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Ten Things To Know About Visiting Thailand
Before you travel to Thailand, there are a few things to know about Thailand.
Thailand has a rich and varied culture, and its people are noted for being warm, friendly and personable – it’s not called “the land of smiles” for nothing!
But to make your trip to Thailand a little smoother and before you get to your Thailand Hotel, it’s important to keep note of a few important things – so here are ten things you should remember, before visiting the Kingdom of Thailand.
The customary greeting in Thailand is the ever-versatile “Wai”. Whether you’re meeting a stranger for the first time, or getting together with an old friend, “wai” is presented with both palms touching, at chest level or slightly higher, and with a slight head bow.
This simple greeting shows respect and politeness, and can be used as hello, goodbye, thank you and more.
Keep it Cool – “Mai Pen Rai!”
Thailand is noted for its laid-back attitude – and nothing sums it up better than the common phrase, “men pai rai”, meaning ‘it doesn’t matter’. It’s a one of the good things to know about Thailand and learning to say it will make your more friends in Thailand.
Thais like to avoid conflict as far as possible – and Westerners should note the flipside of this too – anger doesn’t achieve anything here.
In fact – blowing off steam is more likely to get you in serious trouble with the authorities, than anything else.
Respect the Head
Thai culture holds the head as the most sacred part of the body – so it should not be touched casually. Western culture sees touching as a friendly bonding gesture – not the case in Thailand.
Just as the head is the most sacred part – feet are considered the opposite, and so doing anything with them is often considered as highly improper and impolite. Don’t point with feet, or kick/pick things up out of laziness. Remember to always take your shoes off when visiting someone’s home.
Men and Women
Thailand has a highly tolerant culture, but that doesn’t mean that anything goes between men and women.
A key point to note is the relationship between women and male monks – who are committed to celibacy; a monk must not come into any physical contact with women.
Women travellers should be careful not to touch monks in any way – hugs and hand shaking are forbidden. Even if you want to pass something to a monk – you should pass it to another man first.
Couples in Thailand
Public displays of affection are extremely frowned upon in a culturally traditional Thailand. Women should also ensure they dress with reasonable modesty – skimpy clothing is seen as sexual immorality, and women are likely to be ill treated as a result.
The Royal Family
The Royal Family is treated with extreme reverence – so do not make any remotely negative comment, even in an apparently humorous way.
Thai officials will not see the funny side, and will penalise you severely for any derogatory remark made.
Thai religion is also an important, and highly revered part of life. The main religion in Thailand is Buddhism, and temples and religious imagery should be treated with respect.
Wear appropriately modest clothing when visiting a temple – no shorts or sleeveless items. Do not take photographs without asking permission.
Rank and File
Respecting seniority in ingraining into Thai culture – unlike more casual relations in the West, a junior should show deference and respect to her seniors – both in age and rank.
When addressing someone formally, use the prefix “Khun” to express your respect.
The Thai Gem Scam
There are a few Things To Know About Thailand when it comes to scams. There are a few Thailand scams that are targeted at tourists, so just be careful.
The infamous gem scam involves unscrupulous taxi drivers taking tourists on a detour to a local gem store, often claiming their original destination was closed.
Once at the store, tourists are often harassed, and even drugged, into buy overpriced costume jewellery in the guise of original gem stones. Stay aware and avoid going anywhere you did not ask to go!
About The Author
Kevin Woodward is a travel blogger who has previously enjoyed Travelbag’s Thailand holidays. I hope you like a few Things To Know About Thailand before you leave home.