This page is intended as a brief guide to help you avoid the most obvious and common culture gaffes.
One of the most common faux pas committed by foreigners in Thailand is neglecting to remove their shoes when entering people's homes, temples and some shops. It cannot be underestimated how important this is to remember. Always, without fail, you must remove your footwear before entering someone's home and while first time visitors to Thailand may be forgiven for their mistake, it is most certainly frowned upon if you forget this.
On the subject of feet, in Thai culture it is considered rude to show people the bottom of your feet. Sitting at a train station relaxing with your feet up on your bags pointing upwards for the world to see with result in dirty looks and you will appear ignorant to the local customs. You should remember this at all times and it is also considered very poor manners indeed to nudge someone with your feet to get their attention.
The Thai National Anthem is played daily at 08:00 HRS and 18:00 HRS on television and radio. When in any train or bus station anywhere in Thailand at these times, you will also hear the national anthem played on the dot and everybody will stop what they are doing and stand to attention, without exception. You should do the same out of respect and those around you will most certainly appreciate the gesture.
Being polite is a sign of good character wherever you are in the world but it is particularly important in Thailand. Losing your temper at a hotel reception will only serve to frustrate you further and make you look foolish to the locals. Indeed, they may even be less inclined to help you if you get angry. Raising your voice is considered ugly, counter productive and will get you nowhere. Equally, bawdy hooligans from Europe or the Americas will not make any friends in Thailand. In summary, be respectful, well mannered and downplay yourself and your country, rather than boast... this will win you respect in Thailand. If you boast, it should be to show appreciation of something someone else may have done for you.
Thais are generally a very happy and friendly people, even when they face extremes of hardship. Even when very poor, they will often make a donation at the local temple or to beggars. You should also show kindness and a degree of generosity, where it is deserved.
Thais would rather ignore ugly situations until they have gone away, or find a way to laugh about it. Show them that you are peace loving and kind.
Never underestimate the importance and respect shown to monks in Thailand. You should never touch a monk. Don't even touch their robes. Women should pay particular attention to this point. You may only touch a monk if he first extends his hand and invites you.
Never ever pass in front of someone as they are kneeling to pray at a temple.
If you give a gift in Thailand, you will be thanked and it will usually be put to one side and opened later.
Thais place a lot of importance on the way you dress to convey your status. Thailand is a rather conservative society and you should try to dress accordingly. At work, your shirt should be crisp, clean and in perfect condition.
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