Do’s and Don’ts
Thailand is a wonderful country to spend time in, but to get the most out of your experience in the Kingdom it is vital that you understand the Do’s and Don’ts during your stay.
Because this is a positive article with the intention of helping you get the best out of a visit to Thailand we will title each section as “Do”, but ask you to bear in mind that doing the opposite to what is recommended is a very clear “Don’t”.
Do keep your cool:
Foreigners can be far more animated in their own country when problems arise. They will often raise their voice, look for an argument and generally take an aggressive stance over disputes.
This is not acceptable in Thai culture. If there is a dispute or misunderstanding then take time to explain the problem with the person(s) concerned. Do so with patience and concern, not with aggression.
If this is approach to an issue is taken then in the vast majority of cases a solution will be found. This solution will solve your problem and allow the Thai person involved to see that a fair resolution has been achieved.
Do take your shoes off:
There are several occasions when it is important to enter buildings or structures barefooted. Here are 3 where this rule should be adhered to.
This is the most obvious time to leave your shoes at an entrance. Temples in tourist areas will regularly display signs advising this fact, but more remote temples may not. Just because there is no sign does not mean that shoes should be left on.
To clarify this, it is unnecessary to remove shoes while wandering around the temple grounds, but it is a must to remove them before entering the Temple itself or any associated buildings.
Visiting a private abode:
If you are invited into a Thai person’s home it is important that shoes are always removed before entering. Not doing this is seen as a sign of disrespect to the host.
The only exception to this rule is if the host, being familiar with western culture, advises that there is no need to take your shoes off, however, check first to see if they have removed theirs and if so do likewise.
While it is obviously not necessary to remove your shoes when in a shopping mall or shopping complex it needs to be understood that many smaller business premises also double as homes.
These are commonly known as ‘shop-houses’. When entering such an establishment check to see if there are shoes outside. If so, remove yours. If there is no other customer present then simply check what the proprietor has on his or her feet. If nothing, then you should remove your shoes before entering.
Do respect ALL Buddha images:
All buddha images in the Kingdom are sacred. As such any sacrilegious acts relating to an image is a punishable offence that often ends with imprisonment. Make an effort to understand a little more about the country’s main religion and this will certainly add meaning to your stay.
Do try and learn a few Thai words:
By taking time out to learn a few Thai words and simple phrases you will be amazed at how well this will be received by locals. Their famous welcome will be that little bit warmer and that renowned Thai Smile will become even broader when they recognize the effort you are making.
Do enjoy yourself – Understanding ‘Sanuk’:
A quick glance at the word ‘Sanuk’ in many references to Thailand will describe it as ‘fun’. The truth is it is far deeper than that. It means to strive towards achieving pleasure and satisfaction from whatever you do.
This is regardless of whether a Thai person is employed in an office capacity, serving in a shop, working farmland or while eating and drinking with family and friends.
Make sure you pack two things before leaving home for Thailand, they weigh nothing but will heavily add to your experience in the kingdom. These are:
Mixing these in your day-to-day activities will achieve an excellent response from locals and will encourage them to return the appreciation. This “Do” will vastly increase your enjoyment while in the Kingdom.
Do avoid criticising the monarchy:
The Thai people love and respect their Royal Family. The country also has some of the world’s toughest lese majeste laws in the world.
Basically, what this means is that if you are found guilty of an offence which insults the monarchy the very strong likelihood is that you will be imprisoned.
This offence covers a wide range of possibilities from speaking about any member of the Royal Family in a negative way through to commenting on social media postings that the government deem to be unacceptable.
The best way to avoid any such confusion is to embrace the Royal Family and the activities in which they have helped and continue to enhance the lives of ordinary Thai citizens.
Do, do, do!
Do make efforts to understand the rich history, culture, manners and attitudes of Thai people. In the main they are reasonable, friendly and giving people. By understanding a little about each of the situations you find yourself in will go a long, long way to affording a far more rewarding stay in this glorious country.