Connect with us

Travel

Survival Guide: 6 things you need to know about Thai culture

Thaiger

Published

 on 

Photo via Unsplash

Every country has its own culture and a way of doing things. Thailand is no different. Thais are typically friendly, polite and down to earth. They greet each other respectfully and are quick to apologise for even the smallest of things. If you’ve been to Thailand for any amount of time, then you would have heard some basic guidelines for Thai etiquette like always wai to the elderly, don’t put your feet up on a table and don’t get a Buddha tattoo. But there are oh-so-many more. So here are 6 other Thai culture points you need to know.

Superstitions abound
Buying a home? Getting married? Something is wrong with your life? It all comes down to the things we can’t see. This is where either a monk or a fortune teller comes into play. They have all the answers, or they have the best advice. When is the best time to get married? Should our house face the north or the south? What phone numbers should be avoided? (Probable influences of Chinese culture.) Yes, you heard that right. It doesn’t stop there, though. Thais will usually ask for advice on what to name their newborn child. For example, “Our daughter is expected on [enter date]. What should we name her?”

Respect monks
Monks are highly respected here in Thailand, and making fun of them is a huge mistake. If you’re on public transportation, there is a priority seat just for a monk. If the seats are all taken, be sure to be the first to give him a seat. Ladies, don’t say that we haven’t warned you, but try not to interact with monks. Want to make merits in the morning? Sure, but let your significant other directly pass something to him.

Status and respect
This is our secret. Don’t tell Thais that we told you this, but status is very important to them . You might have heard of the following stereotype: Asian parents want their children to go to a prestigious university, then get a high-paying job. There is a truth to that here in Thailand. “What do you do for a living?” is a common question at every family gathering or reunion of some sort. If you have a good job, you’re all set for life. On the topic of gathering, when it’s time to pay for the bill, one of two things will happen. Normally, the oldest will pay, or sometimes the highest earner will step in. You may have come across a group of diners arguing about who should pay. It’s all about status. But respect is earned, not given, right? Nope. If you’re older, that means whoever is younger must respect you as an elder.

Family first
Family first before anything else. This goes as far as the extended family and you’ll be surprised at how big some Thai families are. Cousins are considered brothers and sisters, so don’t be shocked when a local tells you this. It’s common for most Thai family members to live close to one another. When the parents are out for work, children are left at home with other family members like the grandparents. When the younger generation gets older, they’re expected to help the elderly either financially or by helping them around the house.

Give and save ‘face’
If you’re visiting cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket, most Thais are able to speak some English. But don’t expect them to be direct and completely honest with you. Mostly, they prefer to be indirect because they want to “save face,” or not hurt the feelings of others. Keep this in mind when communicating with Thai people and try not to be too direct with them. On that note, Thais hate confrontation, especially when you raise your voice. Raising your voice at someone won’t solve the problem. People will look at you for the wrong reasons. If a problem occurs, which we sincerely hope doesn’t happen, remain calm and apologise, then stand your ground and try not to cause any more trouble.

No touching
In Thailand, keep your hands to yourself. Touching someone’s skin is considered intimate and head touching is especially sacred. As a rule of thumb, don’t touch someone’s head, unless they’re your significant other or children. If you see someone doing this, it’s likely that they’re quite close. So it’s not a good idea to touch someone’s head without permission, or even pass something over their head. In fact, it’s considered very disrespectful in Thailand, especially if it involves the elderly. It may seem normal to foreigners, but not to Thais.

What’s your take?
To conclude, Thais are often laid back and friendly, especially toward foreigners and tourists. But that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to do the things we mentioned above. You might be forgiven because you’re a foreigner, but try to save face and not make yourself look bad. So what’s your take? Are there any interesting or unusual Thai culture points that didn’t make the list? Which one is your favourite? Please let us know in the ThaigerTalk comments section down below!

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Looking for your next home in Thailand? Let us match you with a local expert in minutes!

Thank you for your interest!

One of our agents will
reach out to you soon.

I want to:
  • Thailand (ไทย)+66
  • United States+1
  • United Kingdom+44
  • Australia+61
  • Afghanistan (‫افغانستان‬‎)+93
  • Albania (Shqipëri)+355
  • Algeria (‫الجزائر‬‎)+213
  • American Samoa+1684
  • Andorra+376
  • Angola+244
  • Anguilla+1264
  • Antigua and Barbuda+1268
  • Argentina+54
  • Armenia (Հայաստան)+374
  • Aruba+297
  • Australia+61
  • Austria (Österreich)+43
  • Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan)+994
  • Bahamas+1242
  • Bahrain (‫البحرين‬‎)+973
  • Bangladesh (বাংলাদেশ)+880
  • Barbados+1246
  • Belarus (Беларусь)+375
  • Belgium (België)+32
  • Belize+501
  • Benin (Bénin)+229
  • Bermuda+1441
  • Bhutan (འབྲུག)+975
  • Bolivia+591
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (Босна и Херцеговина)+387
  • Botswana+267
  • Brazil (Brasil)+55
  • British Indian Ocean Territory+246
  • British Virgin Islands+1284
  • Brunei+673
  • Bulgaria (България)+359
  • Burkina Faso+226
  • Burundi (Uburundi)+257
  • Cambodia (កម្ពុជា)+855
  • Cameroon (Cameroun)+237
  • Canada+1
  • Cape Verde (Kabu Verdi)+238
  • Caribbean Netherlands+599
  • Cayman Islands+1345
  • Central African Republic (République centrafricaine)+236
  • Chad (Tchad)+235
  • Chile+56
  • China (中国)+86
  • Christmas Island+61
  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands+61
  • Colombia+57
  • Comoros (‫جزر القمر‬‎)+269
  • Congo (DRC) (Jamhuri ya Kidemokrasia ya Kongo)+243
  • Congo (Republic) (Congo-Brazzaville)+242
  • Cook Islands+682
  • Costa Rica+506
  • Côte d’Ivoire+225
  • Croatia (Hrvatska)+385
  • Cuba+53
  • Curaçao+599
  • Cyprus (Κύπρος)+357
  • Czech Republic (Česká republika)+420
  • Denmark (Danmark)+45
  • Djibouti+253
  • Dominica+1767
  • Dominican Republic (República Dominicana)+1
  • Ecuador+593
  • Egypt (‫مصر‬‎)+20
  • El Salvador+503
  • Equatorial Guinea (Guinea Ecuatorial)+240
  • Eritrea+291
  • Estonia (Eesti)+372
  • Ethiopia+251
  • Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)+500
  • Faroe Islands (Føroyar)+298
  • Fiji+679
  • Finland (Suomi)+358
  • France+33
  • French Guiana (Guyane française)+594
  • French Polynesia (Polynésie française)+689
  • Gabon+241
  • Gambia+220
  • Georgia (საქართველო)+995
  • Germany (Deutschland)+49
  • Ghana (Gaana)+233
  • Gibraltar+350
  • Greece (Ελλάδα)+30
  • Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat)+299
  • Grenada+1473
  • Guadeloupe+590
  • Guam+1671
  • Guatemala+502
  • Guernsey+44
  • Guinea (Guinée)+224
  • Guinea-Bissau (Guiné Bissau)+245
  • Guyana+592
  • Haiti+509
  • Honduras+504
  • Hong Kong (香港)+852
  • Hungary (Magyarország)+36
  • Iceland (Ísland)+354
  • India (भारत)+91
  • Indonesia+62
  • Iran (‫ایران‬‎)+98
  • Iraq (‫العراق‬‎)+964
  • Ireland+353
  • Isle of Man+44
  • Israel (‫ישראל‬‎)+972
  • Italy (Italia)+39
  • Jamaica+1
  • Japan (日本)+81
  • Jersey+44
  • Jordan (‫الأردن‬‎)+962
  • Kazakhstan (Казахстан)+7
  • Kenya+254
  • Kiribati+686
  • Kosovo+383
  • Kuwait (‫الكويت‬‎)+965
  • Kyrgyzstan (Кыргызстан)+996
  • Laos (ລາວ)+856
  • Latvia (Latvija)+371
  • Lebanon (‫لبنان‬‎)+961
  • Lesotho+266
  • Liberia+231
  • Libya (‫ليبيا‬‎)+218
  • Liechtenstein+423
  • Lithuania (Lietuva)+370
  • Luxembourg+352
  • Macau (澳門)+853
  • Macedonia (FYROM) (Македонија)+389
  • Madagascar (Madagasikara)+261
  • Malawi+265
  • Malaysia+60
  • Maldives+960
  • Mali+223
  • Malta+356
  • Marshall Islands+692
  • Martinique+596
  • Mauritania (‫موريتانيا‬‎)+222
  • Mauritius (Moris)+230
  • Mayotte+262
  • Mexico (México)+52
  • Micronesia+691
  • Moldova (Republica Moldova)+373
  • Monaco+377
  • Mongolia (Монгол)+976
  • Montenegro (Crna Gora)+382
  • Montserrat+1664
  • Morocco (‫المغرب‬‎)+212
  • Mozambique (Moçambique)+258
  • Myanmar (Burma) (မြန်မာ)+95
  • Namibia (Namibië)+264
  • Nauru+674
  • Nepal (नेपाल)+977
  • Netherlands (Nederland)+31
  • New Caledonia (Nouvelle-Calédonie)+687
  • New Zealand+64
  • Nicaragua+505
  • Niger (Nijar)+227
  • Nigeria+234
  • Niue+683
  • Norfolk Island+672
  • North Korea (조선 민주주의 인민 공화국)+850
  • Northern Mariana Islands+1670
  • Norway (Norge)+47
  • Oman (‫عُمان‬‎)+968
  • Pakistan (‫پاکستان‬‎)+92
  • Palau+680
  • Palestine (‫فلسطين‬‎)+970
  • Panama (Panamá)+507
  • Papua New Guinea+675
  • Paraguay+595
  • Peru (Perú)+51
  • Philippines+63
  • Poland (Polska)+48
  • Portugal+351
  • Puerto Rico+1
  • Qatar (‫قطر‬‎)+974
  • Réunion (La Réunion)+262
  • Romania (România)+40
  • Russia (Россия)+7
  • Rwanda+250
  • Saint Barthélemy+590
  • Saint Helena+290
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis+1869
  • Saint Lucia+1758
  • Saint Martin (Saint-Martin (partie française))+590
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon (Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon)+508
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines+1784
  • Samoa+685
  • San Marino+378
  • São Tomé and Príncipe (São Tomé e Príncipe)+239
  • Saudi Arabia (‫المملكة العربية السعودية‬‎)+966
  • Senegal (Sénégal)+221
  • Serbia (Србија)+381
  • Seychelles+248
  • Sierra Leone+232
  • Singapore+65
  • Sint Maarten+1721
  • Slovakia (Slovensko)+421
  • Slovenia (Slovenija)+386
  • Solomon Islands+677
  • Somalia (Soomaaliya)+252
  • South Africa+27
  • South Korea (대한민국)+82
  • South Sudan (‫جنوب السودان‬‎)+211
  • Spain (España)+34
  • Sri Lanka (ශ්‍රී ලංකාව)+94
  • Sudan (‫السودان‬‎)+249
  • Suriname+597
  • Svalbard and Jan Mayen+47
  • Swaziland+268
  • Sweden (Sverige)+46
  • Switzerland (Schweiz)+41
  • Syria (‫سوريا‬‎)+963
  • Taiwan (台灣)+886
  • Tajikistan+992
  • Tanzania+255
  • Thailand (ไทย)+66
  • Timor-Leste+670
  • Togo+228
  • Tokelau+690
  • Tonga+676
  • Trinidad and Tobago+1868
  • Tunisia (‫تونس‬‎)+216
  • Turkey (Türkiye)+90
  • Turkmenistan+993
  • Turks and Caicos Islands+1649
  • Tuvalu+688
  • U.S. Virgin Islands+1340
  • Uganda+256
  • Ukraine (Україна)+380
  • United Arab Emirates (‫الإمارات العربية المتحدة‬‎)+971
  • United Kingdom+44
  • United States+1
  • Uruguay+598
  • Uzbekistan (Oʻzbekiston)+998
  • Vanuatu+678
  • Vatican City (Città del Vaticano)+39
  • Venezuela+58
  • Vietnam (Việt Nam)+84
  • Wallis and Futuna (Wallis-et-Futuna)+681
  • Western Sahara (‫الصحراء الغربية‬‎)+212
  • Yemen (‫اليمن‬‎)+967
  • Zambia+260
  • Zimbabwe+263
  • Åland Islands+358

    If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

    image

    Follow Thaiger by email:

    Thailand5 hours ago

    Thailand News Today | Man jailed for threatening PM Prayut’s daughters

    Cannabis6 hours ago

    Smoking cannabis recreationally is still illegal, warns Department of Public Health

    Pattaya6 hours ago

    Yet another necklace theft against an Indian tourist in Pattaya

    Sponsored14 hours ago

    Regents International School Pattaya – the only school in Thailand to offer IBDP and A Level programme

    image
    Health7 hours ago

    The WHO insist monkeypox is not “a gay disease’

    Phuket7 hours ago

    Soi Dog Foundation and DNP rescues monkey chained up for 2 years in Phuket

    South7 hours ago

    Student hit by motorbike on zebra crossing in front of school in Trang

    image
    Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
    Crime7 hours ago

    Phuket thief steals 1,000 baht from elderly woman

    Myanmar8 hours ago

    Burmese authorities confiscate OnlyFans star’s passport, cancels trip to Bangkok

    North East8 hours ago

    Gambling suspects arrested at northeast Thailand resort

    Ask an Agent8 hours ago

    23 things to look out for when viewing a property in Thailand

    Travel8 hours ago

    5 Weird cafes to visit in Bangkok 2022

    Thailand9 hours ago

    Japan provides the key to open Thai EV door

    Road deaths9 hours ago

    Police pickup crashes into motorbike, one teenager dead and another seriously injured

    Thailand9 hours ago

    Restaurant in northern Thailand promises to sell 3 baht noodles despite inflation

    World9 hours ago

    Former South Korean navy member under fire for fighting in Ukraine

    Thailand9 months ago

    Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

    Thailand1 year ago

    Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

    Tourism1 year ago

    Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

    Phuket1 year ago

    Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

    Tourism1 year ago

    Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

    Thailand1 year ago

    Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

    Tourism1 year ago

    In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

    Thailand1 year ago

    Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

    Thailand1 year ago

    Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

    Thailand1 year ago

    Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

    Thailand1 year ago

    Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

    Thailand1 year ago

    Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

    Thailand1 year ago

    Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

    Thailand1 year ago

    Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

    Thailand1 year ago

    Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

    Trending