The Ultimate Newbie Guide to Thailand

Dos and Don'ts in Thailand 

When traveling to a foreign country it is always wise to brush up on a few Dos and Don't especially when that country is Thailand where the culture, in many respects, is different than western culture. This will help you to a pleasant stay that both you and the hosts can appreciate, but it just might also held keep you out of trouble.
This section covers basic do's and don't that applies to all travelers in Thailand. The other sections in this chapter covers specific guidelines for when In Bars and interacting With Girls.

Generally Thais are extremely polite and easy going. They tend to smile a lot and mind their own business. They are patient, tolerant and extremely helpful. Sometimes it is downright amazing how tolerant they are especially in tourist areas where westerners not only seem to get away with things that are not tolerated elsewhere, that does not, however, mean that they do not take notice. By observing a few simple rules in their culture they will take notice too and very likely help enhance your stay in Thailand.

 

Thailand Do’s

    • Do

respect all Buddha images. Buddha images are held sacred and sacrilegious acts are punishable by imprisonment even if committed by foreign visitors.

    • Do

dress properly when visiting a temple.

    • Do

remove your shoes before entering a temple, somebody’s house and even some shops (like massage shops).

    • Do

treat monks with the highest respect.

    • Do

try and keep calm no matter what the problem or provocation may be. Aggravation WILL backfire.

    • Do

eat with a spoon. Use the fork to load food on to the spoon.

    • Do

lower your body slightly when passing between or in front of people.

    • Do

try and learn a few basic phrases in Thai, like ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’. See Language Section.

    • Do

smile a lot.

    • Do

enjoy yourself. Thais like life to be sanuk. Sanuk means "to have fun", but is much more broad and relates to many aspects of life, including eat together, go out together, be together, etc.


Thailand Don’ts

    • Don't

show disrespect towards the Thai Royal Family. It is not only rude it is against the law and can carry prison sentences that may be in the order of decades.
More: Wikipedia - Lèse majesté in Thailand

    • Don't

cross your legs when you are sitting in the presence of a monk. This applies whether you are sitting on the floor or in a chair.

    • Don't

touch a Thai woman without consent. Although this rule is often ignored in bars and clubs catering to tourists, it is advisable to get a good sense as to how this gesture is received.

    • Don't

be overly affectionate in public. A rule that has gotten loser in recent years. In tourist areas and cities it is now perfectly appropriate to hold hand and so is a small kiss. Thai tolerance will allow some bending of the rule, but a bit of respect ... be mindful. On temple grounds adhere to the most conservative rules.

    • Don't

sunbathe nude or topless. This is offensive to most Thai people although it may be tolerated. The same goes for men going shirtless off the beach/pool area, it is simply disrespectful. Cases have been documented in Bangkok where the police has ordered tourist to cover up or face a fine.

    • Don't

worry too much about whether you should wai or not. See the Thai Wai Section for more details.

    • Don't

touch a Thai person’s head or ruffle their hair. Apologize if you accidentally touch somebody’s head. There are exceptions which include intimacy in private. In bars and clubs there will be a higher level of tolerance, however, best to be mindful.

    • Don't

place your feet on the table while sitting, don’t point to anything with your feet and don’t touch anybody with your feet. This includes directing your feet towards Buddha or a monk while sitting.

    • Don't

raise your voice or lose your temper; try and be jai yen (cool heart). Keeping your cool is very important to Thais. Raising your voice in an argument will get you absolutely nowhere, it could even completely backfire and get you in loads of trouble.

    • Don't

be offended by questions about age, salary or marital status.
These are common questions Thais ask each other when first meeting and will think nothing about asking the same questions to foreign tourists. Of course, you don’t have to answer, just smile and just say it’s a secret or ‘mai bok’ (‘not telling’).

    • Don't

take Buddha images out of the country. Strictly speaking it is against the law to take or send Buddha images out of the country unless special permission has been granted. However, this doesn’t mean that stores won’t sell them to you. They will sell them to you, but won’t necessarily tell you about the regulations.

The Ultimate Newbie
Guide to Thailand

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