- Firstly, you have to accept that Eastern culture is different. Thai people show less emotion and are more polite, and while they know Westerners are different, they are often uncomfortable when we stray from their norms.
- Be Polite - Thai people hold being polite above all else. Their very language has politeness built into it. If you follow what is considered "common courtesy", you will be fine.
- Thai King - The Thai People Love their King, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX). Never show any type of disrespect to His Majesty or the Royal Family. When attending a public event where a member of the Royal Family is present, the best guide on how to behave is to watch the crowd and do what everyone else does.
- Safety - Be aware of stealth crimes. For example pick pocketing can be a problem, especially in the bigger cities, so it's worth keeping a close eye on your belongings at all times and being aware of the people around you. Unprovoked violence against tourists is very rare, but it pays to exercise common sense.
- National Religion - Buddhism is Thailand's national religion, with nearly 95% of Thailand's population being Buddhist. All images and sculptures of the Buddha are considered sacred and there are laws against removing them.
- Buddhist Monks - Buddhist Monks are easily recognized by their shaved heads, bare feet and bright orange robes. It is forbidden for a woman to touch a Buddhist monk; this includes a woman handing anything to a monk. If you are a woman and you want to give something to a monk, it must be first given to a man, who can then pass the item to the monk on your behalf. Also, Western men should never attempt to shake hands with a monk.
- Buddhist Temples - Wearing shoes around a temple is acceptable, but they should be removed when entering the Buddhist church (the area where the Buddha image is kept).
- Be Quiet - Loud people are considered impolite. Speak softly and do not laugh loudly. Of course there are occasions such as in bars, parks or during celebrations when being loud is appropriate and expected.
- Greetings - To the Western eye a greeting in Thailand can seem quite formal in appearance. The 'Wai' (pronounced 'way') is a basic gesture in which you put the palms of your hands together, fingers up, then you raise your joined hands in front of your face and give a slight bow of your head. The words "sawa dee (krap)" (or "kah" for women) are spoken during the bow. It is more complicated for Thai people, with three levels based on age and position, but Westerners attempting this greeting are not expected to know these levels and so a general 'Wai' is acceptable. (For those interested, the levels are: 1. to monks - Thais will perform a 'Wai' where their thumbs touch their forehead during the bow; 2. to someone the same age or older - Thais will perform the 'Wai' with their thumbs touching their lips; and 3. to a younger person - Thais will perform a 'Wai' with their thumbs touching their chin.)
Below are some general travel tips for you to be aware of to enjoy your time exploring Thailand:
Tips for the savvy traveler to prepare for the best trip in their lives.