When Americans, Canadians, or Britons decide to go on a vacation and see the world, they typically choose the most popular destinations that others wish to see before they kick the bucket. Venice, Paris, New York City, and Biloxi, Mississippi are usually on the list for most people. But isn’t it time that you try something different and make a stop in a more exotic land?
Thailand is one of those places that will soon make it to the top of dream vacations, much in the same way that the aforementioned cities were. It shouldn’t be surprising either, considering how delightful and open Thailand has become over the years.
Interested? Well, before you grab your passports, book a ticket, and order the appropriate accommodations, you should familiarize yourself with the traditions of Thailand:
Here are nine Thailand traditions tourists need to know:
1. Requesting Permission from a Ghost
Are you staying the night at a person’s Thai home? If so, be sure to ask permission. We’re not just talking about the homeowner, but the phra phum, also known as the spirit ghost of the land. Also, once you leave the home, be sure to thank the ghost for allowing you to stay.
You may not find this custom in your average abode in the city, but you’ll definitely come across this throughout the rural areas, including in hotels.
2. Pointing is Rude
Generally speaking, pointing is universally accepted as being uncouth. In Thailand, though, it is one of the worst things you can do. If you’re out and about with a fellow traveler, you may have the reflex to point to point at something, whether it is a monk or a member of the Royal Family. However, this is rude and should be avoided at all times.
3. Who Pays for the Meal?
Who invited who for lunch or dinner? If you are the inviter, then you are expected to pay for the meal. This is something that is expected back home, but it is a national practice in Thailand.
4. Heads and Feet
The head and feet are interesting parts of the human body.
The head is considered the most sacred part of the body, meaning that you should never touch someone’s head, whether they’re an adult or child, even if it is by accident. The feet are believed to be the most unclean, and if you see someone with their feet stretched out, then don’t step across them.
5. Buddhist Monks Don’t Hate Women
To foreigners, may look like Buddhist monks detest women, and it is understandable to outsiders because these men will not touch women or accept anything from their hands. But it isn’t a case of disrespect or loathing. Instead, it is a part of their religion, and the locals know this, so oftentimes will keep their distance in the street and avoid giving anything to a monk directly, including donations.
6. Thai Wai
We shake hands, they do the wai.
The traditional greeting in Thailand is when a person holds their hands together followed by a bow of the head. There are also multiple variations to the wai, such as the higher you hold your hands, then the greater respect is shown.
While you are not expected to do the wai as a visitor, you can reciprocate with those who do the wai.
7. Weekly Colours
It is not mandatory, but much of the country partakes in a tradition of wearing different colours on different days, though it is done more by civil servants. For instance, Monday is designated for yellow, Tuesday is generally known for pink, and Wednesday is allowed for green. These are not randomly assigned colours and days; yellow represents King Bhumibol, who was born on a Monday.
8. Edible Bugs
Bugs are quickly becoming a hip culinary delight. We keep coming across reports about how insects will become integral to the dinner plate – many say that cockroach milk is the milk of the future! So, you shouldn’t throw up if you find many Thai people snacking in grasshoppers and silk worms as they stroll on the street, head to the pictures, or sit on a park bench.
9. Ice in the Beer
Who puts ice in their alcohol? The Thai people. They love their beer and they love it cold, but since it is difficult to keep things cool in Thailand, they use ice cubes to achieve an ice cold brewski. For us, that is an act of heresy, but for many people in Thailand, it is the only way to survive!
Thailand is a beautiful place to visit, even if it is only once in your life. The Asian country has everything you’d want in a tourist destination: climate, culture, people, food, and everything in between. Instead of visiting London or Rome this summer, let’s hop on a jet plane to Thailand.