Thailand is a dream destination for many backpack travelers. This exotic country is rich in cultural history, tropical beauty, and lively cities to be explored by adventurous travelers. Thailand’s culture is a combination of different local rituals from different parts of the country. The modern culture in Thailand is formed of Animism, Buddhism, and Westernization. Thailand is one of the best destinations for cultural tourism.
Here is the list of 10 important cultural tips for traveling to Thailand.
1. Don’t Gossip About the King:
It is not right to speak badly about anyone in the public, especially a country’s king. The king is highly regarded in Thailand. It is considered illegal to insult, defame, or threaten the king, queen, regent, or heir-apparent. Speaking badly about the king could get you into legal troubles such as the prison sentence even for foreigners. It is better to not say a word about him when you are visiting Thailand. Stomping your foot on a coin rolling away or a banknote is extremely offensive as it has the King’s image.
2. Hands Off the Head:
In Thailand, the head is considered as the cleanest and the respected part of the body so it is deemed disrespectful to touch people’s hair or heads. It is also offensive to touch the head of the statue, especially a Buddha statue. Apologize if you slip up or accidentally touch the people’s heads or hair. You often see a Thai local touches a child head sometimes but it is inappropriate for foreigners to do so. Similarly, it is also disrespectful to point your feet at other people, touch anyone with your feet, or put your feet up on the table.
3. Cover up in Temples:
Temples are extremely holy places in Thailand. It is important to cover your shoulder, chest with a shawl and also knees when visiting temples, palaces, monasteries, or any other religious place as a gesture of respect. Long pants and sleeves are the best options to avoid any cultural ignorance. It is sad for not being able to visit a temple just because you don’t have the appropriate dressing. Take your shoes off before entering the temples as it is against the Thailand culture. Also, the feet are considered the dirtiest part of the body in Thailand.
4. Enjoy Thai Massages:
There are many affordable massages available in Thailand. Thai massage uses gentle stretching and pressure techniques to make your body relax. Thai massage gives many health benefits such as increase energy, lowers stress, and relieves muscle tension. Stop by the Thai massage parlors without any hesitation. A person should drink plenty of water and rest after a Thai massage. But make sure to be aware of any massage parlors that post signs mentioning particularly women or girls.
5. Take Off Shoes:
Take off your shoes when entering private homes, temples, even shops and offices, and any other religious place. There is a building check to see if people have removed their shoes, so it is better to take off the shoes yourself. Doing so is also considered as a sign of respect. When you are visiting someone’s home it is important to not step on the threshold of the door as it is believed that the deceased souls live here. Don’t point your feet at Buddhas in and outside of temples.
6. Doing a Wai:
The Wai is the cultural symbol in Thailand. It is considered as the important custom and social behavior of Thai people to apologize, express gratitude, or greet someone. The palms of the hands are pressed together in a prayer-like gesture with fingers pointing upwards and close to the chest. While visiting in Thailand, you will see that Thai people wai to temples, pictures of Thai royalty, important monuments, and roads as they pass. The Wai is considered appreciated as a sign of respect in Thailand.
7. Eat with Your Spoons:
It is very important to know about Thai eating etiquette. Thai people mainly eat everything with the spoon in the right hand and the fork in the left hand. Push the food onto your spoon by using a fork and then put the spoon in your mouth. Putting a knife or fork in your mouth shows the lack of table manners. Place the spoon and fork together on your plate after finishing your food as a sign that you are done eating. Always remember this dining tip when you are eating at a restaurant.
8. Respect Monks:
In Thailand, Monks are very open and deeply religious and it is common to see them out and about. Show respect to monks when you pass by them. Different rules should be followed for contact with Thai monks. Avoid asking personal questions about them, bow when you meet them, and never pass anything directly to them instead of putting down in front of them. It is strictly prohibited for monks to touch or have physical contact with a woman.
9. Stop at 8 am and 6 pm:
The Thai national anthem is played out very loud each day at 8 am and 6 pm. Whenever you hear the Thai anthem in public places, show respect by stopping whatever you are doing and stand still until the anthem is over. Stand up if you are sitting for the duration of the anthem. Respecting and observing the Thai anthem for a minute will not affect your lives as a foreigner so don’t walk around while every Thai person is standing to pay their respects.
10. Don’t Lose Your Temper:
Thailand is the best tourist destination and is known as “The Land of Smiles”. Thailand gained this nickname because Thais really do smile a lot and they are very friendly. Showing an emotion of anger or anxiety is considered poor manners. Never lose your temper even if you face an aggravating situation.