A Guide To Respecting The Customs Of Thailand

Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Especially among twenty-somethings, the sandy beaches, hidden island retreats and boat tours all make for a fantastic experience. However, many who visit the country treat the place with little respect. Unfortunately, many locals now look on tourists with disdain and dread.

It is important that tourists who are keen on visiting Thailand work to change this image. Being a conscientious traveler is important for fostering positive intercultural relations and to allow the country to remain a place where tourists are welcome and appreciated. Once you have learned a few of these basic tips by heart and have secured the right travel insurance for Thailand, you will be ready to go and will have a better appreciation for Thai cultural norms and sensitivities.

For now, let’s look at some of the most important things to remember if you are planning to visit Thailand and want to respect the country’s customs.

Photo via Unsplash

Seek Enlightenment

Remember that most of the country’s citizens are Buddhist and many of them take this belief quite seriously. The country is filled with holy sites and religious shrines that bear testament to Thai religious sensibilities. Many of these places are visually beautiful and draw many tourists to them each year.

It is important that you are aware of the reverence with which Thai people treat these spaces. Be sure to observe proper protocol in certain areas. It is always best to ask, or simply look at what the locals are doing. Avoid touching religious icons and displays, as some practitioners have superstitions associated with this behaviour. It can pay off to learn a bit about the Thai variants of Buddhism before you travel.

Using The Bathroom

Experienced travellers know that there are as many different types of toilets in the world as there are people. While that may not be quite true, it is important for travel newbies to be aware that squat toilets are common in Thailand, especially outside of the main tourist areas in the big cities. If you plan on seeing some of the countryside, then be aware of what the proper hygienic protocol is for these facilities. If you want to avoid embarrassment, be sure not to flush paper down the toilet either. Many of the sewer lines cannot handle this and will flood over if you forget.

Meet And Greet

The wai is a common greeting in Thailand that you need to master before you leave. Fortunately, it is simple. When you meet someone who is of the same or higher status than you, put your hands together and offer a small bow to say hello. Doing this is a sign of respect and will endear you to any local friends that you meet.

Photo via Unsplash

Dress For Success

For better or worse, most standard clothing is acceptable in the areas of Thailand that are frequented by tourists. This means that you can wear what is comfortable in the often hot and humid areas of the country. However, it is respectful to cover up a bit when you enter areas of religious significance. This means no shorts and no sleeveless tops. Make the effort and you will avoid offending anyone.

Take Off For Thailand

Regardless of whether you are spending a week or a year in the country, it is always best to be respectful and follow local customs. Take some time to review these tips and even consider getting a guidebook to explore Thai customs in more depth. This will give you a good foundation to work with after you arrive.

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