Updated: Jul 1
Visiting a new country can be daunting - especially when you are not accustomed to their culture and lifestyle. In Thailand, it is extremely important to respect their culture and values while traveling through the country. I've listed the important Do's and Don'ts for your time in Thailand.
1. Do Dress Appropriately –
Temples have strict dress codes that need to be adhered and honored. This includes covering your shoulders, knees, and cleavage. Thailand is extremely hot, so bring clothes that are light weight but modest to respect their culture. Most temples will even prohibit tight/torn pants (including leggings).
Signs similar to the one below are posted outside of almost all temples.
2. Do Remove Your Shoes –
This is a sign of respect when entering someone’s home or a temple. There are typically signs in place when it is expected to remove your shoes. You can also pick up on cues (is there a pile of shoes sitting outside of the building?)
3. Do Return a Wai –
“Wai” is the prayer like symbol with hands in front of your chest and head slightly bowed. It is etiquette to return a “wai” as a polite exchange.
4. Do Smile –
The “Thai Smile” has become a famous part of culture in Thailand.
5. Do Consider a Tip –
Tipping in Thailand isn’t customary but is becoming more expected from tourists. Some restaurants will place a 10% “Service Charge” on the bill as a tip. In this case, no additional tip is required. Otherwise, tipping 10% is a sign of gratitude and respect.
6. Do Try Street Food –
Street Food is a huge part of the Thai culture. You’ll see this available in most all markets. Use your best judgement when selecting a street food vendor (ie – does the food look like it has been sitting out for hours in the sun?). Otherwise, trying Thai Street Food will give you the most authentic taste of Thailand!
7. Do Pack for All Situations
Packing for Thailand can be a bit of a challenge. You need temple clothes, rain clothes, swimming clothes, mosquito clothes, and so much more. Check out my full Thailand Packing List for more details.
1. Don’t Put Your Feet Up –
Feet are considered dirty and closest to hell in Thailand. It is incredibly insensitive to point your feet or prop them up on a table/chair.
2. Don’t Ride an Elephant –
Riding elephants is physically and mentally harmful to the elephants. They are often overworked for tourist’s pleasure. Instead, opt to go to an Elephant Sanctuary where you can feed and bathe and elephant.
3. Don’t Touch Someone’s Head –
Feet are considered the dirtiest part of the human body, and heads are considered the most sacred part of the human body. Do not touch anyone’s head, including small children. Never raise your feet higher than someone’s head either.
4. Don’t Use Your Left Hand –
The left hand is considered dirty (typically used for restrooms), so the right hand is preferred in Thailand.
5. Don’t Touch a Monk –
This is especially true for Women. Women should never brush against a monk, touch a monk, or shake hands with a monk. Always respect their privacy and personal space.
6. Don’t Speak Negatively About The Royal Family –
People in Thailand have the utmost respect for their royal hierarchy. It is actually illegal to talk about the King in a disrespectful manor.
7. Don’t Drive –
If you can avoid driving in Thailand, you should! Thai roads are one of the world’s most deadliest and are quite hectic. Avoid driving if you can and leave it to the Thai who are accustomed to the roads and traffic conditions.
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