Dos and Don’ts in Thailand for First-Time Visitors
Thailand is called the “land of smiles” for a reason. Locals like to receive everyone with a smile. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts we made to make sure they keep smiling in your presence!
Although the Thai capital is a modern cosmopolitan city, most of Bangkok’s residents take their centuries-old traditions very seriously. If you want to earn respect from locals, then you need to check out this list. Below, we’ll go over few dos and don’ts every foreigner should know before booking his/her flight to Suvarnabhumi Airport. Trust us, you’ll save yourself a ton of embarrassment in Bangkok if take these tips seriously.
- Don't Speak ill of the king or royal family
- Don’t Point your feet at Buddha images or directly at people
- Don’t Touch people on the head
- Don’t Make physical contact with or sit next to a monk if you are female
- Don’t lose your temper
- Don’t forget to stay Hydrated
- Do Take your shoes off when entering a temple, someone’s home or if you see shoes lined up outside of a store
- Do dress properly
- Do learn key Thai phrases
- Do Remember that a small token of appreciation goes a long way
- Do eat with a spoon
Don’t: Don't Speak ill of the king or royal family
Thailand has one of the oldest monarchies in the world and it’s greatly loved by its people.
Pay the appropriate amount of respect to any effigy of the king; such as, for instance, the banknotes on which his image appears. The maximum sentence for insulting the king in Thailand is life imprisonment.
Don't: Don’t Point your feet at Buddha images or directly at people
Pointing with your fingers or feet at people is considered rude in Thai culture. Indeed, the feet are considered the lowliest part of the body, so using your feet to point at someone is almost like swearing at them. Never point your feet towards other people or Buddhist statues under any circumstance.To get someone’s attention or indicate something, it’s better to use your chin than your fingers. we’d only advise you point to inanimate objects, menu items, or animals with your hands
Don't: Don’t Touch people on the head
The head is seen as the most sacred part of the body; the highest. So never touch anyone’s head or hair. That goes for children as well. Also, try and prevent people from having to step over you if you’re sitting or sleeping on the floor
Don't: Don’t Make physical contact with or sit next to a monk if you are female
Monks take hundreds of sacred vows when they’re ordained, one of which forbids them from making physical contact with women including brushing past them or even handing them objects
Don't: Don’t lose your temper
Raising your voice, yelling, showing impatience, hostility or aggression is considered highly inappropriate in Thai culture. Always keep calm, even if you don’t agree with something. A smile is the best way to reach an agreement.
Don't: Don’t forget to stay Hydrated
No matter what time of year you.re visiting, you must remember to drink plenty of bottled water to stave off dehydration. This is especially true if you frequently drink dehydrating beverages like alcohol or coffee.
Do: Do Take your shoes off when entering a temple, someone’s home or if you see shoes lined up outside of a store
Feet are considered the dirtiest part of the body, so it’s very common for people to take their shoes off before entering a room to avoid taking dirt inside. Under no circumstance are shoes allowed inside temples.
Do: Do dress properly
In general, Thais dress modestly and it is usually not appropriate to show too much skin. It’s hot in Thailand, but there are heaps of light, loose clothes at the markets that are both culturally and weather appropriate. Stock up on the ubiquitous (and inexpensive) harem pants to stay cool and modest while saving the tank tops and bikinis for when you go to the beach in the southern islands. This goes for guys too, even if you’re hot it’s not okay to be out in public without a shirt on unless you’re at a pool or beach.
Do: Do learn key Thai phrases
Learning basic Thai phrases will help you get around town and locals will appreciate when you make an effort. Plus, it’s just common courtesy to learn a few key words and phrases of a country you’re visiting. It’s a fun language to speak (or at least try to!) so you’re bound to exchange some laughs with the locals and might even receive some discounts at the markets.
Do: Do Remember that a small token of appreciation goes a long way
If you’re staying with a local family, bring a small token or gift of appreciation as a polite guest. Something from your home that represents where you’re from will help share a piece of your culture with the locals and express your gratitude for being welcomed into their community. That said, when it doubt, you can’t go wrong with grabbing a bunch of fresh tropical fruit to share.
Do: Do eat with a spoon
When it comes to cutlery in Thailand, it’s customary to eat with a spoon in your right hand and a fork in your left. Use the fork to scoop the food onto the spoon; the fork never enters the mouth. Chopsticks are mainly used for Chinese dishes, noodles, and spring rolls.
While it may seem like a lot to remember, don’t worry! You’ll love your time in Thailand – it will just be made even better by being aware of these cultural practices.