Recently I have got questions about this topic from newbies coming to Thailand. I thought I would write about it, so we can share a little bit of Thai culture to everyone.
I have some foreign friends living in Thailand, and heard some of their misbehavior to Thai people’s eyes. We were talking and laughing about the funny encounters .From their respective, it was ok to do so, but it is actually not for Thai people. Thai culture is vastly different from western culture and so before setting foot in Thailand you should find out about the essential ‘do and don’ts’ , so here I offer you things that I think they are important.
1. Always smile. When you have a language problem or any situation for that matter, smiling always open up the conversation. This way you can ensure that the person will try their best to help you.
2. Always be respectful to the elderly, in every situation. If you are bargaining at the market with a seller who is obviously older than you are, or if you are bargaining with a tuk-tuk driver who is older than you, do this in a polite way, with a smile on your face and don’t be rude. (Apart from being considered to be a polite person, as a bonus you will see the result in the price!)
3. Take off your shoes before entering a temple and a Thai house. Do the same at other places where the Thai people do so too (for instance before entering dental clinic, hair dressers etc.)
4. Be very careful about taking photos of Buddha images. Buddha images are sacred, whatever size or condition– some images are so sacred that photographs are forbidden.
1. Use your feet to point at or poke people, or put your feet on the table. This is considered as highly impolite like you slap them in their faces, as the feet are considered as the most inferior parts of the human body.
2. Sit on a higher level than an adult person you are meeting with. If you visit a Thai family, many Thais like to sit on the floor, so you shouldn’t sit on a chair which is higher than them. It is like you disrespect adult.
3. Wear too revealing clothes to a temple. Most places don’t allow you to enter the temple with shorts, so they have sarongs available in cheap price for you to wrap around your lower body.
4. Raise your voice or show aggression when you encounter a problem. In Thailand shouting and shows of annoyance are entirely frowned upon, whatever the situation. There may be times when you face frustrations, do so quietly a calmly…and remember to smile 🙂
Good luck and enjoy your stay in Thailand.