Explore your world
Sepak takraw | © eric molina / Flickr
Sepak takraw | © eric molina / Flickr

11 Inventions We Can Thank Thailand For

Picture of Iona Proebst
Updated: 29 September 2017

When you think of Thailand, you don’t immediately think of its inventions; however, there is a fair number of them for which we can thank the Land of Smiles. Curious to learn more? Read on to find out 11 Thai inventions, some of which are more popular than others.   

Red Bull energy drink

Chaleo Yoovidhya invented Red Bull, the world’s best-selling energy drink, in Thailand over 40 years ago. ‘Krating Daeng’ (red gaur) was the drinks original name and is where the drink’s slogan, ‘Red Bull gives you wings’, came from. The company was later sold and redeveloped to elevate the drink from a blue-collar favourite to a trendy international upscale beverage. In many countries, both versions are still available today.

Thai philosophy

Sufficiency economy philosophy (SEP) is a development approach coined by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The Thai Government put it to use, and development agencies in over 23,000 Thai villages and SEP-based projects remain in operation today.


SangSom is a local Thai rum distilled from sugarcane, and despite being available in roughly 20 countries, it is barely known outside of Thailand. The strong liquor has won three international awards, which it proudly boasts on its packaging.

Makruk Thai

Makruk is a traditional board game played in Thailand. It’s similar to chess and likely inspired by the 6th-century Indian game of chaturanga. In Thailand, a staggering two million Thais can play makruk Thai, which is more strategic than conventional chess and can be equated to an anticipated endgame of international chess.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, also known as Thai boxing and invented hundreds of years ago, has become famous around the world as a close-combat martial art. Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport.

Pok Deng

You’ll be forgiven for not knowing this one. Pok Deng is a local Thai card gambling game, which is also sometimes known as Pok Kao. It’s an intriguing game to watch as the players outdo each other.

The tuk-tuk

The iconic tuk-tuk is a two-stroke, three-wheeled auto-rickshaw that runs on LPG. No trip to Thailand is complete without a ride in this fast and fun transportation option. The tuk-tuk has also become one of the most recognised symbols of Thailand.

The polyethene prosthetic leg

Thailand is exceedingly proud of the invention of the polyethene prosthetic leg. The inventor, Dr Therdchai Jivacate who is an orthopaedic surgeon, has enabled high-quality prosthetic limbs to be available at a low cost.

Sepak takraw (cane ball)

Sepak takraw, or cane ball, is a popular sport in most parts of Southeast Asia. The game, which people play all throughout Thailand, is a fun one for all ages. This game differs from other similar sports in that participants can only make contact with the ball using their feet, knees, chest and head.

An operating table for elephants

What a fantastic invention! Thais invented an operating table that would be comfortable for both the friendly giants and the surgeons. The operating table is fixed to a pulley-system so that the surgeon can operate without causing harm to the elephant, which is the national animal of Thailand.

Thai units of measurement

Thailand adopted the metric system in 2013; however, traditional Thai units of measurement are still used, particularly when measuring land. The baht is not only the national currency, but it is also the unit of measurement for gold trading.