Just visiting another city can be a shock for some people – so imagine the difficulty others face when it comes to traveling to other countries or even across continents. With its different culture, religion and customs, Thailand is known to subject many of the tourists who visit it to a great deal of culture shock, and it can take some getting used to. With this in mind, here are some things you need to be aware of before you come to visit the Land of Smiles.
Watch your feet
Thailand is hot, and – with its cozy beach bars and hammocks – you might be tempted to take a load off, kick back and pit your feet up. Whilst this is usually completely fine, you need to be aware of where you’re pointing your feet. Thailand is a Buddhist country, and in Buddhism the feet are considered the lowest part of the body, so to have the soles of your feet up and pointing at another person is considered extremely rude. Whilst you might not be called out on it by the locals, it’s always good to practice proper etiquette when visiting a foreign country, so watch where you’re pointing them.
Hands off the head
Where the feet are considered the lowest part of the body in Buddhism, the head it considered the highest point, and so it should be treated as such. Whilst it remains to be said that you shouldn’t go around touching people’s heads – no matter which country you’re in – even an innocent ruffling of a child’s hair would be considered a rude act in Thailand, and would be greeted with looks of consternation.
Like it is in Western culture, pointing is considered very rude in Thai culture. Often used in photos to show who committed a crime, pointing has negative connotations, and instead people gesture with their whole hands, not just with an outstretched finger.
Respect the temples
Thailand boasts some of the most awe-inspiring temples in the world. With their glittering gold features, intricate details and stunning statues, it’s each to get carried away and lost amongst the sensory overload. However, temples are places of worship as well as tourist attractions, and you’d do well to keep that in mind.
When visiting a temple, it’s important to keep covered up. Despite what you might have read about the likes of Pattaya and certain districts in Bangkok, Thailand is overall a modest country, and no place is more modest than its temples. Leave the short shorts and string vests at home, and keep fairly covered when looking around. It’s a pain in the heat, we know, but it’s the best way to respect Thai culture. Often you’ll find that some temples are more lenient than others and might let you in however you’re dressed, whilst others will loan you a sarong if you’re underdressed.
As you know, these are places of worship, not fairgrounds, and behavior should reflect that. Don’t be too loud, or too boisterous, and try not to get in the way of those praying to their gods. When it comes to the temples themselves, make sure you take off your shoes when instructed to do so, and don’t climb all over the statues – in fact, not touching them is a great rule to follow if you’re unsure.
Keep it to yourself
Thailand has a deep love for its royal family. Their former king, Bhumibol Adulyadaej, was the world’s longest reigning monarch, uniting the country during troubled times, and his son Rama X is too very much loved by the Thai people. For this reason – and, more pressingly, because of Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws – you shouldn’t attempt to talk to anyone, be them locals or tourists, about the royal family. Seriously. It’s not worth the potential trouble people have found themselves in in the past. Whilst we’re at it, you probably shouldn’t be too vocal in your opinions about Thailand’s military junta which rules the government. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Embrace the Bum Gun
The West has toilet paper, France has bidets, but South East Asia? They have the bum gun. A handheld bidet, it’s the go-to method to clean up after yourself in the bathroom. It might seem strange at first, but it’s hygienic, clean and a handy way to clean your entire bathroom, too. Besides, many of Thailand’s toilets aren’t equipped to deal with toilet paper anyway, so you’ll have to get used to it whether you like it or not.
Pack for all seasons
Thailand doesn’t have the four spring, summer, autumn and winter seasons like you might be used to, but three seasons – hot, cool and wet. Whilst wet may sound like it will be a complete washout, that’s not always the case. Sure, it might rain like hell for an hour or so, but after that it’ll be back to its scorching hot best. With that in mind, it’s important to pack for each of its seasons, or at least make sure you’ve got a rain poncho to hand before leaving your room, because the weather can turn in an instant.
The hot weather and constant noise in the Land of Smiles might lead you to feel pretty irritated as you dodge the tuk tuk drivers and souvenirs sellers, but it’s important not to show it. Face is an important concept in Thailand, and by getting angry and raising your voice you’re both losing your face and that of the person you’re talking to. Remaining calm and smiling is a fool-proof way to get out of any potential conflict here, so remember to take a deep breath and count to ten.
Keep an open mind
As we’ve said, Thailand’s culture is bound to be wildly different to your own, but it’s important to keep an open mind. From unusual sights, sounds and tastes, to differing lifestyle choices, Thailand has a lot to offer and it’s best enjoyed by those who are open to experience it. You’ve already jumped in at the deep end; just start swimming and rolling with the waves and you’ll have the time of your life.
Ready to learn some Thai language?
We’ve outlined some of the basic Thai words and phrases for you below
So now that you’re booking your flights to Thailand, and hopefully Krabi you might want to brush up on some basic Thai prior to your arrival. Now don’t worry if you don’t have the time or forget what we have listed below, don’t fret, Krabi is a touristic hub and has been for a number of years, therefore the local population has adapted quite well to the international tongue of English. You will meet many Thai’s in Krabi that speak English perfectly, most servers in restaurants, hotel receptionists etc. will be well versed in the language, so don’t worry.
That being said learning a little Thai can be fun for your family and can also aid in your experience in Thailand, so we thought it privy to list below some of the basic words and phrases for you to look over.
|Hello (M) / (F)||SAWADEE KRAP / SAWADEE KAA|
|THANK YOU (M) / (F)||KHOPUN KRAP / KHOPUN KAA|
|HOW ARE YOU?||SABAI DEE MAI|
|I’M FINE||SABAI DEE|
|HOW MUCH IS THIS?||KNEE KUR TAO RAI|
|WHAT IS THIS?||NEE A RAI?|
|I CAN’T SPEAK THAI||POOT PASSA THAI MAI DAI|
|SORRY / EXCUSE ME||KOR TOHT|
|CAN YOU SPEAK ENGLISH||KHUN POOT PASSA ANGRIT DAI MAI?|
|I DON’T UNDERSTAND||MAI KHAO CHAI|
|DO YOU UNDERSTAND?||KHAO JAI MAI?|
|NOT SPICY||MAI PET|
|IS THIS TASTY?||A ROY MAI?|
|WHERE IS THE RESTROOM / TOILET?||HONG NAAM YOU NAI?|
|CAN I HAVE THE CHECK / BILL?||KHEP TANG?|
|SEE YOU SOON||JEUR GAN MAI|