Don’t be that Guy (or Girl) when on Holiday in Thailand

When you’re in another country, it is important to respect the traditions and wishes of the locals who welcome you to their nation. The values of Thai people means being respectful, patient and forgiving, but don’t take advantage of this by being a complete fool and ignoring everything that you read before you go touring Thailand. There are certain unwritten rules that should be abided by, which will make your Thailand holiday more enjoyable and you’ll be treated with the same dignity and respect that you show others, so read on and find out what you shouldn’t be doing whilst you’re there. Don’t be that Guy (or Girl) when on Holiday in Thailand

• Never touch someone’s head or ruffle their hair – the head is the most sacred part of the body – you’ll cause great offence.

• Don’t point at people using your feet – the foot is considered the dirtiest part of a person, so don’t point with your feet when talking about someone, and if someone is on the floor, don’t step over them.

• Always remove your shoes when entering places such as (some)shops, restaurants and of course temples. If you are required to remove your shoes there will be a sign outside, but please do not ignore this. If you’re not sure, take them off and ask someone.

• Keep calm – if you have a problem or you’re upset; don’t get angry. You’ll be ignored or ushered away and considered to be rude. Thai people follow a philosophy called ‘Jai Yen’ (cool heart), so stick to this and you’ll be listened to.

• Females should never come into direct contact with a monk, so should you wish to pass something to a monk (or receive something); it should be passed through the hands of a male.

• Don’t dress provocatively in public, especially in front of monks. Monks have to cleanse themselves after coming in direct contact with a female, so try and be respectful by not revealing your body to everyone.

• Greet monks with the highest ‘Wai’ you can greet out of respect. The Wai is a Thai greeting that should be learnt before you set foot in the country.

•  Don’t buy drugs from bars or beach sellers. Drugs are illegal in Thailand, and if you do buy some, you’ll more than likely have them confiscated within 5 minutes by the Police who have conveniently been tipped off by the seller, plus you’ll be expected to hand over cash as a bribe/fine.

• Don’t go over the top with public displays of affection – if you’re travelling as a couple, keep your hands off each other until you get back to your room.

• Don’t take offence to locals staring at you – some may not have seen a pale westerner before, so simply smile or wave to them, rather than confronting them with “what are you looking at?”

• And lastly, do not make fun of their King or any Thai Monarchs.

You’ll still have an unbelievable time full of great experiences, but following the above can help you get by and be made to feel more welcome by the local people, as it shows you have taken the time to learn their ways and be respectful of them rather than just walking round like you own the place.

Finally… Remember to enjoy and soak up the Thai cultural experience.


  1. I have to remember the ‘cool heart’ mantra. I had some problems at the Bangkok bank today.. Started to get upset. But remembered that Thais always have to save face. Thanks for the reminders Flip!

  2. i also noticed they never fold their money, because the King’s face is there..

    • you’re right chyng, never tamper their money because of that reason… thanks for the additional feedback…

  3. I saw a few people doing this when I was in Thailand. I think people should try to be aware of these things before going to another country.

    I didn’t get stared at much when I was in Thailand. But a friend of mine had someone sit down and stare at him for several minutes at a bus stop in China once. It was a good thing that we both were aware that this might happen. He just let him stare and the person eventually wandered off and no harm was done.

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