• Nepal!

    Nepal: Phewa Lake. Go Now!

    This landlocked country mixes the cultures of the Indian sub-continent with the high Himalayas. Explore Nepal!

  • Japan!

    Japan: Traditional foods. Go Now!

    Japan has a rich culture that is visible today in the country's dress, architecture, language, food (pictured), and lifestyle. Begin Your Journey!

  • Bahrain!

    Bahrain: Desert. Go Now!

    This tiny country has overcome the desert and has found a way to thrive, like this tree on al Jazair Beach. Explore Bahrain!

  • Laos!

    Laos: Karst peak. Go Now!

    The simplicity and natural beauty of the countryside make Laos a hidden gem in Southeast Asia overlooked by most travelers. Begin Your Journey!

  • Tajikistan!

    Tajikistan: A yurt in the mountains. Go Now!

    The high mountains have mysteries around every turn, including yurts (pictured), a home for the nomadic people. Go Now!

Architecture of Thailand

Thai Architecture - River Housing
River Housing

Thailand's architectural history is somewhat short since few early buildings have survived to the present. Of these early buildings, most were small temples or houses. Most of these early constructions were built from wood and have no lasted to the present. The houses, especially in the south along the coasts were generally built on stilts and had large windows or openings to maintain a cool temperature.

Due to this lack of early architecture, for the traveler, Thailand's architectural history doesn't truly begin until the 1200s with the construction the city of Ayutthaya. The architecture from this city influenced nearly all later Thai architecture, most particularly the stupas (funerary monuments) and other Buddhist monuments.

Thai Architecture - Wat Pho
Wat Pho

The stupas in Ayutthaya are what is commonly associated with Thai architecture today as the bell-shaped stupas are circular and stretch into the sky. This complex consists of numerous stupas and other buildings that serve the capital city at the time. Nearly all of the buildings here were made from bricks and plaster, a tradition that continued on in later buildings throughout the country.

Shortly after Ayutthaya rose to prominence, so too did Chaing Mai, which took much of their architecture from Ayutthaya, but continued the development of the style through the 1400s and beyond. Among the numerous architectural wonders in Chaing Mai, the Wat Chet Yot is among the most impressive.

Thai Architecture - Grand Palace in Bangkok
Grand Palace in Bangkok

Bangkok also rose in influence during this time and again took the examples from Ayutthaya, but was also influenced heavily by Angkor (in modern day Cambodia). Wat Pho is a great example of these influences.

In the 1700s the capital was moved to Bangkok and the art was heavily influenced by the Burmese after they had taken over the region in the same century. This led to a slight alteration on shapes and constructions, but also to a vast influence in the form of inlayed and gilded ornamentation. This is best seen when one compares the architecture of Ayutthaya to the buildings of Bangkok built during this time, such as Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace. Also during this time construction was primarily shifted from stone work to wood.

Thai Architecture - Grand Palace in Bangkok
Grand Palace in Bangkok

As Bangkok grew so did their foreign population as numerous Chinese arrived and after the 1500s so too did a limited number of Europeans. This led to an increasing number of Chinese-styled or Chinese-inspired buildings as well as a limited number of European buildings (although Thailand was never colonized, so these buildings are severely limited in number).

In the 1900s and 2000s there has been a shift in architecture to modern buildings, using modern techniques, such as concrete and more glass. Due to this new technology, nearly every city has modern houses and commercial buildings, resembling any other major city in the world; this is most noticeably in the capital of Bangkok.

This page was last updated: May, 2014