Top 10 Things You Should Never Do in Thailand
Thailand is a beautiful country with a rich culture and friendly people. It is one of the most popular destinations for travelers who want to experience the exotic and diverse attractions of Southeast Asia. However, before you pack your bags and book your flight, there are some things you should know about the dos and don’ts of visiting Thailand.
The Thai people have their own customs and traditions that may differ from yours, and some of them are considered sacred and inviolable. If you want to avoid offending or disrespecting the locals, or worse, getting into trouble with the law, you should be aware of these 10 things you should never do in Thailand.
Briefly about Thailand
Thailand has long been one of the top attractions in Southeast Asia and attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world. Blessed with beautiful scenery, the culture of the golden temple country is very unique. The prominent architectural works such as the Royal Palace in Bangkok, which is considered the national symbol with a magnificent architecture.
If you love the bustling and lively atmosphere, don’t miss Pattaya – a coastal city with many entertainment activities at night and especially the beach tourism industry. Chiangmai is an ancient city in northern Thailand, where there are hundreds of sacred temples, majestic mountains and giant forests, … for those who like to conquer and explore the wonders of nature. In addition, Thailand is also famous for its beautiful and pristine beaches such as Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui, …
Not only that, the diversity and richness of Thai cuisine is also what make you must add this beautiful country on your bucket-list.
Things need to know before coming to Thailand
Coming to Thailand, you will always receive the welcome and friendly smile of the people here, one of the reasons why Thailand is very popular with international tourists.
Although it is a friendly and hospitable country, the people and government of this country also have rules that any tourist who sets foot in Thailand needs to know, to avoid annoyance or unwanted trouble. Therefore, it will not be redundant if we learn and understand the things that should not be done when in Thailand, below is a summary of the things that should not be done while in Thailand to avoid unnecessary hassle.
1. Don’t Step on Money
In Thailand, money is not only a means of exchange, but also a symbol of the king. The Thai currency, called baht, has the image of the king on every coin and banknote. Therefore, stepping on money is seen as a grave insult to the monarchy and the nation. If you accidentally drop some money on the ground, don’t use your foot to stop it from rolling away. Instead, pick it up with your hand and apologize if anyone saw you.
2. Don’t Take Photos, Videos, or Talk in Temples or Shrines
Temples and shrines are sacred places for the Thai people, where they go to worship and meditate. They are also cultural and historical treasures that showcase the beauty and diversity of Thai architecture and art. When you visit these places, you should show respect and reverence by dressing modestly, removing your shoes, and keeping quiet. Don’t take photos or videos inside the temples or shrines without permission, as this may disturb the monks or other worshiper. Don’t talk loudly or make jokes, as this may be seen as rude and irreverent.
3. Don’t Touch the Head of a Thai Person
The head is considered the most important and holy part of the body in Thai culture, as it is believed to contain the soul and intellect. Touching someone’s head, even as a friendly gesture, is considered very rude and offensive. Don’t pat or stroke the head of a child, a friend, or even your partner. If you accidentally touch someone’s head, apologize immediately and sincerely.
4. Don’t Point Your Finger at Someone When Talking
Pointing your finger at someone when talking is considered aggressive and impolite in Thailand. It may imply that you are accusing or blaming them for something. Instead of pointing your finger, use your whole hand or nod your head to indicate someone or something. This is especially important when you are talking to someone older or higher in status than you.
5. Don’t Wear too much sexy clothes in public place
Thailand is a tropical country with a hot and humid climate, so you may be tempted to wear shorts, tank tops, or bikinis when sightseeing. However, this may not be appropriate for some places, especially religious or royal sites. You should dress modestly and cover your shoulders and knees when visiting these places, as showing too much skin may be seen as disrespectful and indecent. You may also be denied entry if you are not dressed properly. You can wear whatever you want when you are at the beach or at your hotel, but be mindful of your surroundings when you go out.
6. Don’t Use Your Feet to Point at Someone or Something
The feet are considered the lowest and dirtiest part of the body in Thai culture, as they are used to walk on the ground and touch all kinds of dirt and filth. Using your feet to point at someone or something is considered extremely rude and insulting. Don’t use your feet to kick or move objects, as this may also be seen as disrespectful. Don’t cross your legs when sitting in front of a monk or an elder, as this may expose the sole of your foot to them. If you accidentally touch someone or something with your foot, apologize right away.
7. Don’t Wear Shoes When Entering a House, Temple, or Shop
Another way to show respect for the cleanliness and sanctity of a place is to remove your shoes before entering a house, temple, or shop in Thailand. You may see a pile of shoes outside the door or a sign that says “Please remove your shoes”. This means that you should follow suit
and leave your shoes outside. This is a sign of respect and humility, as well as a way to keep the place clean and hygienic. Don’t worry about your shoes being stolen, as most Thais are honest and trustworthy. You can also bring a pair of socks or slippers to wear inside if you are not comfortable walking barefoot.
8. Don’t Have an Abortion Without a Doctor’s Consent
Abortion is illegal in Thailand, unless it is done with the consent of a doctor and for a valid reason, such as rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life or health. If you have an unwanted pregnancy and want to terminate it, you should consult a doctor and follow the legal procedures. Don’t try to have an abortion by yourself or with the help of an unlicensed practitioner, as this may result in serious complications or even death. You may also face criminal charges and penalties if you are caught.
9. Don’t Show Disrespect to the Thai Royal Family
The Thai royal family is revered and loved by the Thai people, as they are seen as the protectors and benefactors of the nation. They are also protected by strict laws that prohibit any criticism or defamation of them. Don’t say anything negative or disrespectful about the king, the queen, or any member of the royal family, even in jest or in private. Don’t make any gestures or expressions that may imply disrespect, such as rolling your eyes or frowning. Don’t step on or deface any images or symbols of the monarchy, such as coins, banknotes, stamps, flags, or portraits. If you hear the national anthem or the royal anthem being played, you should stand up and remain silent until it is over.
10. Don’t Cross Your Legs when Sitting in Front of a Monk or an Elder
Monks and elders are respected and honored in Thai culture, as they are seen as sources of wisdom and guidance. When you sit in front of a monk or an elder, you should show respect and deference by sitting with your legs folded under you or to the side. Don’t cross your legs, as this may expose the sole of your foot to them, which is considered rude and impolite. You should also lower your head slightly and avoid eye contact, as this may indicate humility and reverence.
Some extra tips for traveling to Thailand:
- Dress modestly when visiting temples and do not climb on Buddha statues.
- Check the latest visa and entry requirements before traveling.
- Prepare cash for payment and exchange at reputable places.
- Be careful with scams and touts, especially in tourist areas.
- Respect the elders and do not touch anyone’s head.
- Enjoy the street food but be aware of hygiene and spicy level.
- Bargain politely and smile when shopping.
Thailand is a wonderful country with a lot to offer to visitors who want to explore its culture, nature, and cuisine. However, you should also be aware of the cultural differences and sensitivities that may affect your interactions with the locals. By following these 10 tips on what not to do in Thailand, you can avoid offending or upsetting anyone, and enjoy your trip without any hassle or trouble. Remember to respect and appreciate the Thai culture and people, and they will welcome you with open arms and smiles.