Thailand has been a haven for tourists for decades, and holiday destinations such as Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai and the Islands have been receiving visitors from around the globe in their millions. For visitors from Europe and the West, southeast Asia is not only a world away in distance but also in culture. Thailand is steeped in centuries old traditions, born out of the previous dynasties that once ruled the kingdom. Many western visitors find all this quite daunting and are rather baffled how to behave and not to upset their kind hosts. In this blog we attempt to point the reader in the right direction with all the requisite do’s and don’t.
The Wai (pronounced why) is when a person places the palm of their hands together, with their fingers extended at chest level close to the body, then bows slightly. The higher the person’s hands are raised, the more respect is given. This is the traditional Thai greeting when two Thais meet, although foreigners are not expected to initiate the Wai it is thought of as an insult if they do not return the Wai. Not only is this important cultural behaviour it is also very hygienic as there is no touching. The Wai can be used in greetings, goodbye’s or even apologies, and it is never returned to a child, waiter, servant etc.
Guests in Thailand should be very mindful of their general behaviour when visiting the kingdom. Remember that Thailand is mostly Buddhist and follows different codes of conduct than the West. Be careful of showing physical affection in public towards the opposite sex. Touching between people of the same sex is very common, more so than in Europe or America but touching somebody of the opposite sex in certain locations is frowned upon. Touching or passing something above a person’s head is another no no, as the head is considered sacred. Remove your shoes before entering a home, wat or anywhere with a Buddha image. Show respect to the royal family and always stand when the Thai national anthem is played. Never criticise anybody publically, Thai people do not like losing face. And when stepping into a home always step over the threshold never on it, Thai’s believe a spirit lives there. Never show the soles of your feet to anyone, or use your feet to move anything or touch anybody. Feet are regarded as unclean and are symbolic of the lowest part of the body. Using your hands to gesticulate is often thought of as showing one’s anger, and never point at anybody especially with just one finger.
Never shout at a waiter or snap your fingers for attention. Thai food is normally consumed with a fork and spoon and rarely is a knife used. When eating Thai dishes, food may be transferred to your own plate or rice bowl from the communal dishes, do not use your own eating implements to do this. It is always polite to leave a small amount of food on your plate when eating in somebody’s home, this is a way of showing that you are full. If eating in a restaurant, always let the host pay the bill. Never offer to split the cost as this will offend. These guidelines will help assist you when you are out and about in Thailand. The general rule is to be respectful and considerate at all times. Consider your environment and behave as others around you are doing. Global Top Group have developments and projects in superb locations, that are surrounded by local Thai restaurants and authentic local vendors.