I am going to list a few things that you need to know before you come to Thailand. You will find that Thailand has a very conservative culture, a culture that all foreigners should respect. Always remember, as a foreigner, you are representing your country, so please show common sense and enjoy your stay here in Thailand. Now I will add, as time goes on with more and more foreigners coming to Thailand, some of their culture is starting to change in some aspects. This is a small list of the some of the more important things you should know.
Anywhere and everywhere in Thailand you will see Monks. You must always show them the proper respect at all times. Men can touch a Monk, sit next to one and can hand something directly to them. Whereas, a woman can not do any of the above. If a woman wants to give something to a Monk, they must first place it down and let the Monk pick it up. Another thing is, you can never stand over a Monk or put yourself higher than them.
No display of Affection is Allowed
This is very, very important and something most foreigners don’t respect. Which is sad, we are a guest in their country. Thais are very conservative in this area. They will not kiss in public. So please do not show displays of affection while in public. If you want to be intimate, go back to your hotel room. But you need to respect their culture. In the past you couldn’t even hold hands, but over time that has been acceptable. Yes now and then you might see someone of the younger generation kiss real fast, but it is still not approved.
You Can Not Go Shirtless
Thailand is a very hot country, days are sunny and humid. Remember, Thais have a very conservative culture. Many foreigners that come to Thailand, assume that because of the hot climate it is acceptable to remove some of their clothing in public. Beach attire is ONLY acceptable on the beach or pool area and of course in your hotel room. If you are not at the beach or not in a beach town, MEN KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON. You can not go around shirtless, period. Remember you are not in your country and you need to respect their culture. Thais consider this very disrespectful to their culture. Now I will say, there is one exception and that is during their Songkran Festival. Which is one big water fight everywhere in Thailand.
Don’t Disrespect The King or Royal Family
The King and the Royal family are highly regarded throughout Thailand. The King is very dear to Thai families. You will see many pictures of the King and Royal family. Therefore, it is very disrespectful to say anything or act in any way negatively towards the King or Royal family. Even stomping on a Thai coin as it rolls away is considered bad, as coins display image of the King. Don’t crumble Thai baht, as the King’s image is on it, too. The best advice I can give you, is to just not talk about the King or Royal family at all. It is a lot safer that way. Because you might think you are saying something good, but to a Thai your words could mean something else.
Rules On Removing Your Shoes
It is very disrespectful to keep your shoes on while entering homes, temples, and some shops while in Thailand. So it is a good practice to wear something that is easy to take off and put back on. A great way to know if you need to take your shoes off is look at the doorway prior to entering a store or office. If they are a bunch of shoes outside the door, then you should take your shoes off.
Watch How You Use Your Feet
Your feet in Thailand is considered the lowest and dirtiest part of your body, whereas your head is the highest. So the follow rules apply. You can not point your toes or the bottom of your feet toward another person or a Buddha statue. Do not hold doors open with your feet or step on Thai baht. Also watch how you cross your legs, where you are pointing the bottom of your feet at a Thai. Always make sure to point your feet toward the ground. Best bet is not to cross your feet in public. Keep your feet on the ground.
Avoid Pointing Fingers At Thais
When calling for a taxi or a tuk-tuk, on the street or calling for a waiter in a restaurant, do not point your finger at them. If you want them to come over to you. With your palm facing downward and your fingers are straight out and together, wave your hand in a up and down movement. Almost like waving. That means, “Come here”. Never clap, snap your fingers, or whistle to get someone’s attention, as this considered is very rude in Thai culture. Yes, you can point for directions.
Don’t Scream or Lose Your Temper
In Thai culture you don’t scream or lose your temper, you stay cool headed. Thais avoid confrontation and see raising one’s voice as not a good thing. You don’t want to cause a Thai to lose face. Staying calm and smiling goes a long way in Thailand. It does not mean that you will never see an angry person, but Thais are generally very hospitable, welcoming and tolerant. Remember, The Land of smiles. Don’t get frustrated. Be patient and go with the flow. Sometimes, it is best not to argue and just walk away.