• As it stands, upwards of 6 million patients from the United States

  • These days, travel agencies offer these medical tourism packages

Also, while they are excluded from the privileges which the cisgendered majority - those men and women born in male and female bodies - enjoy, then are not exposed to discrimination and violence.

Owing to this fact, as one moves further South, one begins to notice more and more Thai people of Middle Eastern origins as the majority in this division. This percentage of Thai with Arabic heritage, culture, and religious practices amounts to about 2.3%.

When all is said and done, it would be a real challenge for anyone to find a religion more open-armed and easy-going than Buddhism, and since it is the major religion of Thais, one can see the kind of lifestyle and level of acceptance to expect during a visit.

 

RELIGION IN THAILAND - A FACET OF ASIAN MULTICULTURALISM

01When thinking of going on a holiday to Thailand, one needs to take time out to study the local culture of the region to prevent the occurrence of culture shock. One of the first things one must know is that Thailand is multicultural, consisting of the Chinese-Thai who make up a large percentage of the total population, and the Indian-Thai as well, who are also quite large in number. The religious majority in Thailand are Buddhists who make up almost 95% of the population, but however, there is a notable Islamic presence as well amounting to about 4.6% of the nation's population and is concentrated in the Southern region of Thailand. These include places like Yala, Songkhla Chumphon, Pattani and Narathiwat which is as a probably so as a result of their closeness to Malaysia, a largely Islamic country.

03Another thing one has to know about this country is that apart from some tension in the south, tolerance is highly preached in Thai culture. While the religious majority may be of Theravada Buddhism, there is yet, little oppression of other religions that make up the minority. As opposed to the popular belief of foreigners, the Thai culture which preaches tolerance and understanding had spared it a lot from the political divide seen rampant in the West and in addition to that, Buddhism is quite liberal.

People who do not conform to the general notions of sexuality or gender identity, especially transsexuals, known in Thailand as "Katoey", are significantly less harassed say, on the streets of Bangkok, than they are in western places like New York or London.

02As one moves from the south, one begins to notice a more culturally integrated society. When it comes to Northern and Central Thailand for example, the Chinese New Year is celebrated every year and is equally taken as officially as the actual Thai New Year or any of the many other Buddhist holy days. Another festival of Chinese origins, the Lunar Festival, is celebrated throughout Thailand as well. With this occurrence, one can conclude that people of Chinese origins make up about 14% of the population of this area and these people are usually the third generation and upwards. The Thai cuisine has been integrated with several Indian dishes and it is not uncommon to see roti stalls in the streets of Chiang Mai or Bangkok.

04The Katoey are specially taken care of in Thai schools and many of these schools go to great lengths to ensure that the Katoey students are not made to feel less human than the others or subjected to bullying. They have the teachings of Buddhism, the dominant religion which frowns upon the oppression of any kind, to thank for that. The religion does not expressly encourage the oppression, elimination, enslavement or conversion of those of a different faith. Also, it does not say anything about Katoey or homosexual individuals being destined for hell, which in fact, is a concept not included in the Buddhist afterlife.

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