SOCIAL CUSTOMS Do & Don't in Thailand

THE don't of Thai social behavior are less clearly defined than these concerning the monarchy or religion - especially in a city like Bangkok where western customs are better known and more widely accepted. However, what is acceptable in Bangkok may be much less so in the countryside where the old ways are still strong. Here, then, are a few things to keep in minds.
  • Thais don't normally shake hands when they greet another, but instead press the palms together in a prayer-like gesture called wai. Generally, a younger person wais an older, who returns it. Watch how the Thais do it, and you'll soon catch on.


  • It's considered rude to point your foot at a person, so try to avoid doing so when sitting opposite anyone, and following the conception that foot is a low limb, so don't point your foot to show anything to anyone, but use fingers instead.


  • Public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon. You may see some very westernized young Thai couples holding hands, but that's as far as it goes in the polite society.


  • Losing your temper, especially in public, will more than likely get you nowhere. The Thais think such displays denote poor manners, and you are more apt to get what you want by keeping a cool head and concealing your emotions.


  • Thais regard the head as the highest part of the body. As a result, they don't approve of patting anyone there, even in a friendly gesture. Similarly, if you watch Thais at a social gathering, you'll notice that young people go to considerable lengths to keep thier heads lower than those of older ones, to avoid giving the impression of "looking down" on them This isn't always possible, of course, but it's the effort that counts.