Survival guide: 6 things to know about Thai culture
Each country has its own culture and way of doing things. Thailand is no different. Thai people are generally friendly, polite and down to earth. They greet each other respectfully and quickly apologize for the smallest thing. If you’ve been in Thailand for a while, you’ll have heard some basic Thai etiquette guidelines, as always. wai to the elderly, do not put your feet on a table and do not get a Buddha tattoo. But there are so many more. So here are 6 other points of Thai culture that you need to know.
To buy a house? To marry? Something wrong in your life? It all boils down to things we can’t see. This is where a monk or fortune teller comes in. They have all the answers, or they have the best advice. When is the best time to get married? Should our house face north or south? What phone numbers should I avoid? (Probable influences from Chinese culture.) Yes, you heard that right. It doesn’t end there, however. Thai people usually ask for advice on what to name their newborn baby. For example, “Our daughter is due on [enter date]. How should we call it?
Respect the monks
Monks are highly respected here in Thailand, and making fun of them is a huge mistake. If you are on public transport, there is a priority seat just for a monk. If the seats are all taken, make sure you are the first to give him a seat. Ladies, don’t say we didn’t warn you, but try not to interact with the monks. Want to do merits in the morning? Sure, but let your partner convey something directly to her.
Status and Respect
It’s our secret. Don’t tell Thais we told you, but status is very important to them. You may have heard of the following stereotype: Asian parents want their children to go to a prestigious university and then get a high-paying job. There is a truth to that here in Thailand. “What do you do for a living?” is a common question at every family reunion or get-together. If you have a good job, you are ready for life. On the subject of collection, when it’s time to pay the bill, one of two things will happen. Normally the oldest will pay, or sometimes the highest earner will step in. You may have come across a group of diners arguing over who should pay. It’s all about status. But respect is earned, not given, right? Nope. If you are older, that means whoever is younger should respect you as an elder.
Family first. It goes all the way to the extended family and you will be surprised at the size of some Thai families. Cousins are considered siblings, so don’t be shocked when a local tells you that. It is common for most Thai family members to live close to each other. When parents are at work, children are left at home with other family members like grandparents. When the younger generation gets older, they are expected to help the elderly either financially or by helping them around the house.
Give and save ‘face’
If you visit cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket, most Thais speak some English. But don’t expect them to be direct and completely honest with you. Generally, they prefer to be indirect because they want to “save face” or not hurt others’ feelings. Keep this in mind when communicating with Thai people and try not to be too direct with them. On that note, Thais hate confrontation, especially when you raise your voice. Raising your voice on someone will not solve the problem. People will look at you for the wrong reasons. If something goes wrong, which we sincerely hope doesn’t, just stay calm and apologize, then hang in there and try not to cause any more trouble.
In Thailand, keep your hands to yourself. Touching someone’s skin is considered intimate, and touching one’s head is especially sacred. As a general rule, don’t touch anyone’s head, unless it’s your partner or your children. If you see someone doing this, chances are they’re pretty close. So it’s not a good idea to touch someone’s head without permission, or even pass something over their head. In fact, it’s considered very disrespectful in Thailand, especially if it’s elderly people. This may seem normal to foreigners, but not to Thais.
What is your point of view ?
In conclusion, Thai people are often laid back and friendly, especially towards foreigners and tourists. But that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to do the things we mentioned above. You might be forgiven for being a stranger, but try to save face and not make yourself look bad. So what’s your opinion? Are there any interesting or unusual Thai cultural points that didn’t make the list? Which is your favourite? Please let us know in the ThaigerTalk comments section below!