Thursday, October 28, 2010

Do’s and Don’ts in Thailand - Social Customs

Thailand dos and don't
Apart from the concern of Thai monarchy and Buddhist religion, to list the don'ts of everyday Thai social behavior seems to be a bit unclear as western culture has spread all over the country, especially in Bangkok. On the contrary, those western customs that are acceptable in Bangkok might not be suitable for the countryside where ancient traditions are held with high respect and strongly adhered to people's mind. Below are some common examples of dos and don'ts in Thailand.

  1. Instead of shaking hands, Thais usually “wai” to greet each other. Wai can be done by pressing palms together in a prayer-like gesture with a little head bending when saying “sawasdee” (hello). It's a social custom for young people to wai older people, who will then give a wai in return.
  2. Use your foot to point things, and even a person, is considered rude. Head is regarded as the most respectable position because it is the highest part of the body. So, Thais do not allow to let anyone touch their head, even in a friendly gesture. The only exception may apply to how elders show affection to young children.
  3. Showing affection like kissing or hugging between men and women in public is considered inappropriate. However, holding hands is acceptable.
  4. Thais usually remain calm and polite as losing temper, especially in public, would get you nowhere. Being furious and not holding yourself can be seen as a poor manner in Thailand. This is how the unique personality of being “sabai-sabai” (stay calm and polite) is seen among Thai people.
  5. It's common in Thailand to be called by their first name rather than last name, for example, Mr. Dave or Ms. Jessica. Usually, a title “Khun” will be used in front of name such as Khun Dave or Khun Jessica. Also, Thais have their nickname, and it is mostly used within network of friend and family. So, if you get to know Thai person well enough, it is possible that you will learn both his first name and nickname.
To get to know all of the social customs of Thailand would take you days. The only good way to practice is to have a hand-on experience. Why not pay a visit to the Land of Smile and feel the richness of culture by yourself?

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