After taking us all over the world in his Travel Etiquette Series, Adam Barralet takes us to Thailand to talk about the culture and people. From initial greetings to proper table manners, Adam shares with us his travel etiquette tips when visiting this beautiful gem of Asia.
This week I’m going to take you to Thailand; where you will not be greeted by a handshake but by a “wai”. The wai involves raising both hands, palms joined with the fingers pointing upwards as if in prayer, lightly touching the body somewhere between the chest and the forehead. This is a sign of respect as well as a greeting and is offered first by the individual who is the junior in status or age. When in conversation with Thai people patience, tolerance and calmness are your best approach. Getting angry or aggressive will not get you far and be totally counterproductive, Thai people are very sensitive and even a misjudged joke and damage a relationship. If you feel you have upset someone, no matter how minor, apologize and offer a wai. Never touch a Thai person on the head as this is considered the most sacred part of the body. On the contrary your feet should never be pointed towards another person as they are considered the least sacred. If sitting on a chair, have your soles on the ground. If sitting on the floor, cross your legs. Never sit with your feet facing forwards. Respect in Thailand extends beyond the individual. You should never insult the Thai Royal family or the currency on which they appear as severe punishments can apply. The national anthem is played at 8am and 6pm daily and you should stand in respectful silence. If unsure, follow the lead of the locals around you. The Thais, although mainly Buddhist, are insulted by any disrespect or inappropriate behaviour within any temple or towards any religion or religious images. All images of Buddha are considered sacred. Never touch, point your feet towards, turn your back on, stand higher than or pose for photos in front of a Buddha. You should remove your shoes when entering a room that contains a Buddha. Buddhists also believe that all life is sacred. Accidentally killing even an insect is not wise. Doing it deliberately is simply offensive to Thai people. Thai people eat with a fork and spoon. There is no need for a knife as all food will be served in bite size pieces. Only your spoon should touch your mouth. The fork is simply used to push food on to the spoon. Sticky rice, a northern Thai delicacy, is often eaten with the fingers of the right hand. Never lick your fingers afterwards. Always leave a little on your plate as finishing everything shows that you are still hungry. When visiting Thailand remember that the focus of Thai etiquette is on politeness, respect, genial demeanour and self-control. Many of these rules of these are by-products of the Buddhist religion. Keep this in mind and you will be set for an outstanding time in Thailand. Looking for more information on Thailand or need assistance planning your next trip? Contact a Flight Centre Travel Expert at 1-888-213-0998