Thailand is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Southeast Asia. Being well prepared will make your visit to Thailand a more complete and enjoyable experience.
Whether you are going to work there as an English Teacher and traveling or planning a vacation, a good understanding of local customs – and what you need to have handy – will make your visit amazing!
Aside from learning a few Thai phrases, and avoiding the monsoon season, here are some useful tips:
1. Pack More Than Your Collection Of Tropical Inspired Bikinis!
While you may think that all you need is a collection of swimsuits and sarongs, you need to pack more conservative clothing too. Dressing modestly is important when you are in public, and shows respect for the Thai Buddhist culture.
Your beach gear is fine for the beach, but you will need to cover up when you leave. Pack long-sleeved shirts, and a long skirt or trousers. This is especially important to remember when you visit temples and sacred places.
2. Heads Up: Respect the Royal Family!
Thailand's royal family is held in very high esteem, and you will see pictures of the Thai royal family in homes, hotels, shops, and restaurants, as well as on the Thai currency.
It is very bad form to point at or be critical of, the Thai Royal family. It is considered bad form to even stand on a coin showing the Royal family, so keep your opinions about monarchy and politics to yourself, or for that flight home.
3. Practice Thai hand signals
Practice a flat hand, downward waving motion, with your hand horizontal. This gesture is used to get someone’s attention, at your taxi driver or waiter, anything else is seen as very rude. A pointing, and calling gesture with your fingers, is seen as very disrespectful and reserved only for animals.
4. Practice a Thai greeting & try not to whistle
Whistling is also viewed as disrespect. A handshake is not a traditional Thai greeting either. Do not expect a handshake to be returned. Practice bowing: with your fingertips touching, palms open, and placed at chest height. This is a traditional Thai greeting. The deeper the bow, the more respect is shown.
5. Be A Responsible Tourist!
Thailand’s temples and beaches have many monkeys. Do not feed them, even if they look super cute. Monkeys are highly intelligent animals but feeding them is discouraged as it can be harmful to them, as they become dependent on humans.
There are many stray dogs in Thailand that live in the villages, and cities. They are looked after by locals but may carry diseases, like rabies. Don't feed the stray dogs, and be careful. Elephants give rides to tourists, but it's best to keep your animal sightseeing to the national parks. Be a responsible visitor.
6. Keep bottled water, mozzie spray and tissues in your bag
Bottled water is freely available, and it's not recommended that you drink tap water. “Sitting on”, traditional western toilets, are not widespread. You may only find a squat loo, with a water jet cleaning hose – like a bidet. Tissue paper is not provided either. It's a great idea to keep your own with you. Thailand has a hot and humid climate, which insects adore - protect yourself from mosquitoes at all times by carrying your own spray.
7. Pack sandals!
In the Thai culture, your feet are the lowest spiritual part of your body, and it is disrespectful to touch someone with your foot or point with your feet. Never climb on a statue, ever. Ever. It's beyond insulting and point your feet slightly out when greeting.
Take your shoes off when you are visiting a temple or sacred place, some restaurants, homes, and shops. You will probably see a pile of sandals outside. Leave yours there too.
8. Save your smooches for that secluded beach
Thai people are highly spiritual and do not show affection in public, in the same way, that westerners do. Public handholding is not seen at all, similarly, intimate kissing, in public, is not allowed. You'll have to save your smooching for your hotel room, or that private secluded beach.
9. Thai monks are deeply spiritual.
Thai monks are deeply spiritual and touching a monk is not a good idea. They are not allowed contact, at all, with women, and it is disrespectful to greet a monk. Even though you may be as pleased as punch to meet a revered spiritual man, and long to share your joy with an all-embracing hug,- well, it would be a total disaster
10. Saving Face & Apologize for any faux pas
Thai people are very accommodating and friendly and it’s important to apologize if you make any social blunders. ”Saving face” is very important to Thai people, and a part of Asian culture.
This means that respect is very important and Thai people will try to accommodate you, no matter what. Be sensitive when you are bargain hunting, for example, a good price is a bargain but don't overdo it!
Traveling to Thailand is a fantastic adventure, and you will be warmly welcomed by the friendly Thai, but remember to be sensitive to the local customs. Leave your whistle and handshake at home, and do pack some T.P.! Thailand is an amazing place, just remember to be a responsible visitor, oh, and do leave your sandals at the door!
Guest Post by Dimitar Vlachos
Dimitris works as a full stack marketer at Movinhand. Movinhand helps educators get the salary they deserve. We promote teachers around the world and get them the best possible offer within 10 days of signing up.