Etiquette in Thailand is essential and very different from what we are used to in the west. The most important thing to remember is that you never make a Thai person “lose face”, in essence, show them up in front of others. Always remember to be polite and, of course, smile. Here is a quick guide to the dos and don’ts.
- Never use your feet to point or raise your feet above someone’s head. Also, never show the bottom of your feet
- Never touch someone’s head including a child even if it is intended to be playful
- Never point at anyone or to give directions. Gesture by lifting your chin is viewed as being far more polite. Pointing at animals or objects should be done using all of your hand instead of a finger
- Never lose your temper or any other stronger emotion. Regardless of how hard it may be, try to laugh things off or say “mai pben rai”
- Never disrespect the Royal Family
- Never throw anything
- Always remove your shoes when entering someone’s home or many businesses as well as step over thresholds in houses or temples
- Wai to your elders or those in authority such as monks or government officials
- Put food in your mouth using a spoon rather than a fork. Most meals are served with a fork and spoon rather than fork and knife
- Always respect monks. At any ceremony, they should be allowed to eat first, and women should never touch a monk
- Try to smile where possible including as an apology or to show you are relaxed
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