Thai culture is characterised by tolerance and flexibility. Thai concepts such as Greng Jai (consideration) and Jai Yen (staying calm) stress the importance of sensitivity for the feelings of others, and a desire to avoid direct criticism, challenge, or confrontation;
Thailand’s best-known expression “mai pen rai” (no problem) is also used to defuse disagreement and diplomatically change the subject. This allows both parties to ‘save face,’ which is another imperative of Thai culture;
- The only way to resolve conflict is to stay calm. Be patient and keep cool. If you do get into a stressful situation asking for help always works better than pointing blame;
- The feet are considered the ‘lowest’ part of the body; avoid showing the soles of your feet, resting your feet in high places, or moving objects with them;
- The head is considered the ‘highest’ part of the body, and regarded as sacred. Don’t touch anyone on their head;
- NEVER point your feet directly at monks, Buddha images in temples, shrines or spirit houses;
- Take off your shoes before entering temples or local houses; clothes covering the knees and shoulders are most appropriate;
- Ladies, do not sit next to or hand anything directly to Buddhist monks;
- The monarchy is revered, avoid any criticism on the role of the royal family; the crime of ‘lese-majesté has been reinforced in the last years’;
- In rural areas, as well in official government offices, it’s preferable to dress modestly;
- Lovers – be aware that kissing or petting in public is inappropriate. Express your romance in private!
- Try to communicate with people before taking photographs. Monks, farmers, children etc are not exotic, photogenic ‘images’ to be ‘snapped’, but real people. Take some time to chat. Your photo will then be a shared memory, which you can send back to your new friends;
- When trekking, swimming, or walking in a village, try not to disturb animal and plant life. Animals and plants could be rare, fragile, sacred to the community, or harmful to your health. DO NOT TOUCH CORALS;
- DO NOT give gifts, money or sweets to children – this encourages begging and ‘idolising’ tourists. It’s much better just to play and interact with the kids and make a contribution towards a local project. If you have time, try teaching a few words / phrases of your language. If you wish to support children and avoid unfortunate wrong behaviour check http://www.childsafe-international.org/TFResidents.asp ;
- Please do not support the sex industry in Thailand… including the various shows in Patpong market. Aside from the fact that people are best not viewed as a commodity, you risk putting money into the hands of the mafia … very nasty people who you would not wish to support…
Our advice… The differences are what make a real local experience… Get involved and be an enthusiastic learner about local life.