Do’s and Dont's in Thailand

Do take off your shoes before entering a temple if you see this sign
Do take off your shoes before entering a temple if you see this sign.

Thailand customs are different than Western countries so before you head there on holiday it is worth it to take some time to determine what you should and should not do.

Do always be respectful of the local religion of Buddhism. This requires that you always dress modestly while visiting Buddhist temples, which include wearing long pants (both men and women) and wearing sleeves on your shirts. If you plan on being photographed do not sit on any images of Buddha, but instead in front of them. You can wear shoes on the grounds of a Buddhist temple, but do not wear them into the chapel where any images are kept.

Don’t ever shout in public because it is considered disrespectful and Thai people take pride at keeping their emotions regulated. Along the same lines never punish children or argue with a spouse while in public. The same goes with any conversations you have with taxi drivers or store merchants, the general rule is to keep calm and respectful.

Do always respite elders in every situation even if they are wrong. If you are bargaining with a merchant that is much older than you always be polite with a smile because it is considered a great sign of disgrace to show disrespect to an elder.

Don’t be too demonstrative in public even if married because public displays of affection are frowned upon. In fact, it is not even appropriate to walk with your arms around each other. Also do not touch the head of anyone because the head is considered a sacred part of the body so even friendly gestures that involve pointing or touching towards the head are not accepted.

Do take off your shoes before entering a home as it is customary to always be barefoot while indoors. In addition you should take off your shoes at any location where you notice that people are not wearing shoes such as hair dressers, beauty salons, spas, and other locations. Usually there will be a clutter of shoes in front of such a location which should be your tip off to go bare foot.

Don’t ever point at things or people with your feet because it is considered impolite and inappropriate since opposite to the head they are considered the lower and inferior part of the body. Even pointing the sole of your foot at someone while sitting across from the person is thought to be impolite. In addition, never sit on the Temple floor with your feet pointing towards an image of a Buddha.

Do always show respect for the Royal Family because they are greatly respected by the Thai people. Anytime the subject of the Royal Family comes up always respectively defer to public opinion and keep your voice light, disrespect of the Royal family will bring out the worst in even the most meek and mild Thai person.