What Was Thailand Called in Ancient Times?

Thailand, also known as the Kingdom of Thailand, is a Southeast Asian country that has a rich history and culture. But what was it called in ancient times? Let’s delve into the past and uncover the answers.


Thailand’s pre-history dates back to more than 5,000 years ago when various tribes migrated to the region. These tribes include the Mon-Khmer, Malay, and Tai peoples. However, there is no recorded name for what Thailand was called during this period.

Ancient Times: Funan and Chenla Kingdoms

From the 1st to 9th centuries AD, two kingdoms existed in Southeast Asia that had a profound impact on Thailand’s history. These were Funan and Chenla.

Funan was located in present-day Cambodia but its influence extended to parts of Thailand. Chenla, on the other hand, was a successor state of Funan.

During this period, Thailand was referred to as “Siam” by foreigners such as traders from China and Persia who visited the region. The origin of the name “Siam” is unclear but it may have derived from Sanskrit or Pali words.

Sukhothai Period: The Birth of Thai Nation

In the 13th century AD, a new kingdom emerged in what is now northern Thailand – Sukhothai. It marked a significant turning point in Thai history as it paved the way for the birth of the Thai nation.

During this period, Thailand was referred to as “Sukhothai” which means “Dawn of Happiness” or “Rising Happiness”. The kingdom flourished under King Ramkhamhaeng who is credited with creating the Thai alphabet and promoting Buddhism.

Ayutthaya Period: Golden Age of Siam

The 14th to 18th centuries AD saw the rise of another powerful kingdom in Thailand – Ayutthaya. It became one of the wealthiest and most influential kingdoms in Southeast Asia, with a sophisticated bureaucracy, a powerful military, and a thriving trade network.

During this period, Thailand was referred to as “Ayutthaya” or “Siam”. The latter name was used by foreigners, particularly Europeans who established trading relations with the kingdom.

Modern Times: Name Change

In 1939, the Thai government officially changed the country’s name from “Siam” to “Thailand”, which means “Land of the Free”. The change was made to reflect the country’s national identity and sovereignty.

Today, Thailand is known as the Kingdom of Thailand and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, rich cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine.


In conclusion, Thailand has gone through various names throughout its history. From being unnamed in pre-history to being referred to as “Siam” during ancient times and later becoming Sukhothai and Ayutthaya during their respective periods. However, it’s important to note that despite all these changes in names over time – one thing remains constant – Thailand’s rich history and culture which continue to fascinate people from all over the world.