If you ever plan to travel to Thailand, you need to learn about their culture. They are a people group full of knowledge and beauty, but, if you do or say something wrong, you could instantly offend them for life. Here is a list of five things NOT to do in Thailand:
1. Don’t be “touchy-feely”. In the culture of Thailand it is looked down upon to show physical affection. Even a handshake is often times not appropriate with Thai people. Instead, to say hello they “wai”, a type of Thai bow, and say, “sawadeecaap” if you are a man or say, “sawadeecaa” if you are a woman.
This is very important to remember, but even more so, one of the most crucial things to remember regarding personal affection in the culture of Thailand is to NEVER touch anyone’s head. This is one of the most disrespectful things and individual could do. The Thai people view their heads as extremely sacred parts of themselves. If you were to touch their head, they would be very upset and you would have just disrespected them in an extreme way.
2. Never say something bad about the food, home, or possessions of an individual. The Thai people definitely love their food! They are incredibly proud of the diversity of their dishes and the work they put into creating their meals. The same goes for their homes and possessions. They take extreme pride in their things and take very good care of everything they have. If you were to say something bad about their food or homes, similar to many other cultures, they would be very offended.
3. Never speak evil of Thai leaders. In Thailand, the king and royal family are respected and revered greatly. The people love their king and rightfully so. He has treated them very well and is a great leader. He has been a phenomenal blessing, therefore the people honor him so much that it has become part of the culture of Thailand. If you were to say anything against him or his family, you would greatly hurt a Thai person and they would think you to be rude and inconsiderate. They take pride in their royal family and so should you when visiting the country.
4. Don’t speak too direct, and don’t look upset or uninterested. Always look polite, friendly, and smile! Do not be too direct or upfront. For example, if you are needing directions and someone gives you them in a different way than another person, you should not confront them or be too direct. If you say, “that is not what this other man told me,” then your current advisor may become embarrassed and reserved to the point of not helping you adequately.
Instead, the key is to always be overly polite and kind. Another important thing is that you always smile. If a Thai person sees you with a facial expression that looks angry, upset or even just uninterested, they will instantly be turned off to you; and it will be much more difficult to talk to them or get to know them. We all know it is much easier to get help from someone who likes you!
5. Last but not least – do not make offensive gestures! This may sound simple or obvious, but it is only easy to follow through with if you know what is and is not appropriate in the culture of Thailand. Most people do know what should or should not be done while in Thailand. They do not even think about the small things we do every day that greatly offend the Thai people. For instance, it is very rude to show someone the bottom of your foot in Thailand.
This means no propping your feet up on a chair or even simply crossing your legs. Your feet are the closest part of your body to the ground, therefore they are considered to be the most unclean or unholy. This is why whenever entering a home or business you should respectfully take off your shoes. Often times, the home owners even provide slippers for you to wear. Just remember not to show your feet when taking off your shoes!
Thailand is a beautiful country and a great place to visit. The people are very kind and giving and will be friends for life if you follow the guidelines listed above. These five tips will help you make the best out of your experience in Thailand as well as simply give you more knowledge about the culture and the people.