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Manners & Customs for Visiting Thailand

Several things you need to pay attention to involve

What you say This is pretty simple. Say nice things about the Thai Royalty (they deserve it), Thai people, Thailand and Buddhism.

How you say it Speaking in a normal tone of voice. Never raise your voice - in anger, jest or because you're in an obstreperous mood.

What not to say Avoid negativity. Do not criticize anything or anyone - even indirectly - for example, telling someone what Thailand should do about something. Do not criticize or be disrespectful of the Royal family, Thailand, Buddhism or give your opinions on Thai politics.

What To Do in Thailand

Wai appropriately. The wai is the gesture of putting your hands together in front of you in a prayer like fashion. This is a sign of respect toward people who are older or in superior positions. After the younger or subordinate wais, the superior returns the wai.

Because you are a foreigner, Thais won't expect you to wai first, but it will be appreciated if you do. Not returning a wai is considered rude, but Thais are very tolerant people and recognize that you may not know what or how to do something. How high or low your hands are when you wai and how far you bow when waiing are determined by the social status of the other person.

Shoes must be removed before entering people's home or temples.

Bend over a little when you walk in front of someone or between people.

Dress appropriately for the occasion. Wear good clothes to temples, government offices, and good restaurants.

What Not To Do in Thailand

Show disrespect to Buddha images - no matter what condition they may be in. Taking pictures is fine, climbing or sitting on them is not.

Do not make disparaging remarks about the Royal Family. The Thais hold the HMs the King and Queen especially in very high regard, almost as deities.

Do not touch anyone on the head. The highest part of the body deserves respect.

Feet are the lowest part of the body. Do not point or show the bottom of your feet toward anyone. This is easier to do than you may think. It can happen when you cross your legs, sit on the floor or rest your feet on something.

Do not point your finger at someone. If it is necessary to indicate a particular person, gesture toward them with your hand palm up.

Do not show affection in public. Kissing in public is strictly out. Holding hands in big cities is slowly gaining acceptance.

Touching someone of the opposite sex that you don't know will be a shock to them.

Do not stare at people.

That is the essence of Thai manners. Of course, while most Thais are polite, some aren't. Don't think that because you saw a young Thai couple in Bangkok kissing in public that it is OK for you to do so.

When in Thailand, do as polite Thais do.