Thailand is an incredible place full of wonder and awe for the unexpecting traveler. Everything from its food to its culture is fascinating to new visitors, and it's no wonder that this country has captivated the hearts of so many people for centuries. It has become even more popular in recent years thanks to social media sharing photos of its most beautiful beaches, but that's not all there is to love about Thailand.

The culture is half the reason to visit but before travelers do, they should be aware of the dos and don'ts before stepping off the plane into this incredible country. Thailand's customs often have unspoken rules that are known well by the locals but are lesser known by visitors, and this is what to be aware of before booking a trip.


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What Travelers Should Do In Thailand

There are plenty of things that travelers should do in Thailand that are in line with its culture. Some of these things are just common courtesy while others showcase a traveler going above and beyond to show their respects. Doing these things will help any Thailand trip go smoothly, and will likely gain travelers the respect of the locals who call this country their home.

Do: Return A Wai

What's a Wai, one might ask? It's a small, simple bow that's usually done with the hands placed together in a prayer-like gesture. Bowing slightly while doing this is a show of respect for one another, and if it's done to a traveler, they should be courteous enough to do it back. The only people who have permission to not return a wai are royals and monks; otherwise, it's a common practice to exchange these gestures between two people. If a traveler has their hands full, they can offer a slight bow, instead.

Do: Remove One's Shoes

This is a common practice throughout Asia so if travelers are familiar with doing this in another country, they'll be just as familiar with it in Thailand. It's a sign of respect to remove one's shoes when entering a person's home, dining establishment, or shop. While it's not necessary for every establishment, it's easy to figure out by looking at the door; if there's a line of shoes just past the doorframe, then it's a pretty good sign for one to remove their shoes.

Do: Show Respect To The Monks And Smile

Also known as the 'Thai smile,' it's not uncommon to see practically everyone in Thailand smiling at one another. This is just common practice and one that's a sign of respect and appreciation for other people. Additionally, when greeting or walking past monks in places such as Chiang Mai, visitors should be aware that they receive a higher Wai. While it's not necessary for them to return it, it is necessary for visitors to show their respect by doing so.

What Travelers Should Avoid Doing In Thailand

Many of the customs specific to Thailand are similar to the customs throughout Asia, with some slight differences. In Thailand, it's more important to remember what travelers should be doing, but it's good to know what to avoid, as well.

Don't Point Feet Or Fingers

Pointing in Thailand is considered very disrespectful and one should always be aware of which direction their fingers or feet are facing. Similarly, putting one's feet on a chair or any place but the floor is also considered to be disrespectful. The bottoms of the feet are considered the dirtiest part of the human body and, therefore, should never be seen, even when sitting. Visitors should never point their feet at Buddhas, either - always make sure they've pointed away. Pointing fingers is viewed as being just as disrespectful so, when in doubt, keep hands down at the sides in preparation for sharing a Wai.

Don't Act Out In Public

Any emotional outburst is considered to be impolite and bad practice in Thailand. Visitors should avoid getting angry or frustrated in public, as challenging as that might be sometimes. Rather, the common Thai practice is to simply laugh it off, or practice a moment of zen in order to calm down before trying to find a solution to a problem.

Don't Touch A Person's Head

One should never ruffle the hair on a child's head or reach out and touch an adult's head because it's considered to be the most sacred part of the human body. If someone happens to be sitting or lying on the ground, stepping over them or near their head in any way should be avoided as a common practice to show one's respect.

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