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Leaning Thai Culture to Making Perfect Trip

Updated on October 20, 2009


Thailand is a very popular country to visit and travel around. Some travelers visit Thailand many times a year. My friends in Vancouver like to go there in December because to escape from the cold winter weather. Some people would like to visit Thailand for different reasons. However one thing they should take a little time and learn about Thai culture before going there, if they would like their travels to go to smoothly.    

 Thai culture and Western cultures are very different (I know from my experience when I arrived here in Vancouver).

1. Smile


I think you must have ever heard “Thailand is the land of smile”. It is true! We always smile with many reasons. We will assume that you are very friendly when we see your smile. Keep smiling when you would like to talk with Thai people or ask some help.




Thais “Wai” instead of shaking hands like Westerners. Thus you would “Wai” when meeting a person after an absence, or for the first time for that day. You should “Wai” older people or with to show respect in a social position situation. Thais will be very appreciative when you “Wai” to them.

3.Show respect for the king


As you know Thai people love our kingdom. I think might be the same as almost any country in the world. The monarchy is revered by all Thais and people will simply will not tolerate any lack respect towards any members of the royal family,  past or present.

4.Show respect for Thailand’s main religion.


Our main religion is Buddhism.  Dress politely when entering a temple or religious shrine (shorts or tank tops should not be worn in the temple, and shoes should be removed before entering.) For Wat Pra keaw (Emerald Buddha) guards will forbid you from entering if you are dressed inappropriately. It is considered very improper for women to touch a monk. If a woman wants to give something to a monk, it must first  be given to a man, or put on a piece of cloth.

5.Do not touch anyone on the head


Thais regard the head as the highest part of the body-the temple of the body as it were. As such, touching someone’s head is entirely unacceptable.  I realize that in the west a friendly pat on the head, especially the head of someone a bit younger; will be regarded as a friendly and supportive gesture or even touch on the shoulder. In Thailand any gesture towards the head will cause Thais to recoil and will be greeted with shock possibly annoyance.

6.Do not touch Thai lady, if you do not know well.


Touching is the friendly way in the west, especially hug to show appreciation. I have gotten used to a friendly hug now that I have been living in Vancouver for almost 2 years. In contrast, in Thailand you cannot hug to show your appreciation. A firm ‘Thank you very much’ is enough.  In Thailand it is very serious for some lady who is touched by a man. She will think that you are very rude. However, ladies can touch each other.

7.Do not talk with some senior people like they are your friend.


I’m very comfortable to talk with anyone in Vancouver because it seems everybody can be friend and I can say anything. I have a lot of senior friends here. In Thailand we are still strict that a junior has to show respect to anyone who is their senior. 

8.Do not point your feet at anyone or anything.


It is impolite for Thai people to use feet to do anything. When I was kid my father hit me so hard when I tried to use my right foot turn off the electric fan. Anyway my feet are very useful since I came to Vancouver.

9.Do not step over anyone.

The best way is walk around them instead of step over any part of another person. If you do walk in front of someone, it is considered polite to slightly bow your head below their head and say “Kor toht (excuse me)”

10.Be patient.


Thai people like to avoid conflict situation or we don’t like to shout or shows of annoyance in any situation. There may be times when you face frustrations, do remain calm and resolve quietly. Thai people believe conflicts will work themselves out better without anger.  We like to do smile or even laugh to defuse the situation.  

I hope you will have a great trip and a lot of fun in our country!


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