When visiting Thailand there are a few things you should know to keep you from angering the locals or landing yourself in jail. While not exhaustive (assuming some common sense is being used), following this list of twelve things not to do in Thailand should keep out of hot water and in the good graces with the locals.
Don’t Disrespect Buddha Images
Thailand is a nation of Buddhists and the images of Buddha are sacred. Don’t take any crass photos or make insulting gestures with the images of Buddha you will encounter.
Don’t Touch The Monks
This applies mostly to women as it is forbidden for monks to touch females. They will also usually keep a comfortable distance from men as well. Running up and putting your arm around a monk so you can snap a selfie for Instagram is ill advised. Treat the monks with respect.
Don’t Use Your Feet
Feet are the lowest and most unclean part of the body in Buddhist culture. Pointing your feet at someone or a Buddha image, putting them up on a table, or using them for closing a door for example are all disrespectful in Thailand (and most Buddhist cultures). Keep your feet below knee level and don’t point them at anyone.
Don’t Touch A Thai’s Head
In contrast to the feet, the head is the highest and most respected part of the body. Do not touch people on their heads in Thailand as it is a sign of great disrespect.
Don’t EVER Talk Bad About The King
Thailand is a monarchy and the people love their King. The country has very harsh Lese-majeste laws and you can go to jail for saying anything bad about the Royal Family. Don’t talk about the King or the Royal Family. Ever.
Don’t Sit In The Movie Theaters
At the beginning of a movie, music will begin to play as a short tribute film to the King is shown on screen. You must stand up for this or it displays disrespect to the King. Even if you are the only one in the theater, stand up.
Don’t Dress Inappropriately
If you are going to visit temples or holy places in Thailand, dress appropriately. That means covering the shoulders and knees. No bathing suits, tank tops, or other beach wear. These are holy places of worship, not just tourist attractions. Also, Thailand is a conservative culture no matter what you see on TV, please don’t go walking around half naked.
Don’t Make Public Displays of Affection
While it’s no crime, making out with your significant other in Thailand, while in public, is thought of as rude and looked down upon by Thais. Did we mention, Thailand is a conservative culture?
Don’t Display Or Use The Thailand Flag Inappropriately
Thailand is a proud country like any other and it is disrespectful to use the Thai flag in an inappropriate way, like as a head band or cutting it up to make a sarong to wear at the beach.
Don’t Assume All Thai Women Walking On The Street Are Prostitutes
Again, don’t believe what you see in the media, not all women on the streets in Thailand are prostitutes. Thailand is a large country and has a conservative culture (there is that phrase again). Be very careful about who you approach and how you approach them, you might not like the outcome.
Don’t’ Get In An Argument With The Locals
Getting into an argument with the locals is always going to end badly for you. It can quickly turn into a fight, or more likely just you getting a beating by a gang of Thai men that seemingly came out of nowhere. Avoid a trip to the hospital, smile and take it easy.
Don’t Use Drugs
This one should go without saying, I mean there are movies and TV shows telling the stories of people locked in Thai prison for drugs. Yet every year people continue to end up in jail or in some sticky situations Thailand. Don’t do drugs in Thailand; Don’t carry drugs on you in Thailand. It is not worth it. Having an extended holiday in Thailand at a prison isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time.