Travelling is about adventure and discovering wonderful places and different cultures! But it is very easy to mistake something that would be considered as polite or just unimportant back home for something that is actually really offensive in the new country you’re visiting. That’s why we’ve compiled ten tips to keep in mind when travelling to Thailand.
- How to Say “Hello”
Handshakes and hugs are a no-no when it comes to Thailand. Thai people are not big fans of sharing their personal space, and so when it comes to meeting or greeting someone, it is better to place both palms together at chest-height and bow slightly rather than whip out your hand in the gesture of a handshake or than to pull in for a hug.
- Opt for Sandals
Most people know that it is considered to be disrespectful if you keep your shoes on while in a temple in Thailand, but this also goes for entering people's homes and even some shops and restaurants. That’s why it’s better to wear sandals than closed shoes as these are easier to slip off and on when you arrive somewhere and find a pile of shoes at the entrance (a sure sign you should leave yours there too).
- Nay to PDA
Public displays of affection aren’t very common in Thailand. You won’t see many Thai people hugging in public or even holding hands, and kissing in public is forbidden, so definitely keep that in mind when you want to kiss your friend or partner on the cheek while taking that selfie!
- Keep Beachwear for the Beach
Given the tropical vibe of Thailand, it’s not hard to see why tourists would think it’s alright to walk around in beachwear even when they’re not on the beach. Beachwear, which includes guys going shirtless or girls sporting bikinis or costumes, is acceptable on the beach and in some beachside bars and restaurants, but it is considered impolite if you do this anywhere else.
- Don’t Miss the Point
Thai people view the body in a very specific way, for example, the feet are considered to be the dirtiest, lowest part of the body and so it is seriously offensive if you hold a door open with your foot. The head, however, is considered to be the highest part of the body and can be used to convey respect (such as remaining lower than a monk). Because of this, you should never “point” with your feet, or even do anything such as hold open a door with your feet. Pointing with your fingers is considered to be equally rude, and should also be avoided.
- Picture It (In Your Mind)
Not many people know this, but it is actually illegal to take or send any pictures of Buddha out of the country without special permission. Shop owners sometimes take advantage of this and will try and sell pictures to tourists. Similarly, standing on a Buddha statue to have your picture taken is considered a huge sign of disrespect. So when you’re in Thailand, keep the memories of Buddha statues in your mind rather than in your pocket.
- Keep Calm and Carry On
Thai people are renowned for their hospitality and warm nature, and so it should be no surprise that when you’re in their company you should do your best to keep your cool even if you’re irritated about something. In Thailand, smiling and talking in a low voice will get you a lot further than if you decide to shout at someone (even if they’re the one who is at fault).
- Fork Goodness’ Sake
In Thailand, you should only use a fork to scoop food onto your spoon. All you really need to enjoy your meal is a spoon given that food is often prepared in a way that you don’t need a knife. When it comes to using chopsticks, you should only use these when eating a Chinese dish.
- Avoid These “Hidden Gems”
If a tuk-tuk driver offers to take you to a gem shop, politely decline. These shops are often massive scams where tourists are duped into buying costume jewellery under the guise that they’re buying invaluable stones and gems.
- Don’t Hug Monks
By now you’ve gathered how much Thai people appreciate their personal space. Take that aspect of their culture and their great respect for monks and you shouldn’t be surprised to find out that hugging a monk is not something you should do. Monks also aren’t allowed contact with women, and regardless of your gender you should never stand over a monk.
There you have it! Thailand is one of the most exciting cultural experiences you will embark on and can be as exciting for the locals as it is for you, as long as you’re respectful. Take note of our ten tips and you’ll be set to have the Thai trip of your dreams! Contact one of our travel experts today to get one step closer to planning your next adventure.