Visiting Thailand brings some responsibility and enjoyment, such as learning the culture and etiquette of its native people. To avoid being that foreigner who is constantly making cultural mistakes abroad, get the necessary knowledge about Thai culture and the do's and don'ts in Thailand.
Learning how to display utmost respect in Thailand is easy if you follow these important facts. This post will help you become familiar with Thai culture and prevent you from offending someone unintentionally during your trip.
If you are ready, let's get started!
Let's start with dos in Thailand. I want you to know that everything below is related to common kindness rules in societies. You should also practice them in Thailand to be polite and respectful towards Thai people and their beliefs. Thailand's do's are pretty simple and implementable. Let's see what they are!
In Thailand, feet are thought to be an unclean part of the body. People take their shoes off before entering a house, temple, or even some traditional restaurants, like in many other Asian countries.
If you see a pile of shoes in front of the door, it is an obvious sign that you are expected to take your footwear off to go inside.
It is also a common belief among Asian cultures that the left hand is known to be dirty because it is used for toilet functions. That's why you should use your right hand when handshaking and giving something to people.
Most Thai people try to dress modestly since showing too much skin is considered disrespectful. It is an especially important point when visiting Thai temples. Before entering a temple, the law states that you should wear clothes that fully cover your body between the shoulders and knees.
I know that the weather in Thailand is generally too hot to be covered up. For this reason, there are many stores near the temples selling thin and light clothing items that are more appropriate for hot weather.
Wai (pronounced as why) means bowing in the Thai language. A 'wai' is how Thai people greet each other traditionally. When someone greets you with a 'wai,' you should always return it; otherwise, it would be disrespectful.
In addition, the 'wai' is not only used to greet people. You can also wai someone as a form of apology or gratefulness.
1. First, put your palms together in front of your chest so that each finger is touching its counterpart.
2. Then, bring your hands to touch the middle of your chest
3. Now, slightly bow your head so that your index fingers touch your nose.
From now on, you know how to perform the basic wai greeting! Rather than bending at the hips, this greeting only requires slightly bending your neck, like a nod.
You should also know that men and women wai a bit differently. Women should bend their knees while men should only bend their heads.
Tuk-tuk drivers are notorious for taking people to unwanted locations, such as a men's tailor or a jewelry store. They do this to receive some commission from the shop owners in cash for rounding up potential customers.
If you want to travel by tuk-tuk, make sure you negotiate a fixed price and assert that you don't want any stops before your destination.
You may see monks anywhere in Thailand, and don't forget to show them respect. One way to be respectful to monks is not to ask them overly personal questions.
Let's say you want to give a monk a gift. Just place it in front of him instead of handing it directly.
Women should be careful around monks because it's forbidden for women to interact with monks and touch them.
Not a surprise, but the proper way to eat in Thailand is to use a spoon and fork. The spoon should be in the right hand and the fork in the left hand.
Thai people use the fork to only scoop the food onto the spoon, so they don't eat with a fork.
Smiling makes up the basis of Thai culture. That's why Thailand is also known as the Land of Smiles. Smiling is an important part of Thai etiquette.
Thai people also smile to avoid confrontations; however, it does not mean their smile is fake. Thais are friendly people, and their smile shows respect and sympathy, so don't hesitate to smile in return.
There are some don'ts in Thailand. Some of them are the universal respect rules that we all know. If you follow these steps during your visit to Thailand, you will gain the sympathy and respect of the Thai people.
The Thai people have genuine respect and love for their king and all the royal family. Insulting, disrespecting, or gossiping about the royal family is considered rude and disrespectful. To avoid any problems, you'd better be careful about it.
Regardless of your destination, you must respect every country's national virtues, such as the Thai flag, national anthem, and national heroes. Nobody can overlook this kind of disrespect in their land. So it is the same case in Thailand.
Shouting and displaying strong emotions or aggressive behavior is highly frowned upon in Thailand. Keep yourself cool even though things go wrong on your trip. Always keep smiling no matter what.
The head is considered the highest and most sacred part of the body by Thai people. Therefore, you shouldn't touch a person's head, including their hair, without their consent, even if they are children.
Additionally, never raise your feet over someone's head and don't step over someone sleeping or laying on the ground.
Pointing at someone in Thailand is considered inappropriate, which is the same case in many other countries. Instead, you can slightly lift your chin in the direction of the person you're indicating.
If you want to tell someone to come closer, you can just raise your hand and wave it up and down.
On the other hand, pointing at animals and objects is okay. However, it's better to use your whole hand instead of just the index finger.
As we mentioned before, feet are considered dirty, so pointing with your feet is even ruder than pointing with your finger. It is an important point to keep in mind while visiting Buddhist temples in Thailand. Never point at Buddha statues with your feet.
Moreover, you shouldn't show the bottom of your feet because they're considered very dirty, so try to avoid putting your feet on top of tables.
Buddhism is the primary religion in Thailand; hence you should always respect the statues and images of the Buddha.
Do not even think about climbing on Buddha statues! It is very offensive, and you can be punished by Thai law. Also, it is illegal to take photos of the Buddha to send them out of the country without permission.
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