Thailand is a country steeped in history and heritage, and this is seen through the rich culture and traditions that the country partakes in. With so many beliefs and cultures that are different to Western society, it’s a brilliant place to visit if you’re looking to spread your wings a little and go in search of something new. Below are just a select few things that you should know beforehand to practice respect in a new country and get to grips with the traditions of Thailand.
In England, there are differing views and opinions about the monarchy, but in Thailand, it is extremely important to remain respectful and revere the Royal Family. It is actually against the law to make harsh or critical comments about them, and this can lead to imprisonment from 3 years to fifteen years, depending on how severe your behaviour is deemed to be.
In some cultures and societies, a hand shake is appreciated, or a kiss on each cheek. In Thailand, the traditional greeting is placing your hands together, as if in prayer. It is respectful to do this back to people in Thailand, even if you do not know them. The greeting is called a wâi.
It is also respectful in Thailand to remove your shoes before entering someone’s house, shop or even hotel. If you’re not sure whether to do so, just look for a pile of shoes outside the building and you’ll soon have your answer.
If you are in someone’s house or place of work, then make sure you remember that books hold a certain level of importance over other objects. Sliding books over a table, or placing them on the ground is seen as extremely disrespectful. Although this may seem odd to Western tourists, it is important to remember that this is a tradition in Thai households.
Thailand is an extremely spiritual country and there is a certain amount of importance placed upon the body and select body parts. Placing your hand on someone’s head for example, is considered to be rude, as the head holds quite a lot of significance in Thai culture. Other parts of the body, such as the feet, are less important, but there are still rules regarding them. For example, you should not have your feet pointing the in the direction of someone, and you certainly shouldn’t touch someone with your feet. Thailand is also renowned for its Buddhist public holidays, relating to the lunar calendar and significant events in the history of Buddha – it’s well worth checking out the festivals and parties that take place on these days, it’s easy to overlap your flights with these holidays using online comparison sites like cheapflights.com.au.
Temples and Palaces
It’s not just homes and businesses that have respect in Thailand either. Spiritual and important buildings such as temples and palaces are held in high regard and respect, which means you should hold them in even higher esteem. Certain clothing must be worn when visiting the buildings, for example, no caps or flip flops, and no shorts or short skirts to be worn either. Although you may not agree with some of these traditions, it is out of respect for the Thai people. Once you treat them with respect, they will treat you with respect.