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10 Do's & Don'ts in Thailand

Keep smiling in the Land of Smiles by following these Do's & Don'ts for perfect manner.

Do take off your shoes

Feet are considered dirty in Thailand; in many places shoes are left outside and feet stay on the floor. When entering someone’s house you should always remove your shoes, to not do so, would be a sign of disrespect to your host. At the shops, if you are not sure whether to take off your shoes, look for shoes outside the shop, if no other customers are around, see if the owner is wearing shoes.

Don't point

Gesture to something, if necessary, with all four fingers extended and the thumb flat against the palm. This is another difficult one, especially when in the classroom – pointing is second nature to many Westerners.

Do respect the Royal family

To respect the Royal Family is one of the most important pieces of cultural etiquette in Thailand – the country actually has a lese majeste law, whereby it is illegal to insult the royal family. This law is taken extremely seriously and the breaking of it has been known to result in lengthy prison time, even for foreigners.

Don't touch people's heads

In Thailand, the head is considered sacred and the cleanest part of the body. It is deemed offensive to touch people’s head or hair. Be mindful of this when teaching – it is easy to forget and ruffle a child’s hair.

Do enjoy yourself

Sanuk” is often translated as meaning ‘fun’. But “sanuk” is more than having fun; it’s about striving to achieve satisfaction and pleasure from whatever you do. A sense of humour and a sense of fun are the 2 most important things to carry with you in Thailand.

Don't lose your cool

Thai’s have a philosophy of keeping their cool and not losing their temper; jai yen (cool heart). To raise your voice and lose your temper is not good form and confrontation is to be avoided. Laugh, smile and don’t worry about it. Mai bpen rai, as the locals say.

Do wai when greeting people

Thailand’s wai greeting is a common way of saying hello and being friendly. To fit in with the local way of life, return this gesture when it is directed at you, and smile whilst doing so.

Thai people are warm and welcoming characters, and will appreciate the same attitude reciprocated back to them in this simple way.

Don't live on Western food

The cuisine of Thailand is some of the best in the world. Street food in Southeast Asia is how the locals enjoy their cuisine. Sample a taste of everything from the many, many street vendors that set up shop across the country. Watch your food being fried up in front of your eyes, adding your favorite ingredients as you, please. Sit on tiny little plastic chairs on the sidewalk and slurp up some delicious noodles and delectable soups. As the ultimate Thai experience, you will not regret it. Being one with the country feels great!

Do smile a lot

Thailand is famously known as the ‘Land of Smiles’. A Thai smile does not automatically mean that a person is happy. This can sometimes lead to misunderstandings between foreigners and Thai’s. Very often though, the Thai smile is a welcoming one. There is an attitude in Thailand that should be enjoyed.

Do respect monks

The monks you’ll encounter across Thailand are deeply religious people, and should be shown reverence. Crossing paths with one comes with its own set of rule: bow when you meet one, don’t ask any personal questions about them, never pass anything to them and if you are a woman be extra careful. It is forbidden for monks to have any physical contact with women – so don’t touch or brush past them!


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