Administrative divisions of Thailand

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thailand is a unitary state, which means the territories are separated into central co-dependencies, with the central government deciding everything for the provinces.[1] The kingdom is separated into multiple levels including regions, provinces, and many more. Though, formally, Thailand is separated into three levels: provinces, districts, and sub-districts, there are also informal divisions such as parimonthon, and phak.[2] Furthermore, there are administrative divisions of the same level with different names such as the first-level divisions of the province and the special administrative region.

The governance is separated into two branches, regular and municipal administration.[3] The regular administration is governed by the central government directly, with the municipal administration being given more autonomy by the central government, though still heavily restricted due to the over centralization of the Thai administrative system. This system arose during Rama V's reign where the governing system of the Kingdom of Siam was changing rapidly due to westernization.[4]

Provincial administrative divisions[edit]


Chulalongkorn, Father of Modern Thailand

Changwat (Thai: จังหวัด) or provinces is the first level of administration, the highest level, of Thailand. Thailand is separated into 76 provinces, though commonly mistaken as 77 provinces due to Bangkok's former status as a province itself. This is the highest level of administrative division within the kingdom. Each of the provinces are led by governor. The changwat is responsible for implementing state policy and enforcing laws.[5]


The provinces are governed by a governor appointed by the central government. Specifically, the Ministry of the Interior is a part of the Bangkok Government. The norm for naming the provinces is using the provincial capital as the name, which is why they are called namesake cities. A notable difference from history was during the post-Franco-Siamese War period when there was a DMZ around the border which falls on the Mekong river. During this time, there was a province called Nong Khai but the capital was in Ban Makkhaeng. A province is administered by a governor (ผู้ว่าราชการจังหวัด) who is appointed by the Minister of Interior. The provinces are named after their namesake cities, a cities which were the "capital" at the time of its founding. Also, in several provinces the administration has been moved into a new building outside the city.


Ayutthaya Kingdom[edit]

Most provinces date back to the time of subservient city-states, chiefdoms, and even vassal kingdoms. The polity was called muangs, not to be confused with modern muangs which means cities, which had their own satellite muangs. Traditionally ruled by a local ruling family, these muangs had a high level of autonomy. The highest king of these muangs, phaya or khun luang, though the titles changes over history, ruled these muangs through a system of tributes. The king did not have much control over these muangs which lead to uprisings and rebellions. During the war, these muangs often switched sides which leads to the downfall of the Ayutthaya Kingdom.

The provinces were separated into two classes and four different levels.[6]

Ayutthaya's Administration Division
Levels First Second Third Forth
Central Wiang (เวียง) Wang (วัง) Khlang (คลัง) Na (นา)
Vassal Muang Luk Luang (เมืองลูกหลวง) Inner Hua Muang (หัวเมืองชั้นใน) Outer Hua Muang (หัวเมืองชั้นนอก) Muang Prathetsarat (เมืองประเทศราช)
Rattanakosin Kingdom[edit]
Administrative divisions during the Rattanakosin Kingdom

During this era, nothing changed much at the beginning. But when the western colonial powers started to eye the region, The Siamese government took to reform their administrative division into a form that much resembles the modern structure. In 1882, much of the current political geography of Siam had changed drastically. Rama V, who had been ramping up the reformation of Siam, had devised a plan to divide Siam into several levels of administration. During this era, the province wasn't the highest level of division. This falls to the monthon and the vassal kingdoms. At the time, Siam was a minor power, controlling several minor kingdoms on their frontiers with the major colonial powers. By, 1892, much of the divisions had already been formed, though this is far from modern Thailand's divisional structure, and by 1900 most of the territory gained during the rule of Rama III were lost to France and Britain.

In 1908, a new division called boriwen was introduced, though later abolished due to its overlapping duties with other local governments, and the bureaucratic costs to maintain the divisions.

In 1932, there were major reforms all over the kingdom, monthon was abolished, provinces merged, and several other divisions dissolved into higher divisions to cut costs. The former provinces that were lost are merged into other provinces or ceded to western powers.

During the 20th century, a massive reform occurred gradually over the century, which saw the formation of several provinces through partitions. The newest province is Bueng Kan which split from Nong Khai on 23 March 2011.

Former Provinces of Thailand[edit]
Provinces จังหวัด Fate Today Part of
Attapue อัตตะปือ ceded to France Attapeu  Laos, Kon Tum and Gia Lai  Vietnam
Borikhan Nikhom บริคัณฑ์นิคม ceded to France Bolikhamxai  Laos
Uthai อุทัย ceded to France Sainyabuli and Luang Prabang  Laos
Phon Phisai โพนพิสัย merged with Nong Khai Nong Khai and Bueng Kan  Thailand
Tha Uthen ท่าอุเทน merged with Nakhon Phanom Nakhon Phanom  Thailand
Chaiburi ซายบุรี merged with Nong Khai Bueng Kan  Thailand
Pra Pradaeng พระประแดง merged with Samut Prakan, partitioned from Pra Nakhon and Samut Prakan, merged between Samut Prakan and Thonburi Samut Prakan and Bangkok  Thailand
Kabinburi กะบิ่นบุรี merged with Prachinburi Prachinburi and Sa Kaeo  Thailand
Thalang ถลาง destroyed during the Burmese–Siamese War (1809–1812) Phuket  Thailand
Phichai พิชัย capital moved to Uttaradit Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, and Loei  Thailand, Sainyaburi and Vientiane  Laos
Chiang Khaeng เชียงแขง partitioned between France and Britain Shan State  Myanmar, Luang Namtha and Bokeo  Laos
Chiang Khouang เชียงขวาง ceded to France Xiangkhouang  Laos
Chiang Taeng เชียงแตง ceded to France Kratié, Stung Treng, Ratanakiri, and Mondulkiri  Cambodia, Đắk Lắk, Đắk Nông and Gia Lai  Vietnam
Kalantan กลันตัน partitioned between Siam and Britain, merged with Narathiwat, regained and ceded to Britain again Narathiwat  Thailand, Kelantan  Malaysia
Kham Kert คำเกิด ceded to France Khammouane  Laos
Kham Muan คำม่วน ceded to France Khammouane  Laos
Kham Thong Luang คำทองหลวง ceded to France Stung Teng  Cambodia
Khemmarat เขมราฐ partitioned between Siam and France, merged into Ubon Ratchathani Ubon Ratchathani and Yasothon  Thailand, Savannakhet  Laos
Khukhan ขุขันธ์ partitioned between Siam and France, merged into Sisaket Ubon Ratchathani and Sisaket  Thailand, Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear  Cambodia
Lan Chang ลานช้าง ceded to France Sainyabuli and Luang Prabang  Laos
Luang Phrabang หลวงพระบาง ceded to France Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, Phongsaly, and Vientiane  Laos
Phibunsongkhram พิบูลสงคราม ceded to France Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Oddar Meanchey, and Preah Vihear  Cambodia
Phongsa พงสา ceded to France Phongsaly  Laos
Phra Tabong พระตะบอง ceded to France Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Pailin, and Battambang  Cambodia
Prachan Khiri Khet ประจันตคีรีเขตร partitioned between Siam and France, merged into Trat Koh Kong  Cambodia
Saen Pang แสนปาง ceded to France Kratié, Stung Treng, Ratanakiri, and Mondulkiri  Cambodia
Saharat Thai Doem สหรัฐไทยเดิม ceded to Britain Shan State  Myanmar
Salawan สาละวัน ceded to France Salavan and Sekong  Laos
Sangkha สังขะ partitioned between Siam and France, merged into Surin Surin  Thailand, Oddar Meanchey and Siem Reap  Cambodia
Siemmarat เสียมราฐ ceded to France Siem Reap  Cambodia
Nakhon Champassak นครจัมปาศักดิ์ ceded to France Preah Vihear and Stung Teng  Cambodia, Champasak  Laos
Palit ปะลิส ceded to Britain, regained and ceded to Britain again Perlis  Malaysia
Phanom Sok พนมสก ceded to France Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, and Oddar Meanchey  Cambodia
Sisophon ศรีโสภณ ceded to France Banteay Meanchey  Cambodia
Syburi ไทรบุรี ceded to Britain, regained and ceded to Britain again Kedah  Malaysia
Trangkanu ตรังกานู ceded to Britain, regained and ceded to Britain again Terengganu  Malaysia
Lang Suan หลังสวน merged into Chumphon Chumphon  Thailand
Lom Sak หล่มสัก partitioned between Phetchabun and Loei Phetchabun and Loei  Thailand
Min Buri มีนบุรี merged into Phra Nakhon Bangkok  Thailand
Phra Nakhon พระนคร merged with Thonburi to form Bangkok Bangkok  Thailand
Nakhon Khuan Khan นครเขื่อนขันธ์ renamed Phra Pradaeng Bangkok and Samut Prakan  Thailand
Phra Pradaeng พระประแดง partitioned between Phra Nakhon and Samut Prakan Bangkok and Samut Prakan  Thailand
Nakhon Chai Si นครชัยศรี capital moved to Nakhon Pathom Nakhon Pathom  Thailand
Sai Buri สายบุรี partitioned between Pattani and Narathiwat Chumphon  Thailand
Takua Pa ตะกั่วป่า merged into Pang Nga Pang Nga  Thailand
Thanyaburi ธัญบุรี merged into Pathum Thani Pathum Thani  Thailand
Thonburi Si Mahasamut ธนบุรีศรีมหาสมุทร merged with Phra Nakhon to form Bangkok Bangkok  Thailand
Thoen เถิน merged into Lampang Lampang  Thailand
Sawankhalok สวรรคโลก merge with Sukhothai to form Sawankhalok, later changing the name to Sukhothai Sukhothai  Thailand
Phu Len Chang ภูแล่นช้าง merged into Kalasin Kalasin  Thailand
Chonnabot ชนบท partitioned between Chaiyaphum and Khon Kaen Chaiyaphum and Khon Kaen  Thailand
Phu Khiao ภูเขียว merged into Chaiyaphum Chaiyaphum  Thailand
Khon San คอนสาร partitioned between Chaiyaphum and Khon Kaen Chaiyaphum and Khon Kaen  Thailand
Kamalasai กมลาไสย partitioned between Kalasin and Roi Et Kalasin and Roi Et  Thailand
Suwannaphum สุวรรณภูมิ partitioned between Maha Sarakham and Roi Et Maha Sarakham and Roi Et  Thailand
Wichianburi วิเชียรบุรี merged into Phetchabun Phetchabun  Thailand
Chaibadan ชัยบาดาล merged into Wichianburi Phetchabun  Thailand
Phayu Ha Khiri พยุหะคีรี merged into Nakhon Sawan Nakhon Sawan  Thailand
Manorom มโนรมย์ merged into Chai Nat Chai Nat  Thailand
San'khaburi สรรคบุรี merged into Chai Nat Chai Nat  Thailand
Inburi อินทร์บุรี merged into Singburi Singburi  Thailand
Phromburi พรหมบุรี merged into Singburi Singburi  Thailand
Nang Rong นางรอง merged into Buriram Buriram  Thailand
Pra Khon Chai ประโคนชัย merged into Buriram Buriram  Thailand
Sitandon สี่ตันดอน ceded to France Stung Teng  Cambodia
Khlung ขลุง partitioned between Chanthaburi and Trat Chanthaburi and Trat  Thailand
Kraburi กระบุรี merged into Ranong Ranong  Thailand
Chiaya ไชยา merged into Kanchanadit Surat Thani  Thailand
Khirirat Nikhom คีรีรัฐนิคม merged into Kanchanadit Surat Thani  Thailand
Takua Thung ตะกั่วทุ่ง merged into Pang Nga Pang Nga  Thailand
Yaring ยะหริ่ง merged into Pattani Pattani  Thailand
Nong Chik หนองจิก merged into Pattani Pattani  Thailand
Raman รามัน partitioned between Siam and Britain, merged into Yala Yala  Thailand, Perak  Malaysia
Ra'Ngae ระแงะ partitioned between Siam and Britain, merged into Narathiwat Narathiwat  Thailand, Kelantan  Malaysia
Kubang Pasu กะปังปาสู merged into Syburi Kedah  Malaysia
Besut เบอซุต merged into Terengganu Terengganu  Malaysia
Palien ปะเหลียน merged into Kantang Trang  Thailand
Phutthaisong พุทไธสง merged into Buriram Buriram  Thailand
Rattanaburi รัตนบุรี merged into Buriram Surin  Thailand
Phanom Sarakham พนมสารคาม merged into Chachoengsao Chachoengsao  Thailand
Phanat Nikhom พนัสนิคม merged with Bang Pla Soi Chonburi  Thailand
Bang Lamung บางละมุง merged with Bang Pla Soi Chonburi  Thailand
Bang Pla Soi บางปลาสร้อย merged with Bang Lamung and Phanat Nikhom to form Chonburi Chonburi  Thailand
Na Wang นาวัง merged with Nakhon Phanom Khammouane  Laos
Phin พีน merged with Mukdahan Savannakhet  Laos
Wang วัง merged with Mukdahan Savannakhet  Laos
Chepon เชโปน merged with Mukdahan Savannakhet  Laos
  • these provinces were formed in different periods but lost during 19th and 20th century
Historical Populations[edit]
Provinces[7] จังหวัด 1947-05-23 1960-04-25 1970-04-01 1980-04-01 1990-04-01 2000-04-01 2010-09-01 2021[8]
Amnat Charoen อำนาจเจริญ 356,556 283,732 376,350
Ang Thong อ่างทอง 150,304 198,000 217,000 255,240 279,032 269,419 254,292 274,763
Bangkok กรุงเทพมหานคร 827,290 2,132,000 5,153,902 5,546,937 6,355,144 8,305,218 5,527,994
Bueng Kan บึงกาฬ 421,995
Buri Ram บุรีรัมย์ 339,496 584,000 797,000 1,132,980 1,441,517 1,493,359 1,274,921 1,579,805
Chachoengsao ฉะเชิงเทรา 240,410 323,000 338,000 498,148 582,783 635,153 715,603 724,178
Chai Nat ชัยนาท 171,918 245,000 256,000 330,385 356,297 359,829 305,587 320,432
Chaiyaphum ชัยภูมิ 293,738 486,000 626,000 857,692 1,059,549 1,095,360 963,907 1,122,265
Chanthaburi จันทบุรี 110,808 158,000 211,000 330,610 439,273 480,064 485,611 536,557
Chiang Mai เชียงใหม่ 534,623 798,000 1,024,000 1,166,123 1,376,120 1,500,127 1,737,041 1,789,385
Chiang Rai เชียงราย 476,118 812,000 1,086,000 922,850 1,039,388 1,129,701 1,172,928 1,298,425
Chon Buri ชลบุรี 210,329 392,000 542,000 725,407 910,570 1,040,865 1,555,358 1,583,672
Chumphon ชุมพร 118,427 175,000 235,000 330,455 397,679 446,206 467,801 509,479
Kalasin กาฬสินธุ์ 427,000 573,000 755,274 894,985 921,366 824,538 975,570
Kamphaeng Phet กำแพงเพชร 65,742 173,000 333,000 559,223 668,001 674,027 797,391 712,143
Kanchanaburi กาญจนบุรี 140,164 233,000 321,000 518,927 697,750 734,394 801,519 894,054
Khon Kaen ขอนแก่น 590,664 844,000 1,025,000 1,354,855 1,681,479 1,733,434 1,741,980 1,790,863
Krabi กระบี่ 59,483 94,000 148,000 218,814 298,406 336,210 362,203 479,351
Lampang ลำปาง 332,276 472,000 616,000 659,433 772,635 782,152 743,143 724,678
Lamphun ลำพูน 180,781 250,000 318,000 353,607 417,565 413,299 412,741 401,139
Loei เลย 134,202 211,000 326,000 449,535 551,892 607,083 546,028 638,732
Lop Buri ลพบุรี 203,313 336,000 433,000 655,537 747,154 745,506 769,925 739,473
Mae Hong Son แม่ฮ่องสอน 66,280 81,000 104,000 132,391 172,825 210,537 209,153 285,916
Maha Sarakham มหาสารคาม 698,087 499,000 613,000 764,509 900,906 947,313 827,639 948,310
Mukdahan มุกดาหาร 288,151 310,718 357,339 351,484
Nakhon Nayok นครนายก 117,547 154,000 161,000 201,230 228,981 241,081 246,868 260,433
Nakhon Pathom นครปฐม 268,958 370,000 411,000 561,346 657,182 815,122 943,892 922,171
Nakhon Phanom นครพนม 307,172 436,000 561,000 760,319 634,966 684,444 583,726 717,040
Nakhon Ratchasima นครราชสีมา 723,237 1,095,000 1,547,000 1,916,681 2,384,252 2,556,260 2,525,975 2,634,154
Nakhon Sawan นครสวรรค์ 373,006 648,000 758,000 976,971 1,088,213 1,090,379 992,749 1,035,028
Nakhon Si Thammarat นครศรีธรรมราช 494,261 730,000 927,000 1,261,408 1,427,001 1,519,811 1,450,466 1,549,344
Nan น่าน 204,499 240,000 310,000 378,999 449,257 458,041 452,814 475,875
Narathiwat นราธิวาส 166,487 266,000 326,000 441,803 565,456 662,350 670,002 809,660
Nong Bua Lam Phu หนองบัวลำภู 482,207 485,974 509,001
Nong Khai หนองคาย 144,201 257,000 442,000 673,884 879,215 883,704 821,526 516,843
Nonthaburi นนทบุรี 135,537 196,000 254,000 386,741 668,760 816,614 1,334,083 1,288,637
Pathum Thani ปทุมธานี 139,339 190,000 233,000 324,468 452,693 677,649 1,327,147 1,190,060
Pattani ปัตตานี 199,253 282,000 330,000 457,760 537,542 595,985 609,015 729,581
Phangnga พังงา 61,077 93,000 135,000 174,973 212,923 234,188 258,535 268,016
Phatthalung พัทลุง 149,431 234,000 298,000 412,265 460,626 498,471 480,976 522,541
Phayao พะเยา 461,620 503,711 502,780 417,380 464,505
Phetchabun เพชรบูรณ์ 162,730 320,000 513,000 785,238 955,467 965,784 940,076 978,372
Phetchaburi เพชรบุรี 180,509 238,000 278,000 366,612 427,985 435,377 472,589 482,875
Phichit พิจิตร 237,241 389,000 440,000 534,481 558,818 572,989 548,242 529,395
Phitsanulok พิษณุโลก 202,249 352,000 492,000 709,073 786,509 792,678 912,827 847,384
Phrae แพร่ 213,351 299,000 365,000 446,431 493,530 492,561 427,398 434,580
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya พระนครศรีอยุธยา 362,761 479,000 501,000 623,242 685,394 727,277 870,671 820,512
Phuket ภูเก็ต 49,324 76,000 100,000 133,669 168,429 249,446 525,709 418,785
Prachin Buri ปราจีนบุรี 217,395 335,000 421,000 631,276 877,491 406,732 546,996 495,325
Prachuap Khiri Khan ประจวบคีรีขันธ์ 72,343 152,000 249,000 377,212 424,766 449,467 467,466 553,171
Ranong ระนอง 21,488 38,000 59,000 83,707 117,440 161,210 249,017 194,573
Ratchaburi ราชบุรี 295,534 411,000 464,000 644,746 720,157 791,217 796,748 868,281
Rayong ระยอง 84,197 148,000 250,000 358,896 453,850 522,133 821,072 751,343
Roi Et ร้อยเอ็ด 535,662 668,000 780,000 1,061,085 1,228,834 1,256,458 1,084,985 1,296,013
Sa Kaeo สระแก้ว 485,632 555,961 561,992
Sakon Nakhon สกลนคร 273,262 427,000 598,000 776,510 974,008 1,040,766 941,810 1,146,286
Samut Prakan สมุทรปราการ 164,227 235,000 325,000 535,858 854,883 1,028,401 1,828,694 1,356,449
Samut Sakhon สมุทรสาคร 111,479 166,000 158,000 265,464 358,155 466,281 887,191 586,789
Samut Songkhram สมุทรสงคราม 124,894 162,000 159,000 196,659 206,506 204,177 185,564 190,842
Saraburi สระบุรี 203,562 304,000 342,000 470,655 535,160 575,053 717,054 643,963
Satun สตูล 46,514 70,000 131,000 164,740 222,768 247,875 274,863 324,835
Sing Buri สิงห์บุรี 116,227 154,000 162,000 202,605 230,913 232,766 199,982 204,526
Si Sa Ket ศรีสะเกษ 451,576 601,000 790,000 1,082,121 1,336,161 1,405,500 1,055,980 1,457,556
Songkhla สงขลา 349,392 500,000 621,000 849,601 1,090,083 1,255,662 1,481,021 1,431,536
Sukhothai สุโขทัย 193,696 316,000 394,000 531,624 592,658 593,264 629,707 585,352
Suphan Buri สุพรรณบุรี 340,872 491,000 561,000 709,364 827,951 855,949 845,561 835,360
Surat Thani สุราษฎร์ธานี 208,390 325,000 434,000 593,095 738,350 869,410 1,009,351 1,072,464
Surin สุรินทร์ 435,370 582,000 747,000 1,035,577 1,288,503 1,327,901 1,122,900 1,376,230
Tak ตาก 102,193 168,000 217,000 276,994 353,803 486,146 526,382 676,583
Thonburi ธนบุรี 289,352 2,136,000 919,000
Trang ตรัง 148,591 240,000 326,000 427,055 519,155 595,110 598,877 639,788
Trat ตราด 44,819 66,000 94,000 138,185 197,155 219,345 247,876 228,376
Ubon Ratchathani อุบลราชธานี 849,451 1,131,000 1,480,000 1,560,272 1,932,052 1,691,441 1,746,790 1,868,519
Udon Thani อุดรธานี 382,564 744,000 1,118,000 1,448,066 1,825,337 1,467,158 1,288,365 1,566,510
Uthai Thani อุทัยธานี 104,852 146,000 177,000 259,464 304,776 304,122 297,493 325,116
Uttaradit อุตรดิตถ์ 170,844 260,000 321,000 432,995 460,516 464,474 438,578 446,148
Yala ยะลา 81,471 149,000 199,000 273,866 356,904 415,537 433,167 542,314
Yasothon ยโสธร 458,535 527,134 561,430 487,976 533,394
Total ยอดรวม 17,256,840 26,260,000 34,152,000 46,961,338 56,303,273 60,913,637 65,981,659 66,171,439[8]

Amphoe (Districts)[edit]

Kanchanadit District Office

Amphoe(Thai: อำเภอ) or districts is the second level of administration. There are 878 amphoe throughout Thailand. They are led by a Nai Amphoe or district chief who is appointed by the central government. These districts vary vastly in size and population. Districts’ population varies such as Amphoe Muang Samut Prakan which has 500,000 citizens to Amphoe Ko Kut which has 2,000 citizens. Note that amphoe meaning is a special name for amphoe which hosts the capital of the province, in these amphoe, there may be a thesaban nakhon or a thesaban muang. Amphoe are responsible for general administrative work, clerical work and archives, information, briefings and public relations operations of the district, operations related to receptions, ceremonies, government ceremonies, religious ceremonies and various traditional events,operations of the Red Cross Social work and various charitable works.[9]


Amphoe originated from the RS115(1896) bill named Local Governing Regulations R.E. 115.[10] At this time, the method for determining the area of an amphoe was to assign 10,000 citizens to a district.

There used to be an administrative division called king amphoe(กิ่งอำเภอ) or minor districts, these are set up when a district is too big and it becomes inconvenient to govern, though a subordinate of the amphoe, king amphoe act and govern as an amphoe. If a king amphoe becomes developed enough with the necessary infrastructure and population, it becomes promoted into a full amphoe. The opposite could also happen, if an amphoe loses influence it could be downgraded into a king amphoe. In 2007, to streamline the bureaucracy, the government relinquished the king amphoe and upgraded them all into amphoe, thus rendering the king amphoe obsolete. There were 81 king amphoe in 2007 at the time of abolishment.

Tambon (sub-districts)[edit]

Tambon Near Tambon Palien

Tambon(Thai: ตำบล) or sub-districts is the third-level administration in Thailand. There are 7,255 tambon in Thailand. Tambon are responsible for the development of the sub-district in terms of economy, society and culture: organizing public services for the benefit of the people of their own locality.[11]


Tambon used to be second-level administration long before the establishment of the amphoe. Back then it was governed by the provincial capital which appointed a kamnan or phan as a leader of the tambon. In 1892, the reformation downgraded the tambon into the third-level administration.

Muban (villages)[edit]

Muban(Thai: หมู่บ้าน) or Villages is the fourth-level administration in Thailand. There are 74,944 muban[12] in Thailand. A muban is led by a phuyaiban, who is elected by the villager. All elected phuyaiban must be approved by the central government. Once in office, they can serve for a 5-year term with no limit on reelection. In cities, chumchon is used, though these are non-official and have nothing to do with the central government.

Local administrative divisions[edit]

Ordinary local administrative divisions[edit]

Thesaban (municipalities)[edit]

Thesaban (Thai: เทศบาล) or municipalities is the second level of administration. There are three types of municipalities: thesaban nakhon, thesaban muang, and thesaban tambon.

  • Thesaban nakhon (เทศบาลนคร) is the highest of these municipalities and there are 30 of them. To qualify for a thesaban nakhon, an area needs to have at least 50,000 citizens and the necessary infrastructure for a city.
  • Thesaban muang (เทศบาลเมือง) needs to have at least 10,000 citizens.
  • Thesaban tambon (เทศบาลตำบล) is the lowest administrative level for a municipality. In order to qualify as a thesaban tambon, there needs to be an income of 5 million baht, 5,000 citizens, and a density of 1,500 per square km.

They are known for being complicated geographically. It can extend over a few tambons or be contained within a tambon. Their responsibility are to maintain public order, provide and maintain land and waterways, maintain cleanliness of roads. or corridors and public places Including the disposal of solid waste and sewage, and prevent and suppress contagious diseases.[13]

Originally thesaban were sanitation districts called sukhaphiban (Thai: สุขาภิบาล) created to manage waste. Sukhaphiban used to co-exist with thesaban until it was abolished in 1999.

Special local administrative divisions[edit]

There are two special administrative regions within Thailand: Bangkok and Pattaya. The SAR is an autonomous region governed separately from the central government. The mayor of the SARs is elected directly by the citizen of their respective SARs. The SAR category is an exclusive administration category where the central government had to have a bill passed exclusively to make a city a SAR. Note that the degree of autonomy is different between these two SARs. Bangkok is recognized as its own polity while Pattaya is under the administration of Chonburi province. Bangkok has its own khaet-khwang system and Pattaya uses the tambon-muban system. This makes Pattaya closer to a thesaban nakhon than a SAR, still, it is classified as a SAR.

Nakhon Suvarnabhumi SAR

Currently, there are plans to make Chiang Mai and Mae Sot a special local administrative area.[14] Though the plans for Chiang Mai is controversial due to the extreme centralization of the government. Especially within the parliament, conservatives called it separatism. A recent bill passed in 2005 and withdrawn in 2007 proposed a new province, Nakhon Suvarnabhumi, and was planned to be structured as a special local administrative area. As a result of a coup, the project was cancelled and withdrawn.

Khet and Khwang (special districts and sub-districts)[edit]

Districts and Sub-districts of Bangkok

Only used in Bangkok, the khet-khwang system acts similarly to the amphoe-tambon system, with the Bangkok government (not to be confused with the central Thai government) appointing the governors of these districts. There are 50 khet and 180 khwang within Bangkok.

Catholic Dioceses[edit]

These are ecclesiastical provinces created by the catholic church. It is made up of archdiocese and smaller dioceses. There are two archdioceses within Thailand: Bangkok and Thare-Nonseng.

Informal administrative division[edit]

Krungthepmahanakhon lae Parimonthon (Bangkok Metropolitan Region)[edit]

Bangkok Metropolitan Area's Municipalities
Thailand Regions
This map depicts the Region of Promthep in 1837, with the partition occurring in the 1840s.

Bangkok Metropolitan Region (Thai: กรุงเทพมหานครและปริมณฑล) refers to the surrounding provinces of Bangkok SAR. This division is used to refer to the whole Bangkok and its suburb. Since Bangkok has outgrown its own SAR borders, neighboring provinces’ city is being absorbed into the Bangkok metropolis, though retaining their respective local government. The polity is defined as Bangkok and the five surrounding provinces of Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, and Samut Sakhon. This definition of Bangkok is commonly used in radio, news, and everyday life when people refer to Bangkok.

Phak (region)[edit]

Phak (Thai: ภาค) refers to the grouping of multiple provinces with regard to history, culture, and geography. There are ten types of phak divisions: 6-regions, 5-4-regions, meteorological, tourism, economic, highway, landlines, postal, electoral, and scouts. In everyday life, one would expect to be using the 4-regions system due to its simplicity and wide understanding of this system.

The four regions system is composed of:

  • North
  • Isan
  • Central
  • South

The northern region closely resembles the former Kingdom of Lanna. This kingdom was split into five minor kingdoms in the 1800s and fully absorbed into Siam. Owing to their cultural differences, people from the central plains discriminate against the people of the frontiers regions of Siam. This ingrained the division between us and them within the Siamese psyche.

The Isan region resembles the old territory annexed from the Kingdom of Vientiane and Champassak. The southern region resembles the former territories of the Malay sultanates and the Kingdom of Nakhon Si Thammarat.


Regions[8] Male Female Total
Central 10,984,989 11,857,239 22,842,228
Bangkok Metropolitan Area 5,126,677 5,745,423 10,872,100
Bangkok Special Administrative Area 2,592,292 2,935,702 5,527,994
Pattaya Special Administrative Area[15] 47,773 50,598 98,372
North 5,871,707 6,138,317 12,010,024
Isan 10,814,540 11,012,380 21,826,920
South 4,667,882 4,824,385 9,492,267
Total 32,339,118 33,960,884 66,171,439

Unorganized Administrative Region[edit]

During the reign of Rama III, there was a massive settlement effort, in which many city and town were created during this time. This caused a "great reshuffling" of the provinces' territory. This ended up leading to the creation of the unorganized region of Promthep. This region was the result of the breaking up of the Kingdom of Cambodia's northern region and annexing it as a part of Siam. Later, this region was partitioned and merged into the Kingdom of Champassak, Kingdom of Cambodia, Khukhan and Siemmarat.

Abolished administrative divisions[edit]


Monthon of 1900

Monthon (Thai: มณฑล) were administrative subdivisions of Thailand at the beginning of the 20th century. The Thai word monthon is a translation of the word mandala (maṇḍala, literally "circle"). The monthon were created as a part of the Thesaphiban (เทศาภิบาล, literally "local government") bureaucratic administrative system, introduced by Prince Damrong Rajanubhab which, together with the monthon, established step-by-step today's present provinces (changwat), districts (amphoe), and communes (tambon) throughout Thailand. Each monthon was led by a royal commissioner called Thesaphiban (เทศาภิบาล), later renamed to Samuhathesaphiban (สมุหเทศาภิบาล). The system was officially adopted by the 1897 Local Administration Act.

In 1915 there were 19 monthons containing 72 provinces. Due to economic problems, several monthon were merged in 1925. Monthon Phetchabun had been dissolved in 1915. Only 14 monthon remained: Ayutthaya, Bangkok (Krung Thep), Chanthaburi, Nakhon Chaisi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Pattani, Phayap, Phitsanulok, Phuket, Prachinburi, Ratchaburi, and Udon Thani. In 1932 another four were abolished: Chanthaburi, Nakhon Chaisi, Nakhon Sawan, and Pattani. Finally in 1933 the whole monthon system was abolished by the Provincial Administration Act 2476 B.E./A.D. 1933, part of the changes made after the coup d'état, which changed from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy.

Monthon มณฑล Established Fate
Lao Klang ลาวกลาง 1890 1893 - renamed Monthon Nakhon Ratchasima
Lao Tawan Ok ลาวตะวันออก 1890 1891 - merged with Monthon Lao Tawan Ok Chiang Nua becoming Monthon Lao Kao
Lao Tawan Ok Chiang Nua ลาวตะวันออกเฉียงเหนือ 1890 1891 - merged with Monthon Lao Tawan Ok becoming Monthon Lao Kao
Lao Phuan ลาวพวน 1890 1893 - renamed Monthon Udon after ceding the west bank of the Mekong.
Lao Kao ลาวกาว 1891 1893 - renamed Monthon Isan
Lao Phung Khao ลาวพุงขาว 1893 1893 - abolished, due to the annexation of territory to French Third Republic
Lao Chiang ลาวเฉียง 1893 1900 - renamed into Monthon Tawan Ok Chiang Neua
Krung Kao กรุงเก่า 1893 1933 - abolished, abolishment of the monthon system
Prachinburi ปราจิณบุรี 1893 1933 - abolished, abolishment of the monthon system
Khamen เขมร 1893 1899 - renamed Monthon Burapha
Nakhon Ratchasima นครราชสีมา 1893 1933 - abolished, abolishment of the monthon system
Isan อีสาน 1893 1912 - partitioned into Monthon Roi Et and Monthon Ubon
Phitsanulok พิษณุโลก 1894 1933 - abolished, abolishment of the monthon system
Nakhon Sawan นครสวรรค์ 1895 1932 - merged into Monthon Krung Kao - Ayutthaya
Ratchaburi ราชบุรี 1895 1933 - abolished, abolishment of the monthon system
Nakhon Chai Si นครไชยศรี 1895 1932 - merged into Monthon Ratchaburi
Chumphon ชุมพร 1896 1925 - merged into Monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat
Nakhon Si Thammarat นครศรีธรรมราช 1896 1933 - abolished, abolishment of the monthon system
Syburi ไทรบุรี 1897 1909 - abolished, due to the annexation of territory to British Empire
Krung Thep กรุงเทพ 1897 1922 - merged into Monthon Krung Kao - Ayutthaya
Phuket ภูเก็จ 1898 1933 - abolished, abolishment of the monthon system
Phetchabun เพชรบูรณ์ 1899


1903 - merged into Monthon Phitsanulok

1916 - merged into Monthon Phitsanulok

Burapha บูรพา 1899 1906 - abolished, due to the annexation of territory to French Third Republic
Tawan Ok Chiang Neua ตะวันตกเฉียงเหนือ 1900 1901 - renamed into Monthon Phayap
Phayap พายัพ 1901 1933 - abolished, abolishment of the monthon system
Udon อุดร 1901 1933 - abolished, abolishment of the monthon system
Pattani ปัตตานี 1906 1932 - merged into Monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat
Chanthaburi จันทบุรี 1906 1933 - merged into Prachinburi
Roi Et ร้อยเอ็จ 1912 1932 - merged into Nakhon Ratchasima
Ubon อุบล 1912 1932 - merged into Nakhon Ratchasima
Maharat มหาราษฎร์ 1915 1926 - merged into Monthon Phayap
Boriwen Map
  • Monthon Lao Chiang is the same as Monthon Phayap, to ease understanding in this table but in all cases, they are the same.
  • Monthon Lao Kao which became Monthon Isan, and Monthon Lao Phuan which became Monthon Udon.
  • The use of the name is up to interpretation and use on case-by-case basis, but name changes occurs due to Rama V integration policy of minorities and achieving assimilation.
  • Province merger not shown, only monthon partition and merger are


Boriwen (Thai: บริเวณ) was created due to the size of the three largest monthon hence a subdivision of monthons. Several provinces were grouped together into one boriwen. In 1908 the boriwen were renamed to changwat, which became the name of provinces in 1916. The monthon with between three and five boriwen were Phayap, Udon Thani and Isan. Each boriwen was administered by a commissioner (khaluang boriwen, ข้าหลวงบริเวณ).


Sukhaphiban (Thai: สุขาภิบาล) were administrative divisions of Thailand. Sukhaphiban were the first sub-autonomous entities established in Thailand. A first such district was created in Bangkok by a royal decree of King Chulalongkorn in 1897. Tha Chalom District became the second such district, created in 1906 and responsible for parts of Mueang Samut Sakhon District, Samut Sakhon Province.

In 1907 the act on operations of sanitary districts codified the regulations, and with the Local Administration Act of 1914 two levels of sukhaphiban were introduced, the sukhaphiban mueang for towns and sukhaphiban tambon for rural areas.

The number of sanitary districts grew to 35 in 1935, when these however were converted into municipalities (thesaban). New sanitary district were again established starting in 1952 by prime minister Phibun Songkhram. With the Act to Upgrade Sanitary Districts to Thesaban of May 1999 they were again abolished, and all became thesaban tambon.

Muang Prathetsarat[edit]

Vassal states (Thai: เมืองประเทศราช) existed within Thailand for centuries since the founding of Sukhothai. Though not directly part of the country or even arguably an administrative division. Nonetheless, these states deserve a mention which is due to the fact that they are an entity within a certain polity.

Describing past vassals of Thailand requires the understanding of the mandala system. The mandala system is a largely diffused and dispersed power structure. This means that a vassal is largely independent to the central state, with the vassal also retaining sub-servient city-state-vassals. To explain this power structure, imagine if the United States is the central state, and Washington DC is the central state with 50 surrounding vassal states giving tributes to the central state and having open borders within these polities. These state-vassals also have subservient counties with autonomy in their internal affairs with these counties having their own autonomous sub-divisions. Thus, creating a pyramid of subservient cities and polities. It is not the current political structure of the United States due to the fact that the individual states could not just declare independence, which these vassal could, and had more autonomy from the central state. If the vassal states were to declare independence, it would incur the wrath of the central state. In history this was seen even when the Kingdom of Vientiane, a vassal, rebelled and lost which then was dissolved and absorbed into the central state.

The relationships between Thailand and its vassal varies over the centuries. It could be as amicable and the relationship that of the Kingdom of Nakhon Si Thammarat. Compared with the less amicable, aforementioned, Kingdom of Vientiane, which started a rebellion in 1826 under King Anouvong (Xaiya Setthathirath V). The last vassal state to be subservient to Thailand was the Malay states, which was subsequently dissolved, ceded, and merged into provinces and British Malaya in 1909, and the Kingdom of Champassak, which was downgraded into a province.

Vassal States and Dependencies เมืองประเทศราช Period Under Suzerainty Today Part of Fate

of Hanthawaddy

อาณาจักรหงสาวดี 1287–1298



 Myanmar Gained independence due to the declining influence of the Kingdom of Sukhothai
Kingdom of Sukhothai อาณาจักรสุโขทัย 1378–1438  Thailand One of the first Thai states to form in the post-classical era, formed by King Si Inthrathit. Later, the Sukhothai Kingdom was overtaken by both military and cultural influences by the Ayutthaya Kingdom. The Sukhothai Kingdom became a vassal of Ayutthaya in 1378 and was fully integrated into the Kingdom of Ayutthaya in 1438. Later, a branch of the old royal family of Sukhothai gained influence in the royal court of Ayutthaya and established the Sukhothai Dynasty within the Ayutthayan court with King Maha Thammarachathirat being the founder.
Kingdom of Cambodia อาณาจักรกัมพูชา 1594–1831


 Cambodia During the First Siamese-Ngyuen Dynasty War, Cambodia was invaded by Vietnamese forces, which then led to the subsequent transfer of Cambodia to Vietnam. Later during the Second Siamese-Ngyuen Dynasty War, both Siam and Nguyễn Dynasty came to a compromise with Cambodia coming under joint suzerainty. Cambodia was then transferred to the French Third Republic.
Kingdom of Nakhon

Si Thammarat

อาณาจักรนครศรีธรรมราช 1238–1767


 Thailand Briefly gain independence after the Second Fall of Ayutthaya, and later was integrated fully into the Kingdom of Rattanakosin.
Kingdom of Vientiane อาณาจักรเวียงจันทน์ 1779–1828  Laos,


Annexed as a result of the Lao Rebellion in 1826
Principality of Phuan เมืองพวน 1779–1888  Laos,


Transferred to Siam then transferred the French Third Republic
Federation of the Six Hua Phan Cantons หัวพันทั้งห้าทั้งหก 1779–1888  Laos,


Transferred to Siam then transferred the French Third Republic
Canton of Hiam-Son เมืองเหียม-เมืองซ่อน 1779–1888  Laos,


Canton of Cham Neua เมืองชำเหนือ 1779–1888  Laos,


Canton of Cham Tai เมืองชำใต้ 1779–1888  Laos,


Canton of Soi เมืองโสย 1779–1888  Laos,


Canton of


เมืองเชียงฆอ-เมืองสบแอด 1779–1888  Laos,


Canton of

Hua Muang

เมืองหัวเมือง 1779–1888  Laos,


Kingdom of Champasak อาณาจักรหลวงพระบาง 1779–1904  Laos,



Downgraded to a province
Kingdom of

Luang Prabang

อาณาจักรจำปาศักดิ์ 1779–1893  Laos,


Transferred to the French Third Republic

of Phongsali

เมืองพงสาลี 1779–1893  Laos,


Transferred to the French Third Republic
Federation of the Twelve Tai Cantons* สิบสองจุไทย 1779–1888  Vietnam Transferred to the French Third Republic
Canton of Lai เมืองไล 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of Te เมืองแต่ 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of Jian เมืองเจียน 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of Mun เมืองมุน 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of Bang เมืองบาง 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of Thaeng เมืองแถง 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of Khwai เมืองควาย 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of Dung เมืองดุง 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of Muai เมืองม่วย 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of La เมืองลา 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of Moh เมืองโมะ 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of Wat เมืองหวัด 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of Sang เมืองซาง 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of So เมืองสอ 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of Than เมืองถาน 1779–1888  Vietnam
Canton of Lo เมืองลอ 1779–1888  Vietnam
Kingdom of Chiang Mai นครเชียงใหม่ 1775–1894  Thailand Downgraded to a province
Principality of Lampang นครเมืองลำปาง 1775–1894  Thailand Downgraded to a province
Principality of Nan นครเมืองน่าน 1775–1894  Thailand Downgraded to a province
Principality of Lamphun นครลำพูน 1775–1894  Thailand Downgraded to a province
Principality of Phrae เมืองแพร่ 1775–1894  Thailand Downgraded to a province
Sultanate of Kedah เมืองสตูลไทรบุรี 1821–1909  Malaysia Transferred to the British Empire
Kingdom of Setul เมืองสตูล 1808–1909  Thailand Downgraded to a province
Kingdom of Perlis เมืองปะลิส 1843–1909  Malaysia Transferred to the British Empire
Kingdom of Kubang Pasu เมืองกุปังปาสู 1839–1864  Malaysia Merged into Syburi
Sultanate of Pattani อาณาจักรปัตตานี 1786–1902  Thailand,


Downgraded to a province, and partitioned into seven autonomous townships
Kingdom of Reman อาณาจักรรามัน 1810–1902  Thailand,


partitioned and merged into surrounding provinces: Pattani, Narathiwat, and Yala. The southern part is transferred to the British Empire
Sultanate of Terengganu อาณาจักรตรังกานู 1786–1909  Malaysia Transferred to the British Empire
Kingdom of Besut Darul Iman อาณาจักเบอซุต 1780–1899  Malaysia annexed by the Sultanate of Terengganu
Sultanate of Kelantan อาณาจักรกลันตัน 1786–1909  Malaysia Transferred to the British Empire
Kingdom of Chiang Tung เมืองเชียงตุง 1802–1812  Myanmar Declared Independence, Submitted to Konbaung Dynasty (Third Burmese Empire)
Principality of Hà Tiên เมืองบันทายมาศ 1785–1809  Cambodia,


Declared Independence, Submitted to Nguyễn Dynasty
Federation of Sipsong Panna สิบสองปันนา 1802–1812  Myanmar,



Declared Independence, Submitted to Konbaung Dynasty (Third Burmese Empire)
Canton of

Chiang Rung

นครเชียงรุ่ง 1802–1812  China
Chiang Rung เชียงรุ่ง 1802–1812  China
Muang Yang เมืองยาง 1802–1812  China
Muang Ham เมืองฮำ 1802–1812  China
Canton of Je นครเมืองแจ 1802–1812  China
Muang Je เมืองแจ 1802–1812  China
Muang Mang


เมืองมาง(ตะวันตก) 1802–1812  China
Chiang Lu เชียงลู 1802–1812  China
Muang Ong เมืองออง 1802–1812  China
Canton of Luang นครเมืองลวง 1802–1812  China
Canton of Hon นครเมืองหน 1802–1812  China ,


Muang Hon เมืองหน 1802–1812  China
Muang Phan เมืองพาน 1802–1812  China
Muang Lo เมืองลอ 1802–1812  Myanmar
Canton of Rai นครเมืองราย 1802–1812  China
Muang Rai เมืองราย 1802–1812  China
Muang Juang เมืองเจือง 1802–1812  China
Canton of Ngad นครเมืองงาด 1802–1812  China
Muang Ngad เมืองงาด 1802–1812  China
Muang Khang เมืองขาง 1802–1812  China
Muang Wang เมืองวัง 1802–1812  China
Canton of Lah นครเมืองหล้า 1802–1812  China
Muang Lah เมืองหล้า 1802–1812  China
Muang Ban เมืองบาน 1802–1812  China
Canton of Hing นครเมืองฮิง 1802–1812  China
Muang Hing เมืองฮิง 1802–1812  China
Muang Pang เมืองปาง 1802–1812  China
Canton of La นครเมืองลา 1802–1812  China
Chiang Neua เชียงเหนือ 1802–1812  China
Muang La เมืองลา 1802–1812  China
Canton of Phong นครเมืองพง 1802–1812  China
Muang Phong เมืองพง 1802–1812  China
Muang Mang


เมืองมาง(ตะวันออก) 1802–1812  China
Muang Yuan เมืองหย่วน 1802–1812  China
Canton of Ou Neua นครเมืองอูเหนือ 1802–1812  Laos
Muang Ou Neua เมืองอูเหนือ 1802–1812  Laos
Muang Ou Tai เมืองอูใต้ 1802–1812  Laos
Canton of Tho นครเมืองทอ 1802–1812  China
Chiang Tho เชียงทอ 1802–1812  China
Muang I-Ngou เมืองอีงู 1802–1812  China
Muang I-Pang เมืองอีปาง 1802–1812  China
Canton of

Phuthaen Luang

นครเมืองภูแถนหลวง 1802–1812  China

Phuthaen Luang

เมืองภูแถนหลวง 1802–1812  China
Muang Kham Thaen เวียงคำแถน 1802–1812  China
Principality of Chiang Khaeng เมืองเชียงแขง 1802–1812




Declared Independence, Submitted to Konbaung Dynasty (Third Burmese Empire), then transferred to Siam merging with the Principality of Nan then transferred to the French Third Republic
Principality of Chiang Lap เมืองเชียงลับ 1802–1812  Myanmar Declared Independence, Submitted to Konbaung Dynasty (Third Burmese Empire)

*Twelve Cantons were actually composed of twelve to sixteen different cantons. Note that throughout the centuries, different cantons held the same seats. The number of seats range from 12 to 16.

**Chiang Khaeng was merged with the Principality of Nan after the transfer.

Lost Territories[edit]

There are various territories which were partitioned and transferred to another political entity over the centuries. This could be either that the central government gave an order, or an independent action acted upon by the individual muang prathetsarat.

Map Territory เขตการปกครอง Period Under Suzerainty Fate Today part of
Salaween Territory ดินแดนสาละวิน 1802–1892 Traded to Karenni State and Shan State, British Burma,

gaining Chiang Khaeng.



Chiang Khaeng Territory ดินแดนเมืองเชียงแขง 1892–1893 Transferred to the French Third Republic  Myanmar
Koh Song Territory ดินแดนเกาะสอง 1769–1864 Ceded to the British Empire  Myanmar
Miawdi Territory ดินแดนเมียวดี 1768–1834 Gifted to the British Empire, from the Kingdom of Chiang Mai  Myanmar
Mohtahmah Territory ดินแดนเมาะตะมะ 1287–1548



Ceded to the Toungoo Dynasty, regained

Ceded to the Toungoo Dynasty, regained

Ceded to the Konbaung Dynasty (Third Burmese Empire)

Thawai Territory ดินแดนทวาย 1287–1548



Ceded to the Toungoo Dynasty, regained

Ceded to the Toungoo Dynasty, regained

Ceded to the Konbaung Dynasty (Third Burmese Empire)

Tanaosi Territory ดินแดนตะนาวสี 1287–1564



Ceded to the Toungoo Dynasty, regained

Ceded to the Toungoo Dynasty, regained

Ceded to the Konbaung Dynasty (Third Burmese Empire)


Former administrative division maps[edit]


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