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Thailand Travel Tips – DOs and DONTs

Thailand Travel

Welcome to Thailand!

Thais are easygoing, warm and friendly in general, but at the same time do not like to be offended, especially where revered customs and habits are concerned. Patience, tolerance and good temper display a commendable amount of Thai’s quality. But Thais are ultrasensitive, even jokes could cause embarrassment or displeasure to them. So travelling to Thailand to explore its remarkable cultures could be an encounter if you do not bear in mind from the very beginning about its Monarchy, Religion, Buddha Images, Monks, Head and Feet, Shoes, and Drugs etc important customs. The following travel tips of Thai Dos and Donts aim to well inform you before travelling in order to avoid trouble and embarrassment when you are in the kingdom. If you’re not sure what to do or how to behave in a specific situation, just look at what the Thais are doing and do the same. If it fails, just smile.

traveltaboologo_1_thumbnelThailand Travel Taboo

Do not ever show disrespect towards the Thai Royal Family. Thai people have a deep, traditional reverence for the Royal Family, failing or deliberately failing to show some respect towards the King or the Monarchy in any situation where it is expected, is not only an offense, but can also get you in prison.

Thailand Donts

  • Do not ever show disrespect towards the Thai Royal Family. Thai people have a deep, traditional reverence for the Royal Family, failing or deliberately failing to show some respect towards the King or the Monarchy in any situation where it is expected, is not only an offense, but can also get you in prison.
  • Do not criticize the regime or the ruling families. In Thailand even the most innocent critic turns lightly to lese-majesty crime, leading to a long years of prison.
  • Do not ever show disrespect to Buddha images, large or small, ruined or not, which is regarded as a sacred object. And never climb onto one to take a photograph or do anything which might indicate a lack of respect. Sacrilegious acts are punishable by imprisonment even if committed by foreign visitors.
  • Do not take Buddha images out of the country, which is against the law unless special permission has been granted. However, stores will sell them to you, but won’t necessarily tell you about the regulations.
  • Do not cross your legs when you are in the presence of a monk, no matter you are sitting on the floor or in a chair.
  • Do not eat rice with your fork, eat with a spoon instead. The fork is used to push the food into the spoon, and the spoon is used to eat. It is also considered impolite and disrespectful to leave some rice in the plate. So make sure you will finish it all.
  • Do not be too affectionate in public. Kissing, cuddling and similar behaviour are frowned upon if in public, especially amongst older Thais.
  • Do not get involved with anything or anyone about drugs. Do not take any packages through Thai customs for anybody! If you are caught carrying drugs, you risk the death penalty or life in prison. So be warned!
  • Do not ever accept any bag or anything from someone you don’t know very well, as it may contain drugs. And beware of your own compatriots, there are many scams of all kinds run by foreigners and aimed at foreigners.Trafficking or possession of drugs (including “soft” drugs) is in many cases punished with the death penalty. Also do not expect that your embassy can do much for you.
  • Do not sunbathe nude, which is offensive to most Thai people.
  • Do not touch Thai’s head or ruffle their hair. Thai regard the head as the highest part of the body, literally and figuratively.
  • Do not point at people or things with your feet. This is considered very rude, as the feet are considered as the most inferior parts of the human body. And do not sit on the floor of a Temple with your feet pointing at the Buddha Image!
  • Do not be offended by questions about age, salary or marital status, which are common questions Thai ask each other when first meet.
  • Do not smoke in the street, nor to drop litter in the street. You can be fined 2,000 Baht for doing so.
  • Do not shout in public in anyway (to anybody). In Thailand shouting and shows of annoyance are entirely frowned upon, whatever the situation. There may be times when you face frustrations, do so quietly and calmly.
  • Do not accept any offers from strangers to assist you in finding the right places to do your shopping. If you need a taxi, just ignore all the touts and go straight to the public taxi counter.
  • Do not participate in any form of gambling. Gambling is against the law in Thailand and penalties are very severe!
  • Do not get involved in prostitution in Thailand, which is not only put your health at serious risk, but also high chances of getting robbed.
  • Do not keep your valuables in a hotel safe deposit box. Some safe deposit boxes are the most unsafe places for safekeeping. Entrust your valuables only to respectable hotels.

Thailand Dos

  • Do dress properly in all religious temples and shrines. Do not ever go without sleeves or in shorts, hot pants or other unsuitable clothes.
  • Do remove your shoes before entering a temple or a private Thai home.
  • Do treat monks with the highest respect. Buddhist monks are forbidden to touch or be touched by a woman, or to accept anything from the hand of a woman.
  • Do show respect to the Thai hymn when the Thai national hymn is played in public places at 8.00 am and 6.00 pm every day. Most Thai people will stop and stand still, although a tourist is not expected to do so.
  • Do ‘wai’ (pronounce like why) which is the traditional gesture of greeting and thanking. It is done by joining hands in front of the chest and bending the head (the higher the hands, the more respect you’re showing). You can also wai as a way to apologize.
  • Do exercise tolerance, particularly when it comes to order food, pay a bill or waiting for change. Expect a longer time than where you come from. Do be patient, and try to keep calm no matter what the problem or provocation may be.
  • Do buy gemstones at a reputed establishment, but be careful of scams or be rip-offs if you follow tuk-tuk drivers’ recommendations.
  • Do give a tip at a nice restaurant, and do, if you wish, donate money to a respectable charity.
  • Do speak politely to the authorities to avoid to be sat around all day.
  • Do try to avoid any conflict of any kind with a Thai person (man or woman), because they can get hot tempered and react in very extreme ways in order not to “losing face”.
  • Do try to bring some small presents if you’re invited somewhere, as the Thai love to make presents to each other (it’s really the thought that matters).
  • Do bend your body a little to show that you apologise for the disruption or inconvenience when walk crossing others. It is a simple politeness, not a humiliation in any way.
  • Do keep smiling! The Thai smile when they feel embarrassed, that’s all and it’s true.

© 2010

Filed under : Asia, Thailand
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