The Top Ten Most Famous People in Thailand
Thailand’s ever-unfolding history often includes the ever-familiar topics of huge social divides, ongoing rapid technological development, constant governmental policy and information changes, regular military coups, money, food – and entertainment.
Through it all, various notable (and not-so-notable) Thais constantly rise to the surface of events and come and go from the spotlight for a variety of reasons. This is a media-loving country where gossip is often more important than facts and social media rules.
Various Thais appear as guiding beacons of inspiration for the masses, while others become famous for different reasons entirely. Either way, famous people in Thailand go some way towards shaping the kingdom’s social, political, and economical landscapes, together writing the next unfolding dramas and events in Thailand.
Ask any Thai who the most famous people are currently in their country and the answers may vary somewhat according to age. There are, however, definitely a few faces that pretty much every Thai would at least of heard of when sucking up their daily, if not 24-hour ingestion of social media.
So let’s have a look at the current crop of ten most famous people in Thailand, in no particular order.
Lalisa Manobal, otherwise known as Lisa Blackpink, is a 27-year-old performer with the all-girl group Blackpink from South Korea. The group is highly popular in Thailand with boys and girls alike, and Lisa decided to shoot for a solo career as well in 2021 by releasing an album (Lalisa).
To give you some idea of her popularity in Asia, her album sold over 700,000 in its first week of release, and the accompanying music video for one of the tracks received over 70 million views on YouTube in first 24 hours after being released.
These record-breaking figures make her one of the most famous people in Thailand ever, and she can’t seem to do anything these days without it being featured in the media.
Tatchakorn Yeerum (Tony Ja)
Best known in Thailand as Jaa Phanom, Tony Ja is now an internationally renowned action star. He rose to fame in the Thai action epic ‘Ong Bak’, and it wasn’t long after that his traditional-style, acrobatic action martial arts skills were gaining attention in Hollywood circles.
In his time the actor has also been his own choreographer and stuntman, as well as a director and a Buddhist monk. Born in the north-eastern province of Surin, the young Tatchakorn was inspired by the films of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li, and began training in Muay Thai and Taekwondo when he was 10 years old. He is widely-regarded today as one of the most famous people from Thailand in international action movies.
Aum Pachrapa Chaichua is a well-established Thai actress and model whose popularity doesn’t seem to have faded in more than a decade in the limelight.
Aum first appeared in 1997 by winning a renowned beauty talent contest called HACKS. It was all good after that, and she has picked up various roles, acting accolades, and modelling assignments that continue to mount up.
Patchrapa was once voted as FHM Thailand’s sexiest woman for three years running, between 2004 and 2006, and she continues to develop various business interests and outlets such as restaurants and an accessory shop. Aum launched her own brand of perfume in 2009 which was notable in that it was the first Thai celebrity perfume to be made in France.
‘Chompoo’ (meaning pink in the Thai language) is formally known as Araya Alberta Hargate, a Thai actress and model of mixed British and Laos descent. She is well-established in Thailand and her talents and look have stood the test of time, allowing her to become a popular actress, model, and TV personality.
Similarly to Aum, she also found fame – at just 16 — after winning a ‘Miss Motor Show Contest’, and se soon became a household name after featuring almost constantly in the popular Thai series’ known as lakorns. She started when she was just 17 and continues to take roles in these Thai TV dramas.
As a side line from acting and modelling, Chompoo is also known as a singer with many music videos behind her. She has received numerous awards and accolades, including ‘ FHM Sexiest Actress’ regularly between 2007 and 2010. She has also won a fair few acting awards and continues to appear as the face of various hi-profile modelling campaigns for brands such as L’Oreal Paris. These days she is also married with two sons, but is still very much in the spotlight.
Former military General Prayut O-Chana has served as the Thai Prime Minister since 2014. This somewhat bizarre turn of events came about as the result of one of Thailand’s many coup d’états.
The general took over as prime minister with the support of the military and the monarchy after a particularly tumultuous period in Thai politics. He is by no means famous for his popularity, rather for some of the things that he quotes publicly, often seemingly without any prior thought whatsoever.
The military-style tactics of the now politician have seen him develop a tight system of information control, never being shy to hint of a relentless regime of terror on anyone raising criticism, particularly the media. Apparently more than 20 journalists and bloggers had left the country and fled abroad in his first year of government.
Self-censorship retains a stronghold in Thailand with the mainstream media constantly being guided towards singing the praises of Prayut’s policies, none of which seem to have gone down even remotely well with the general population, and a media company deemed as ‘opposition’ was famously banned from reporting during the 2019 ‘election’.
During press conferences the Thai head honcho has been known to do or say such bizarre things as spraying journalists with hand sanitiser to halt their questions, and replying “We’ll probably just execute them,” when asked about the fate of any journalists who unwittingly or otherwise failed to toe the line. More recently he addressed an educational committee and stated the importance of Thais learning to swim, reasoning that ‘if they drowned, they would die’.
Dhanin Chearavanont is the founder and senior chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group – better known in Thailand as CP, a huge food conglomerate and also one of the world’s largest producers of animal feed and livestock.
Dhanin’s father started out with a shop selling Chinese-imported seeds in the 1920s, but these days CP’s assets are numerous and include stakes in Chinese insurance as well as other concerns across the globe. These days though Dhanin is one of Thailand’s richest men, and if nothing else that is enough to make him one of the most famous people in the country.
The CP group is involved in various business aspects related to aquaculture, animal feed, animal breeding, food processing, restaurants, retail, and technology. It now has a presence in around 20 countries, and is also behind most of the supermarkets in Thailand, not to mention the 7-Elevens.
Mai Davika, formally known as Davika Hoorne, is an actress and model of Thai and Belgian descent. She first appeared in 2010 in a prominent role in a popular Thai TV series, and soon rose to wider fame by starring in various home-grown movies.
Her fame was cemented when she took the female lead role in Thailand’s highest grossing film of all time, ‘Pee Mak’. She has since then undertaken various projects which have done no harm whatsoever to her status, including a music video collaboration with Korean singer Ali.
Mai has on occasion been dubbed the “Queen of Presenters” and is currently one of the most in-demand Thai actresses. She is a popular face of cosmetic and magazine companies and regularly features in local and international advertisements.
Hip Hop has become quite the thing in Thailand among the younger generations. The ‘Thai’ version of hip hop has at least gained popularity in recent years due to its use in advertisements and other media channels. And because of rappers like Yang Ohm.
Yang Ohm is very well known among the younger echelons of Thai society stretching into the 20 and 30-somethings. Yang Ohm’s fame rode the back of a number of huge hits and an appearance in a 2018 SEIKO advertisement for a street-style watch which came with an accompanying music video. Media and music stars come and go but right now Yang Ohm is the name on many Thai lips.
Bird Thongchai has been one of Thailand’s best-known ‘superstars’ for as long as anyone currently around can remember. Formally known as Thongchai McIntyre (and the surname is actually Scottish), the Thai singer and actor of mixed parentage (including Scottish), is everyone’s older sister’s or aunties favourite.
Bird is statistically one of the country’s most successful singers to date having previously sold ns of millions of albums made in a traditional Thai ‘luk tung’ style as well as some more modern-sounding Thai pop. Thongchai’s face is well known from commercials, TV shows, musicals, and films.
Nadech’s face has been regularly cropping up in Thai TV shows, films, and advertisements for more than a decade. His career began modelling at the age of seventeen, but he had already debuted in a leading role in a Thai TV drama in 2010. Nadech soon achieved high levels of popularity after a few more roles.
These days Nadech is one of the highest-paid actors and presenters in Thailand, and he is not shy to endlessly add endorsments to various hi-profile brands looking for a face. Not bad going but that’s where receiving hundreds of accolades for your acting roles will get you in Thailand.