The people of Thailand are known for their friendliness and hospitality. Thais welcome foreigners making them feel very comfortable. Thais are respectful, quiet and always have a smile.
Thailand is often called the “Land of Smiles”. It is said that the Thais have a smile for every emotion - the smile is part of the glue that holds the fabric of Thai society together. But don’t assume that a smile is always positive - Thais do not like confrontation or arguments and will most likely present a smile even if unhappy or disagree.
Please realize that your culture may be quite different than Thailand’s. Being loud and argumentative is not well received by Thai people and will cause one to lose face or respect. Thais love to have fun (sa-nook) and laugh. Don’t be offended when you fall or stub you toe and the first thing your Thai friend does is laugh – it’s not that they don’t care but they will usually see the humor in it.
Please respect the Thai culture and be courteous to your Thai hosts.
Some ways to show your respect and avoid losing face:
- Ladies, please don’t be offended but Theravada Buddhist Monks are not allowed to touch a woman. So please respect this aspect of the Buddhist belief system. Monks are more than happy to explain why this is and have their picture taken with you.
- In most of Asia and in Thailand it is customary to remove your shoes when entering a building – especially a temple. The good thing is that you know who is in the house before you enter (laugh here).
- Thais are very conservative and expect men and women to cover their legs at least to the knees (some temples may require you to wear full length trousers), stomach and shoulders while in a temple. You do not cover your head though so please remove your hat when entering a temple.
- Negotiating in Thailand is not always as serious as it seems and you should try to have some fun with it. Of course vendors will try to get the highest price and you should try to get the lowest price. There is never a reason to let the negotiation get loud or argumentative as Thais will see this as very rude and you will certainly lose respect and the opportunity for a good deal. If you can’t agree on a price you think is right move on – you should be able to find many other vendors with a similar product.
- Many Asian cultures consider the feet as dirty. So please don’t point with your feet or show the bottom of your feet to others or images of the King, Buddha or other respected icons of Thai culture.