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- always be respectful about Buddhism. Dress correctly in Temples (wear sleeves, do not wear short pants etc.). Don't sit on Buddha images if you want to be photographed. Sit before the image then. That is perfectly all right. You will insult Thai people deeply if you offend Buddhism in these ways.
- always speak respectfully about HM The King and HM The Queen. They are respected deeply by the Thai people and not without reason! The King is the initiator of many programs to replace opium culture by vegetable culture and you find "Royal Projects" all over the Country (especially in the North) where you can see the results of this work.

- always be respectful to the elderly, in every situation. If you are bargaining at the market with a seller who is obviously older than you are, or if you are bargaining with a tuk-tuk driver who is older than you, do this in a polite way, with a smile on your face and don't be rude. (Apart from being considered to be a polite person, as a bonus you will see the result in the price!)

- take your shoes off before entering a Thai house, if you are invited to visit somebody in his/her home. Do the same at other places where the Thai people do so too (for instance before entering beauty salons, hair dressers etc.). It is very common to see something like shown on the picture below when you enter a Thai house.


Thai society, like many others in Asia, is very hierarchical. People earn more respect with increasing age, wealth, and education. As a general rule, a subordinate listens to, serves, and follows the directions of his or her superior without comment or question. In return, the superior takes care of the subordinate as a mentor of sorts. To place you in relation to themselves, Thais will ask you questions that may seem rude, but aren't meant to be; for example, you may be asked about your age, salary, and marital status. The social structure is often revealed in restaurants when either the oldest or wealthiest person in the group pays for everyone. To make a good impression on your superiors and subordinates, bring them small gifts, particularly after trips.


In the business world, most Thais use the Western tradition of handshaking. The traditional greeting is the wai, a prayer-like gesture in which the palms are pressed together and the fingers held upward with the thumbs almost touching the nose.

Social inferiors generally put their palms higher and keep their heads to a lower level than those they regard as superior. Younger people wai first. The wai is also used when saying "thank you," or kop khun kha/khrap, when receiving a gift or special favor.

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- point at people or things with your feet. This is considered as highly impolite, as the feet are considered as the most inferior parts of the human body. And do not sit on the floor of a Temple with your feet pointing at the Buddha Image!
- touch the heads of children, even if you may see this as a form of caressing. The head is considered as the most superior part of the body, and touching this part is not a privilege for foreigners!

- be too familiar in public, even if you are married. So don't kiss in public, don't walk with your arms around each other. These things are considered very impolite in Thailand.

- shout in public (to anybody). If you want to argue with your wife or with your children, do this in the privacy of your hotel room and not in public! You will loose much of your respect if you do things like this in public. You will -for the same reason- loose much of your respect if you find you should punish your children in public.

- think that Thai women are "easily available". Though around 1% of the female population is working in the sex industry, this also means that 99% is not working there! You can get yourself in big trouble if you offend a woman in this way. Her husband may find he should take revenge, which could be very unpleasant for you.

- take any packages through Thai customs for anybody! If you are caught carrying drugs, you risk the death penalty or life in prison. And prisons in Thailand are not exactly like the Hilton. Apart from that, you can hardly expect a milder punishment than life in prison. So be warned!

- buy any precious stones on the streets. If you are familiar with prices you can buy them in (large) shops. That will normally be safe, but -again- be sure you don't pay too much. If you buy precious stones in the street against this advice and regret it afterwards (which will be the case in 99% of the cases), go to the Tourist Police! They know how to handle this and they do it well. (Or call 1155 for the Tourist Police)

- accept any offers from strangers to assist you in finding the right places to do your shopping. They will get a commission from the shops they take you to and you will be the person who pays for that commission (in the price you pay).

- accept any introduction to participate in any form of gambling. Gambling is against the law in Thailand and penalties are severe!

- get involved in prostitution in Thailand. You do not only put your health at serious risk, but the chance of getting robbed is very real. And apart from these dangers for yourself, give it a thought that having "budget" sex in a developing country like Thailand is very unfair towards the people involved.

- buy bus, tickets from anyone, except from an official at a bus terminal. The bus you buy your ticket for elsewhere might never be leaving or in the best case you will pay too much. If you use a Travel Agency for tickets (or other services), make sure they are licensed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Of course the Travel Agencies in hotels can be trusted and are licensed.

- call a waiter or waitress with the fingers of your hand pointing upward. This is considered to be very impolite. (It will make a similar impression as if you put your middle finger up to somebody at home). Put your hand up, but with your fingers pointing downward (or make a fist, if you prefer that or if you don't understand what I mean here).

- finish the dishes when you are having dinner with Thai friends in a restaurant. Your Thai friends will keep ordering more, until you leave something on your dish, so that they can clearly see that you have had enough!


The most important tools of your success in Thailand will be patience, patience, and patience. In Thailand, a person who lets inconveniences pass or forgives easily is respected for his or her jai yen (cool heart), whereas one who gets angry or shows aggression is forever labeled as jai ron (hot heart). Even small children are taught not to show anger or emotions, especially by crying. A common phrase to use as a "relief valve" is mai pen rai, which means "it's nothing" or "it's OK." Say it with a smile and you will make no enemies.

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