Taboos in Thailand – What you need to know before travelling
It is always important to educate yourself on the local customs before traveling somewhere, out of respect. There are a lot of serious taboos in Thai culture that you should be aware of before you travel, so that you can avoid offending any locals who you meet along the way. Here are some important dos and don’ts to keep in mind:
1. Do use your right hand instead of your left hand
The right hand is thought to be noble but the left hand is said to be unclean. Therefore, do not use your left hand to give any things or shake hands with others.
2. Do respect the King or the Royal Family
Thai people respect the King as a God. Absolutely no mockery or jokes about the King or the Royal Family if you do not want to be punished very seriously.
3. Do take off your shoes when entering to a place
In Thailand, feet are often considered the dirtiest part of the body. So when you enter to a place, remember to leave your shoes outside. Especially going to pagodas or temples, remember to take them off and leave them at the door.
4. Do dress appropriately
Don’t wear revealing clothing when visiting a temple as it is very disrespectful. You should have your shoulders, legs and cleavage covered. If you are unsure, there are usually signs at the temple entrance showing what appropriate and inappropriate clothing entails.
5. Do remember to stand up when the national anthem is being played
Do stand-up whenever the national anthem is being played. For example, this will happen in the movie theatre before the start of the film, or during a public event when a member of the Royal Family present.
6. Don’t touch any people’s head
Thais believe that the head is the noblest body part. Therefore, you should not touch other people’s head, including children, because it is an act that is considered insulting.
7. Don’t deface any of the Thai money
As the King is regarded with social status, and the money in Thailand (Bhat) has a picture of the King’s face on it. Defacing Bhat will be considered as disrespectful behavior. Keep in mind that stepping on it (unless you accidentally dropped it) is also considered a form of defamation of the Royal Family.
8. Don’t touch the Buddhist monks if you are a woman
Thai people forbid any woman to give anything to the monk directly, if woman wants to give something to the monk, she must take it to the man or use a towel to support the object. So, please pay attention to avoid touching the monks in crowded places.
9. Don’t smoke at public area
Smoking is prohibited at public places.
10. Don’t throw your gum on the floor
The punishment of throwing gum on the floor is quite severe, you will be facing a pretty hefty fine and a possibility of a jail sentence if you don’t pay the fine. Always have tissue with you so you can wrap your chewing gum.