Thai Culture – Thailand
What is Thai culture like?
The culture in Thailand can hardly be compared with that of Western societies; this is mainly due to the variety of beliefs the locals share. The culture is made up by a mix of Indian influence, ancient Chinese traditions and unique elements that are relevant to the Thai people.
Here are some examples of some typical Thailand customs and traditions as well as some really unusual ones which will give you get better idea about what I am talking about, for more awesome tips and also click here to buy great travel packages:
Thai culture tip 1 – Respect the Royal Family
The Thai people have a huge amount of respect for the Royal Family. Making any remarks on this subject is literally against the law and depending on the severity of the remark the penalty could even be imprisonment for anything between 3 and 15 years.
The people of Thailand are generally considered to be real gentlemen and will most likely forgive tourists for breaking this law but my advice would be to avoid getting yourself into such a situation at all costs and demonstrate your respect of this custom to the Thai people.
Thai culture tip 2 – Learn the Traditional Greeting
The traditional greeting in Thailand is called Wai and for you as a tourist it’s essential to learn how to do it.
Since Wai is used not only as greeting but also to thank, pray and even apologize, this gesture is pretty much essential and a great gesture of courtesy to the locals. When performing Wai the height at which the hands are held and also how low the head comes are both used to demonstrate respect. One think to note however is that if there is a great difference in social stature between two people, the Wai may not always be returned by the person with the higher status.
Even though, it’s not that hard to learn how to Wai at others, many foreigners have a difficult time mastering it and if they do may not follow the strict protocol surrounding it.
Thai culture tip 3 – Don’t Point your Feet towards Others
According to Thai beliefs different parts of the body carry special religious importance. While the head is considered to be the most sacred part of the body and touching someone there is likely to get you into trouble, the feet are the complete opposite. You should not touch, point with and certainly not put your feet on tables, as this is considered an extremely rude gesture and will surely disappoint your Thai hosts.
If for some random reason you happen to be in a situation when you are about to step over someone you may want to rethink your strategy and simply walk around them instead. If you take a shower and are in sight of a local you need to use two towels, one for the upper part of the body and one for the lower.
Many of the tourist attractions in Thailand have a religious or cultural significance. As a result locals have developed special customs and etiquette which you should follow when you are visiting these places and this can also be true with other official buildings or palaces.
If you are not sure you need to try to dress politely, often this will mean no flip-flops, no short skirts, shorts or sleeveless t-shirts.
I wouldn’t focus on this too much in the more touristy areas as the locals will soon let you know if you need to change or will have grown accustomed to the tourist community.
If you want to get away from major tourists hotspots and travel to more remote parts of the country though it may be worth looking into the customs of the place you are heading so that you don’t turn up ill prepared.
Thai culture tip 4 – Be Cool
The people of Thailand consider raising your voice as a sign that you are losing control over your emotions. Being humble and quiet is the pure essence of Thai culture, so instead of being loud and aggressive try to keep your cool at all times as this will be much more appreciated.
(I have seen the Thai boxers too so you don’t want to piss them off too much! Lol!)
Thai culture tip 5 – Take off Your Shoes
Whether you visit someone’s home or religious/cultural sight in Thailand, it’s essential to take off your shoes before you enter as a sign of respect and politeness even if your host tells you that this is not a problem.
Much in-line with life in your home country this is a bit of a no-brainer, shoes carry all kinds of dirt and microbes so why would you want that walking through your home!
Thai culture tip 6 – Men Pay the Bills (Period)
While in the Western societies it is fairly common for dating partners to “go Dutch” (with both partners splitting the bill), in Thailand the man is expected to cover the bill!
The basic rules state that the inviter is obliged to pay for all of the expenses and if it is unclear who asked, then this is left to the superior (Man in Thai culture).
This is something very important to remember if you plan on going out with Thai girl because if you ask her to split the bill chances are she will see you as tight!
Thai culture tip 7 – Do not give gifts directly to children
This may sound a bit harsh, but giving gifts to children is considered to encourage begging. The best way to give presents to local kids is via an established organization or via the village elders (depending on which part of the country, you are in).
Thai culture tip 8 – Be patient
The official philosophy of Thai people is to take everything easy so if you haven’t got into the swing of it yet you may need to arm yourself with some patience. To avoid disappointment just expect that things probably won’t happen in a hurry while you are visiting so kick back, Sabai Sabai (Relax) and enjoy the journey.
Thai culture tip 9 – Smile
To make your holiday in Thailand much more enjoyable and also to bond with the locals try to smile as much as possible. Even though actually a smile can have numerous meanings this simple gesture can put the locals at ease and they will approach you in kinder and friendlier manner as well J
Thai culture tip 10 – Don’t stress out if you do something wrong!
Thai people are known to be among the friendliest in the world and they are very forgiving towards tourists and people who fail to comply with their cultural traditions. If you do slip up, don’t freak out, what really counts is that you are trying and the Thai people will appreciate just that.
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