Thai Customs – Some Dos and Don’ts

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Thai greeting or Wai

A Traditional Thai Greeting


Thais are known for their tolerance and hospitality, and the average tourist will have no difficulty in adjusting to local customs. In most cases, being polite and respectful will get you through a lot of situations. Basically, getting along involves good common sense and how one should behave at home.

Still, there are a few special tips for travellers to Thailand:

  • Public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon. You may see Westernised young Thai’s holding hands in public, but that is as far as it goes, in polite society.
  • Thai’s consider the head as the highest part of the body, both literally and figuratively. As a result they don’t approve of touching anyone on the head, even as a friendly gesture.
  • It is considered rude to point the sole of your foot at another person, so try to avoid doing so when sitting opposite someone.
  • Buddhist monks are forbidden to touch or be touched by a woman, or to accept anything from the hand of one. If a woman wants to give anything to a monk or novice, she first hands it to a man, who then presents it. In case the woman wants to present it with her hand, the monk or novice will spread out a piece of saffron robe, and the woman will lay down the gift on the material.
  • It is alright to wear shoes whilst walking around the grounds of a Buddhist temple, but not inside the chapel where the Buddha image is kept. Women should ensure that their legs and shoulders are covered before entering a Buddhist temple. Please do not wear shorts.
  • The Thai people have a deep traditional reverence for the Royal Family, and the visitor should also show respect for the King and the Queen, and the Royal Children. When attending a public event where a member of the Royal Family is present, the best guide on how to behave is to watch the crowd and do as it does.
  • Do make sure you have adequate travel insurance.
  • Do ensure that you have a visa if you need one.
  • Do try and learn a few basic phrases in Thai, like ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’.
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Updated: December 21, 2010 by admin

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