We all love discovering new countries and experiencing different cultures, maybe even making new friends there, in 'far-away'. However, sometimes local etiquette trips up even the savviest travellers who are prone to make the occasional cultural stumble if they are not careful.
Thai people although open, friendly and very forgiving of their guests, will appreciate it a lot if travellers know at least a bit about the local etiquette.
Below you will find a list of do's and dont's that will make traveling in Thailand just a little bit easier!
* Make a good impression by greeting and responding to each ”Sawasdee” salute you get from locals. Greet the Thai by showing the same respect, politeness and friendliness. Smile often, talk softly, be kind and courteous.
Greet people by putting your palms together in a lotus bud shape (phanom mue), instead of shaking hands European style.
* Respect the monarchy. The national anthem is played every day at 8.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m., moments when you should stand and show respect. Same atitude applies when the royal cortege is passing by.
* Before taking pictures of people, ask for their consent – even by gesture, smiling and showing your camera.
* Take your shoes off when entering temples or any religious building or place, as well as in people’s houses.
* If you are invited to someone’s home, arrive on time and bring a small someting for the host.
* Support local communities by purchasing newly-made handicrafts; over the past, Thailand has lost cultural heritage bit by bit from trading ancient objects. Buy replicas of artefacts! For you these are just souvenirs, for Thais it is their cultural heritage.
* It is not polite to express your private affection by hugging and kissing your partener in public places. Holding hands is OK for foreigners, but rarely seen at locals.
* It is not acceptable to touch someone’s head – not even children’s; the head is considered to be the most sacred part of the human body.
* When speaking in (justified) anger, do not raise your tone of voice; Thais are not acustomed culturally to be conflictual, they do not have the same ability to manage vocal conflicts. Do not shout, it is considered violent.
* It is very impolite to bathe naked in public places.
* While sitting at a table or on the floor in temples take care that the soles of your feet are not pointed towards the shrine or to another person; it is considered an offence or humiliating posture, since the feet are the `dirtiest” part of the body.
* When entering any temple or religious place, do not step on the door way.
* It is not allowed for women to touch monks, so when giving merits just put the offering in his bowl or basket.
* When visiting villages, do not directly give things to children since it will encourage them into the habit of begging for things. If you like to donate, present through organisations or seniors in each village.