The Thai Ethnic Group

The Thai people number over a million. They have lived in inland South East Asia for generations, with the majority still living in Thailand but others in neighbouring countries. In a Vietnam travel package you are likely to meet the Thai as you travel around.

The Thai adopted wet rice cultivation centuries ago. The group has a saying ‘’muong phat lai lin’’ which translates into the process of digging channels and irrigating the land for rice growing. Once there was just a single crop of sticky rice each year; now there are two of ordinary rice. There are other crops produced, vegetables as well as cotton with weaving being an important subsidiary activity. You may well see woven products as you travel in Vietnam.

Ordinary rice is the main part of the diet, though sticky rice is still eaten. Chilli, salt, spices and herbs are used commonly with onions and fish and meat. Food is roasted, steamed, fried or boiled. The Thai people really enjoy hot and salty food rather than sweet and rich food.

The women wear colourful blouses, short with buttons used to make the shape of butterflies or spiders. They are shaped and worn with black skirts and silk belts. There are two main groups, White and Black Thais and there are slight differences between what the two groups wear; Black Thai women are famous for their shawls for example.

Thai men wear shorts and a belt, an open-collared shirt with pockets either side; the White Thai has an extra pocket.

The popular colours are black, white and red; at festivals, women will likely wear long black skirts and white blouses.

The groom goes to live with the bride’s family. Traditionally, marriage requires parental approval. The process involves the potential groom coming to live with the bride’s family for the family to assess him. At this point, a Black Thai bride begins to wear her hair in a bun. A groom may live with his bride’s family for anything up to 12 years.

A Thai woman gives birth in a seated position and will avoid certain foods for the following month.

Ancestor worship is very important to the Thai. Everyone who dies is subsequently sent offerings and their spirits are invited back to live in part of the house. So much revolves around traditional beliefs including the planning and building of a new house, with the aim of driving away bad luck.  There are specific festivals around the year with Tet extremely important as well as rituals involved in farming, from planting right around to harvest.

With the Thai having its own writing system, all its history and culture has been preserved in written form.

The flute is the most important instrument played by the Thai; their traditional dance which you may see when you are on a Vietnam holiday, is the Xoe. They enjoy singing and have several other ways to entertain themselves including tug of war, horse racing, boating, including competitions and archery.

Read more: Vietnam travel guide