistically Thai.
Thiswas introduced by missionaries in the 16th Century, usually Portuguese hence Roman Catholicism is primary though other strands exist. The total is below 1% of the total population. Likewise, the number of Jews is small, around 1,000 and living mostly certainly in Bangkok and Phuket. Their originals are various including some from the Soviet Union.
The Sikh community has grown and there is a replica of the Golden Temple in Amritsar in India’s Punjab in Bangkok. Most Sikhs are in urban retail commerce.
There are very small groups following different religions; they are tolerated without the government taking must notice of their activities. Thailand travel packages will include many things related to religion and depending on the time of travel, possibly religious festivals, Buddhist or otherwise that will certainly be memorable.