What Is Considered Tall in Thailand?

I remember one day in a busy 7-Eleven in Thailand, I looked around and I noticed I was clearly the tallest person in the whole store. I’m 5’9″ (175 cm), which is only average height for men in America, so this was surprising.

But sure enough, many more such moments would follow during my life in Thailand. Today, I’d like to discuss this topic some more, and provide some context about height in Thailand.

The average height in Thailand is 171 cm (5’7″) for men and 159 cm (5’3″) for women. If you’re above 6 feet (183 cm), you’re taller than ~99% of Thai people. Even an average American man at 5’9″ (175 cm) is taller than ~88% of Thai people.

Below, I’ll share height comparison tables, so you can see how you compare to Thai people. I’ll also discuss the reasons why Thai people are somewhat short on average, and why Thai people are getting taller in more recent generations.

Average Height in Thailand

The average man in Thailand is 5’7″ tall (171 cm), and the average woman is 5’3″ (159 cm). (source)

Here are some comparisons to put that into context:

  • On average, Thai men are 6 cm (2.4″) shorter than men from the U.S., 7 cm (2.8″) shorter than men from Canada and the U.K., and 8 cm (3.1″) shorter than men from Australia.
  • On average, Thai women are 4 cm (1.6″) shorter than women from the U.S., 5 cm (2.0″) shorter than women from the U.K., and 6 cm (2.4″) shorter than women from Canada and Australia.

We’ll look at how Thailand compares to other Asian countries for height below. But next, let’s look at the distribution of different heights in Thailand.

Height Comparison Tables

Have you wondered how your height would compare to Thai men and women? Well, you can use the following two tables to check.

(Note: These tables assume you’re comparing your height to an adult around 30 years old.)

First, let’s see how your height compares to Thai men:

Your HeightYou Are Taller Than ____% of Thai Men.
4’10” (147 cm)~0%
4’11” (150 cm)0.1%
5’0″ (152 cm)0.4%
5’1″ (155 cm)1%
5’2″ (157 cm)3%
5’3″ (160 cm)6%
5’4″ (163 cm)13%
5’5″ (165 cm)22%
5’6″ (168 cm)35%
5’7″ (170 cm)49%
5’8″ (173 cm)64%
5’9″ (175 cm)77%
5’10” (178 cm)87%
5’11” (180 cm)93%
6’0″ (183 cm)97%
6’1″ (185 cm)99%
6’2″ (188 cm)99.5%
6’3″ (191 cm)99.9%
6’4″+ (193+ cm)~100%
How does your height compare to Thai men? (source)

Now, let’s take a look at how your height compares to Thai women:

Your HeightYou Are Taller Than ____% of Thai Women.
4’6″ (137 cm)~0%
4’7″ (140 cm)0.1%
4’8″ (142 cm)0.3%
4’9″ (145 cm)1%
4’10” (147 cm)3%
4’11” (150 cm)7%
5’0″ (152 cm)14%
5’1″ (155 cm)25%
5’2″ (157 cm)40%
5’3″ (160 cm)57%
5’4″ (163 cm)72%
5’5″ (165 cm)84%
5’6″ (168 cm)92%
5’7″ (170 cm)97%
5’8″ (173 cm)99%
5’9″ (175 cm)99.6%
5’10” (178 cm)99.9%
5’11″+ (180+ cm)~100%
How does your height compare to Thai women? (source)

Visiting Thailand as a Tall Foreigner

Here’s a bit of my personal experience as an American guy in Thailand. I’m 5’9″, so I’m basically average height for a man in America—but I’m “tall” for Thailand.

This has led to a few interesting things:

  • I’ve found myself in many situations where I am clearly, visibly the tallest person in the room (or elevator, etc), even when there are 5 or 10 people. This rarely ever happened back in America.
  • Occasionally, Thai people (usually women) tell me I am “so tall.”
  • I learned at some point that 99.6% of biological Thai women are shorter than me. Therefore, I learned when I see a female-presenting person who’s taller than me, there’s a very high chance she is transgender (i.e., a “ladyboy”).

So, if you’re an average or “tall” westerner coming to Thailand, you’ll probably have some similar experiences. But if you’re wondering how Thai people will treat you, I wouldn’t be worried about it at all.

First, many areas in Thailand are swarmed with tourists and other foreigners. So even if you’re very tall compared to most Thai people, it’s not like they’ve never seen tall foreigners. They’re generally used to it.

Secondly, as with most places in the world, being tall is generally attractive in Thailand. And when it comes to dating, most women would like a taller guy. So, to the extent that your height sticks out, it’s usually a good thing.

Why Are Thai People Short?

The two biggest factors that determine height are genetics and nutrition. It is believed that genetics determine 60% to 80% of your height, while nutrition determines the other 20% to 40%. (source)

So, how do these factors explain the height of Thai people?

Well, it’s been suggested in Discover Magazine that Asian populations may be shorter due to a gene called HMGA2. The “short” allele of this gene appears to be more common in East Asian populations, compared to Europe and Africa.

So that may explain at least part of the genetic component. And you can dig more into these discussions if you’re interested. I found this Stanford article about why evolution favored shorter bones in some populations.

But the nutrition also seems to play a big role—and we can see this impact in the way that Thai heights are actually changing in recent years.

Are Thai People Getting Taller?

Thai people are getting taller in recent decades, and this is actually confirmed by government sources.

In recent years, official height standards for Thai children, men, and women had to be increased by the Thai government. This is because today’s generations are growing taller than the previous standards. (source)

However, this is not a trend unique to Thailand. As I wrote about before, Japan, South Korea, and many other countries have seen major increases in height over the last century.

As research has suggested, the reason likely has to do with many Thai people rising out of poverty. This has improved nutrition for pregnant Thai women and Thai children, causing faster bone growth in babies and children.

The Tallest Thai People

Obviously some Thai people are much, much taller than the reported averages above. So, who are some of the famous, tall Thais?

Currently, DJ Matoom is the tallest actor in Thailand at 6’4″ (193 cm). God Itthipat, Tanin Manoonsil, and Krating Khunnarong are other tall Thai actors, each at 6’3″ (190 cm).

Thailand was also home to one of the tallest humans who has ever lived. Pornchai Saosri was supposedly 269 cm (8’10”) tall. His official height was disputed, but he was definitely over 8 feet tall, anyway, so… really tall guy. (source)

Height in Thailand vs Other East Asian Countries

Now let’s take a look at how Thailand fits in with other Asian countries for height. Here’s a table showing many of the countries covered on this site:

CountryFemale Avg. HeightMale Avg. Height
Cambodia5’1″ (154 cm)5’5″ (165 cm)
China5’4″ (163 cm)5’9″ (175 cm)
Indonesia5’1″ (154 cm)5’5″ (166 cm)
Japan5’2″ (158 cm)5’8″ (172 cm)
Malaysia5’2″ (157 cm)5’6″ (168 cm)
Philippines5’1″ (154 cm)5’5″ (165 cm)
Singapore5’3″ (161 cm)5’8″ (173 cm)
South Korea5’4″ (163 cm)5’9″ (175 cm)
Taiwan5’3″ (160 cm)5’8″ (173 cm)
Thailand5’3″ (159 cm)5’7″ (171 cm)
Vietnam5’2″ (158 cm)5’6″ (168 cm)

As you can see, the shortest Asian countries here are Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Meanwhile, the tallest Asian countries are South Korea and China.

Thailand fits in somewhere in the middle, but a bit closer to the tall end of the spectrum. Thailand has very similar average heights as Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

So, if you really want to stand out as being very tall compared to locals, you’d probably notice an even bigger effect in Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, even more than in Thailand.