What can and cannot do in Thailand?

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Are you going on holiday to Thailand soon? Then make sure that you have read the "tips" below carefully. Adapting somewhat to Thai customs and culture is greatly appreciated by the Thai.

The famous smile will become even greater and the graceful bow will be deeper. Thai people value traditional customs that are part of the ancient Thai culture.

  • Thai people believe that the head is the most sacred part of the body. Therefore, don't just touch the head of a Thai. If you do, by mistake, then apologize.
  • The feet consider Thai the most unclean part of the body. So never put feet (with or without shoes) on the table and never use your feet for pointing.
  • Always take off shoes when entering temples and Thai houses, wear appropriate clothing when visiting a temple, so no flip flops, shorts or bare shoulders. In the Thai countryside, looser clothing regulations sometimes apply. At the Grand Palace in Bangkok, visitors are given "loan pants" or "loan dress" with inappropriate clothing.
  • Thai do not shake hands when greeting, but make a "wai". That is, a bow with the palms together, under the chin. The higher placed bends less deep than the lower. As a tourist you don't have to make a wai. Certainly not do it to children or to the staff of a restaurant or your hotel. They have to make a wai to you.
  • The royal family has a special status in Thailand. The king is very popular and malicious speech or jokes about the royal family can even mean imprisonment.
  • Too exaggerated expressions of mutual affection are not appreciated in Thailand. Extensive public kissing is "not done"; holding your hand is of course possible.
  • Topless sunbathing is certainly not appreciated by Thai.
  • Thai are fairly direct in their question. They want to know everything about the "farang", the white foreigner, including salary and marital status.
  • The words "mai pen rai" are very important in Thai. The meaning is: "it doesn't matter".


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