Thailand Culture and Customs
Having enjoyed a wonderful trip to Thailand a few years ago, I thought it would be appropriate to mention a few important pointers on The Thai Culture for those planning to visit in the near future. The Thai people are lovely and for those traveling to any foreign country, it is important to recognize and respect the customs of the people for the country they are visiting.
Recently, there has been global regarding incidents where visitors to that country have been arrested for choosing to ignore and being disrespectful of that country’s culture and customs.
The Thai Culture and Some Simple Rules to Follow
In Thailand, their culture differs greatly from our way of life here in North America, Europe and other similar countries. So before landing in their country, here are a few things to keep in mind and practice while visiting. I encourage everyone visiting a foreign country to enjoy, yet respect the people, customs and culture of that country.
A Few Do’s and Do Not’s Regarding The Thai Culture
This country is internationally known as the land of smiles! 🙂 Unlike us in the west, we generally smile as a greeting gesture or show of kindness. In Thailand however, people smile for a variety of reasons. They smile to say hello or thank you, to make a request, to apologize, to smooth over bad feelings or even to show embarrassment.
So for example, if you order something to eat that isn’t to your liking and you happen to complain, you may receive a smile. So don’t assume that they are just making fun of you or laughing.
Do Show Respect for The King
Thai people show a great respect for their King and they also expect you to do so as well. Typically, their National Anthem is played twice a day usually at 8am and 6pm and at movie theatres. Everyone is expected to stand while it is being played. Never make a joke or an insult about their King or the Royal Family. While we visited Thailand, I don’t recall hearing their anthem or taking notice of this tradition at all.
The current monarch of Thailand is Bhumibol Adulyadej
Do Respect the Buddha Religion
Always be kind and show respect for this country’s main religion which is for the Buddha. As well, there are many Monks walking about, so always be kind, smile and never be afraid to approach and to talk with them. When visiting their temples, wear appropriate clothing (no shorts or tank tops) and remove your shoes as well. You may be interested in my feature post and photos on the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
Traditionally, it is considered inappropriate for women to touch a monk, so be careful should you wish to have your picture taken with them.
Everywhere you walk, you will come upon small and large religious shrines. Do respect these at all times and never touch or move them. The Thai people have many traditional believes and for some, disrupting their temples or shrines can cause a disruption of harmonious balance.
Do Not Touch a Thai Person on the Head
This is taboo and the head is considered sacred in their culture. To touch the head would be offensive to them and very inappropriate on your part. As an example and in the picture above, you would never approach this woman street vendor and get her attention by tapping her on the head. A big no no! 🙁
Do Not Point Your Feet
Not something that we found a problem at any time during our stay in Thailand, but traditionally one should not point their feet at a Thai person or anything for that matter of a sacred meaning. I would be more mindful of this in traditional places such as with Monks and in Temples and so forth. Not something to really worry about as in tourist areas, the Thai people have become more accustomed to our lack of knowledge regarding their customs.
As well, one should not step over anyone, but instead, walk around them. This is a matter of respect in the Thai culture.
Whiteness is a Symbol of Beauty
We spent the majority of time on the beautiful beaches of Thailand and again traditionally for Thai people, they believe the lighter the skin of a Thai, the higher in status one is in their culture. I don’t think this is as important today as it once used to be traditionally for the Thai people.
There you have it, just a few things to think about when you travel to this beautiful Country in South East Asia. In all our travels around the globe, we have yet to meet a more friendly, helpful and respectful person than that of a Thai.
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Did You Know …
“Thailand is made up of approximately 1,430 islands. Many of the islands have become famous for being featured in Hollywood films.”