About Thailand » Do's & Don'ts

Do's & Don'ts

king family vacation packagetour thailand traveler hotel cheaphotel tourTravelling is fascinating, which is beyond question of a doubt. People travel to see other cultures, experience other communities’ lifestyles, try their cuisines, admire how they dress, and generally see how their function in their societies. Coming from a culturally distant society means that a traveler does not always know how to maintain an appropriate behavior in foreign society. It is paramount to understand other communities’ way of being and respect them accordingly. Following the list of what to do and not to do, will help you spend a happy time in Thailand, while showing respect to the Thai culture at the same time.

The Monarchy
The Thais love their King and His Family beyond a question of a doubt. The Thai monarchy is highly revered by the whole country and it is commonly expected that all foreign travelers in Thailand will show high respect for His Majesty. Whereas in other monarchies like the UK or Sweden, it is allowed to criticize their kings and the royal families, criticism of the Thai Royal Family is not only considered rude in Thailand, but in fact it is prohibited by law. There were cases of foreign journalists and travelers being put to prison in Thailand for saying or writing disrespectful statements about the Royal Family. It is not a joke and all people travelling to Thailand should take it very seriously. When you travel in Thailand, you cannot say anything that might sound offensive about the King or otherwise Thai people will dislike you, or worse, you will have to bear the legal consequences.

The national religion of Thailand is Buddhism, which is believed by the majority of Thais. There are other religions such as Islam and Christianity, too, albeit in minority. It is necessary to keep in mind that religious dress code is very important and every traveler must be dressed politely when entering religious places.  Polite dressing style adequate for visiting religious places is avoiding shorts, bikinis, tops unveiling your arms, skirts that let see your legs, sandals with open-toes, being dirty or wearing unkempt clothes. Since such dress code is deemed inappropriate, guards in many religious places will not allow the traveler to enter. If forbidden from entering inside, you can still enter inside provided that you rent sarongs and strips of material. Less frequented temples do not usually have guards, but you should conform to the dress code described above on your own.

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Buddha Images
Images of Buddha are revered and it does not matter how big or small there are, or in what condition they are. It is often prohibited to take pictures of Buddha If you insist on taking photos, you will be frowned upon by people or even asked to leave by the guard. Therefore, abiding to these rules is paramount. While sitting on the floor in front of Buddha, do not point your feet towards Buddha, because doing so is considered extremely rude. The right way of sitting on the floor is with your legs crossed. The Thais love their religion and Buddha and expect you to behave with respect.

There are special customs regarding getting around with monks. They cannot be touched by females. They cannot take anything from a woman. That being said, does not mean that a female is not allowed to give anything to a monk. Items first have to be put to another male, who will place them on a cloth. Subsequently, the monk will drag the cloth towards him before taking it. Furthermore, monks cannot shake male’s hands. When on public transport, monks should be treated with respect, just the same as in a temple. Sometimes there could be special seats on public transit reserved for monks. If there are many people on a bus, Thais do not hesitate to offer a seat to a monk. If you are sitting on a metro or a bus and a monk is standing next to you, consider offering your seat to the monk.

Shoes are customarily taken off when entering someone’s home, sometimes it is also done in hostels and even shops. If you enter a temple where there are images of Buddha, you must take off your shoes first.

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Thailand’s manners are much different from other countries. When greeting, Thais avoid shaking hands, which is not a common habit in Thailand. It is customary to place both hands together in front of the face and make a slight bow. In Thailand, this act is called wai. The habit of making wai requires that younger people make wai to older, so when you travel in Thailand do not wai children and generally younger people. Do not worry if you are not confident waiing other people, Thais are very flexible with greeting rules towards foreign travelers in their Kingdom.

The Head
Touching or especially patting other people’s heads (for example children) is completely unacceptable in Thailand. People may react with irritation, annoyance and bad feelings. The head is the highest part of the human’s body, and therefore is a kind of temple for Thais, and because of that it should be treated with special respect.

The Feet
Contrary to the head, the feet are the lowest part of the body. Therefore using feet or the palms of your feet to point at something or someone, including inadvertently, is considered very rude. Tourists in Thailand should be especially aware of not pointing feet at any images of Buddha.

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Being in a culturally distant country may at times be challenging for tourists coming straight from their comfort zones. Being in a big culture shock leads to situations when you do not fully control situation around you, and you are uncertain about how to effectively  communicate with people around you. The Thai society does not accept people showing their negative emotions in public. You cannot shout, show your annoyance, or talk in a rude manner. Thais will frown upon you or even start smiling or laughing (for face-saving), which may make the situation worse. The only solution is to stay calm, do not show your anger. You can try to communicate what is wrong, but showing it through negative emotions will not work in Thailand and will be condemned by the Thai people.

In Thailand, possessing, consuming or trafficking drugs in unlawful and it is strictly fought against by the Thai authorities. Do not take any part in trafficking narcotics or consuming them in Thailand. It is likely that a club or a bar will be raided by the authorities and random people are asked to give a urine sample. Having drugs detected in your blood, you will be in serious trouble – you will either have to pay a very high fine or even go to jail. Possessing drugs, or worse, dealing them, will result in long years in jail or death penalty. Better be safe than sorry.

Thais, especially the elderly, do not like when people kiss or cuddle in public (or show similar behaviors). Sometimes even younger Thais are surprised by this, but most of the Thai society avoids doing so in public anyway.

In general, Thais are not self-confident enough to accost foreign tourists to start a regular conversation. The Thai society is rather sheepish. If someone accosts you, it is likely they want to sell something, pretending to have a wonderful deal for you – a cheap watch, glasses, jewelry, gold, gems, or other products, which are usually counterfeit. They often have little value, and you are very likely to overpay many times. Avoid doing so.

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1. Do not drop litter in the public – the fine for this offence is 2000 Baht.

2. Do not smoke in public. If you do, you risk being fined up to 2000 Baht.

You may be offered to buy certain species of wild animals. No matter whether or not they are under protection, do not engage in this activity. The punishments will be severe.


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