The Do’s & Don’t in Thailand


Thai culture, like other cultures, has its taboos as well as conventions. invites you to help each other and learn from each others’ mistakes. Tell us about your experiences, give advice, and learn from others.


DO ensure you have adequate travel insurance and that it covers both medical treatment and unexpected losses/expenses/theft.

DON’T carry anything through customs for anyone else unless you know the contents. Penalties for drug trafficking are severe.

DO follow common sense health precautions and check with your local doctor on current vaccination recommendations for travelling within Thailand.

DO take care of your valuables at all times and report any loss immediately to the nearest tourist police office.

DON’T buy gemstones or jewellery unless it is from a reputable dealer. Many sophisticated scams have sprung up over recent years. Whether the tout is dressed as a student, a monk or a policeman, identity card and all deal only with a registered gemstone dealer.

DO be careful with your passport. Be on guard against pickpockets or inadvertent loss.

DON’T overstay. Fines are imposed for each day you stay in Thailand beyond the date of the visa expiry, currently Baht 200 per day.

DO be careful when driving in Thailand. Only use car hire companies which offer full insurance coverage.

DO dress in a manner fitting to local custom and sensibilities.

DO respect Thai customs. While Thais are generally forgiving towards visitors disrepect towards images of Buddha or the Royal Family will not be tolerated.

Thai Society & Culture


The Wai

  • The wai is the common form of greeting and adheres to strict rules of protocol.
  • Raising both hands, palms joined with the fingers pointing upwards as if in prayer, lightly touching the body somewhere between the chest and the forehead, is the standard form.
  • The wai is both a sign of respect as well as a greeting. Respect and courtesy are demonstrated by the height at which the hands are held and how low the head comes down to meet the thumbs of both hands.
  • The wai may be made while sitting, walking, or standing.
  • The person who is junior in age or status is the first one to offer the wai.
  • The senior person returns the wai, generally with their hands raised to somewhere around their chest.
  • If a junior person is standing and wants to wai a senior person who is seated, the junior person will stoop or bow their head while making the wai.
  • If there is a great social distance between two people, the wai will not be returned.



Buddhism in Thailand

  • Thailand is a stronghold of Buddhism.
  • Buddhists believe that life does not begin with birth and end with death, but rather that every person has several lives based upon the lessons of life not yet learned and acts committed (karma) in previous lives.
  • Buddhists believe that selfishness and craving result in suffering and that compassion and love bring happiness and well-being.
  • The true path to peace is to eliminate all desire, a condition which Buddhists define as ‘nirvana’, an indescribable state free of desire, suffering, or further rebirth, in which a person simply is, and is completely at one with his surroundings.
  • Buddhism is practised in Thailand by over 90% of the population.



Hierarchical Society

  • Thais respect hierarchical relationships.
  • Social relationships are defined as one person being superior to the other.
  • Parents are superior to their children, teachers to their students, and bosses to their subordinates.
  • When Thais meet a stranger, they will immediately try to place you within a hierarchy so they know how you should be treated.
  • This is often done by asking what might be seen as very personal questions in other cultures.
  • Status can be determined by clothing and general appearance, age, job, education, family name, and social connections.



Thai Family Values

  • The family is the cornerstone of Thai society.
  • Family life is often more closely knit than in western cultures.
  • The Thai family is a form of hierarchy with the parents at the top.
  • Children are taught to honor their parents.


Thai Demeanour

  • Thais place great emphasis and value on outward forms of courtesy such as politeness, respect, genial demeanour and self-control in order to maintain harmonious relations.
  • Many of their rules of etiquette are by-products of the Buddhist religion.
  • It is a non-confrontational society, in which public dispute or criticism is to be avoided at all costs.
  • To be openly angry with someone might attract the wrath of the spirits, which in turn could cause violence and tragedy.
  • Openly criticizing a person is a form of violence as it hurts the person and is viewed as a conscious attempt to offend the person being rebuked
  • Loss of face is a disgrace to a Thai so they try to avoid confrontations and look for compromises in difficult situations.
  • If two parties disagree, one will need to have an outlet to retreat without losing face.