Visiting another country can be a wonderful journey leading to an enlightened outlook on life. It can also be a nightmare that causes you to turn xenophobic and never stray far from your doorstep. The experience is what you make it. You can choose to blend in and enjoy something different (and maybe even strange), or you can stick to what you know and unwittingly commit some cultural faux pas. Thailand is a beautiful country that offers ample opportunity for both. Whether you’re interested in the bustle of Bangkok or the laid-back resort life of Phuket, if you want to get the most out of your next trip to Thailand, follow these crucial five tips.
Say Hello and Thank You
An easy way to make friends with the locals in any country is to attempt to speak the language. Say hello (sa wat dee krap/ka) and thank you (kap khun krap/ka). Remember that males use krap to end sentences politely while females use ka. Even if you confuse the two, rest assured the Thais won’t laugh or doubt your knowledge of your own gender, but will rather smile with your sincere effort to learn a bit of Thai.
Mind Your Feet
Never point the bottoms of your feet at anyone you don’t intend to seriously offend, as the soles of your feet are considered the lowest and dirtiest part of the body. In addition to not using your feet as pointers, it’s also polite to remove your shoes before entering a household.
Hands Off the Head
If the feet are the lowest part of the body, the head is the most sacred. Though you may feel comfortable with patting a cute child on the head in your own country, don’t do it in Thailand unless you want to draw some hostile attention.
Smile in All Situations
If you do find yourself with unfriendly attention from the locals, remember that smiling and keeping cool is your only option. Even if the Thais are wrong, they will still be concerned with saving face and will not react kindly to angry or loud voices. Your best bet is to wai politely (a short bow with the hands and fingertips pressed together just below your chin) and smile until the situation is resolved.
Respect The King
Thai people love their king. He’s revered as the father of the country to the point that his birthday is celebrated as Father’s Day. More important than nearly anything else is for you to share the same respect since unkind words for the king may ultimately land you in prison.
Following these few simple additions to the golden rule can mean the difference between a hellish holiday and an eye-opening experience. Stay a little longer and learn a little more Thai for a truly remarkable experience that’s sure last a lifetime. Have you been to Thailand or are you planning on going? Tell us about any cultural tips you may know of!