(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
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.
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!
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