PHLENG CHAT – the National Anthem
Every day at 8 in the morning and 6 in the evening, the Thai national anthem plays on each and every radio, television and public loud speakers in parks, train stations, basically all over the country. Thailand’s flag is being raised or lowered alongside and people stop whatever they are doing, as if this custom of showing respect to the nation and the king was enshrined in law. Schools and government offices have their own flags to raise while singing the national anthem.
An unusual sight for Europeans, but totally normal for Thai people.
Video 1: old town of Phuket during the Phleng Chat
Video 2: an homage to Thailand and it’s anthem
Phleng Chat was created through a series of competitions. The lyrics were adjusted and changed after holding competitions in both 1934 and 1939, and the country’s name also changed from Siam to Thailand in 1939, which was reflected in the newer lyrics. Like most national anthems, Phleng Chat contains nationalist lyrics, praising Thailand’s independence and vowing to give their all to protect it. With new lyrics, the prime minister also decreed that the anthem should be played twice daily, at 8am and 6pm, alongside the raising and lowering of the Thai flag, to remind all of the beauty of Thailand.
Meaning and respect
There are three translations of this song. However, the version below has become the most widely used and popular among translators.
/bprà-tâde tai ruam lûead núea châad chúea tai/
Thailand unites the flesh and blood of all the Thais,
/bpen bprà-chaa-rát, pà-tai kăwng tai túk sùan/
The land of Thailand belongs to all the Thais,
/yùu dam-rong kong wái dâai táng muan,
Their sovereignty has always long endured,
/dûai tai lúan măai rák săa-mák-kii/
For the Thais seek love and also unity,
/tai níi rák sà-ngòp, dtàe tŭeng róp mâi klàat/
Thais love peace, but if we have to fight the war, we don’t fear.
/àke-kà-ráat jà mâi-hâi krai kòm-kìi/
We don’t let anyone take away our freedom
/sà-là lûeat túk yàat bpen châat plii/
The Thais give up every drop of blood,
เถลิงประเทศชาติไทยทวี มีชัย ชโย
/tà-lĕrng bprà-tâde châad tai tá-wii mii chai chá-yoo/
Long last the nation’s pride and victory, HOORAY!
Respecting the national anthem is necessary, quite simple and polite, especially when traveling through Thailand. Sitting down is a no-go, as is walking or carrying on a conversation with people around. Instead, stand up straight with arms at the sides and wait it out — it’s not a long anthem.
Likewise, when at the cinema, before the movie starts, it is instructed to rise to respect the royal anthem, which is usually accompanied by a slideshow of pictures of King Rama X and his late father, Rama IX. In any case, there is no kicking out or arrested for failing to observe the anthems, whatsoever.
Dackweiler, W. (n.d.). Die Thailandseiten – Nationalhymne Thailand. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.songkran.eu/Nationalhymne-Thailand.htm
The History & Lyrics of the Thai National Anthem. (2015, July 16). Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.thethailandlife.com/interesting-history-thai-national-anthem
Thai National Anthem. (2020, August 07). Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thai_National_Anthem
Thailand’s music festivals
Thailand is home of numerous music festivals. Some originate from Thai culture or Buddhist religion; others are purely to enjoy Thai (or Western) music and art.
Thailand‘s hospitality makes it ready to receive festival-lovers from all over the world with its numerous line-up of parties. The festival culture holds a repertoire of hipster retreats that sing of wellness, art, culture and music to all-out, techno and EDM raves, and religious impacted water parties, Thailand has a lot to offer, regardless of what your festival heart desires.
The Full Moon Party undoubtedly ranks among the world’s most famous parties. Known mainly for its New Year’s Eve event, the Full Moon Party is also held every month at full moon, a trend that is truly one of a kind. The festivity is endless, continuing till sunrise and it is widely attended by foreigners, who sometimes visit Thailand with the sole purpose of partying here. Music, lights and alcohol are all free-flowing, seconded only by the feel-good vibes created by the beach setting of the festival. Music ranges from reggae to trance and bass by local as well as international DJs.
Location: Haad Rin Beach, Ko Pha-ngan
Dates: Every month
Songkran water festival
Songkran, informally called “the Thailand water festival,” is an annual festivity marking the start of the traditional Thai New Year. Songkran is the largest celebration in Thailand and is also known to be the wildest water fight in the world.
The Thai water festival is a religious festival, which is about cleaning, purification, and having a fresh start. Houses are cleaned; Buddha statues are carried through the streets in a procession to be washed with flower-scented water. In places such as Chiang Mai, you’ll get to enjoy seeing a long parade of Buddha statues carried through the gate. Although the true Songkran tradition is to sprinkle water on people, travellers and locals alike use water cannons and buckets to take the “blessings” to another level! Dousing or sprinkling people with water signifies the washing away of bad thoughts and actions.
It brings good luck in the New Year.
Location: all over Thailand
Date: 13. April
The Big Mountain Music Festival is a huge two-day music festival, that holds the title of being South-East Asia’s largest outdoor event. It is a big event, spanning over nine stages and 200 performances ranging from Thai folk music to urbane EDM and rock music. The music festival strives to encourage more and more national talent and local heritage, which is why Thai artists make up most of the line-up. Breath-taking mountains in the backgrounds of the festival, are adding to the magic of this energetic party.
So, whatever floats your boat, Thailand has the right festival for you. From the famous Full Moon Party, which you can only experience in Ko- Pha-ngan, to a traditional, cultural and religious festival such as Songkran, to SEA’s largest outdoor party event, Thailand has got you covered.
BIG MOUNTAIN MUSIC FESTIVAL. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2020, from http://www.bigmountainmusicfestival.com/en/home-bmmf/
Dave. (2020, March 02). The 13 BEST Music Festivals in Thailand To Experience This Year . Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.jonesaroundtheworld.com/music-festivals-thailand/
Full Moon Party. (2020, October 12). Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_Moon_Party
Krung Thep Maha Nakhon – Bangkok’s real name
Watch this video and try to sing along!
Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit.
กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบูรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์ .
Okay, if you are not Thai, you will probably be quite challenged by this (as me). You might even be wondering, what am I singing here?
This song, which has more than 168 letters, is actually Bangkok’s full ceremonial name.
Krung Thep – City of Angels
Thailand’s capital and most populous. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (กรุงเทพมหานคร) or simply Krung Thep. The word Bangkok comes from the old name Baang-gòok. It is a beloved city for many Thais and tourists alike, for its food, culture and of course, music.
Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Rama I – the first King of Chakri Dynasty) first named the city in 1782, but the full ceremonial name came into use during the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV). The full ceremonial name, composed of Pali and Sanskrit root words, translates roughly as:
The great city of angels, it’s where the immortal divinity dwells, the invincible city, the royal capital endowed with nine precious jewels and full of joy, it is abundant with enormous royal palaces, it’s where the reincarnated angels reside, at the order of Inrda, Vishvakarma majestically built the capital.
- guinness world record: The name is listed in Guinness World Records as the world’s longest place name, at 168 letters.
- religion: The meaning of the name implies the Thai believe in Buddhism, Hinduist gods and reincarnation.
Thailand’s capital has the longest name of a capital recorded by the World Guinness Book of Records. The full ceremonial name is an homage to this beautiful city, although, it is being shortened by Thai people to ‘Krung Thep’ which means city of angels.
So, next time you meet a Thai person or are in Thailand yourself, say Krung Thep instead of Bangkok. You will impress your counterpart with insight and cultural sensitivity.
History of Bangkok. (2020, October 17). Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Bangkok
Mike. (2016, May 15). The full name of Bangkok. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.into-asia.com/bangkok/introduction/fullname.php