Thailand is becoming more influenced by Western culture, although the Thai people are a very proud nation and Thai culture remains strong. The majority of Thais are buddhist and this greatly influences daily life.
Thai people are amongst the friendliest, most tolerant and nicest people in the world and they appreciate attempts by foreign visitors to be respectful to Thai culture and to have a go at speaking the Thai language.
Here is a list of do’s and don’ts so you can avoid any embarrassing situations:
Do learn something about Thai culture before you come to Thailand.
Don’t ever touch a Thai person on the top of the head, unless you know them very well. Because the head is considered the closest thing to Buddha or Godliness
Do smile, if you are friendly with people they will be friendly to you and you will be surprised at just how far this can get you.
Don’t ever lose your temper in public Thai people like to save face, and getting angry in public shows a lot of disrespect and will make you look like the bad guy.
Do remove your shoes when entering a house Temple, or shop, if in doubt; look for the presence of other shoes at the entrance. For wheelchair users this is not an issue. But, just make sure that you’re not going to make the floor dirty.
Don’t do anything that might be considered disrespectful to the Royal family. Thai people love their king as he has done a lot of good for the country and its people, repercussions for being disrespectful to the Royal family will be immediate and severe
Do observe smart dress when entering a Temple, women should have shoulders covered and both men and women should avoid wearing scanty shorts. Remember to always take off your shoes when entering a religious building.
Don’t ever show the soles of your feet or point at someone with your feet, if they are not an intimate acquaintance. Feet are considered unclean and this would be considered very insulting.
Do leave a small tip at a restaurant if you have enjoyed the meal, about 10% is considered good practice.
Don’t ever go topless, if you are a woman on the beach, people will pretend not to notice, but some may be deeply offended, especially Muslims.
Do the Wai, this is a Thai greeting made by putting your hands together at about chest height and pointing your fingers to the sky, with a small bow of the head. If you are not physically able to do the Wai then just do it as best you can, Thai people will understand.
Don’t gamble or accept any invitations for gambling as it’s illegal in Thailand.
Just be yourself, but try to be respectful of all things. And remember that you’re in a foreign country. Think about the consequences of your actions and remember that you’re the visitor. So in some situations you will have to adapt.