Important Thai Customs for Tourists

Important Thai Customs for Tourists

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

People in Thailand have many customs that visitors are expected to understand and follow. It is only proper that visitors know certain basic customs so as not to appear rude. Thai people are very controlled, calm individuals that are always clean, neat and smiling. They appreciate visitors that respect their culture by also being clean, reserved, cordial and happy. Here are five things to consider during your next trip to Thailand.

Dress

Because of the humidity in Thailand, shorts are permissible, but it is more appreciated that visitors wear trousers or longer skirts and cover the shoulders. It used to be that shoes were required, but sandals are permitted in most places. It is custom for clothing to be clean, tidy and modest in most situations.

Greeting

Handshaking is nonexistent in Thailand. Instead a greeting consists of palms pushed together with fingers upright and the head is bowed. The word Sawadee is said during the bow. It is customary for the youngest or lowest in station to start the greeting. Therefore, an employee would start the greeting for their boss. It is safe for visitors to return any greeting they may get from anyone in Thailand although it is unnecessary to return it to serving staff, drivers or children. The gesture is repeated when leaving the person that has been greeted as well.

Religious Places and People

Thailand is a Buddhist country and full of temples with orange clad monks. It is permissible for visitors to go inside a temple, but there are several requirements. Shoes must be removed and if dress is not proper the visitor may be asked to cover bare legs or shoulders with a sarong or shawl provided for free. Never touch altars or religious statues in or around the temple. Also never touch a monk. Monks do not touch females although it is proper for them to converse with them. It is customary in Thailand for females to move out of the way of monks on public streets.

Head, Hands and Feet

The head is sacred in Thailand and touching someone’s head is not proper at all. Avoid pointing with the fingers or feet at anyone in Thailand, but especially monks or royalty. The feet are considered the lowest and dirtiest part of the body and therefore, one should never point with the feet. This includes when seated on the floor. Feet should be tucked under the body so they do not point at anyone or anything. Never put feet up on a table and never step over a person sitting on the floor. When on the bus wait for people to move to pass by and never step over them or be considered rude and disrespectful. It is usually customary to remove shoes before entering a home.

Politeness
Never raise the voice or lose control in public as it is very disrespectful and embarrassing for anyone around. The royal family is highly respected and should never be the brunt of any disrespectful remarks. Be polite at all times and there should be no misunderstandings.

This guest post was written by Travel writer Emily West who writes on behalf of some of the top travel sites including Erentals.co.uk where she writes advice on a number of topics including tips for hiring a car in Sanford during peak season to the best scenic routes New Zealand has to offer. Image by torugatoru