A visit to Thailand without any hiccups and hassles is quite possible if you are well aware of the local customs and traditions existent in Thailand. Well! It is that simple. Following basic notions observed in Thailand will not only prevent you to offend someone unknowingly and also make you stand apart while you are enjoying cheap shopping or relaxing at one of the beaches. This is only going to further enhance your experience in Thailand in addition to the beautiful local features.
We have below listed some points which you can take note of while your trip to Thailand.
Things to Follow in Thailand
1. Respect the king
If you openly disrespect the king or even the images of the king, you could be in serious trouble and land even in jail. Even mentioning the same over a social medium like Facebook and Twitter can land you serious consequences. People in Thailand love their king so be careful when you talk about the King. They don’t like hearing anything bad about their king.
2. Removing your shoes
Remove your shoes when you are visiting someone’s home or visiting the temple. Don’t be surprised if restaurants, businesses, and shops would ask you to do the same. Take a quick glance at the entrance, and if you see a pile of shoes, then you are also expected to remove your shoes while entering. Avoid wearing long boots or shoes which are tough to remove and wear each time while you are in Thailand.
3. Use a spoon
Use your right hand to hold a spoon and a fork with your left hand while enjoying delicious Thai food. The fork is used to support your spoon, and never to be put in the mouth. Chopsticks is a common feature for noodle dishes and treats like spring rolls.
4. Use your right hand
The left hand is considered to be used for toilet functions, hence it is considered dirty. If you are passing anything to someone, do it with your right hand. Touching your right forearm with your left-hand marks extra respect. It is gleefully accepted.
5. Returning a wai
The Wai is considered to be a prayerful gesture in Thailand and is done by folding hands in front and bowing your head slightly. Not returning a wai when you receive one is considered impolite. The King and the Monks are the only exceptions. Do not try to wai if you already have something in your hands, you can bow slightly.
6. Respecting the Monks
There would be several monk encounters during your trip to Thailand, especially in places such as Chiang Mai. Greet the monks and respect them whenever you meet them. Women should not be handing over anything to a monk or touching or brushing a monk’s robes. When in gatherings or groups, allow the monk to eat first at such places. They are plenty, don’t be surprised if you find them using smartphones and in internet cafes.
Thailand is known as a land of smiles. People in Thailand may offer you a smile as a feeling of gratitude and greeting. Always return a smile if you want to be in the good books. Smiling is always looked well upon whether you are using it during an apology, for relaxing, during negotiation, or while doing daily activities.
Things Not to Do in Thailand
1. Touching someone’s head or hear
The head is considered one of the sacred parts of the body. Even ruffling a child’s hair is considered rude. Even stepping or passing over someone or pointing your feet above someone’s head is bad etiquette.
2. Pointing your feet
Feet is considered dirty in Thailand and raising one’s feet beyond someone’s head or putting it on the chair or desk is considered rude in Thailand. Feet are not to be shown to people and definitely not to the Buddha.
3. Pointing your fingers
This is considered rude not only in Thailand but in many other cultures as well. If in case you are pointing toward someone, do lift your chin in their direction. If you are pointing toward unmovable objects and animals is acceptable, but it would rather be impolite if you point it toward an individual or group.
4. Raising your tone
People in Thailand are very relaxed in nature and do not talk to someone with a raised tone. Blowing your top, displaying strong emotions, or shouting is considered very bad etiquette. Even when circumstances are not going your way, try to maintain a calm and composed posture and body language.
5. Throwing things
Tossing or throwing things in someone’s direction is considered very bad etiquette. It is important that you maintain a cool head in unavoidable circumstances. Use your right hand while handing over things to someone. Always unfold money currencies when you are transacting.
Temple Etiquettes in Thailand
There are plenty of temples in Thailand and visiting one of them would be a treat for your holiday. Tourists and visitors often shy away from visiting the temples because they don’t understand the local customs and traditions. The ancient temples and mystifying and attractive, so visiting these beautiful antique places should definitely be on your cards.
Temples in Thailand are home to peaceful grounds in a courtyard which houses an ordination hall (bot), prayer hall (viharn), living residences (Kuti), stupas (chedi), a kitchen, and several classrooms or administrative buildings.
The bot has a Buddha statue and is reserved only for the monks. The visitors and tourists are allowed to go to the vihara to pray and check out the images of the Buddha. The bot is surrounded by eight sema stones outside forming a rectangular structure. There are decorative stones in the form of a square around a prayer hall. Both the areas have similar architecture and décor, so be careful when you stroll in the temple area.
Additional Points to take note of while Visiting Temples
- Remove your sunglasses, hats, headphones, and shoes while entering the worship area of the temple
- Switch off your mobile phone and use a low tone while interacting (only if necessary)
- Do not raise yourself beyond the Buddha statue
- Do standup when monks or nuns are entering the room. It is a sign of respect
- Dress up modestly if visiting a temple