Advice to Visitors
Advice to Visitors
Do’s an Don’ts
Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles and to ensure both you and those around you continue to smile then it is important that you are aware of the most basic of do’s and don’ts. As with most things in life it is a matter of common sense, and simple good manners but it is worth pointing out a few areas that should be noted.
The Thai Monarchy
The Thai people have a deep traditional reverence for their Royal Family. You will note on your travels that every commercial building will hang a picture of a King (not necessarily the present monarch) you will also note that in a cinema, a montage of pictures of the King is shown prior to the main film along with the royal anthem, and you along with the rest of the audience is expected to stand.
Thai Social Customs
Thais do not normally shake hands when they greet one another, but instead press the palms together in a prayer like gesture called a Wai. Generally a younger person wais an elder, who out of courtesy returns it.
It is considered rude to point your foot at a person, or to show the sole of your feet therefore do try to avoid doing so when sitting opposite another person.
It is considered rude to call someone over to you by curling your index finger; if you wish to call a person to you put your hand out flat palm down and curls all your fingers
Thais regard the head as the highest part of the body both literally and figuratively. As a result, they do not approve of touching anyone on that part of the body, even in a friendly gesture. Similarly, if you watch Thai’s (mainly the rural Thai’s) at a social gathering, you will notice that young people go to considerable lengths to keep their heads lower than those of the elder ones, to avoid giving the impression of “looking down” on them, it is this effort to be respectful to their elders that some westerners see young Thai’s to be cowering to their elders when in truth this is not the case it is the effort shown by the younger people that counts.
Public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon. You may see some very westernised young Thai couples holding hands, but that is the extent of the displaying of affection in this polite society.
Losing your temper, especially in public, Thais think that such displays denote poor manners, you are more able to get what you want by keeping calm and concealing your emotions. Note that Thai’s will hide behind a smile rather than a frown.
Do not be surprised if you are addressed by your first name: for instance, Mr. Bob or Miss Mary instead of by your surname. This is because Thais refer to one another in this manner, usually with the title “Khun” (which donates Mr, Mrs. or Miss).
Following the customs of any country as far as possible is the art of making friends in a new country.