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Thai Taboos - Religion, Culture and the Royal Family

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:

Reclining Buddha- Don’t disrespect the King or the Royal Family in any way, whether verbally or in written communication. This is actually a violation of the Lese Majeste laws and can get you arrested.

- Do be friendly and smile at the local people when you walk by. Thailand is known as the land of smiles and it is a wonderful and friendly place.

- 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 is present.

- Don’t deface any of the Thai money, because it has a picture of the King’s face on it.

- Do be respectful around images of Buddha. All images and sculptures of Buddha are considered to be sacred, so don’t pose with them, deface them or disrespect them in any way.

- Don’t wear your shoes into a temple where a Buddha statue is kept – it is not appropriate. Take them off and leave them at the door, as there should already be a pile of shoes from others!

- Do speak quietly and act calm when visiting a temple. It is not the place to be running around or making jokes.

- 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.

- Do wear the appropriate clothing when visiting a Muslim mosque. Women should wear a long skirt or pants, a long sleeved shirt and a scarf over their head. Men should wear hats.

- Don’t touch the Buddhist monks if you are a woman. They are forbidden to touch or be touched by a woman, or to directly accept anything from a woman. If a woman needs to give something to a monk, she must first give it to a man who will then give it to the monk.

- Do remember that the bottoms of the feet are considered offensive in Thai culture and that pointing the bottom of your foot at someone is very rude. Keep this in mind when sitting on the floor or lying down.

- Don’t touch a Thai person’s head. The head is a sacred part of the body and touching it is a very uncomfortable violation of the person’s personal space.

- Do keep calm when you are in difficult situations. You might be tempted to get angry, but losing your temper in public is extremely bad manners. Remain polite.

- Do take a moment to observe what others around you are doing, so that you can see what behaviour is appropriate.

These are just a few important things that you will need to keep in mind when visiting Thailand. If you have any questions about your upcoming trip, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to helping you plan the trip of a lifetime and welcoming you to Thailand. 

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