31 May Things You Shouldn’t Do In Thailand
Things You Shouldn’t Do In Thailand
Appropriately known as the ‘Land of Smiles’ with the Thai people of the most welcoming and hospitable in the world, these are a few things you shouldn’t do while in Thailand if you’d like to avoid disrespecting or offending anybody during your stay, and ensure you have the best experience as an informed and sensitive traveller.
- Disrespect the Royal Family
The Thai Royal family is highly regarded and much loved in Thai society and you will see many photos of them in restaurants and stores throughout the country. It is very disrespectful to say anything or act in any way negatively towards the Royal family. Even standing on a Thai coin as it rolls away it considered rude as they display images of members of the Royal family. Don’t step on or tear anything that has the image of the King and his family on it, and that includes photos, money or stamps.
- Never Hug Monks
Monks are highly respected in Thailand and it is forbidden to stand or sit higher than them. Monks are not allowed to have contact with women, and as a tourist it would be very inappropriate to reach out to touch them. Even on the bus monks won’t sit directly next to a women. So, if you’re a female and see a seat open next to a monk, don’t sit there, as it may force him to stand.
Forget to Take your Shoes Off
When entering somebody’s home, temples, shops and even some restaurants in Thailand it is important to take your shoes off. Which makes light sandals or flip-flops popular, as they are easy to slip in and out of. This is also why you will see a big pile of shoes at the door to many buildings. Don’t step on the threshold when going through a doorway, always step over it as Thais believe that a spirit lives in the doorsill and protects the people living in the house. By stepping on it you would enrage the spirit and bring bad luck upon the residents.
- Disregard Buddha
Don’t touch a Buddha image, climb on top of it or sit next to it, even for a picture. It’s very disrespectful. Do not do make any kind of inappropriate postures near images of Buddha or when visiting temples, and bear in mind that it is illegal to send any pictures of Buddha out of the country, such as on a postcard. Also, standing on a Buddha statue to have your photograph taken is one of the worst things that you can do in Thailand, because you are placing the lowest, your feet, upon the highest – Buddha.
- Use your feet to hold open a door
This is a very important one; never use your feet to point at anything. In Thailand feet are considered the dirtiest part of the body, with the head the highest. Pointing with your toes at someone or something is extremely impolite. Also do not hold doors open with your feet or point your feet towards any Buddha images.
- Engage in Public Displays of Affection
If you’re feeling the romance of the setting you’re in, do bear in mind that displays of public affection are frowned upon in Thailand. Be discreet even if you are married. Holding hands or walking with your arms around each other is considered impolite in Thailand as Buddhism teaches us be modest and reserved, and Thais may feel embarrassed if you kiss in their presence.
- Strip down in pubic
Thailand may have the warmest climate and endless tropical beach, but walking around town in bikinis or without a shirt on, is considered unacceptable. Keep beach ware for the beach, covering up as soon as you leave it. It is very important to dress modestly when visiting temples too, and that includes covering your knees and shoulders.
- Don’t wear dirty clothes
The Thai people take great pride in their cleanliness and appearance and it is considered a form of respect to society to dress nicely. They wouldn’t understand why someone who has the money to travel as far as to their country, can’t afford to dress decently or take the time to keep themselves and their clothing clean.
- Point with Your Fingers
Even if trying to call a tuk-tuk on the street or summon a waiter in a restaurant for service, do not point your finger. Never clap, snap your fingers, or whistle to get someone’s attention, as this considered is very rude in Thai culture. Do leave some food on your plate when you’ve finished eating or the host will think you’re still hungry and order more.
- Touch a Thai’s Head
Golden rule, do not touch a Thai person’s head or hair, as this is seen as very impolite, not even a child’s. You may mean well and see it as a form of affection, but the head is considered the most sacred part of the human body to and they believe this is where the soul resides. Only family members or monks are allowed to touch anyone’s head.
- Raise your voice
Generally Thais are good-natured and softly spoken, which cannot be said of all foreigners. Make an effort to keep your voice down in shops and restaurants, and stay calm if you find yourself in a difficult situation. Raising your voice or shouting will cause great embarrassment and not help the situation. In fact smile, as much as you can, a smiling face is a sign of respect toward surrounding people and is always infectious.