Thailand is truly a fascinating destination. Along with its unique brand of culture and tradition, Eastern influences helped in shaping its current state. But like any other place in the world, the Thai have their own set of beliefs and practices. As an outsider, it is your prerogative to respect their culture. Here’s a list of things you should know before traveling to Thailand.
1. You shouldn’t eat the last piece of food on a shared plate.
It is customary for Thai people to share food from a large plate. Dishes are served in the middle of a table and you are free to get what you want. But when you see a last piece on the plate, don’t take it! Locals consider it unlucky. If by any chance you eat the last piece, you are giving someone else a favor. He or she will then make a wish to compensate for the misfortune you brought on yourself, eek!
2. Thais are a curious people.
They don’t have any racial issues but out of curiosity, they occasionally stare at tourists. This is nothing more than an attraction of innocent attention. Be outward and you will find it easy to engage in conversations with them.
3. The “wai” is a sign of respect.
Wai is a traditional greeting where both hands are pressed together and a person slightly bows. It is widely practiced in Thailand. The wai should be done when passing individuals superior to you but there’s more to it than meets the eye. There’s a strict guideline which must be followed. When a person does the wai in front of you, you can reciprocate the kind gesture by bowing back. However, you are not expected to practice it while visiting Thailand as the locals know you’re a foreigner.
4. Thais appreciate tourists who dress modestly.
They are shown more respect and in some cases, given better deals at markets. Avoid showing too much skin and keep your clothes tidy and free from tears or holes. Male tourists are discouraged from wearing shorts because locals think they look ridiculous on any grown man. Female tourists are encouraged to wear sleeved shirts or tank tops with wide shoulder straps. Traditional Thai culture is very conservative which might be a departure from what you might hear about wild parties in Bangkok, Phuket and other major cities. But, you should definitely experience both sides of Thailand. Phuket is a great destination that offers beach, fun, sun and within a short distance, very traditional towns and villages. A good place to stay is the Renaissance Phuket to be in the middle of it all.
5. Go barefoot.
Before entering private homes or temples, take off your shoes. Some shops also request this from visitors. Taking off one’s shoes is an etiquette in Thailand. You can spare yourself from the hassle by wearing slip-ons or flip-flops.
*Image of beach in Krabi, Thailand via Shutterstock