Do's and Don'ts in Thailand, things essential to know

Do and don’t do in Thailand, the rules of courtesy to know absolutely before a trip in the land of smiles.

If you like Thailand and respect its people, there are things you should learn to be well accepted by your Thai relationships.

If you follow these tips, you will be highly appreciated and respected by your friends and Thai love relationship

If you often burp and fart you get angry over nothing, you will be mistaken for a savage; it is easily understandable.

But in Thailand, some things seem entirely harmless to you and yet can shock the Thai people.

As before, there was often an image of Buddha on pocket tourist guides, and putting this book with a picture of Buddha in the back pocket of his pants, on this unworthy part (buttocks), was like insulting Buddha for Thai people!

Respectful guide publishers have since understood this and are careful.

Do’s and Don’ts in Thailand: Monarchy

King Maha Vajiralongkorn of ThailandThai people love their King, don’t criticize it, don’t joke about everything about the Monarchy, you could end up in prison!

Treat with respect any object representing a member of the royal family, even coins and notes bearing the King’s effigy.

In the cinema, get up like the others when they play the Thai national anthem!


Thai monkTheravâda Buddhism is a tolerant religion, but there are rules to follow when visiting a Buddhist country.

Women should not touch monks, and similarly, men should not touch nuns (women dressed in white clothing).

Think about it when you are on the bus or in pick-up taxis, do not hesitate to change places if you are a man, to sit next to a monk if, as often happens, there is a problem.

And if you are a woman, don’t sit next to a monk, if there is no other place, ask a man to sit next to the monk and take his place.

Dress appropriately to visit the temples, no skimpy clothing, and remember to take off your shoes before entering one of the rooms.

As with the Monarchy, all Buddhist objects, books, and representations must be treated with respect.

One day I was given a flyer encouraging me to become a monk for Buddhist holidays, there were pictures of monks on it, and I put the flyer on the bench where I was sitting, immediately a Thai came with a smile on his face, took the paper and put it on a higher place.

I understood then why we do not put a sacred image (representing monks) where we put our buttocks. Think about it!

Do’s and Don’ts in Thailand: greeting

Wai en ThailandeI remember the expression of surprise from Thai friends, when a French friend who had just left the airport, leaned over one of them to kiss her!

Here we do not kiss in public (see below on intimate gestures), we shake hands with the Westerner, but it is not in the tradition of the country, to learn how to say hello you can read: The Wai: how to greet in Thailand

The concept of face in Thailand

politenessWe must not make a Thai lose face and, above all, do it in front of his family, even if it is rare, it can seriously degenerate!

In the event of a problem, an argument, you must always leave a door open to your interlocutor and keep a smile on your face to de-dramatize the situation.

One of the ways to get angry with a Thai by making him lose face is to yell at him in front of his colleagues or family, for example, which is what sometimes happens in tourist areas and makes some Thai people much less welcoming there than elsewhere.

Getting yelled at in public by a dissatisfied customer can be a real trauma for a Thai, it’s not in the habit of the country.

Here you have to be able to keep calm and politely share problems while keeping a smile on your face.

Do’s and Don’ts in Thailand: Body parts

touch the top of the headAvoid touching the top of a Thai head; it is the most sacred part of the body.

A masseuse will do a Wai before starting a Thai scalp massage.

Always use your right hand to pick up an item you are given, give a gift, pass an item, or eat.

Because the left hand is the one used to clean up after the big commission (see: Using the toilet without toilet paper in Thailand).

The feet are the lowest part of the body, the part in contact with the ground and dirt, avoid pointing them at someone, or worse, touching someone with them, this can be taken as an insult.

Thai friends told me that they were shocked to see foreigners laying their feet on the armrests in the buses, the foot can touch the person in front, and it is considered contempt. If you can’t help it, take the super VIP transport that has more space or travel with buses or mini-buses designed for tourists (via travel agencies or hotels).

Talk about a newborn child

Thai babyA newborn baby is not said to be cute “naa rak,” so as not to attract evil spirits who might be interested.

It must be said that he is ugly, “naa kliat.”

Yes, I know it can be hard to say of an adorable toddler, “what is he ugly,” but it will please the parents!

Do’s and Don’ts in Thailand: cushions

cushionThere are two types of pillows, the cushions used to sit and the cushions on which one puts the head to sleep.

If you put a pillow with your head on it, under your behind, you will see your friends’ faces change, an uneasiness that will surely turn into laughter, but in any case, they will tell you not to sit on it.

As said before, the head is the most sacred part of the body, sitting on a cushion where you put your head is like insulting the owner of the pillow, and it’s even worse if you put your feet on it!

Watch out for the type of laughter!
The laughter of the Thai people can express a high gene, just because they laugh at the action on your part does not mean that you can do it again; it is not serious. If you cause embarrassed laughter, try to understand why, as with the example of the cushion above, they may laugh because you are doing something insulting!

Serve a drink

serve a drinkDo not serve a drink by holding the bottle with the palm of your hand towards the sky.

This way is the way to serve the last offerings to the dead!

It’s like wishing someone dead and can lead to a fight!


take off your shoesYou must take off your shoes before entering a temple hall, a house, or some shops.

If you have any doubts, look to see if there are shoes at the entrance or if people are barefoot inside.

Do’s and Don’ts in Thailand: intimate gestures

Knowing how to live in Thailand : Thai couple It is frowned upon, as in many Asian countries, to kiss on the mouth or have too intimate gestures in public with your partner, Thai people are very prude!

In the same way, touching an unknown woman, even if friendly, may be frowned upon.

In this video, Ponyo, a Thai woman who teaches Thai on Youtube, tells us about her gene when she finds herself with French people touching her arms or shoulders, even if they are not intimate parts, it is rude for Thai people.

An anecdote to help you understand

During a meal with Thai friends, in a small village, a friend was with her new Norwegian boyfriend, who kept kissing her on the mouth in front of everyone.

In front of the embarrassment of my friends, I explained to the Norwegian that this is frowned upon in Thailand, and he stopped.

My friends then asked me what I had said to him, and when I explained it to them, they all expressed great relief, thanking me.

I don’t know why his girlfriend didn’t dare tell him.

Do’s in Thailand: Smile, you are in the land of smiles!

smile in Thailand Here it’s magic; almost everyone will answer your smile.

It’s a social norm,

It is a small movement effortless to do, but it does a lot of good, and it makes contacts between people more pleasant, the Thai people have understood this well, and they have made it the vast wealth of the country.

See also: Understand the Thai smile

For those who would like to go further, you can download The Guide to Good Manners in Thailand PDF (English) published by the Ministry of Thai Culture.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!


Settled in Thailand since a few years (with trips to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia), I love this country and its inhabitants, the real country of Smiles! Sorry for any translation errors that may occur. Feel free to mention them in the comments, I will correct them. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
risus venenatis ut eleifend libero massa venenatis, Donec et, velit, risus. Aenean

Adblock Detected

We’ve detected that you are using some adblocking software which is preventing the page from fully loading. We do not implement annoying types of ads!

We need money to operate the site, and almost all of it comes from our online advertising. Please add to your ad blocking white list.

That’s one small step for YOU, one giant help for US!