When visiting a new country, you should do a bit of research beforehand to make sure you are aware of the basics. Most countries have their own cultures, beliefs, traditions and rules. Here are 10 things you should know when visiting Thailand.
- Thai people have tremendous respect for their late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who sadly passed away in October 2017. To this date, at 8am and 6pm daily, loud speakers play the national anthem, dedicated to their former King and everything comes to a standstill for the entire duration of the song. This happens no matter where the people are, or what they are doing. As a tourist, you aren’t expected to sing along, however you should be aware of what is happening and not try to engage with a local during this time.
- The former King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, is still present on the Thai coins. Due to the respect and love the people have for their former King, it is disrespectful to step on, or throw the coins as it is seen as you ‘stepping on the King’. You may be thinking, why on earth would I step on the coins? but how many of you have accidentally dropped a coin and stomped on it to stop it from rolling away?
- A person’s head is the cleanest and most sacred part of their body thus it is seen as offensive to touch someone’s head. If you do so by accident, apologise. This may happen if you decide to volunteer in a school for the day, and you scruff up a child’s hair as a nice, friendly gesture – for a Thai person, this is disrespectful.
10 things You Should Know When Visiting Thailand
- Thai people consider the foot to be the dirtiest and lowest part of the body, and the head the most respected and highest part of the body. Therefore if you point at anything with your feet, put your feet up on a table, or touch someone with your feet, it is seen as disrespectful. You are essentially saying that they are worth less than your lowest.
- Take off your shoes before entering someone’s home, a temple, and even a few restaurants/shops. As the foot is considered the dirtiest part of the body, shoes are seen as dirty. You will know when you need to take them off as there will be a line of shoes piled up outside.
- Use the words ‘Mao Kap’ to politely tell people trying to sell you something that you ‘do not want’ to buy anything. It is pronounced ‘mayao kap’ and translates to ‘do not want’.
- The love that Thai people have for their King, they also have for their Monarchy. As soon as you arrive in Thailand you will notice pictures of the Royal family hanging in many different places. There is so much love and respect for the royal family that there is actually a lese majeste law, whereby it’s illegal to insult them. Don’t bad mouth the royals otherwise you will be heavily fined and can even face jail time.
The main religion practised in Thailand is Buddhism, but there is a strong undercurrent of Hinduism
- Respect the Buddha symbol. It is illegal to sit on Buddha statues and anywhere there is a Buddha, you should act appropriately. They respect the Buddha that much that local Thai tattoo artists won’t even allow you to get a tattoo of the Buddha below the waist, as it isn’t in a ‘worthy’ enough part of your body.
- Cover yourself up when entering temples. Women must have both their shoulders, and knees covered and cannot enter a temple during menstruation.
- When a Thai person puts their hands together in front of their face and bows, it is a way of saying hello. This greeting is known as the ‘wei’ greeting. If you are greeted in this way, you should return the gesture and bow in the same way, while smiling at them.
It is always a good thing to know a little bit about the place you will be visiting to avoid getting yourself into trouble. Thai people are very religious and you need to respect that when visiting Thailand. If you have any other tips that you learned while you were there, please leave me a comment below!
More information about traveling around Thailand
If you are heading to Thailand and would like to know the best places to visit, including both the tourist areas and places off the beaten path, check out these blog posts below: