What you Should Know about Thai's Customs?

Thai customs are easily can be overlooked in Bangkok. You can show your respect to the local by practising below cultural points.

The 'Wai'
Pressing your palm together at chest or to your nose level with your head slightly bow is the gesture is an integral part of Thai etiquette. It is to denotes respect, hello, thank you & good bye.

Sawadee! From by Daveiam from flickr with CC BY 2.0
Unconditional Respect
You will see the Thai king’s image at almost everywhere, on poster outside building, restaurant and taxi dashboard. You need to always stand when the king’s anthem played before movies, concerts and sport events. Please refrain from doing any judgmental remarks about the royals.

National Pride
Since several decades, Thai government has introduces many practices to promote nationalism. For example, the national anthem shall be broadcast-ed twice daily to institutionalize patriotism among the citizen. If you are at pedestrian, in the commuter or anywhere in Thai, you need to immediately stop and stand whenever this song is played.

Colourful Days
This is such a legend thing. On Monday, you will see many people are wearing yellow shirt to acknowledge and honouring the king’s birth day. Then pink on Tuesday, light blue on Friday) Queen’s day of birth) and now, due to political protest, red and yellow became a very popular colour to represent the opposing movements between the people.

Mai pen rai (Nevermind)
This is something like unofficial philosophy of the country. People wanna have fun and sometimes things are not been taken seriously. But no worries “Mai pen rai!”

A Thai crossdressing entertainer singing in the street on Kho San Road. Photo by Bridget Coila on flickr with CC BY-SA 2.0

Sexual Tolerance
Thailand is really safe for GLBT travellers. Transsexuals, or known as krathoeys, or lady boys are really in a good visible in mainstream society, from a scantily clad teens to high profile celebrities.

Religious Objects
95% of Thai’s a Buddhist from the Theravad. They worship Buddha images and don amulets for protection. Besides, there are many other animist activities have also been integrated into Thai people’s religious life too. There are many buildings boasting spirit houses or altars with food or garlands to appease the spirit who inhabit the land. For travellers, no touching all the displays as for Thais, it can be so superstitious, and can disrupt the harmonious balance.

Bodily Conduct
Based on Buddhist beliefs, the head is the most valued part of the body while the feet are the lowest, symbolizing attachment to the ground, a cause of human suffering. Touching someone’s head is highly offensive, as is raising your feet or pointing them at people or religious objects.

Thai Monk. Photo by Shafiu Hussain on flickr with CC BY 2.0

Other than that,  shoes are to be removed before entering homes and religious structures. Most types of attire are tolerated in areas frequented by tourists. It is a good idea, however, to cover up when visiting temples and shrines. Those wearing sleeveless tops, short skirts, shorts, and flip flops may be denied entrance. Also, while it is taboo for a woman to touch a monk or pass things to him directly, polite conversation is fine.

Thais are generally addressed by their first names, preceded by the honorific title Khun, appropriate for both men and women.

Bathroom Basics

Outside of large cities, squat toilets rule. These are flushed by pouring water from an adjacent bucket into the hole. Also, used toilet paper is to be discarded in the bin provided; never try to flush it down as it most plumbing isn't designed to handle paper. In areas where outdoor bathing is the norm, women will don a cotton sarong or wraparound, and men will bathe in their underwear.


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