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Etiquette in Thailand

As any other authentic culture, Thai culture has its own important elements. It’s always a good idea to know them while travelling in the country. In this case you can expect sympathy of local people even without speaking their language.

Here are some core elements to consider in Thailand.

Casual situations

  • “Namaste” gesture is in use instead of shaking hands while greeting each other. If you are not familiar yet, it’s when palms are pressed together with a slight bow in front of the chest.
  • Younger people usually have to greet elders, as a sign of respect.
  • Avoid touching people’s head, as the head is considered the most important part of the body. This rule is not applicable to children though.
  • Pointing your feet toward people or sacred objects (e.g. to sit stretching legs forward) is considered very rude.
  • Leave your shoes outside when entering Thai home or a temple.
  • Learn and use at least the simplest expressions Thai and use them. Some of the common ones would be (each letter sounds):

Hello: Sa-Wad-Dee-Krap (if you’re a man), Sa-Wad-Dee-Kaa (if you’re a woman)

Thank you: Kob-Khun-Krap (if you’re a man), Kob-Khun-Kaa (if you’re a woman)


Religious situations

  • One can freely enter a Buddhist temple regardless of own religious identity.
  • The etiquette of the dress-cot in temples is: covered top (at least shoulders), a skirt or a dress should cover knees.
  • Leave your shoes outside when entering a temple.
  • Any Buddha image or statue is regarded as a sacred object, and should be respected correspondingly. It means you should not even touch it if touching is not a part of a religious ceremony, and you are participating in it.
  • It is forbidden for women to touch Buddhist monks, including giving them anything. Women can ask men to pass things to monks though.

The Monarchy family

  • Thai Royal family is deeply respected among people. Therefore tourists has to show respect to the King, the Queen, and the Royal children, in conversations with Thai people.

I hope these simple Thai etiquette rules will help you to enjoy your trip to Thailand even more.


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