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(Do's and Dont's while travelling in Thailand)

If you are planning a trip to Thailand, you are in for a delightful surprise! From the excitement and international flair of Bangkok, to the mountains of the of Northern Thailand, the culture and food of the Northeast region, to the beaches of Southern Thailand, the country has much to offer the visiting traveller. A smile, friendly greeting or gesture, and some understanding of Thai culture go a long way in showing respect to Thai people. Thai people are generally very accomodating and accepting, but one thing visitors need to understand is that their smile may hide what they are really thinking. To make your trip more enjoyable, here are some "Do's and Dont's" to help prevent you from being looked at as the "ugly farang" (foreigner) visitor.

    The royal family: The monarchy of Thailand is held in great respect by Thai people, and visitors should show proper respect also. It cannot be stated strongly enough to not say or do anything disrespectful or disparaging towards the king, the queen, or any member of the royal family. At worst, this may lead to arrest and imprisonment, at least this may lead to a confrontation by a Thai who was greatly offended at hearing the foreign visitor bad-mouth the monarchy.

    An example: Rumours state that a western visitor became infuriated about having to pay a 500 baht (12 USD) departure tax at Bangkok's international airport. He pulled out some Thai currency (which has an image of the king on every note), threw it to the ground, and began stepping on the currency in a fit of anger. The departing visitor was asked politely several times to stop what he was doing, pay the tax, and depart the country with no further problems. He refused and was promptly arrested for lese-majesty, which has a mandatory sentence of 7 years imprisonment.

    Radio and television stations in Thailand broadcast the national anthem daily at 8:00AM and 6:00PM. In towns and villages this can be heard over public loudspeakers in the streets. Thais stop what they are doing and stand during the anthem. It is appropriate for visitors to do the same. The royal anthem, or some other show of respect to the royal family, is played in public cinemas. Once again, audiences always stand until it is finished.

    Religion: The vast majority of the Thai population (with the exception of Southern Thailand) is Buddhist. Temples in Thailand offer serene and beautiful settings for the foreign visitor. If visiting temples, be sure to dress appropriately. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are totally unacceptable. Remove your shoes before entering a temple or other building containing an image of Buddha. Buddha images are sacred objects, so do not pose for pictures in front of them (some temples will prevent you from doing so anyway), do not attempt to sit on or climb on any buddha image. If sitting in a temple, point your feet away from the Buddha image.

    Buddhist monks are not supposed to touch or be touched by women. Women should avoid touching monks at all cost.

    Gestures & Attitudes: Thais almost always greet each other with a wai (placing your hands together prayer-like). If someone wais you, it is very polite to wai back. A smile and a friendly sawadee khrap/ka will always be looked upon favorably by Thais. One major point to remember is to never show anger. As a visitor to a foreign country, situations will occur that may upset you greatly. Keeping a cool head is important in settling any differences, and any disputes can normally be taken care of through simple diplomacy. Talking loudly is perceived as rude by most Thais, whatever the situation. The pushy "farang" often gets taken care of last!
    Feet and Head: A persons feet are the lowest part of the body (spiritually and physically). Do not point your feet at people or things, do not prop your feet up while sitting, and never touch any part of someone else's body with your foot.

    The head is the highest part of the body. Do not touch Thais on their heads! If you accidently touch someone's head, immediately apologize or you will be considered as extremely rude.

    Shoes: Shoes are not worn in people's homes, nor in some guesthouses and shops. If you see a pile of shoes by the entrance, you should remove your own shoes before entry.

If you need more information regarding Khon Kaen, Thailand, it is recommended you post questions via the KhonKaen.com Discussion Forum by clicking here.   If you would like to contact the webmaster of KhonKaen.com, please do so via our online contact form by clicking here.

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