When it comes to warmth and hospitality toward guests, the Thai’s have built an immensely positive reputation. It’s is also a major reason why Thailand has emerged as one of the world’s biggest modern tourist destinations.
Thai people are renowned for their positive nature and their welcoming attitude all over the world. However, the members of the Thai society generally carry a unique and peculiar set of moral and religious sensitivities towards which visitors will need to be extra cautious.
While in Thailand, understanding what Thai people like or dislike will surely help make your journey memorable and worthwhile. So, let us look into the things that you should do and shouldn’t do when you are in Thailand.
- Use a spoon to eat your food
People in Thailand primarily use a spoon to eat their food. In fact, they rarely, if ever, use forks to put food inside their mouths, even if its use may appear to be convenient. Eating with any other utensils except the spoon isn’t considered to be a sign of good manners. And never confuse Thai food with Chinese food: Thais don’t use Chopsticks to eat their food, unless they are in a Chinese restaurant.
- Take a shower whenever possible
Thailand is a warm tropical country and it’s usually pretty hot all year round. This also means that your skin will be sweating a lot. Thus, it’s not unusual to see people bathing multiple times a day. So, if you are in Thailand, do make sure that you take a shower at least once every day.
- Remove your shoes before you enter a door
Wearing shoes indoors is usually considered very disrespectful in Thailand: the exceptions being Western-themed venues and events. In fact, wearing shoes inside religious sites is altogether forbidden. Thus, always be extra careful about whether you should be wearing a footwear or not. Rather than wearing shoes everywhere, it would be wiser to wear sandals or flip-flops and not just for comfort, but also for complying with social codes.
- Keep a happy face
Keeping a cold or irritated face is certainly not something that you will want others to notice in Thailand. Facial expressions matter a lot in Thai culture and it’s considered extremely rude to openly display discontent through the face. Even if you don’t like a deal, you will be expected to see it off happily and not negatively or angrily.
- Know how to greet locally
Although Thailand thrives around a tourist economy, you would be wrong to think that most people are very fluent in English. Barring a few exceptions, even in tourist establishments and businesses, the knowledge of English is limited to a few words and terms. Thus, as far as possible, a visitor should try to obtain some knowledge about the basic terms and greetings in the Thai language. Even with a slight knowledge of the Thai language, a visitor may be able to get good deals and bargains. Also, people don’t greet each other with a handshake. Instead, they follow display specific bowing and gesture rituals based on the position of the person. Make sure that you know are familiar about these rituals and know when to use them
- Don’t disrespect the Thai Monarchy
Most Thai citizens are very respectful of the Thai Monarchy and can be easily offended if they get even a hint of discourtesy against the King, or any member of the Thai Royal Family (including those who have passed away). In fact, it’s not even uncommon to hear about tourists being called to the police station or even deported on grounds of disrespect towards the Royalty. So as far as possible, refrain talking about any topic that relates to the monarchy and even if you do need to have a conversation on the monarchy, only talk briefly in a positive light.
- Don’t offend religious customs
The Thai people are generally very religious, with Buddhism being the most followed religion in Thailand. So, anyone seen disrespecting the Buddha or Buddhist monk in any way can invite a hostile response from people in general. Most people, especially women, are forbidden from even touching a Buddhist monk. Also, be careful not to pose for pictures around Buddhist temples and monasteries. Even the slightest hint of disrespect against the Buddha and Buddhism can invite heavy fines and even prison sentences. In fact, it’s against the law to carry a physical picture of the Buddha with you outside the country. You should be careful about what you wear around religious places as well. More often, donning light clothes with low visibility of the skin around arms and feet is highly encouraged.
- Don’t take your feet casually
In Thailand, most people consider the feet to be the lowest and filthiest part of their body. So, the use of the feet for anything except walking and climbing is considered offensive in the Thai culture. Thus, whenever possible, you should never show your feet towards any other people, especially monks. Also, keep your feet clean.
- Don’t touch other’s head/hair or point with your fingers
In Thai culture, touching the head of other people isn’t taken positively at all. Avoid touching the head or caressing the hair of other people by surprise, including kids. It’s also considered rude to point fingers towards any entity, especially people and religious monuments. You should avoid using your finger to point towards anything and instead try narrating with words.
- Don’t display affection in public
Although Thailand is a fairly free society, the public display of affection isn’t taken positively by the ordinary people. People don’t react well to the sights of kissing and hugging between members of the opposite sex in public. While people may not openly react to such displays, they will not consider it a morally acceptable act in public.
Thailand is generally very hospitable towards tourists and visitors. However, despite the hospitality and gentleness, tourists should always keep in mind that it’s a fairly conservative society. Following the ways of the natives while in Thailand will not just keep you out of trouble, but also make it easy for you to mingle with the society.