Thailand Customs
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Thailand Customs and Culture

Thailand customs and culture are vastly different from other cultures, so before you head out in Thailand, you should find out about the essential “do’s and don’ts”.  Here are just a few of the most important things you should know.

Do Smile

Thailand is known as the land of smiles.  Thais do not necessarily smile about something like we do in the west.  According to Thailand customs, Thais will  smile for a variety of other reasons too.  To say hello or thank you, to make a request, to apologize, to smooth over bad feelings, or to show embarrassment.

Do Show Respect for the King

It is not just a part of the Thailand customs for Thai people to show great respect for their king.  Thai people worship their King.  The Thai King is just one step below Buddha.  The national anthem is played twice a day at 8 am and 6 pm on TV, and also before every film at the cinema.  Everyone is expected to stand while it is playing.  you should never insult or joke about the King or the royal family.  Thailand has specific laws against any disrespectful words or actions towards the king.  People have been arrested and spent time in jail for being disrespectful.

Do Show Respect for the Buddha Religion

Respect the Buddha and the monks.  Short pants, short skirts, or tank tops should not be worn in a temple, and shoes should be removed before entering.  It is considered very improper for women to touch a monk, or vice-versa.

Do Not Touch Anyone on the Head

The head is considered to be the most sacred part of the body.

Do Not Point your Feet at Anyone or Anything

According to Thailand customs, the feet are considered to be the dirtiest part of the body.  Do not put your feet up on a table, coffee table, or anything similar, and never step over anyone, instead walk around them. Do not use your foot or toes to point at something or some one.

A Symbol of Beauty is Whiteness

A tanned skin is not respected since it is the symbol of a peasant or poor person who works in the fields or on the streets.  Thais believe the whiter your skin is, the higher you are in status.  It is strange to go to the beach and all the westerners are sunbathing, and the Thai people are covered up.

Do not argue, yell, or make a loud fuss

When a Thai person is angry, they smile and quietly talk about the issue, or mostly, they will just walk away and leave it alone, rather then confront the issue.  It is very disrespectful to yell, argue loudly, or make a loud fuss about something.  If you have been wronged, politely discuss the issue.  But, if it is a small issue, just smile and walk away.

More Information

Here are some great resources to learn more about Thai customs

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