Do & Do not in Thailand
Following these recomedations will truly add to your Thai experience.
Most Thai are very forgiving about social mistakes, but trying to honor Thai standards, shows the Thai that the traveler has respect for their values. Here are some important taboos whose observance is prudent, if one does not want to be thought of as "bad mannered". These are a few things that tourists should keep in mind.
* 1. Temper . However frustrating the situation, never lose your temper. The person who loses his temper loses face. Be Thai and just keep calm and smile.!!
* 2. Sensitivity. The Thai are extremely self-conscious, and hate to be teased, especially in front of their friends.
* 3. Criticism . Never criticize a Thai or anything Thai. The Thai are a proud people, and proud of their country. Criticizing the King or a member of his family could result in you being hospitalized.
* 4. Patience . The Thai are extremely patient, and will wait hours for a bus or train without complaint. They just don't understand Westerners preoccupation with the time. Don't expect Thais to be punctual - they rarely are. It is practically impossible to get into an argument with a Thai. They just smile back and wait for the storm to pass.
* 5. Modesty . Most Thais are extremely modest about nudity, and when undressing will wrap a towel around them to slip off their trousers. The towel will not be removed until the firmly tucked up under the sheets. Some more experienced Thais have learned that many Farang walk around a hotel room stark naked, but this can and does embarrass many Thais. Most Thais are part horrified and part fascinated by Farang men on the beach disporting themselves in thong style swim wear, and women going topless.
* 6. English . Many Thais can read or write English better than they can speak it. If you don't understand each other, write it down.
* 7. Touching. Never, never, touch the top of someone's head , even someone you are sleeping with. The head is the most sacrosanct part of the body. Likewise, the Thai will be astounded if you touch their feet, as feet are considered dirty and lowly. Once the relationship is established, you can ask permission to do these things. Never touch any part of woman in public, not even holding her hand. You will see modern young straight Thai lovers holding hands, but they are imitating Western styles. It is perfectly OK. for two men or women to hold hands, but no assumptions should be made as to their sexuality.
* 8. Fingers and Feet . Never point at anybody. The feet, being dirty (even if yours are not) should never be used to point at anything, to stop a rolling coin, to move something aside, or be placed on furniture, even on the back of the seat in front of you in the bus or train. Feet should be kept firmly pointing at the ground, even when sitting. Don't step over anyone - ask them to move, even if they are sleeping on the pavement..!
* 9. Cleanliness & Attire. The Thai, however poor, are almost always smartly turned out and well scrubbed. Westerners strolling into public places wearing beach clothes, being unshaven or otherwise unkept, cause either amusement or consternation. If visiting a temple or Royal Palace, shorts and sleeveless shirts or blouses are taboo as they would most likely in your country. Including when you are walking on the street.
* 10. Demeanor. Try to avoid being too high, either in height or manner. When walking past a group of people sitting down, bow your head, and walk, if possible, behind them.
* 11. Shoes . Shoes are always removed before entering someone's home or a temple.
* 12. Kissing . Polite Thais never kiss in public, not even in a restaurant, bar, so wait until you get behind closed doors.
* 13. Tipping . It is polite to tip for great service. It is not polite to show no respect for money or the people by grossly over tipping. I know Tour Guides love to see "stupid Farang" grossly over tip them but it is really a insult to the work people provide and your sense of their worth as the society places on their work. - I know a family who works as a golf Caddies, who when an American expat kept grossly over tipping the daughters (no not pretty) she began to feel why work for any Thai golfers when she knew her "Ba Bo ba bo" farang was coming twice a week. It was so socially wrong and giving the wrong message to her daughter, that the mother finally had to ask the wife (Thai) of the Farang to tell her husband to stop.
They of course want money but they need self respect not charity. At most 5 to 10% for formal meals with great service.(hotels have already add to bill) Others service remember normal Thai people not normally working for tourists do not expect it but can be a very nice gesture if done with cultural sensitivity. PS the American argued stating he only tip half of what he would in America. Which worked out to be the equivalent of 20 hours of minium wage in Thailand.