Do’s and Dont’s while in Thailand
Every country and people have a bagful of customs and traditions. Thailand is a culturally rich and vibrant country. Although the people are warm and helpful, one needs to know the local practices and un written rules. What is correct in England may not be the thing to do in Germany.
If eating with hands is taboo in the West, it the most common method in Asia. So, it pays to know the local ways of expressing oneself as well as to onnect with the people. Afterall your visit will be incomplete without connecting with the local vibes, isnt it?
So, here are my well researched Do’s and Don’ts for Thailand.
Things To Avoid Doing
Violation of Covid 19 Protocols
As the Covid 19 pandemic has swept the whole world, Thailand has also enforced stringent protocols to contain the spread of the infection. So DO NOT violate the same lest you will be heavily penalized and stand liable to be deported.
Thai Royal Family & Government
Do not ever show disrespect towards the Thai Royal Family or adversely comment about the Government. Thai people have a deep, traditional reverence for the Royal Family and any kind of disrespect towards the royals may land you in jail.
Statues or images of the Buddha are worshipped, Buddhism being the main religion. So treat them with the same respect as we do in India to our deities. Disrespect to the Buddha is punishable. Carrying such idols and images out of Thailand is also not permitted.
Do not cross your legs when facing a Buddhist monk. They are highly respected and even have separate reserved seats in public places and transport.
Do wish them with folded hands and a small bow especially when you happen to accidentally cross them in close proximity. Touching them is not taken kindly.
Food & Water
Do not waste food and water. Any unused food item should be tightly packed and disposed of correctly.
Conduct Towards Other People
Do not stare at or pass comments on locals or even older foreigners often seen with much younger local girls.
Drugs and Intoxication
Do not consume drugs. Do not accept any packet from any stranger. You may unknowingly become a courier of contraband which is punishable by death or life imprisonment.
Also being in a inebriated state in public places may make you a victim of mugging etc. There have been cases of snatching of passports etc.
Do not mess with call girls or misbehave with them. Avoid them with a smile. If you are accompanied by children , then avoid visiting or walking through places like Walking Street, Pattaya and Sukhumvit Soi 21, Bangkok
Touching Thai People
Do not touch Thai people’s head which as it is considered offensive.
Temples & Wats
Do not point your feet at Idols or people or things. And do not sit on the floor of a Temple with your feet pointing to the deity. You are not supposed to enter religious places with shorts, minis etc which do not cover legs and shoulders especially women.
Do not smoke in the street, nor to litter public paces. You can be fined for littering. Violating Covid 19 protocols will lead to heavy penalties.
Dealing With People
Do not raise your voice in public in anyway (to anybody). Deal with adverse situations and annoying officials calmly and politely. Entering into altercations with locals is not warranted and could lead to complications. It is better to get out of un pleasant situations.
Do not accept any offers from strangers to guide you to do sightseeing or shopping. Refer to Google map for directions and working hours of the place of interest.
English is an alien language to most Thais as Thailand has never been colonized by the British. Only a handful of people who are in the tourism industry can speak or understand English. Most important, Thai customs/immigration officials DO NOT speak English.
Do not cut queues or push people especially at the Visa On Arrival counter. Immigration officials can make life hell for you in case you break rules or misbehave.
Always be polite and do not show the typical aggression as we do in India to anyone we think is powerless or poorer.
Safe Keeping of Valuables
Do not keep your valuables in your luggage and leave them unlocked in hotel rooms while going out for sightseeing. Book accommodations with safe lockers and store important documents like passports and valuables in them.
Using Passports As Collateral
Do not hand over your original passports as collateral for hiring a scooter or any kind of such transaction. You may give a Photostat copy when requested for.
Should Do In Thailand
Always wear a smile on your face as Thailand is the land of smiles. Thai people do not make faces or get aggressive in normal daily dealings with people and expect the same from others.
Even under tough situations, try to control your anger and get out of the situation in a calm manner.
Do dress conservatively when visiting temples. Sleeveless tops and short skirts and minis are not permitted. Certain temples and Royal Palaces have suitable clothes available on hire at the entrance gate.
Always smell good and dress up well in clean clothes. Thais give a lot of importance to personal hygiene and good dressing sense. Body odour dirty smelly clothes or foul breath is frowned upon by them especially when you travel in public transport.
Do remove your shoes before entering a temple or any place of worship. Even some guest houses especially those near the beaches follow this strictly. If you are visiting a local home, be sure to remove shoes and socks at the entrance before entering.
Respect to Monks & Elderly
Do treat monks and the elderly with respect and allow them right of way.
Thai National Anthem
Do show respect to the Thai national anthem when played in public places like theatres etc by getting up and standing still.
Greet Thai people with the gesture ‘Wai’ which is similar to ‘Namaste’, the traditional gesture of greeting and thanking with folded hands and a slight bow.
‘Sawadee’ is the word for greeting. Males end it with ‘Krap’ (‘Sawadee Krap’) and women with ‘Kaaaa’ (‘Sawadee Kaaa’). Just follow it and you shall be treated very well.
Buying Gold and Gems
Do buy gemstones or Gold only at reputed establishments. Hua Seng Heng in Yaowarat Road, China Town, Bangkok is a reputed company and has more than one outlet of Gold in China Town itself. Be careful of scams and do not follow tuk-tuk drivers’ recommendations for shopping.
For a commission from the acquainted shops, they may make you buy spurious things at exorbitant prices. Always be aware of rules about carrying valuables in and out of any country and follow them religiously.
Smile Your Way To Glory
Always wear a smile. Do speak politely to anyone you deal with. And do not forget to return a smile.
Do bargain for products or services however, do not cross the limits. Even if you are not buying anything from a shop after asking the price move away saying “I’ll come back”, with a smile.
Do carry some small inexpensive souvenirs from the place you belong and gift them to people you befriend there or that give you good service. It ensures good vibes and better service.
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