Thailand is a land of religion and tradition. Considering there is a very large population of Buddhists, and Monks, there are many do’s and don’ts that revolve around religion and Buddhism superstition.
Most of these actions may seem innocuous in Western society, but in Thailand, they are considered incredibly disrespectful. Therefore, it is important to familiarise yourself with these customs before entering the country to avoid any embarrassment.
Don’t Hug Monks
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Thailand has many Buddhist Monks that have taken up very strong religious vows and ways of life. They are highly respected members of society, they are not allowed to touch or be touched by women, and it is forbidden for you to stand over a monk.
Therefore, even if you are a man, it is a sign of respect to not place your hands on a monk. Even if one was to do you a great favour and you want to give thanks, a simple bow will do.
Take Your Shoes Off
It is very common practice to take your shoes off when entering temples, somebody’s home, and even some restaurants. Some buildings will have clear signs or shoe lockers so you know when to take your shoes off.
If there aren’t clear signs and someone asks you to remove your shoes, it is important to respect this request and remove your shoes. There are shoe lockers almost everywhere and trust us when we say, no one will steal your shoes.
Unlike in Western countries where public displays of affection are so common they go unnoticed, these displays are strongly frowned upon in Thailand and it is advised to keep those actions private.
Most Thai people won’t even hug each other in public, and touching tongues in public is forbidden. Therefore, if you are wanting to show affection to your significant other, wait until you are in the privacy of your hotel room.
Don’t Use Your Feet
The feet are seen as the dirtiest and lowest point of the body in Asian culture, while the head is seen as the highest. Being the dirtiest part of the body, it is considered incredibly disrespectful to use your feet to do anything but walk.
Do not use your feet to hold doors open or to move anything. Do not point your toes or the bottoms of your feet towards anyone as this is considered highly disrespectful. Also, do not point or angle your feet towards an image of Buddha or towards a monk.
Do Not Insult the Royal Family
The Thai Royal Family are some of the highest members of Thai society, therefore, it is obvious that disrespecting them in any way is seen as a huge insult. You will not hear any Thais disrespecting them, so neither can you.
And remember the small things, even stomping on a Thai coin that is rolling away can be regarded as disrespectful, as there is an image if the king on it and it is frowned upon to use your feet for anything.
Don’t Point With Your Fingers
Much like pointing with your feet, it is equally as disrespectful and rude to point up with your fingers. When hailing a taxi or tuk-tuk, or trying to get a waiters attention, keep your palm down and your fingers are straight, and use an up and down movement.
When trying to get somebody’s attention, never clap, snap your fingers, or whistle. This is an incredibly rude practice and most Thais see that as a way to treat a dog, and not a way you would treat a human.
Do Not Touch a Thai’s Head
Like mentioned above, the head is viewed as the highest point of the body, as it is the highest point, it is considered very rude to touch a Thai person head. Parents will sometimes touch their children’s heads, but as a Westerner, it is advised to avoid the practice altogether.
Keep Your Cool
Thai’s practice keeping their cool and not losing their temper, even when faced with angering circumstances, so it is frowned upon for you to raise your voice, get angry, or make a display of anger in public.
This does not mean that you won’t come across an angry person on your holiday, but the Thai people are generally very friendly and very hospitable, and sharing a smile with someone will take you a long way.
Do Not Use a Fork
When eating in Thailand, there are a few points to take into consideration. Eating is one of the most social activities in Thailand, and the food is incredibly important and respected throughout.
When eating, you will use a spoon and a fork, but the fork must never touch your mouth. The fork is for putting the small cuts of food onto the spoon. Chopsticks are only used when eating Chinese food, as they are not a Thai eating implement.
No Whistling After Dark
Thais are incredibly superstitious, and one thing is strongly frowned upon and discouraged, is whistling at night. Thais believe whistling summons evil spirits, and therefore it doesn’t matter if you’re whistling a tune or getting someone’s attention, don’t whistle.
Avoid “Gem Shops”
One of the biggest scams in Thailand is when a tuk-tuk driver will tell you that they want to make a stop that is near your destination, and they end up taking you to a gem shop. These shops can be dangerous for tourists.
You will be constantly harassed, tricked into parting with your money, or even drugged and robbed. if a tuk-tuk driver mentions a gem shop, politely decline, pay what you owe and hop off to find another taxi.
Say No To Drugs
It is no secret that Thailand has some of the best nightlife in the world. From the many clubs in Bangkok to the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan, there are drugs everywhere, at dirt cheap prices.
Our only advice is to avoid them all together. Most of the drugs are processed with highly toxic substances and can easily poison you. The drug laws in Thailand are some of the strictest in the world too, with the death penalty being a drug-related punishment.
Now that you know what not to do in the glorious country of Thailand, we hope these points have cleared up any confusion you may have had and you can now enjoy your holiday to the fullest.