What are some cultural Do’s and Don’t in Thailand?

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Answer

Thai people are extremely polite and their behavior is controlled by etiquette and influenced by Buddhism. Thai society is non-confrontational, and as such, you should avoid confrontations at all costs.

Never loose, your patience or show your anger now matter how frustrating or desperate the situation because this is considered a weakness in Thai society. It is important to cultivate an air of diplomacy when traveling in Asia. Conflicts can be easily resolved with a smile.

Dress code is also important. Thais like to dress smartly and neatly. Do not wear revealing clothing such as shorts, low cut dresses, and bathing suits as they are considered as improper attire in Thailand. Keep in mind that this type of clothing is only acceptable in the beach. It is advisable to wear long skirts or long trousers when entering a temple.

Women should not touch monks. If a woman wants to hand something to a monk, she must do so indirectly by placing the item within the monk’s reach.

Remove shoes when entering houses and temples.

Public display of affection between sexes is frowned upon.

Avoid touching people. The head is the highest part of the body, so avoid touching it. The feet are the least sacred, so avoid pointing it at anyone or kicking them as it is extremely insulting to do so. Thais usually do not shake hands.

The ‘Wai’ is the usual greeting. The hands are placed together and raised upwards towards the face while the head is lowered with a slight bow. The height to which the hands are held depends on the status of the people involved. The higher, the more polite.

In case of monks, higher dignitaries, and elderly, hands are raised to the bridge of the nose, while with equals only as far from the chest. Young people and inferiors are not Wai’d but a slight nod is acceptable.

Do not blow your nose or lick your fingers while eating. While Thai people may commonly pick their noses they have high table manners. The right hand must be used when picking up food eaten with fingers.

When entering a foreign culture for the first time, it is highly likely to make a mistake. If you do so in Thailand, just smile or ‘Wai’ and you will be forgiven.

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