5 Thing’s You Must NEVER Do When Visiting Thailand
Earlier this year we quit our jobs and hit the road to travel around South East Asia. Our first stop was Thailand where we spent one month backpacking around the country, just us and our backpacks. We loved our four weeks in Thailand so much that we changed our travel plans and returned in July to live in Bangkok for a couple of months. This means that to date, we’ve spent over two month’s in this beautiful country and we just cant get enough of it.
The time we have spent in Thailand so far has taught us a lot about Thai culture and we’ve become quite familiar with the do’s and the do not’s when it comes to being a tourist in this country.
Here’s 5 handy tips that we’ve picked up so far whilst travelling and living in Thailand:
1. NEVER disrespect the late King of Thailand
Now I’m not insinuating that you would ever go around speaking badly of anyone let alone the late king of Thailand but, just incase you have a sarcastic sense of humour and feel the need to make jokes or comments in public which could be seen as offensive… PLEASE DON’T.
Of all the countries in the world this is the last place you’d want to offend royalty as the late king, Bhumibol Adulyadej was and still is very highly respected by Thai people. It’s highly likely that you will notice this when visiting as you’ll find many pictures and sign’s in honour of his memory throughout the streets of Thailand.
The whole country literally went into lock down when the sad news of Bhumibol Adulyadej’s passing became public in October 2016 and recently on the 28th July 2017 his birthday became a national bank holiday.
One of many memorial pictures of the late Thai king in Silom, Bangkok.
2. NEVER touch a monk especially on his head
Monks are highly respected members of the Thai community. Around 95% of the Thai population are buddhists and most native men are expected to become monk’s for at least a period of time in their lives.
The rules that a Monk has to follow are strict and a practising monk must never come into physical contact with a female, it’s forbidden. Physical contact includes passing and receiving items so If you wish to pass an object to a Monk you must place it on the ground first for him to collect himself.
Along with no physical contact, females must never stand over or be seen to look taller than a Monk either. There’s an old saying in Thai culture, head high and feet low. This means that Thai people consider a persons head, to be the highest, most importance part of the body and would even describe the head as sacred. Feet however are at the other end of the spectrum and are considered low and dirty.
Remember to be respectful if you see a Monk in the streets of Thailand and wish to approach him.
3. You must NEVER step on a Thai bank note
If your ever unfortunate enough to be in a position where a 1000 Baht note (roughly £23 / $30) suddenly slips from your finger tips, you might want to resist the natural urge to step on it!
This may sound ridiculous I know but Thai Baht notes are printed with a picture of the late king’s head on them. So, by stepping on a note with the sole of your foot which is considered the dirtiest and least important part of the human body is considered to be extremely disrespectful.
Thai Baht notes.
4. Keep your heels firmly on the ground
By now you probably get the picture that feet are not a highly regarded part of the human body in Thailand. Keep this in mind when your out and about sightseeing and be careful not to show or point the heels of your feet in the direction of anyone. Take extra care when sitting on the ground as it’s easy to forget this when sitting on the floor in a leg’s crossed position.
Keeping my feet firmly on the ground whilst out sightseeing in Lumphini Park, Bangkok.
5. Take your shoes off
As a tourist in Thailand and most other parts of Asia this one becomes kind of a ritual right away. When entering a building it’s respectful to take your shoes off and leave them outside, in some situations it’s a requirement!
If you’re a forgetful soul after a few beers like myself, you may want to be mindful when stumbling into a room without a care in the world with your flippers on. Trust me its easily done, I learned the hard way when we met a group of backpackers on a night out and ended up going back to their hostel for drinks.
The drinks were flowing and eventually nature called so I unintentionally walked right through the hostel towards the ladies room when I was quickly stopped in my tracks by the lady on reception. As nice as the lady was she wasn’t impressed at all and asked me to go outside and take my shoes off sharpish.
Top Tip – Not every building you enter will expect you to take your shoes off. I usually look around the entrance of a building to see if there is a collection of shoes.
So basically to summarise, if you ever feel the need to touch a monk on his head with your foot whilst cursing the late king you may want to reconsider as you probably wont end up leaving Thailand in one piece.
Share this post with your friends or to someone you know who is visiting Thailand soon.