Thai Etiquette and Culture: What Visitors Must Keep in Mind
Etiquette and Culture are two intertwined facets, tenets and aspects that each and everyone of us as separate individuals and groups of people must remember, keep into mind, put into heart, and in the long run, incorporate into our daily action. Each country, community, society and continent that we go to for a trip, travel to for a tour, relate to with the people living in it, visit to through the places and spots that it has to offer and immerse with through their cultural and societal premises, has its own unique and diverse traditions and beliefs wherein as a basis, their culture and etiquette is built, formed, shaped, molded and passed on from time to time, from age to age, from one century to the next and from one generation to the other. Etiquette matters a lot because it is through our practice of this important facet of our celebrated individuality that we inherit the immense essence of manners, values, characteristics and traits that we build our identity, character, personality and reputation as human individuals. These dimensional facets contribute holistically to our human development because it is through these foundational tenets of our personhood that we are viewed and depicted by the community and society that we live in. In this article, we will study and discover the Etiquette and Culture of Thailand. I personally dream and envision that someday, I can visit this majestic and picturesque country. Based on the travels that I have made in the past years with my family, in the Asian Countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, two aspects that I am looking forward to as an individual, is to witness, practice and adapt to the culture and etiquette of that specific country. With this longing that is innately imprinted in my heart, it is never a doubt for me that each nation in the world is perfectly and beautifully represented by its visible culture and methodological etiquette. Together, let us discover one by one the innate details and traces of Thai Etiquette and Culture and what we tourists and visitors must keep in mind, whenever we travel and take a visit to this bountiful and cultural country as a part of our itinerary and bucket list. Let us begin.
The Thai Etiquette and Culture: A Closer Glimpse on what to do when in Thailand
Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia that is known for the attributes and titles of being a country of hospitality and a nation of friendliness. Aside from these mentioned attributes and titles, an additive feature to this magnificent country is that, it is also known as the land of customs and traditions because of its vast difference from the countries that are a part of the Western world. As a first-time visitor and tourist of this country, it is not a necessity to navigate with so much effort about the complexity of Thai Etiquette. However, it will really help visitors and tourists during their first time in the country to gain a basic understanding of what is only acceptable, what is frowned upon by the Thai People, as well as the outright taboo that can make a big difference both in the professional and social life whenever we are in Thailand. Here are some of the foundational tenets wherein the Culture and Etiquette of Thai People is based on, and is deemed essential and necessary in Thailand, as follows:
- Facial expressions matter a lot to the people of Thailand
Whenever we are on a vacation in Thailand, our faces will greatly matter to the Thai people because they have a high regard for the face of a human being as a concept. Thus, it is always important to put up a smiling and joyous face, rather than a grumpy and sulking face whenever we are in the country because the impact of a sulking and grumpy face is very negative in the culture of Thailand.
- Our behavior plays a great deal for the Thai People
It is worth knowing that whenever we visit Thailand, we must always bring our best foot forward in terms of our behavior. Thai People feel dismayed and disrespected if they are shown behavioral types that are confrontational, on the verge of losing temper, and also a display of strong peaked negative emotions. The backbone behind this is that for the Thais, having these behavioral types will resort to not accomplishing anything on a day to day basis. Thus, whenever in Thailand, always keep a composed and exemplary behavior so that losing friends in Thailand will not be an issue for you as a tourist and visitor of the country.
- The culture and etiquette of the Thai People are strongly and relatively hierarchical
Thai People take a serious and firm regard with their culture and etiquette because it is based on a hierarchy. Respect is essentially given to those Thais who form the elderly community, as well as to those who are of high social status in the Thai society and community. A certain criteria of factors is set for the Thai individual who is placed on the pedestal of this hierarchy which is evident in his or her profession, age, education and clothing. Also, on that note, these factors greatly contribute to shaping the perception of others towards their treatment to these types of Thais in the hierarchical pedestal. Thus, in Thailand, the social status of an individual determines with connotation, on how they should be greeted.
- Never forget to practice and adapt the customary Wai when you are on a vacation and tour in Thailand
Compared to the other countries in the world, it is not common in Thailand to depict a scene wherein the Thai people would touch someone’s hand as a form of greeting. Wai, is traditionally known in Thailand as a formal way of greeting that the Thai People do to each other. The Wai is performed by an individual, by pressing one’s palms together and bowing one’s head slightly. The Wai is done mostly by the Thais who are in a lower status of living in Thailand. While on the other hand, the Thais who are in a very high social status like the monks, are not expected societally and hierarchically to return and perform the Wai.
- The Thai People greatly consider lying as a form of rudeness
Thailand’s people are extremely against lying. As an evidence, even the most common white lies in general, that is normally acceptable in Western Culture is considered a taboo in the land of friendliness. Thus, whenever you are in Thailand, and if you encounter somebody who says something that seems a little bit too direct, it is not meant with offensement. This encounter only proves that Honesty is a highly prized value and a high standard cultural norm in Thailand. Thus, if you are a person who practices the adage which is “Honesty is the best policy” in your life, definitely, Thailand is the perfect place for you to visit.
- The human feet play a vivid role in the customs and etiquette of Thailand
When we are in Thailand, we will be well-versed with their essential customs and etiquette that is centered on the human feet. The Thai People considers the feet to be the lowest and least clean part of the human body. As a customary, during your visit in Thailand as a first time visitor and tourist, never show someone living in the country and to the Thai People, the bottom part of your feet, point to him or her your feet or place your feet higher than the level wherein someone else’s head is in. Avoiding these is a sign of respect for the Thai people, as well as for their customs, traditions and beliefs.
- The Thai People give high regard and respect to their country’s national anthem
A national anthem of a respective country is the greatest representation of the country’s symbolism and message of hope, unity and empowerment to the whole world. In Thailand, the Thai People stops and pays respect to it when the nation’s national anthem is played and heard nationwide, whether at home, in school, at office or in any public place, during 0800 hour and 1800 hour, respectively.
The Essentially Needed to be Remembered Do’s and Don’ts with Regards to Thai Etiquette and Culture
The world is dynamically changing daily and so as with its nations that are globally part and parcel of its dynamism. Thailand is a part of this rapid growth, movement and development as time continues to progress with a great regard for their Etiquette and Culture. On that note, below is a list to remember on the Do’s and Don’ts that every first-time visitor, foreigner and tourist should remember when in Thailand as follows:
The Do’s That are Needed in Thailand
- In terms of clothing, always wear something that is neat and modest in Thailand
Since our social status is often determined by clothing both in the country that we live in and in the country that we travel, it is essential to always present our image to the Thai People, in a well-groomed and conservative depiction.
- Always address the people of Thailand on a first-name basis
Oftentimes, the title Khun is added before the first name of a citizen in Thailand. This cultural title is similar to Mr., Miss or Mrs., that is greatly used in other countries both for men and women, regardless of their civil status. The practice of calling an individual with their respective family names are typically used only when an individual takes part in living in formal settings.
- Never forget to remove your footwear whenever you enter a Thai Citizen’s home during your visit in Thailand
As a needed additive for your to-do-list in Thailand, it is always a perfect idea to do a quick check whenever you enter a home, a shop or a temple in Thailand for you to see if the other people have removed their respective footwear as well.
- It pays to learn some basic facts that pertain to the colorful history of Thailand
Being a first-time foreigner, visitor and tourist in Thailand, it will truly be a great achievement for you to learn and gather a basic and founded knowledge on its history. This endeavor in return will help you gain more friends and colleagues in the land of friendliness.
- Never disregard the practice of giving respect to the royal family of Thailand
Always make it a hobby to never make negative commentaries to the King of Thailand as well as to the members of the royal family. It will truly cause a rift and dispute on your part as a first-time, visitor and foreigner of Thailand.
The Don’ts that are a Big No in Thailand:
- For the first-time women visitors of Thailand, it is always important to remember that you should never touch a monk.- In the country, the monks are highly forbidden to conduct any physical contact with women, and this is strictly observed all around the country.
- Never touch someone’s head or even pass on something in a manner that it is done above another person’s head. -The human head is given high regard and respect by the Thai People. Thus, any action done in circumstance with the person’s head in Thailand, is a great violation of their Etiquette and Culture.
- PDA or Public Display of Affection is a big NO in Thailand. Thai Couples who are in an intimate relationship, as well as to those who are married already, and even to those who visit the country, will never show actions of affection such as hugging and kissing in the public because it is greatly considered to be inappropriate and rude in the norms of Thai culture and etiquette.
- Always remember that wearing revealing clothes is a big NO in Thailand. Women who wear clothes that show too much skin while in public is never considered appropriate and cultural in Thailand. Thus, whenever you are planning a trip and tour for the first-time in the land of friendliness, remove your prepared low-cut tops and short shorts from your outfit of the day plans when you visit temples, shops and homes. Wear these whenever you are on a beach outing only.
A Clearer Depiction of Thai Culture and Etiquette in Summary
For a wider discussion in this article, as a conclusion, let us summarize Thai Culture and Etiquette through the 9 Premises that gives the world a most exquisite depiction of Thailand as follows:
- Family greatly matters to the Thai People
The people of Thailand highly value their respective families. In their decision making, plotting of goals, setting of dreams and envisioning of ambitions in life, the Thai people will always take into huge consideration the advice, suggestions, recommendations and points of view that their family gives to them.
- Patriotism is a huge deal to the Thai People
The Thai People are proud to say that Thailand is the only country that was never colonized by any European country, as their history states. With this on hand, they give high regard to national pride, as a part of their innate human psychology.
- Practice a no worry atmosphere whenever you are in Thailand
Worrying is never a language and statement in Thailand. By nature, Thai People are happy individuals. Thus, they never result in negativity because they always are inclined to the direction of positivity.
- A smile can move mountains whenever you are in Thailand
An individual’s smile is greatly considered to be the greatest attire that he or she can wear. Thus, when in Thailand, never ever forget to wear and paint a smile on your face daily. It is greatly appreciated in the norms of the Thai people.
- A Received YES can be an unwanted NO in Thailand
It is a cultural trademark in Thailand, that Thai People would never want to put anyone down or to let them feel down as well. In addition to that, they would always want to agree on things that are being beset on them, even if they have no intention and have no time to do so. As an overall impact, when in Thailand, never expect so much, so that you would not result into disappointment.
- Thailand’s Religion is greatly unique in comparison to the other religions around the world
Thailand practices the Theravada Buddhism. Their religion is unique among the other Buddhist nations because it has an infusion of outside elements such as Hindu Practices, Animism and traditional Chinese Beliefs.
- Superstitions play a great role in the cultural norms of Thailand.
Superstitions are a part and parcel of Culture. In Thailand, superstitions are practiced such as consulting a fortune teller and a monk that will greatly help in their arrangement for a wedding, test driving a car and buying a home.
- Monks are highly respected in the land of friendliness.
The Thai monks are given a special regard in Thailand. They have their special lanes, and designated seats in public transport. Thus, if you are in Thailand, and you unintentionally acted inappropriately in the midst of a monk, the Thai people will surely point out your unintentional errors with disapproval.
- Bodily awareness plays a great role in the individuality of Thai People
The human body is treated with utmost and innermost respect, dignity and courtesy in the cultural and traditional beliefs and norms in Thailand. Thus, first-time tourists, foreigners and visitors should be alert with their bodily functions, so that the Thai People will not be insulted with your actions pertaining to the use of your body.