Google Says Thais Curious About Free Money, N95 Masks, Hong Kong

A football team practices while wearing N95 masks in January 2019.

BANGKOK — Throughout 2019, Thais’ Google searches were filled with searches for soap operas, overseas holiday destinations, as well as the government’s tourism incentive program.

The guilty pleasures of a nation, in this case Thailand’s love for lakorn, shopping, and celebrity dramas cannot be hidden when mass amounts of Internet searches are recorded and examined, as it was when Google revealed its top results for Thailand in 2019. 

The “Chim, Shop, Chai” or Taste, Shop, Use scheme, where a 1,000 baht handout to 10 million people to spend on local tourism, topped both the most-searched overall term and how-to categories. Four of the remaining most-searched terms were all lakorns. 

Despite Google Year in Search’s theme being about heroes, Thailand’s results did not include a category of people searched about. People still loved to read about other people, of course – especially in terms of sensational news like a promotional model who was drugged and killed while on the job in September.

New categories include popular shops, domestic tourism, and international tourism.

1Top Search Keywords

A promotional image of Chim, Shop, Chai program.

“ชิมช้อปใช้” (Chim, Shop, Chai) a government scheme to boost tourism that allowed 10 million citizens to spend 1,000 baht at some restaurants and shops, as well as made them eligible for tax rebates. The scheme was so popular that the government launched two more rounds of the scheme.

“กรงกรรม” (Cage of Karma) 1967, Nakhon Sawan. Ranee “Bella” Campen plays a prostitute who enters Thai-Chinese family, to the rage of her mother-in-law. Family drama and black magic ensue.

“เมียน้อย” (The Mistress) The struggles of a gangster’s mia noi, enduring rape, physical abuse, and so on. 

“ใบไม้ที่ปลิดปลิว” (Leaves on the Wind) A transgender woman sets off on a path of revenge after cruel family members caused her mother’s death. 

“หัวใจศิลา” (Heart of Stone) The son of a mia noi rebels against his dad’s abusive mia luang and makes his way up the social ladder.

2Domestic News

A still from CCTV footage showing Rachadech Wongtabutr carrying Thitima’s unconscious body up the elevator at his condominium on Sept. 16. Photo: Thitima Noraphanpiphat / Facebook

ข่าวลัลลาเบล (Death of model Thitima “Bell” Noraphanpiphat)”

ข่าวออฟฟี่ แม็กซิม (Sex scandals of a Maxim model that broke in June)”

ข่าวน้องโยโย่ (The sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl by her father’s friend)”

ข่าวป๊อบ ปองกูล (Singer Pongkool “Pop” Suebsun was found to have been cheating on his wife with another woman for a decade)

ข่าวปุ๊กกี้ ปริศนา (90s singer Prissana “Pukky” Praisaeng arrested for transnational drug trafficking)”

3International News

Japanese clean up after the typhoon. Image: Associated Press

Japanese storm (Typhoon Hagibis)

Pabuk storm

Asteroid hitting Earth (Always good to be careful!)


Hong Kong


Food at Nhong Rim Khlong. Image: Wongnai

ร้านหน่องริมคลอง Nhong Rim Khlong, a Thai restaurant in Ekkamai 21

ร้านกาแฟชายทุ่ง Chai Thung Coffee, a coffee shop founded by Princess Sirindhorn in Pathum Thani

ร้านวรรณระยอง Wan Rayong, a chain of wholesale discount stores in Rayong that participate in the Chim, Shop, Chai scheme

ร้านภูฟ้า Phufa, a shop owned by Princess Sirindhorn selling Royal Project products

ร้านป้าบุญล้อม Pa Boonlorm, a Samut Prakan restaurant popular for its 499 baht seafood buffets


A screencap from Cage of Karma

“กรงกรรม” (Cage of Karma)

“เมียน้อย” (The Mistress)

“ใบไม้ที่ปลิดปลิว” (Leaves on the Wind) 

“หัวใจศิลา” (Heart of Stone)

“มธุรสโลกันตร์” In the forests of the Sakae Krang River delta, a forest bandit leader must marry a reluctant city girl. 


Thais vote in the election on March 24, 2019.

How to register for Chim, Shop, Use

How to vote

How to track a Kerry package

How to wear a N95 mask

How to withdraw money from state welfare cards

7International tourist destinations

A file photo of Georgia. Image: Expedia

Georgia Following a low-cost airline’s announcement to launch flights from Bangkok


Hong Kong



8Domestic tourist destinations

A New Year Day ceremony at the “death railway” in Kanchanburi province.


Nakhon Nayok

Chiang Mai


Surat Thani


“รักติดไซเรน” (My Ambulance) With 140.8 million views and counting on YouTube, there’s a very high chance you’ve heart this pop-rap hit, whether wittingly or unwittingly. The celebrity-studded MV is filmed at EmQuartier mall as well. What could be more Thai?

“ธารารัตน์” (Thararat) Hip-hop artist Youngohm’s hit, coupled with a vintage-themed MV, has 190 million views on YouTube. 

“ชอบแบบนี้” (I Like It This Way) a romantic pop-rock song by 17-year-old singer Nhamtoey Sabaengbin with 233 million plays on YouTube

“งัดถั่งงัด” (Ngud Tung Ngud) It’s not a Top 5 songs playlist without one luk thung banger! 176 million views.

“แก้มน้องนางนั้นแดงกว่าใคร” (Your Cheeks Are Redder than All Others) Soulful and touching, Kiankai and Wanitch band’s gentle love song (12 million for an audio video, 44 million for a live version) has been covered extensively. 

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